After six years and two modestly successful albums, the members of the hard rock band Stabbing Westward had every reason to be surprised when their label, Columbia, pulled the plug in 1999 – the day before the quintet was to leave for Hawaii to make a new album with producer Bob Rock.
“It was out of nowhere,” says frontman Chris Hall. “All of a sudden they decided they needed to fund more money towards Ricky Martin’s wardrobe and dropped 12 bands in one day; ‘This rock thing doesn’t seem to be working out for us. We’ll keep Offspring and let everyone else go.’ We were really stunned.”
The group didn’t waste much time, however, quickly hooking up with a new label (Koch) and setting to work on its fourth album, a self-titled effort that hits stores on May 22. Hall says the break also helped Stabbing Westward refocus itself creatively, especially since the band “didn’t feel like we’d written our best material” for the album it was planning.
“It was a chance to step back and reevaluate who we are, why we make music – it made us feel like a young band again,” says Hall, 36. “We decided we don’t want to be an industrial metal, Nine Inch Nails-genre band anymore. We had this whole other thing inside us we wanted to express, and there was no pressure from the old label to keep putting out the same thing over and over again.
“We just said, ‘Let’s go with it,’ and it was a really refreshing perspective, like uncharted territory. We did this whole record with very little computer, no click tracks, no ProTools that everyone uses to make everything all pristine. We just did total rock and roll; that was the cool part, having a new challenge in our art to try and do something we’d never done before.”