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Rival Schools Interview





"Quicksand! Wooo!"

During Rival Schools' performance at downtown Franklin Street club The

Continental on Saturday, November 3rd, a possibly drunken audience member repeatedly

screamed this and other similar, generally nonsensical remarks in the space between songs, as lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Walter Schreifels basically ignored him and casually continued with his polite chatting-up of the Buffalo scene.

Reclining after the show in his swank tour bus, Schreifels adopted a mocking tone as he said, "Do they really expect us to go, ‘Oh, my God--I can't believe it! There's a Quicksand fan here! Holy shit, man, we should start playing some Quicksand songs, and maybe people would like us more!'" In general, though, he truly doesn't mind. The influence on the underground of Quicksand, the band Schreifels led most recently prior to fronting Rival Schools, as well as his other projects, is undeniable. The loud guy "fills dead air," and beyond that, to Schreifels the random exclamations are "like saying, ‘Hey, I've been a fan of yours for a while....I like your band, and I like the things you've done in the past.'"

What a past. With his bands of the late ‘80's, Youth of Today and the Gorilla Biscuits, a teenage Schreifels took part in the creation of modern hardcore punk music and the beginnings of the musically intertwined, still existent straight-edge movement, in which youth align to rid their bodies of all toxins, pledging to avoid all drugs, alcohol, and even promiscuous sex. Schreifels presently views his past personal ingestion choices as positive for the time they were made, but in his twenties, he began to feel the restraints as unnecessary.

As the lanky, post-sweat, post-show gentleman put down his post-show Budweiser, he noted his current stand. In the straight-edge scene, he acted as "part of a trend, part of a mass movement. It was a club that I joined....I don't super-strongly believe in things that way. I don't join political parties in a mass way. [Now,] I value my own viewpoint."

Following his stint in the hardcore scene and selling over 100,000 copies of the Gorilla Biscuits' Start Today, Schreifels contributed to another important step in the evolution of underground music in the early ‘90’s. Taking rough, post-hardcore instrumentation and layering over it emotionally drenched vocals, Quicksand was one of the first bands to play what is now known as the ever-expanding musical categorization of "Emo."

Like with Youth of Today and the Gorilla Biscuits, hordes of affected individuals started bands to emulate the feeling that Schreifels had created in Quicksand, some of them making quite a living. Throughout all the bands of his career, Schreifels himself had a constant aspiration, as well as inspiration. He explained, "I draw from an ideal thing--the ultimate live band, like the Cro-Mags and Bad Brains....[Those bands gave me] an ideal of how wonderful or effective music can be to you, and you want to create that for other people."

Still attempting to move people by means of this essential emotional release, Schreifels wanted to use Rival Schools as an area to embrace his "hopes and optimism" in a decidedly more Gorilla Biscuits way than Quicksand. Though he found Quicksand's "dark place" to be "worthwhile and true," Rival Schools embodies an "upward hopefulness," a "positive swing" on the Quicksand style.

The feeling was even consciously embedded in the cover art imagery of their first full-length album, United By Fate. Positivity and renewal are represented in its single-tone, green color, as a boy and girl run together toward the foreground, and the same themes are presented inside the CD booklet with the photographs of spring flowers blossoming on trees.

The sounds of his former outlets have not been abandoned, though, as Schreifels notes that his past bands are still "apparent in song structures." He said, "I could turn ‘Travel by Telephone'[United By Fate's opening track] into a Gorilla Biscuits song. It could easily be a Quicksand song." Schreifels takes this solid song structure, and with the aid of master-bassist Cache Tolman (ex-Iceburn), long-time counterpart and drummer, Sam Siegler (ex-Gorilla Biscuits, Civ, Glassjaw), and guitarist Ian Love (ex-Burn), creates the punk-pop-rock grinding of Rival Schools.

With Schreifels' past in account, prepare to have a genre of music, and possibly a youth movement, begun in relation to the band at some point in their time playing together. At the very least, expect talented song-writing and some hard jivin' rock.

 

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