Walter Schreifels is a name who would make any fan of punk, hardcore or alternative rock light up. Cutting his teeth on New York’s hardcore circuit during the mid to late 80’s, his role in bands including Gorilla Biscuits, Rival Schools, Quicksand and Youth Of Today propelled Schreifels to legend status both on stage and behind the desk as a producer.
Out in Australia with Frank Iero, Schreifels admits that the demographic of punter he’s been playing to on this tour is most definitely younger and not from the scene he normally rolls in, but it’s also been a great opportunity (from a music fan’s standpoint) to see an accomplished member of the genre perform for the first time and from there, go and discover the bands and records he’s had a hand in.
Sitting down in Adelaide with Schreifels before his gig earlier this week, he takes us through the first two shows of the tour – Brisbane and Perth.
“I mean it’s certainly Frank’s crowd that I’m playing to,” he laughs. “There are a smattering of people that are there to see me do my set. For me, it’s actually a different kind of thing that I’ve been [doing] here; I’ve been here with Rival Schools, with Gorilla Biscuits and now opened for Frank and I’ve also done my own solo shows here as well. So it’s all different. Playing for Frank’s audiences is amazing because I feel like I’m [playing] in the ‘first five’ concerts for some of these fans. It’s mostly young girls and they’re just psyched; I don’t trace any cynicism in the room at all, it’s really nice.”
“You can sense it [really] well,” he adds, understanding how these fans can be so intensely passionate when it comes to a live show like Iero’s have been. “[I think of] what my first five gigs were, what were they like. You really want soak it up; being close to it is an important part of it as well. Trying to experience every aspect of it. It’s a great energy to be around.”
Turning focus to the multitude of musical projects Schreifels himself has on the go currently, he’s deep in record making mode. Continuing to move between genres, Schreifels has been having fun playing with different styles of music.
“For the last year or so I’ve been working on a band called Dead Heavens,” he explains. “That’s kind of a heavy, blues-rock, psychedelic wah-wah pedal kind of band and that’s really starting to take shape. I just came off a tour with The Bronx and we’re going out with CRX, which is Nick [Valensi] from The Strokes‘ new band and we’ll be touring in February, and we have an album coming out in March, so a lot of cool stuff is happening with that. I also have another project band in Vanishing Life, the record’s [Surveillance] coming out next month; we’re doing shows in November and we’ll be touring Europe as well in February some time. I’m at a very busy stage.”
With multiple bands on the go as well as production credits to his name building, Schreifels remains relaxed and optimistic looking ahead to the new year of ventures.
“Sometimes like, ‘How am I doing this?’,” he laughs. “I’m just trying to think like, ‘What would Dre do?’ Not everything that Dre would do, but aspects of it. I just think, ‘I can [do it]. Dr. Dre’s not thinking about, ‘Oh I’m too busy,’ you know what I mean?”
On what has kept the creative wheels turning all these years, especially today where technology has offered musicians so many more outlets to create, Schreifels describes his own journey into live performing and collaborating; he’s always striving to learn more from his peers and improve – new experiences are always crucial.
“Initially…” he remembers. “Getting into music, I connected to music as many people do and I learned to play guitar which took it up another level. I then got into hardcore, which enabled me to get on stage and get some sort of feedback on it. Once I got going with it all, I just found it so interesting. I’m travelling, I’m seeing the world. I find music itself; writing songs, collaborating with other people, it’s always something new. As much ‘expertise’ that I gain, I’m always learning new stuff and as a pursuit for my life, I find it cool.”
Images by Lauren Connelly.