Five years ago, NYC post-hardcore legends Quicksand reformed after acrimoniously calling it quits in the late '90s, following the release of two acclaimed albums: 1993's Slip and 1995's Manic Compression. There never was a guarantee that the band would release a new album, but thankfully, last year they found time to convene and record with rising producer Will Yip. The reason for the delay, however, was mostly due to the members' conflicting schedules.
"We just didn't really have the scheduling together," frontman Walter Schreifels tells Exclaim! "I put out three records this past year, Sergio [Vega, bassist] was doing Deftones and [drummer] Alan [Cage] is the primary caregiver for his four-year-old son, so between those three schedules, we didn't have any sort of routine to make it happen. Especially after trying to come back from such a long absence. You have to really feel that inspiration and give it the time it deserves."
Like a lot of '90s reunions, demand was high for Quicksand, and the offers to play shows were what allowed the band to take that next step.
"Last year, we got offered good money to play some festivals, but without having new material out, it felt like we were crossing a line of playing straight oldies," Schreifels says. "So we decided to take the money from these festivals and invest it into recording. We scheduled the time out and just committed to it. To use our money and take time away from our families, we had to take it seriously."
Since Quicksand disbanded, Schreifels has written music as Rival Schools, Walking Concert, Dead Heavens, Vanishing Life and under his own name, not to mention playing shows with his old, seminal hardcore bands Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today. In order to begin writing new Quicksand material after 22 years, Schreifels says it was all just a matter of reigniting the band's chemistry.
"I had to look at it not as writing Quicksand songs, and look at it as us three," he says. "Regardless of our history, Sergio is a great guy to play with. He's a strong, creative player with a real sound. Alan is awesome, but hugely underrated; I think he's one of the best rock drummers of his generation. And being prolific, I've continued to make music in all of these different projects.
"So we could just make great songs that reflect who and what we are as musicians, and not feel so beholden to the idea of Quicksand and sounding like Slip or Manic Compression. We didn't even need to listen to or think about those records. We needed to do something that was here and now."
Quicksand came to an end during a 1999 stint in the studio to record a third album fell victim to dissent amongst the members. But time apart healed any old wounds, and Schreifels admits that the band are as harmonious now as they've ever been.
"I think we get along so much better now, and also get so much more out of each other," he explains. "I wouldn't want to do it the way we did the other records, which was way more adversarial. Now we just talk to each other and work things out. We realize that we're all on the same side. We're just cool to each other now."
This newfound synergy can be heard all over Interiors, which also marks a great leap forward for Quicksand. Where the band once utilized hardcore's tightly wound intensity in their song structures, they now open it right up using expansive guitar passages and slacker tempos. But it's never in question that this is Quicksand at play.
"I think it's all connected," Schreifels says. "The second album was a reaction to the first album, but then this new one breaks free from both of those. But they're all inherently connected in the same story. In wanting to make a new record, we could hear gaps in our live set. We could only play songs from Slip and Manic Compression, even though as musicians we had so much more to say in a live set. And so this record in a way is filling in those gaps for us. That is the beauty of it for me. Now we have the freedom to make our sets more interesting by letting it flow and be more dynamic. It frames the band's sound in a deeper, more interesting way."
Quicksand will continue to tour as a three-piece, following the abrupt departure of guitarist Tom Capone, who also played on Interiors. In September, Capone was arrested for shoplifting 43 items from a CVS pharmacy in Phoenix, just hours before Quicksand were to play the Crescent Ballroom. Following the arrest, the band issued a statement wishing Capone all the best, but also announcing they would move on as a trio.
"It wasn't what we had planned, but it's worked out really well actually," Schreifels explains. "We were on tour, so I had to figure it out quickly. Just sorting out how to do it all, getting comfortable playing the leads and do it in my own way. At first I was thinking a bit more, but it became easier and easier as each show passed."
Schreifels feels this new version of the band reflects the one that created Interiors, and so there is no need to change anything at the moment. Although he's hesitant to discuss Capone's status, he seems excited about the band's upcoming dates.
"On stage it's a new energy," he says. "I'm getting more into my guitar playing, which is a lot of fun, and I'm more engaged in it. This is how we recorded the album, so it didn't feel that far off for us. We haven't thought of adding another guitar player. We're happy as we are at the moment."
Interiors is out November 10 on Epitaph.