Interview: Walter Schreifels/ Vanishing Life [October 2014]

By Glen Bushell

When talking about youth crew hardcore, post-hardcore or alternative-rock, it would be near impossible not to mention the name of Walter Schreifels. Having spent time in Gorilla Biscuits, Warzone, Youth Of Today, Quicksand, Rival Schools and more, Schreifels has been a mainstay in the music world for nearly 30 years now and shows no signs of slowing down yet. Now he is back once again with his latest offering, the ‘punk rock supergroup’ Vanishing Life, who also feature members of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Rise Against among their ranks. I was lucky enough to have a transatlantic phone conversation with Walter to talk about Vanishing Life, managing so many projects and pushing the boundaries of hardcore.

So firstly, how did Vanishing Life come about?

We were at Groezrock and Autry from Trail of Dead was brainstorming the idea of doing this awesome band, so I said “Cool”, and you know when people say things you sometimes think it’s not going to happen? Well then the tape went around and I was like, “Cool, so this is actually happening”. I got on Garageband and put my parts to it, then Geoff from Thursday said he was starting a label (Collect Records), and initially was going to be a part of the band but opted to release it instead.

I understand you played guitar on the recording, but will be just singing live, are you looking forward to this?

Yeah that was the idea, I just wanted to do that from the start, then the songwriting took another shape and I wanted to challenge myself. I love playing guitar, but I’m also excited about the freedom of not playing guitar in a band, and not having to be a part of the song writing as the band didn’t start with me. I think that’s what makes the song writing quite exceptional in that way.

How was the recording process for you?

It was great, we got together in California as that seemed to be the most convenient place as we are from all over, and a friend of mine there offered to record us so we just went in and jammed the songs out. All the guys are awesome musicians so it was a great experience.

You have a storied history within hardcore and punk, and with the sound Vanishing Life has, how much of an influence did your background play in the writing?

Hardcore to me is the most enduring genre outside of probably hip hop to come out of the US. Its highly influential and unsullied, although sometimes now it’s pinning itself into a corner. What I’m trying to do is take from that, and maybe paint outside of that corner and expand the boundaries of it, not resisting other elements.

Is the 7” a one off project, or can we expect to see more releases from Vanishing Life?

Yeah, we want to do as much as we can. We have some more songs that are just as good, if not better than the two on the 7″, and I want to play live so we need more songs of course. We are doing an in-store in a record shop for our first show. It’s not a big deal and it’s just going to be fun. But yeah, we are on the case and it’s pretty exciting.

Obviously you are a family man now and still a prolific musician. How do you find the balance between normal life and juggling so many projects?

I guess by virtue all the projects are interesting for different reasons, which means I’m able to maintain a longer arc. This new one came out of nowhere and as with all of the projects I’m involved in everyone also has different things going on, and some of my projects aren’t as active as others. I guess I just need to make sure I am in constant touch with everyone, constantly on top of emails and calls, and being organised.

Records you have released – such as ‘Slip’ with Quicksand and ‘Start Today’ with Gorilla Biscuits – are highly influential in their respective scenes. Do you feel you have a legacy to live up to, or people expect certain things from you when you announce a new release?

I try to separate myself from any kind of legacy because it is just that: each project is separate from the other. It’s cool that people recognise the work I’ve done before, because otherwise it may slow down. People aren’t going to like everything I do, and some will be attached to some projects, and some attached to others, and that’s cool, but it’s all part of the same thing. I just try not to get caught up in it, and I just feel very lucky that, as I said before, my story has a long arc.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us today Walter. Any final words?

Just what up UK! Hopefully we can get over there with Vanishing Life soon, but we will definitely be there. I don’t get to come there as much now, and it’s been a minute, so yeah, we will see you soon.

‘People Running’ by Vanishing Life is available to pre-order from Collect Records now, and is out October 13th.


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Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]