Interview with Spotlights guitarist/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Mario Quintero
By Thomas Pizzola
Spotlights is a Brooklyn-based post-metal duo that incorporates elements of sludge, shoegaze and pop into a monolithic sound, that is heavy but also airy.
The duo, which consists of the husband and wife team of Mario Quintero (guitars, vocals, multi-instrumentalist) and Sarah Quintero (bass, guitar, vocals), originally started out as a more electronics-heavy outfit, but then slowly made the transition to a heavier sound.
“Our first attempt at writing a song was way back in 2009 and it was really just a studio type thing. Sarah and I went in and wrote and recorded a song in about 4 hours (it’s now on Bandcamp as “050809”). We didn’t have anything specific in mind but we were pretty happy with what came out. That day sparked the idea of wanting to start Spotlights,” Mario says. “It wasn’t until we moved to Brooklyn in 2013 that we began working on new music. The Demonstration EP (2015) was definitely written more for a two piece and heavy on the programming and synth side of things. As fun as it was, it was a little tough to recreate live, so for Tidals we moved to writing more guitar based music and things really felt like they came together then.”
This switch to the heavier side can be heard on the aforementioned Tidals album, which was released earlier this year on Crowquill Records. The album merges heavy sludge parts, with more atmospheric parts, along with the intertwined vocals of the Quinteros to create an otherworldly sound, that is totally their own. In addition, they are keen songwriters, so each song contains enough subtle hooks to keep the listener coming back for more.
This type of musical statement can only be made by a couple of musicians who are completely in tune with each other. For some people being in a band with your spouse isn’t the most the ideal situation, but for Spotlights, they wouldn’t have in any other way.
“It’s awesome. Sarah and I met in the studio when I was recording her old band, Marasol, and we developed our friendship around music. We’re best friends, and it’s really fun to be able to share something like this with the person you love,” Mario says. “I’ve seen and heard some train wreck stories, but.. some people just suck, whether you’re married to them or not.”
Though, this set-up works well for the band, even if they wouldn’t be averse to adding extra people into the studio setting (Josh Cooper is their drummer when they play out).
“We aren’t completely opposed to the idea of bringing others into the recording process but we really like how streamlined and easy things are with just the two of us,” Mario says. “I tend to write songs with the drum parts in mind. Actually, sometimes the drums parts come to me first. It just make it easier to work out details and it cuts down on rehearsal and studio and time. Also, Sarah and I have kind of a telepathic way of working that might drive others nuts.”
People are starting to pay attention, including some name bands, because starting on August 2 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Spotlights is the opening act for the upcoming Deftones/Refused tour.
Mario was not expecting this offer.
“Surprised would be an understatement! We got contacted by their agent the day after the premiere of (Tidals song) “Walls” was online, asking about our availability in August. We thought it was some sort of scam at first. A month later we got the official offer from them, and well, here we are. We are so incredibly honored and excited about it,” he says.