By Jason SchreursRival Schools, the project led by Walter Schreifels (ex-Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits, etc.), have announced September 21 as the official release date for their first album in almost ten years.
As we recently told you, the record will be released on Photo Finish Records, which is distributed by Atlantic, and will mark the return for a band who many were surprised to see disband back in late 2002.
Now, with a new LP in the pipeline, they're being careful to focus on their enjoyment and, hopefully, their longevity.
"We're all pretty balanced in our lives; we're all a little bit older and have more experiences. At the time that we broke up we were on a major and expected to tour all the time; there was a lot of heaviness on it," Schreifels told Exclaim! in a recent interview. "We're on a major again, but there are not as many expectations, and we have more chance to say, 'Hey, what do we want to do?" And we also want to enjoy the process and feel cool about each thing we want to do, and not be out on the road killing ourselves to satisfy some sort of quota for shows or something."
Rival Schools features vocalist/guitarist Schreifels, guitarist Ian Love (ex-Cardia), drummer Sam Siegler (ex-CIV, Youth of Today) and bassist Cache Tolman (ex-Iceburn). They originally reformed in 2008 for some select live dates and had hoped to get a new record out soon after that. Instead, the band bided their time and now plan to release their Love-recorded album after another long wait.
"It's a tricky thing to make a record after having waited so long," says Schreifels. "We wanted to strike a balance from where our last record was and point to the future for what would follow. I think we succeeded in doing that. That integrity is still there, but we also branched out, musical and lyrically. There's an evolution, but it's the same band."
Perhaps the best news for Rival Schools fans is that the new album, which has yet to be titled, is not going to be a one-off venture. In fact, Schreifels and the band have already begun planning for another album, but are being careful not to get too ahead of themselves.
"I want to enjoy every minute of this album coming out, but I feel for sure I would like to follow it up sooner than we did the last one [2001's United by Fate, their only official release to date]. That's my hope to put out more records, but I also don't want to leapfrog this new record," he says.
This year's new album will feature a couple of tracks that diehard fans may remember from the band's most infamous anomaly: an unreleased set of demos from 2002. The songs "Big Waves" and "Sophia Loren" were both planned to be part of a 2003 release that never happened, and appear on the new record in different incarnations. The original 2002 demo session was leaked in its entirety to the Internet after Love left the band and the other members soon parted ways.
"That demo getting leaked is something I would have preferred not to happen, but you can't really feel too precious about anything; that's not how things are anymore," says Schreifels. "If you make something and record it, you have to accept that it might be put on the Internet. The one good thing about it is it did give fans of Rival Schools something to chew on, and there was still a spirit of the band out there. It's cool, but it wouldn't be something I would say to put out there, just because it wasn't a finished product."
Schreifels also reveals that the band parted ways in 2003 on amicable terms and with the understanding that someday, maybe even soon, they'd play together again. That soon turned into seven years, but, regardless, the four members of Rival Schools were sure to remember that the breakup was never anything personal.
"The feeling that we had when we broke up was we were just burnt out, we weren't leaving in disgust or hatred," says Schreifels. "It was mostly from touring. We had the feeling that when we were in the mood for it, we'd hit it again. As soon as we started playing together again, it was just super fun. We made sure to keep in touch and remain friends, so most of the work was already done."
Meanwhile, Schreifels also has a solo career to fill his time. His first solo record, An Open Letter to the Scene, comes out May 4 in Canada on Dine Alone Records. The album, which Schreifels refers to as a folk record, features him and his acoustic guitar with a stripped-down backing band, similar to the work he did in a previous incarnation called Walking Concert. An Open Letter to the Scene also features a couple of familiar tunes from his early hardcore days: Agnostic Front's "Society Sucker" and CIV's "Don't Gotta Prove It," a track he penned for the New York hardcore band he formed to relive his Gorilla Biscuits glory (the band shared most of its members), and also featured Rival School's Siegler on drums.
"As far as the cover songs, I wanted to give the album some context," says Schreifels. "It's a culmination of my whole story of what I've done up until now. I just did the Agnostic Cover one night, and I realized that was something important and dear to me. I felt that it made sense; it's really my own interpretation of the song. And I wrote that whole CIV album [1995's Set Your Goals, so I wanted to try a different version of my song."
While Schreifels thinks his solo album is "the favourite record I've done," he also mentions a second solo effort in the works which he hopes to release by the end of the year.
And with Rival Schools now reunited, it's not a far stretch to think the same could happen with Schreifels's most infamous post-hardcore-era band, early '90s heroes Quicksand. However, Schreifels says a reunion is unlikely.
"Well, right after we broke up, in 1995 or 1996, we tried it with the Deftones tour [Quicksand bass player Sergio Vega is now a member of Deftones]. We even did some recordings at one point, and it was really, really bad," reveals Schreifels. "Although, it was good in that we knew we didn't have to do it ever again. I do some Quicksand songs in my solo sets, and I feel my rock is satisfied with Rival Schools. It just didn't work out for Quicksand, but at the same time, that's okay.
"It's better that people remember the band fondly and Quicksand still continues to find people that dig it. And, to me, that's more worthwhile than to fake it."