INTERVIEW: Screams for Tina

Chain Border

My first exposure to Screams For Tina was in the mid eighties. There was a small radio tower in Tampa known as 88.5fm community radio. One night me and my younger brother were up late until 2AM and we were bored and had been "smoking out." We were just sick of the mainstream new wave that was on the radio so we decided to scan the entire radio dial to see what was out there. I turn the knob all the way to the left. Slowly I turn to the right and lo and behold found some punk rock barely coming in on the dial. We were so excited we just had to hook about 60 feet of speaker wire from the broken antenna out the window and to the roof of the house. Needless to say my parents weren't too thrilled when I fell off the roof at 3 in the morning and also needless to say we didn't get a chance to listen to a damn thing till the following week.

But I was determined to listen so the following week I clicked on at 2AM and sure enough we were exposed to music that would forever change our lives by opening our minds to the world around us. Screams For Tina was one of the bands I heard that night and I immediately loved the sound. They were the very first death rock band I was ever exposed to. These days I still listen to that kind of music. Having the chance to share the return of Screams For Tina with my brother, who committed suicide six years ago, would have been great because I know he would be just as excited as I was after catching wind that these guys were back. Even more exciting would be to share the fact that I, me, is actually interviewing one of our favorite bands of all time and thanks to Warren for the second time.

AB: It's been a long time since your last release. How do you feel about the new EP 2003 A.D. finally being released?

Screams For TinaWarren: It’s great to finally have something out there again! To see things grow from renewed inspiration to something well produced, that you can hold in your hand feels fantastic! It’s a huge relief to have all that initial work behind us instead of looming there in front of us, like it was a couple of years ago.

AB: What things combined would you say helped the CD become a reality?

Warren: It was a case of a strong desire not to fade away without another full album under our belts, coupled with a lot of help from long-time fans like yourself, doing what they could, wherever and whenever they could for us. Paul and all the guys at Strobelight, who released the new EP, have been fanatical fans of ours for years as well. The entire process has been pretty much furthered by the people that the music was meant for in the first place. I’ve got to thank my good friend Arron from Second Skin here, for getting Life of Sin on the Tales From the Vault: Vol. 2 comp. That started the whole thing off, really.

AB: With all the new publicity being focused on the band these days how has the fanbase been reacting to your return? Have any of them contacted you with their feelings?

Warren: Yeah, we’ve been getting emails almost every day through the new site [http://www.screamsfortina.com] lately from fans all over the world who are really excited by the music on the new EP. It makes a big difference when people take the time to tell us how they feel and give us their support. We put a ton of time and effort into getting this release finished up. The few minutes it takes to email us isn’t a lot to ask in return, I don’t think.

AB: I notice one of your musical gems, Eleven Eleven, has reappeared on this album. Is there any particular reason this track was remastered and used on 2003 A.D? Was it the publicity it received in the past and how has it changed since the original composition was done?

Warren: Basically, the label wanted another song for the EP. And not wanting to give away too much of the proposed album, we had to quickly come up with another song. So we pulled out the old tapes from the first Cleopatra release and only found about five usable tracks. Of those, Eleven Eleven was the obvious choice. But, it needed some fixing up to even come close to the production level of the other three tracks. So, we dumped it into the computer, added some more guitar tracks, replaced some of the drum sounds and remixed it. It’s not quite as pristine as the newer tracks, as it wasn’t re-recorded from scratch, but it’s still a big improvement over the original, I think.

AB: Speaking of the title Eleven Eleven I have always wondered if there was anything behind the numerical aspect of the title, such as a possible occult meaning or am I reading to much into it.

Screams For TinaWarren: Yes…you are. But, you’re not the first, by any means. The initial inspiration was pretty normal, seemingly always looking at any clock, whether it was a.m. or p.m., at exactly 11:11, day in and day out for years. But then, as the writing of the lyrics progressed, it started taking on a much wider range of meanings and the whole thing eventually alluded to something much more significant. Later on though, I did start finding things that referenced those numbers like in the Bible and in numerology that I never even knew about before. Could be there’s still more to it than even I’m aware of.

AB: Nowadays musical equipment have been drastically upgraded since the old days. What are you using these days or are you still using the now vintage instruments of the early days of SFT? And if you have changed what would be the equipment of choice these days.

Warren: I don't know if we have "equipment of choice" right now, per se. I think it's more a question of "What sounds the best...and what modern stuff can we get away with using without losing the sound that has made SFT what it is?" In the past we had fewer choices, that's for sure. We usually ended up recording with the same exact equipment we used live. Now, with all the digital modeling stuff at our disposal, we have so many options, it's almost too much. It's a struggle sometimes trying to utilize the newer technologies and still remain true to the SFT sound. But, like with the Eleven Eleven remix; using a Line 6 POD, we were able to exactly re-create the sound of my old Roland JC-120 amp and Ratt distortion pedal combo and therefore add additional new tracks while maintaining the integrity of the song's original sound. In general though, for the new EP and upcoming album, we've recorded with a combination of old and new equipment...depending on the situation, what was available and what sounded the best to us.

AB: I've read you worked with Strobelight on this release, "And props to them I might add for getting this thing out." Would you say they are basically your label now?

Screams For TinaWarren: We are working with Strobelight Records at the moment. Hopefully things will work out to the point where we’ll do the new album with them as well. Its not like we have several labels all clamoring to get to us or anything like that, though. We went to Interscope early last year and they basically weren’t into us. They’ve become a little more main stream over the years and I think the whole Goth/Deathrock thing is still a little too underground for them. We’re just lucky to have what we do have going for us right now.

AB: I notice your lyrics taking a different direction these days. Have the years since the last release given you time to reflect on days past and steered you in a different direction? Possibly better, clearer days since the experiences in the past?

Warren: Wow…definitely. The lyrics in a lot of the older songs were pretty bleak, but I was a pretty bleak soul back then too. Everything I wrote about we were living at the time. Especially in the earlier days. I went through rehab in ’89 and have been clean and sober ever since. That fact has paved the way for a lot of personal changes and growth in my life. So, yeah…there’s a more positive direction to the lyrics on the newer stuff, but there’s still a lingering essence of dark introspection that I enjoy and will always influence whatever we do.

AB: How would you define your sound these days? There is a lot of genre classification these days and I keep reading the term "American Gothic" being used to describe your sound. I always remembered your sound as deathrock or doom. How would you describe your sound then and now?

Warren: American Gothic was the name of the first compilation we were ever on, way back when. But yeah, that term has been used quite frequently lately in reference to our type of sound. My feeling is that it describes the use of more straight forward rock ‘n’ roll and blues influences than the more esoteric ones employed in what might be described as a European sound. I think the best description of what we do is "edgy, emotionally dark rock." And deathrock is more befitting of that first vein than the term gothic would be.

AB: I noticed some slight use of electronics and world elements on the new EP, like on Life of Sin and the Ranjipur instrumental. Have any of the new wave of electronic bands out these days influenced any differences in sound? Will we see the use of keyboards and synth elements in future SFT recordings?

Screams For TinaWarren: As far as any difference in sound over the years, I’d have to say there has been, somewhat, but nothing so drastic to warrant anyone saying, "What happened to you guys!? You don’t sound like you used to!" There are some basic, deep, defining factors in what we do that aren’t going to be negated by member changes or the use or non-use of keyboards or other instruments. It’s an inherent quality that I have yet to put a finger on myself. Whatever that quality is, it’s a big part of what draws people to our music. I’m sure we’ve been influenced somewhat by what other bands are currently doing. It’s hard not to, unless you totally shut yourself off from the world or something. But I think we simply try and use whatever sounds will best fit or enhance whatever song is at hand at the time. We’ve acquired more extensive equipment over the last few years and therefore have more capabilities to flesh out the mood of the music we’re creating. We’re not an ‘electronic’ band of course, but to have some of those elements at our disposal, to use to whatever degree we feel is appropriate, is definitely a factor in our favor. I’m sure some keyboards and electronic sounds will find their way into our material in the future, but its not a given.

AB: Eleven Eleven was mentioned earlier in this interview. I think that a fitting place to draw this interview to a close with question number eleven. Is there anything you'd like to say to the readers and fans that possibly wasn't said before now?

Warren: Yeah…something that was impossible to comment on the last time and that is: Thanks…thanks for sticking with us while we were away and being there when we came back! There’s an old Burt Lancaster movie called The Swimmer in which he plays a middle-aged guy who is caught up in a self-devised plan to swim through all the pools in his neighborhood on a path leading back to his house. Everyone along the way thinks he’s crazy and when he finally makes it back home he finds his family too has abandoned him and he’s locked out of the house and ends up alone and shivering on his own front porch. Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but comparatively, much the same thing could’ve happened to us. We’re grateful that it didn’t.

AB: That's a bit deep, but I can relate oddly enough. The past was a bit foggy for me too, but I managed to crawl through the muck and come out clean on the other side. I'm glad the same has happened for you as well as the band. It's always a pleasure to chat with you in interviews as well as via email. You've managed to become more than one of the guys from one of my favorite bands but a friend. We at Legends thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedule to let us dig in your head a little bit. I look forward to the full length and wish you guys the best on it. Hail Screams for Tina – they’re back!

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