The name Walter Schreifels is certainly not foreign to fans of hardcore or post-hardcore. Most first became familiar with his legendary work in the seminal New York hardcore band Gorilla Biscuits. Following their breakup, he formed the genre defining Quicksand. Beyond Quicksand, Walter has worked on many projects including Rival Schools. Punknews staffer Jason Baygood had the chance to catch up with Walter at this year’s edition of the annual Riot Fest in Chicago where he pulled triple duty, including performing the debut Quicksand album Slip in full.
Right off the bat I have to ask. What was the initial motivation for the Quicksand reunion? We were solicited to play a celebration event for Revelation Records. Initially, we thought we would simply play a few songs and that would be the end. The whole experience blew us away and it ended up being something more long term again.
Since the reformation, Quicksand have released two albums. (Interiors released in 2017 and Distant Populations released in 2021). Do you feel any sense of burden that any new material has to match the classic Quicksand sound? I think that’s a little bit of it. I try not to turn it into a burden though. Used in context in an effective way, you can do interesting things spinning off of that. That is part of the fun of it.
You are playing the debut Quicksand album Slip in full today. Many consider that a genre defining post-hardcore album. With writing newer albums, is there an attempt to recreate the past or do you write in more of a contemporary style? We are 100% not trying to simply recreate the past. At the same time, with it including the same people, it is hard to not sound like it at times. We were very innovative in the beginning and we are always trying to continue to be innovators.
I recall the first few times I saw Quicksand in the early '90s. The band was something completely different you brought to the stage as compared to the bands which everyone had previously been part of. Yes, of course. We were being innovators!
I wanted to talk for a moment about what you were doing during your downtime from Quicksand. Of course you did the band Rival Schools. Some say that since reforming, they hear that band’s influence on both Interiors and Distant Populations. How would you respond to such statements? It’s the same guy leading both bands. My ideas are always going to come back into anything that I do. My style is natural and what I go to.
How did the departure of original Quicksand guitarist Tom Capone impact your most recent album Distant Populations? We have been on this path of playing as a three piece for many years now. His departure really didn’t impact us at all.
You certainly have a busy weekend this weekend. You are taking part in full album plays for Quicksand, Rival Schools and Gorilla Biscuits. Whose idea was it for all this to happen? Honestly, I don’t know how it all happened. I simply initially got an offer from Riot Fest to play and I said yes. I can’t remember which band it was that got asked first. Other offers came in and before I knew it, three of my bands were playing Riot Fest! Maybe it was the festival itself who had that idea?
Riot Fest has always been big on having full classic album performances by various bands. That has to be exciting to perform three classic albums from three separate eras of your career. I am extremely grateful to get to go through this retrospective of my career this weekend.
Has your preparation for this weekend differed from your norm, as you are playing with three different bands? Yes. Quicksand is the most challenging due to all of our different tunings for songs. That can get tricky. Gorilla Biscuits is always really chill. For Rival Schools, we are actually having practice tonight.
Here we are at Riot Fest. Festivals continue to get huge, and bands more than ever are doing more destination shows. Do you prefer doing these festivals or doing one-off shows and tours? I certainly appreciate each on differently. Festivals are great because you get the chance to see both your peers as well as cool bands like The Cure. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that I don’t also like playing shows where you know the crowd is primarily in attendance for you and your band.
It does seem these days with the increase in festivals worldwide that bands don’t seem to tour as much. Many seem to favor such destination type of events. It’s great to hear that you appreciate both. What bands are you excited to see this weekend? There are so many great bands performing. Some are the Breeders, Turnstile, The Cure, and Say Anything.
Walter, I wanted to thank you for your time in speaking with me. I am looking forward to your performances this weekend. Thank you. My pleasure