I recently had the opportunity to speak with Christopher Hall, front man of the electro-rock act The Dreaming about the bands newest release Puppet. The Dreaming is a star studded act comprised of Hall (Stabbing Westward), drummer Johnny Haro (ex-Econoline Crush, Stabbing Westward), guitarist Eric Griffin (ex Murderdolls/Wednesday 13), and bassist Martin Kelly (Living Dead Lights.) I have always been a big fan of Stabbing Westward so this project is just a natural fit for me, it is a melodic multi-layered disc that is quite enjoyable to listen to. Here is what Hall had to say.
Now that your new record Puppet is complete how do you feel about it and are you satisfied with the outcome?
Chris: For the most part yeah. I don’t think I am ever really satisfied but, yeah, I think it sounds great considering the way we did it. We recorded it basically in my house and then we mixed it at another guy’s house. I am super stoked that it is finally out. I listened to it today at the gym and I think we did a pretty good job for doing it ourselves for the first time.
What is the writing process like?
Chris: It is mostly me coming up with the song ideas and giving them to Carlton and then he would add some guitar parts and send them back to me. It was a very weird period for the band when we were writing because we kept going through band members. We kept getting guitar players to take over and they would all contribute to some degree but then they would leave. The writing was mostly done by me but Carlton wrote one of the better songs on the record called, “There Will Be Blood,” he wrote all the music and gave it to me and I kind of morphed it into a song and then Johnny our drummer actually wrote some great vocal melodies and some riffs for the record as well. It is kind of cool to take something a drummer wrote and turn it into an actual song; it just makes them feel a part of the process.
Do you feel like you have a pretty solid lineup now?
Chris: No. We do not have a solid lineup. We are in the middle of playing five shows in two weeks, I have already played three shows with two different lineups and tomorrow night will be another completely different lineup. I feel like I am honing in on it though. We have had a bunch of guitar players come in and some have been really cool, some have been uncool, some have been really great but not committed to the project and some have been all about the money. Everybody wants to be on the quick train to success, they see the Stabbing Westward name attached to the project and think they will be famous the minute they join the band and that is just not how it works anymore. We are really looking for a combination of guys that are hardworking, that we get along with and who are not looking for a quick ticket but can also play the parts.
Do you find it difficult playing shows with so many different band members behind you every night?
Chris: Yeah I do. Mostly because everyone has a different playing styles and people are coming in with just three or four rehearsals.
Are there any tracks on Puppet that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Chris: Yeah I would have to say “End In Tears.” It is one of my favorites and I was trying to do a really old school industrial, driving sixteenth note bass line track like I used to do. Even before Stabbing Westward got really big this was kind of our “M.O.” to just come up with these really cool grinding synth lines and then write songs around them. My song writing skills have advanced now beyond writing one synth line for the entire song; there are now chord changes in there. I also approached this song lyrically from a really bizarre place. I have written a hundred songs about cheating but they have always been, you’ve cheated on me or I can’t believe you are cheating on me or something like that. This song however is written from the perspective of the cheater who can’t stop even though he knows it is going to end badly; he just can’t seem to help himself.
Have the Stabbing Westward fans been receptive of your work in The Dreaming?
Chris: Well I guess I never realized how much they hated our first album. I was not a huge fan of our first record either; I was incredibly frustrated with it. Which is funny because the last Stabbing Westward record really made me want to kill people; it was just so shitty, pop and cheesy. It gave me a total sense of helplessness because the producer and manager hijacked the whole project and I vowed that it would never happen again. Then when we did the first Dreaming record it happened again and in a much different way because it was actually band members that pulled the project into this metal pop direction. When the record was finished I didn’t like it because I hate guitar solos and I hate this kind of music, I wanted to make more of an electronic kind of record. So that is what I did on this one I did it with no producers all by myself. I think the Stabbing Westward fans really appreciate it now that we have gotten back on track.
Any closing words at all Christopher?
Chris: I hope that everyone enjoys the record and that they can find it. I have been watching everybody go to Best Buy and Hot Topic and they seem to can’t find it. I am just hoping that means it is already sold out. If you don’t enjoy it please don’t tell me it will hurt my feelings.
Check out the song “Every Trace”