Before their current role as a Nirvana footnote, Scream was actually one of Dischord’s best bands. Formed in Northern Virginia in 1981 by singer Peter Stahl, his brother Franz on guitar, bassist Skeeter Thompson and drummer Kent Stax, Scream channeled rabid devotion to the Bad Brains and the Damned into its own brand of suburban harDCore. Through hard work and extensive gigging, they became the first Dischord band to release a whole album, Still Screaming. Like the Bad Brains, they had the chops to play clearly at breakneck speed, but what set them apart from their labelmates was great mid-tempo rockers like “Laissez-Faire,” metal-tinged reggae and songs about girls.
By the time of This Side Up, Scream excelled at brisk and catchy metal-edged punk-pop. Although the brief album contains a couple of bombs (including a five-minute reggae throwaway), it also features some of their most substantial work. “Bet You Never Thought,” “This Side Up,” “A No Money Down” and “I Look When You Walk” are certainly among Scream’s best songs. Unfortunately, there is nothing on Banging the Drum to match the hooky choruses of This Side Up, and the big echoing production doesn’t help.
After Banging the Drum, Kent Stax bowed out and was replaced by Dave Grohl. By that time, however, Scream’s moment had passed. They recorded the uneven Fumble (which was released several years later) and then called it quits in the summer of 1990. Pete and Franz gave rock a major-label shot in Wool, while Grohl joined Nirvana and helped make catchy punk the sound of the ’90s. But the former drummer never forgot his old pals — in 1997, Franz Stahl joined Foo Fighters.