Spotlights Interview: “It has a sort of romantic allure to it yet it can kill you.”

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New album Seismic is out now via Ipecac Recordings.

No doubt, Brooklyn-based husband and wife post metal / metalgaze / alternative metal outfit Spotlights are one of the best new bands that have found their way to my ears this year. Their newest release, Seismic, is a seamless combination of ferocity and melody. It straddles beauty and ugliness with studied aplomb, creating an emotional and cathartic sound that equally calls to mind ISIS and Deftones. It could very well be my album of the year. It’s that good.

Mario Quintero, vocals/guitar/synths, had a chin wag with us recently about that album, touring with the Melvins, and working with Aaron Harris of ISIS/Palms fame.

Check out our Creative Process podcast featuring interviews with the Melvins, Unsane, Rosetta, and loads of others.

Overblown: The music on your debut album seems to be concise and to the point than the music you have released so far. Is that fair? What sparked this change?

Mario Quintero: I don’t really think of it as a change but more of a natural development. It’s funny, cause I actually think Seismic is less consistent than Tidals. But I like that. We wanted it to be a dynamic album that shifts through different movements. It’s a lot of music but it’s meant to be taken in sections like a classical piece might.

Overblown: I have to tell you, I am mad about the main riff in ‘Learn To Breathe’. Reminds me of the ferocity of early ISIS. What inspired the riff?

Mario Quintero: Thank you! I really don’t know what inspired the riff. I grabbed a guitar sat on the bed and that song just kind of came out. Only thing I know is that I had been looking to write something with a more straight forward driving beat. I tend to hear drum parts in my head first when writing.

Overblown: The music does an excellent job of drawing together brutality and beauty. What draws you to combining these extremes?

Mario Quintero: I think it’s something Sarah and I both have always looked for in music. I always compare it to the way fire is beautiful to look and but can destroy anything in it’s path. It has a sort of romantic allure to it yet it can kill you.

Overblown: You’ve stated that “Seismic came out of a reaction to the current state of humanity and the inevitable consequences we will have on this earth and ourselves”. Is the album taking even more significance now with the multitude of storms and earthquakes occurring at the moment?

Mario Quintero: Unfortunately, yes. And not only the natural kind but so many of the current disasters in the world. It’s scary, how easy it is to see what’s coming yet, there’s being nothing done to stop it.

Overblown: You recorded the album with Aaron Harris of ISIS/Palms fame. What did he bring to the table?

Mario Quintero: Great coffee! And, his production assistant Ace, the dog :). Other than that, he was amazing to work with. He made sure everything was sounding as good as possible while helping to get the best performances out of us. Not to mention ripping it up on the drums for 4 of the tracks. We love Aaron!

Overblown: You were recently on tour with the Melvins. Have you learned anything from them about live performance?

Mario Quintero: We learned so much. They have touring down to a science and it’s easy to see how they have been able to continue their success for so long. They not only put on the best show possible every night but also bring the music to smaller markets that many bands skip over because they’re not “big money” towns. They are the best band.

Overblown: What are you listening to right now? Why do you like it?

Mario Quintero: We’ve been listening to Dale’s new record non stop. It’s so damn good. Also Sticky fingers by the Stones. And, a lot of podcasts.

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