Combining the metallic weight of post-metal and sludge, the expressiveness of post-rock and the kaleidoscopic colors of shoegaze, Spotlights offer a unique, dense and sonically crushing experience with their debut full-length, Tidals. In a sea of artists that utilize the walls of sound associated with shoegaze, Spotlights break the mold by using the techniques as an enhancement rather than a crutch. The end result is a niche sound that will eventually become synonymous with this band’s impressive debut. Svbterranenan recently caught up with one-half of the New York duo, Mario Quintero, to talk about the new record, the band’s beginnings, shoegaze and future plans.
Hello, could you please introduce yourself and your role in Spotlights?
Hi! I’m Mario and I play guitar and sing in Spotlights.
When you first formed Spotlights, was there a particular goal or sound
you strived for?
We didn’t really have any particular goal, other that to make music we like and wanted to hear. Sarah [Quintero, bass] and I recorded the first Spotlights song in 2009 with no plan in mind. We literally just went into the studio (which I owned at the time in San Diego) and went with the first thing that came out. We wrote and recorded that first single in about 4 hours and thought, “we need to do that again some day!”.
How do you feel the band has evolved since its inception?
Well, after recording that first song, we began playing in Sleep Lady, which was our main focus the next few years. I think playing with Mike Hayden (Guitar in Sleep Lady) influenced me a lot as a guitar player. When Sarah and I moved to New York in 2013, I really wanted to try something different, so I started trying for more of an
electronic sound combined with Sarah’s always heavy as F bass ton.
We began writing the Demonstration EP with that in mind and decided to play as a 2 piece with me on drums and Sarah on Bass while playing along with loops and samples. It was fun, but I definitely felt a little held back by it, and as much as I love playing drums I’m much more a guitar player. That’s kind of what led to where we are now. I started writing new material from a guitar perspective and I think we
were able to get the ideas across much better that way.
How has writing and performing for Spotlights pushed you as a musician?
I think I’ve pushed my limits a bit in this band to see how full a 3 piece band can sound. It’s taken a lot of work to figure out how to play guitar and work all the electronics while singing, but I really like the dynamic of the 3 piece and I feel like sonically it’s coming across like we hoped. I hope..
What you can tell us about the creation of the newest record, Tidals?
Most of this record was written and demoed at home, while still in my underwear, possibly a little hungover, surrounded by little furry animals. We had a chance to record 2 songs at Rubber Tracks with our good friend Jason Finkel, and got some great guitar and bass tones for Walls and Joseph. Once it was decided that Crowquill Records was going to release the record, Sarah and I recorded the rest of the album in our practice space in Brooklyn and I mixed it at home.
How do you think it compares to the Demonstration EP?
To me it seems like a pretty natural progression. Especially from the last song on Demonstration “French Exit” you can kind of see where we were headed. Demonstration was recorded in a very loose fashion and we mostly just wanted something to put up on line. Where TIDALS was approached with a little more care and focus.
What are some of the themes explored on Tidals?
There is a vague sense of an ocean and lunar theme throughout, hence the title, but, each individual song definitely has a loose theme, I suppose. Ones that stick out to me are religious and cult fanaticism and the blind ignorance that it produces. There is also somewhat of a dream-state theme and the longing for lost loved ones. I feel like there is plenty of room for the listeners own interpretation though.
The music on the record has evoked many shoegaze and alternative comparisons. How do you feel about the shoegaze scene/genre as a whole?
It’s interesting.. I don’t think either of us have much of a background with the traditional “shoegaze” bands like MBV, Slowdive etc.. In fact I really know nothing about those bands. I do however like some of the sonic aesthetics that those bands are known for. There are some really good new bands reviving that more straight forward shoegaze thing and I think that’s cool, but I’d like to see a little more variation in that particular sound.
We come from more of a post-hardcore/metal/progressive type of background but in the long run, all of that, including “shoegaze” is just part of a larger picture of heavy, emotion based music, and I think you can see that in the fans these days. You have burly metal dudes loving Chelsea Wolf and Nothing and punk/emo kids loving bands like Sumac and Cult Leader. It’s all just sort of becoming one genre and there are so many good bands killing it right now. I love it.
How would you personally describe Tidals to someone who hasn’t heard it?
As a record they should listen to 🙂
What would you like people to take away from listening to the record?
I don’t really know. I hope they enjoy it as much as I do. We really tried to make a record that we personally want to listen to and I hope others will feel the same.
Spotlights will be opening for Deftones and Refused in early August.
How did this tour come about?
Magic! No, not really. We were approached by their booking agent about it and of course we were thrilled about the offer, so we said YES!
What is your favorite Deftones record and why?
Hmmm. That’s tough. I think like most Deftones fans, Around The Fur has been a favorite for years, BUT I’m gonna go with Diamond Eyes. It think it’s their most consistent record. To me it sounds like a re-energized and mature version of their early records. Gore is great too though..
After the upcoming tours with Deftones and If These Trees Could Talk, what is next for Spotlights?
We’re slowly working on songs for the next record and I think we will dedicate time to that after these tours. We will still be playing a few regional shows in the fall and hopefully line up some more tours for next spring. We’d love to go to Europe. We’ll see!
Any final words of wisdom?
Love each other, and don’t be dicks.
Thank you for taking the time to do this. Take care.
Tidals is available now via Crowquill Records. Order here.
Aug 2 – Bethlehem, PA @ Sands Bethlehem Event Center (w/ Refused)
Aug 3 – Baltimore, MD @ Pier Six Pavilion (w/ Refused)
Aug 5 – Brooklyn, NY @ Coney Island Amphitheater (w/ Refused)
Aug 6 – Philadelphia, PA @ Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing (w/ Refused)
Aug 7 – Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Arena (w/ Refused)
Aug 9 – Boston, MA @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion (w/ Refused)
Aug 10 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony Summerstage (w/ Refused
Aug 12 – Sterling Heights, MI @ Freedom Hill (w/ Refused)
Aug 13 – Toronto, ON @ Arrow Hall (w/ Refused)
Aug 16 – St Paul, MN @ Myth
Aug 17 – Clive, IA @ Seven Flags Event Center
Aug 18 – Tulsa, OK @ Brady Theater
Aug 20 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Great Saltair