Walter Schreifels, who you may know through a vein of countless bands ranging from hardcore to indie-pop malarkey – Rival Schools (QRO photos), Walking Concert, Quicksand, CIV, Gorilla Biscuits – not to mention songwriter and musician who has worked with Hot Water Music (QRO photos), Germany’s Tomte, Sinch and a myriad of other international artists, hit U.K. shores on a string of twelve dates throughout the country. Embarking on a solo acoustic tour to promote his upcoming album An Open Letter To the Scene throughout the British isles, QRO was lucky enough to catch a few of his shows and gain a real feel for his spectacular new offering (QRO review), as well as his acoustic exposition.
Schreifels has always been a natural born entertainer, and there’s always a sideline for comedy if he so chooses to do so. A genuine, heartfelt man with a real sense of humility, Schreifels has been in the musical limelight for over 20 years, mainly backed by bands or as a solid pillar of a musical collective. However, the time has come for him to breakout under his own name, with his own sound.
Although Schreifels has said that although this is his debut release under his own name, he often thinks of the Walking Concert album, released in 2006, much of his own. Schreifels, who has been involved in so many individual and band projects, has only one regret, not releasing a debut album sooner under his own name. A much more acoustically orientated show, Schreifels’ dates departed from what one would have classically associated him with – the real New York hardcore scene. What’s more interesting, though, is the choice of material that Schreifels has chosen to perform – a mix of his classic songwriting through tracks off Run to be Born (by Walking Concert, 2006), United by Fate (by Rival Schools, 2001) and of course An Open Letter To the Scene by Schreifels himself, alongside random tracks throughout his songwriting career, such as "Bicycle Song" – but most notable was a Sick Of It All/The Smiths medley, well received by all, and performed with a real individuality and charisma that none could top.
Additionally, Schreifels performed on dates his acclaimed cover of "Society Suckers", originally by Agnostic Front, which also features on his new album. Schreifels is fond of his anecdotes, and mentioned with pride on several shows that he has received an email from Agnostic Front themselves, saying that they love the cover. He joked that he was scared that they would beat him up – typical Schreifels fare, who habitually pokes fun at himself, and others, in lighthearted jest. There was no worry that he would have got beaten up, as the cover is a delicious transformation from the classic hardcore tune, hard not to appreciate.
It is clear to see that in all shows, the crowd that Schreifels attracts is vast and varied. Some knew him from the later days of Walking Concert and Rival Schools, clear from the steaming reception of songs like "Undercovers On", "Good Things" and "Audrey", others knew him from way-back-when, from the days of Quicksand and Gorilla Biscuits – more clear from the leather jackets and bald heads! Quicksand was in fact the first show played in the Cavern, in Exeter, when Schreifels opened his tour (QRO photos). Regardless, each show was packed with diversity in so many forms, from the material played to the crowd themselves. Each song, whether from An Open Letter…, someone else, or an old band, had that remarkable Schreifels twinge, a powerful energy, uniqueness and honesty that transcended genres and surpassed people’s expectations. For those who only knew Schreifels from a certain band, they’d certainly be converted by the ‘Walter Way’.
Perhaps the highlight of the shows was each and every individual performance of the heart-wrenching "Wild Pandas". Despite the fact that Schreifels loved to tell the story of how he saw a little boy pull down his pants and take a shit on the Great Wall during his trip to China, where he wrote the track, the ambience of every venue never failed to switch to an almost emotional outcry, felt by all. A beautiful song, written about being far away from home, Schreifels noted that we should all be able to relate to how it feels to be so distant. With all the tracks he writes, whether as a solo artist or as part of a band, there is a prevailing conscientiousness and earnestness, whether the story to be told is forthright or not.
Through this, at each show, Schreifels captivated the audience and was able to win them over not only by his complete musical dexterity and complaisance, but also by his unimpeachable nature. Schreifels took the time after each show to sell CDs and talk to fans, many who were awestruck by his sheer capability and amiable manner. After 20 years in the business and endless days on the road, Schreifels ever remains the nicest man in rock, with still bucket-loads of talent to keep him going for another 20 years more.
U.K. Tour Dates
27/03 – Exeter, Cavern
28/03 – Bristol, O2 Academy
29/03 – Cardiff, Barfly
30/03 – Kingston, Peel
31/03 – Birmingham, O2 Academy
01/04 – Sheffield, Leadmill
02/04 – Glasgow, King Tuts
03/04 – Leeds, Cockpit
04/04 – Manchester, Night & Day
06/04 – Nottingham, Bodega Social Club
07/04 – London, Barfly