Stillwater Black came together in 1991 when Chris Thayer met Ahmed and Sam Pierstorff while playing in the pit band for a high school musical production. Issac McCorkell was quickly recruited on drums and the band recorded its first EP, The Last Virtuous Lady of Athens.

In 1995 they signed with Cleaves Entertainment, a now-defunct independent label based out of Southern California's Inland Empire. Stillwater Black recorded their debut LP, Adam. They played frequently with local and national acts including Dishwalla, Save Ferris, Reel Big Fish, and IE punk/ska mainstays, The Skeletones.

In 1997 the members parted ways and the project lay dormant for two decades.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


I met Abby a couple of years ago while having coffee with some dear friends. As the conversation took its twists and turns, I found that the two of us had a couple of things in common. She did some running and I had just completed my first ultramarathon. And we were both passionate about music.

At the time, I was busy with sansfife and looking to recruit an all-female drum ensemble. She expressed some interest. We exchanged contact information, and though the project never went anywhere, we’ve remained in touch.

I heard from her shortly after Stillwater Black started writing again. She reached out with an enthusiastic energy that I thought we’d left behind 20 years ago.

She immediately sent us a couple of notes:

Just heard your music for the very first time. You guys sound awesome. I’m always in search of something fresh. Your music when I first heard it- I was pleasantly surprised at the dark notes, unequivocally full of emotion.

We wanted to know more about her. This was clearly no passive listener. She is that rare person willing to engage directly and intentionally with art.

Thankfully, she was willing to tell us a bit about herself.

Abby on her roots:

I was born in the 80s and spent my earliest years in the urban streets of Mexico City. My family emigrated to the US when I was seven years old due to financial hardship, and I was unhappy with the decision. I missed the pollution of my overpopulated city! I struggled to fit in to say the least.

An urban musical movement in Mexico known locally as “rock nacional” emerged around this same time. Bands like El Tri and El Haragan formed within this sub-genre of rock, reinterpreting the rock and roll and blues music of the 60s and 70s. When I was ten years old, a family friend lent me a few CDs.

The simple musical and lyrical base of the music reflected on the struggles of the young urban class. They wrote about social inequality and the love of rock music as an escape. This resonated with my dejected feelings and brought me to a place in my mind where I could escape and be home again.

Naturally, as I explored the rock nacional origins and the bands that inspired the music, I began listening to classic rock, The Doors, Status Quo, and Pink Floyd.

As my younger brother and I grew up, we explored the wide range of rock’s intricacies and sub-genres. It took us on a trip ranging from grunge, alternative, heavy and dark metal, punk, ska, and goth. Together, we went to local shows at the OC’s Chain Reaction and at different venues throughout the LA area.

We saw bands from all over the world like Rammstein (Germany), M├Ągo de Oz (Spain), Rata Blanca (Argentina), The Specials (UK), and The Skatalites (Jamaica). It was a very diverse list that conformed to whatever mood we were in.

Today my taste in music varies widely. But rock is always at my core. Lacrimosa is my number one, along with Nightwish, Tristania, and Dead Can Dance. And then there are lesser known bands like Anabantha out of Mexico, Autumn Tears and Rasputina, a beautiful cello group. The list is endless.

Abby on art:

Art is transcendental. It ignores the confines of normal standards. It seeps through borders, crumbles hierarchies, and engages everyone regardless of where they come from.

I love music but I am not a musician. My talents lie in the visual arts, drawing, and writing.

But music was always vital for me as a conduit to inspirational ideas and expression. It is the background flame that ignites deeper insight and reflection.

Something very curious happened to me when I was 27.

I was going through a very rough period. I was self-destructive in more ways than one. I was living alone, depressed, and at one point, I fainted in my room.

I had a vivid dream. Suddenly I was in the middle of a massive concert. Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain were performing on the same bill and I remember thinking in my dream, “How is this possible? They’re from different eras.”

It was creepy, but I was listening to their music in my dream. When I woke up, I reflected on the fact that they both died at 27. I realized how imminent death was. It felt like I was at the doorstep of the other side and I could have passed away at the same age they did. When I woke, I felt like I had been given a second chance.

Abby on children, the arts, and celebrity culture:

Kids are subjected to an academic routine of methodology and history- of imperial conquests and wars. But how little they learn about emotions and love! These are subjects that are just not taught in school.

Art in all its forms casts aside the mundane. Music can evoke the deepest sentiments of the soul.

Through the arts, our best qualities can be channeled and expressed. I have a son and a daughter, and while they are both so different, they are each so expressive in their own way. I encourage them to express themselves through art and writing. We write each other letters and draw pictures to express feelings that are difficult to voice, or even just to wish each other a good day.

Irrespective of actual artistic talent, though, it almost seems that anyone can be in the spotlight. While this rapid dissemination of information can facilitate the exposure of good, wholesome art and music, the focus is often shifted to emphasize overflowingly decadent pop culture. It's a culture that is often morbid, narcissistic, and normalizes the crude and senseless.

Abby on Stillwater Black:

I found out about Stillwater Black through my brother in faith, Ahmed. I followed his blog and came across some of Stillwater Black’s early recorded music. I've been missing out! The songs mesmerized me in a way that only some of my favorite bands have. Among my favorites are Man of Wax and Raven Kin, which leaves me with the eerie sensation of being in an enchanted rainy forest as I fall asleep listening over and over. longshot is just as enticing to the senses. I can't believe the massive talent and cannot wait to hear them live!

Stillwater Black on Abby:

As an intentional listener, Abby has given us much to think about. If we've been blessed with talent and initiative, then there is along with that a considerable measure of responsibility that must be exercised. The disenfranchised, the lonely, the hurting, the broken- men and women in their most vulnerable moments may be relying at times upon the artist to give voice to the terrors within. It is this identification and validation that can bring someone back from the brink of perceived insanity, "I am not alone. Others have been here."

Be like Abby. Listen to longshot until you fall asleep.

And get social with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SoundCloud!

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