Album: Distant Populations
VÖ: 13.08.2021 Digital, 24.09.2021 Vinyl
Label/Vertrieb: Epitaph Records/Indigo
New York City post-hardcore band Quicksand have announced their fourth studio album Distant Populations out digitally August 13 and on vinyl September 24 via Epitaph Records.
Recorded at Studio 4 Recording in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, Distant Populations was produced and engineered by Will Yip (The Menzingers, Code Orange, Defeater), and mixed by Josh Wilbur (Lamb of God, Megadeth, Avenged Sevenfold). The album is the follow-up to the critically lauded 2017 release Interiors. Sonically it has a punchier, more up-tempo sound than its predecessor, with its 11 songs being concise, carved sonic jewels boasting not a single wasted note. Its gripping lyricism and raw power leap out from the very first listening.
Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, Quicksand explores the duality of our simultaneous existence in individual relationships and as part of a mass society, while also examining the alienation and loneliness of it all. “Everyone is on the one hand so connected with each other, and on the other hand, is so far apart.” says frontman Walter Schreifels.“We’re checking out each other’s social media and we know what everybody’s doing. But when we’re sitting in the same room together, we’re looking at our phones,” he adds point out the sad irony of it all.
Today, the band shares “Missile Command,” a song that emerged from a Quicksand rehearsal jam, recalls Schreifels, “It really kind of focuses on Sergio’s (Vega) whole motif in a very simple way. He and Alan (Cage) just have this really kind of trademark groove, and I think that really sings on this one to me. I just felt like it's a kind of song that is very us, but we hadn't written it yet.”
CHECK OUT “MISSLE COMMAND”
DISTANT POPULATIONS TRACKLIST
2. Lightning Field
6. Missile Command
7. Phase 90
8. The Philosopher
9. Compacted Reality
Formed in 1990, Quicksand made their full-length debut with Slip—a 1993 release praised by The A.V. Club as “a nearly flawless record that combines the irony and heaviness of Helmet with Fugazi’s penchant to dismantle sound in the most energetic ways.” Arriving in 1995, their sophomore album Manic Compression appeared at #1 on the Top Five Best Post-Hardcore Records list from LA Weekly (who noted that “if there were any justice in the world, Quicksand would have been the biggest underground band of the ’90s”).
Throughout the early ’90s, Quicksand toured with bands like Helmet, Fugazi, Rage Against the Machine, and Anthrax. After disbanding in late 1995, they reunited for a one-night performance in June 2012. They’ve since appeared at festivals like FYF Fest and Pukkelpop, and in 2013 embarked on their first North American tour in 15 years. In 2017, the band released their long-awaited third-studio album Interiors which saw Consequence of Sound praise the band for their sound “that nobody else has been able to replicate in all the time they've been gone."
Quicksand is frontman/guitarist Walter Schreifels, bassist Sergio Vega, and drummer Alan Cage.
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.