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Albums Of The Week: Tunic | Quitter

The Winnipeg noise-rockers raise the bar without lowering the volume on LP No. 2.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Quitter is a record about quitting. Modelled after Tunic’s live attack, an ugly and unhinged blast of catharsis that can comfortably live beside the tuneful noise of Metz, the spazzy-goth freakouts of Daughters and the riffy melodicism of Pile, the sophomore release from the acrobatic post-hardcore crew is a record about discomfort created in comfort — relatively speaking. Built over the course of seven days with producer Jace Lasek, Tunic was primed and ready by the time guitarist/vocalist David Schellenberg and drummer Daniel Unger set foot in Private Ear Studios in January 2020: “It was a relaxed environment because we had done our homework,” recalls Schellenberg. “That made for a much better record because we knew who we were and what we wanted to sound like.”

Tackling Schellenberg’s newfound sobriety and the recent exit of co-founding member Rory Ellis, in addition to themes of loss, survival and redemption, Quitter is about perseverance and reshaping existence for the better. “I co-own and book a bar for a living,” says Schellenberg. “So it’s a weird position to be personally avoiding alcohol while surrounded by it and offered it constantly.” That initial struggle of freeing yourself from the bonds of a depressant, its emotional connections and learning new ways to cope outside of substances form the crux of the ideas behind the LP — well, that and a boatload of riffs inspired by everyone from Botch to The Jesus Lizard.

Formed in 2012, the Winnipeg band were borne of spite after Schellenberg was told he “wasn’t good enough” for another band. Abandoning someone else’s dreams for his own, he and Tunic sought out a sound inspired by the melodic approaches of Quicksand and Superchunk, the venom and heartache in Converge and the calculated instrumental prowess behind Cult Leader. After releasing their debut 7” in 2015, Tunic have charged across the globe relentlessly, zigging and zagging through more than a dozen jaunts in North America and Europe. Tunic’s bloodlust for the road has caused some turnover in membership, not to mention bouts with tinnitus, hangovers and exhaustion. Yet between all of that touring, they crafted and released their debut LP Complexion in 2019. The album was followed by another massive 11 weeks of dates to support it, naturally.

With some time for reflection and even a brief period of — gulp — actually slowing down, Tunic have returned with their most coherent set of songs yet. Quitter is the middle ground between intelligence and blunt-force trauma, channelling rage into a set of songs hellbent on redemption through self-examination. On Reward of Nothing, Schellenberg belts out his thoughts emphatically: ‘I’m tired / Defeated / These curses won’t lift.’

“It’s about the hopelessness of the entire situation,” he says of the lyrics, which are delivered with a jaw-clenching fury. “It’s about having a dependency on alcohol and watching everybody age out of your own band.” Yet regardless of the bleakness of the lyrical content, the quality of the songwriting and original riffs shine through, making Quitter something that won’t leave your musical headspace.”

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