Label: Epitaph Records
Interiors is Quicksand’s best album yet. It sounds like nothing else you are going to hear this year.
It arrives deliberately unannounced, two decades after the pioneering post-hardcore quartet’s last album. Made completely on the band’s own terms, Interiors has a power, strength and subtlety that will likely stun you. There are no wasted notes, no flab, and no excess whatsoever. It is absolutely perfect. “This struck a chord, where we felt this is actually something that could represent us now,” says bassist Sergio Vega. “It doesn’t sound like a third album a couple of decades later. It’s a piece of work that we really, really can back.” That may be an understatement: Interiors is breathtaking in its surging, sculptured sonic attack, a welcome reminder that the band’s longtime status as musical innovators is not undeserved.
To make the record, the band first had to return to the beginning—to the purity of why Quicksand started making music in the first place. In the process, they made a great record that speaks to their past—but, more essentially, to their present and future. “First we went out and made the record we wanted to make, with the person we wanted to make it with,” says drummer Alan Cage. “Then we went with a finished product and said ‘OK, who’s going to put this thing out?’ Of course we want to share it, have people listen to it, and create their own relationship with it--but at the core, it is our thing. “I think we landed in a perfect place to do that with epitaph.”
“When we first became a band, that’s what we did with making our EP. We put together $1500 and recorded the songs, because no one knew or cared about what we were doing, except for us. We took the same approach with Interiors.” And of course, so much has changed since then.
“I’m thrilled to be listening back to a record that we made with our own money, on our own schedule and creative terms,” says Quicksand front man/guitarist Walter Schreifels. “While it was definitely important for us to speak to our longtime fans, we thought the best way to do that was to embrace who we are now, to allow our selves to be open to people that have never heard of us. Our tastes and experiences as musicians and as people have grown, and we decided to run with that. As a result, I think ‘Interiors’ has a wider spectrum on it than our past records.”
Interiors makes clear via its searing opening sequence of tracks that Quicksand’s skills as songsmiths and players have never been sharper. From the pulse-pounding start of the opening track “Illuminant,” the band immediately draws you in with its unique combination of pounding rhythm and shifting loud/soft dynamics, heightened by Schreifels’ deliberately restrained—but powerful—vocal. "To me, ‘Illuminant’ was the first song that set the bar for the rest of the album. We had compiled various jams and song inspirations that we’d recorded at sound checks and rehearsals, but it is a significant step to take song ideas, riffs etc. and commit to the structure that makes it a ‘song.’ Especially for us. We were searching for the abstract idea of ‘what does a new Quicksand song sound like?’ Once we put ‘Illuminant’ together, it happened pretty quickly. I felt confident we could make a great album.”
A similar standout is “Cosmonauts,” a stylistic leap forward for the band both in terms of its powerfully rhythmic, slow pacing and Schreifels’ textured and melodic vocal. “One of the things about Quicksand back in the day that made it hard for me was that most of the vocals were close to the top of my range, it had impact but was exhausting to perform live. As a Quicksand song, ‘Cosmonauts’ has all the elements that our fans dig, but I gave myself license to sing. Over time I’ve discovered that if you have the right emotional pitch--if you understand what you’re trying to say, you don't necessarily have to scream it to make a point.”
That point also applies to the album’s title track, among the finest the band has ever recorded. “Interiors” is majestic, glacial, powerful, throbbing—like no other song you’ve ever heard—pairing a howling, repetitive guitar figure partnered with Schreifels’ emotional, almost resigned delivery of the lyrics. It is a mind-blower from top to bottom, and its final moments feature a stunning instrumental break ranking among Quicksand’s best ever work.
There’s an astounding array of sonic diversity displayed on Interiors that will satisfy Quicksand fans both old and new. And that’s been done purposely, adds Schreifels, pointing to the significant contributions of producer Will Yip. “I worked with Will on another project some years ago--Title Fight’s Shed album,” he says. “We had a blast. And with Will’s combination of expertise and taste, I knew that he would gel with the other Quicksand guys.
No small matter was the fact that Yip has produced the records of several young, critically admired bands that cite Quicksand as an influence, he adds. “It made sense to thread that with where music is now. While working on this record, Will really joined the band--and every move we made was in service of the song sonically, structurally and overall energy-wise. We were not afraid to diverge from formula moves, and we were also down to embrace aspects of our style that our fans have come to expect--as long as there was a twist. "For example, ‘Under The Screw’ I really dig because I wanted something that kind of connected to the Quicksand that people remember,” he says. “But in the vocals, I took a more surrealistic approach than I would have in the past--which I think gives license for us to take more unexpected turns as the song progresses.”
There is a sense of growth and maturity on Interiors that longtime fans will hear upon first listen. A lot has happened since the early ‘90s, a lot has happened since those days of Manic Compression and the very first Warped Tour. And a lot has happened in the lives of the four members of Quicksand.
“This record just sounds like who we are,” says Schreifels. “Lyrically, I wasn’t interested in re-creating some ersatz version of the struggles I was having when I was 20 years old, I lived that already. It took me a minute to find the thread but once I had a few songs done, the language and themes of Interiors began to write themselves.” From start to finish, there is growth, there is strength, and there is power in this music. More power than ever before, and it may surprise you. Translation? Quicksand has made the album of a lifetime. And now the world gets to hear it.