a Q&A with Walter Schreifels & “Painter” song stream from Vanishing Life album
Post-hardcore legend Walter Schreifels remains active with a handful of his classic bands, like Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits, and now Youth of Today again too (who just played Sound on Sound). For those bands, though, he focuses on the classics. In terms of new music, he splits his time between the psych/garage band Dead Heavens and Vanishing Life, whose upcoming debut album Surveillance is the closest he's come to his hardcore roots in a while.
The album drops this Friday (11/11) via Dine Alone (pre-order), and we're premiering the song "Painter" ahead of its release. Walter's joined in this band by Autry Fulbright and Jamie Miller of ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (the latter of which also recently joined Bad Religion), and prolific punk musician Zach Blair, and their styles of course blend well.
Vanishing Life are beginning a tour on album release day that hits NYC on Sunday (11/13) at The Studio at Webster Hall with Burn, Neaux and Red Hymns (tickets). Next year, they'll tour Europe with Youth of Today (and American Nightmare and Trash Talk). Walter's band Dead Heavens are also touring, including a Brooklyn show in December.
We talked to Walter over email about the new Vanishing Life album, the ongoing Youth of Today reunion, and more. Listen to "Painter" and read the full interview:
Your new music recently has been split between Dead Heavens and Vanishing Life, and the new VL album feels like the closest you've come to your punk/hardcore roots in a while. Where did the inspiration to revisit that sound come from? Was it at all influenced by the big shows you've been playing with Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, and now Youth of Today again too?
Initially VL music was coming from Jamie, the drummer so the punk/hc vibe didn't originate with me. That said I had subbed in on lead vocals for Gorilla Biscuits when Civ broke his ankle not too long before we got VL going and having survived that experience it probably awakened my HC chops. There were huge full grown adults jumping on top of me to sing along, it was scary and dangerous but also a lot of fun. I don't expect VL to be that way but there's some thread. Playing in my past bands in the present definitely allows me to exercise that side of my personality and skill set, which I see as a very good thing to apply to VL and Dead Heavens.
On that same note, you did a reunion album with Rival Schools but the Quicksand/GB/YOT reunions stick to the old stuff. Is it an intentional thing to keep those discographies' untouched and form other bands for your new songwriting?
I don't have any rules for that. Artistically speaking I'm most interested in what I'm doing currently with Dead Heavens and VL. I'm grateful to have my past bands active to some degree because it helps to keep our friendships tight and as an artist I believe it's healthy to revisit past work to help to inform and inspire the way forward.
All the members of Vanishing Life come from various cool bands. How would you say everyone's styles complement each other -- or clash -- when you're writing songs?
As band mates go VL is the Seal Team 6 of my oeuvre. Living in different cities, playing in different bands, we have no time to fuck around, when we see each other we need to be pushing the ball forward, executing tasks. It's a hurry up offense approach. We may disagree on certain points but we're never stuck for long. Musically everyone can play, brings a voice but are also pro and adult enough to bend for the bigger picture. Wasting time can be healthy for a band, doing nothing happens but with our limited time together, VL it has to happen quickly and with quality. We have fun but with a sense of urgency and mission.
Even if the new album has a sound that can be traced back to your roots, it sounds very modern too. And the multiple generations of hardcore feels represented in the tours too, like the upcoming YOT/VL tour that has American Nightmare and Trash Talk. How important is it to you to have that mix of honoring your past but also staying current?
Thank you, when I approach music I always want to innovate, progress as an artist and person while hopefully carrying along the strengths developed along the way. For example I was stoked on Start Today but needed to say something different next, with Quicksand I discovered a whole new bag of tricks and experiences and have continued on from Naturally some formulas and feelings will be cast overboard, I'm not a hoarder, being modern and (hopefully) futuristic is my goal but I'll always be a Gorilla Biscuit too.
How have the Youth of Today shows been going by the way? I know you guys were just at Sound on Sound, which seemed like such a cool festival.
YOT shows have been phenomenal. I've had so much fun playing bass,together, the band rules and Ray is the ultimate front man and I feel he's just warming up after just 3 shows. It's also been great hanging with those guys, catching up on life a bit but still feeling that chemistry come so easily. Sound On Sound was awesome, the curation (including YOT) was impeccable as always.
Vanishing Life -- 2016/2017 Tour Dates
November 11 - Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA
November 12 - The Met, Providence, RI
November 13 - The Studio at Webster, New York, NY w/ Burn
November 14 - Boot and Saddle, Philadelphia, PA
November 17 - Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA
November 18 - Bullfrogs, Kingsburg, CA
November 19 - The Hideout, San Diego, CA
November 20 - The Echoplex, Los Angeles, CA
17/02 Essen, Germany @ Weststadthale
18/02 Berlin, Germany @ Astra
19/02 Hamburg, Germany @ Markthalle
20/02 Leipzig, Germany @ Conne Island
21/02 Weisbaden, Germany @ Schlachthof
22/02 Munich, Germany @ Backstage Werk
23/02 Munester, Germany @ Sputnikhalle
24/02 B-Hasselt, Germany @ Muzik-O-Drom
25/02 London, UK @ Electric Ballroom
all with Youth of Today, American Nightmare, Trash Talk, Wolf Down