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Rebeca Qualls is a geek. The guitarist/vocalist and chief songwriters for New Jersey-based rock trio Recovery Council has a unique background which includes, of all things, scientific systems engineering. And she’s crazy enough to think that the two have something in common. “Writing music is, in many ways, the organic distillation of thoughts, feelings, and melodies into a cohesive end product,” she says. “Like building a system, creating music can take a few iterations to sharpen and guide that focus into a desired result.”
This concept also parallels the evolution of Recovery Council from a lo-fi space rock solo project into a heavy rock trio with an undeniable sonic chemistry. Qualls’ raucous guitar and honest vocals have been joined by the fluid, vibrant bass of Isidro Santos, and precision drumming of Jeff Trenholm. The third Recovery Council album “Plan-Do-Check-Act” consistently captures a moment in time where the three musicians with unique styles perfectly intersect as a cohesive whole. Although she cites some post-punk influences such as Husker Du, Sonic Youth, and Helmet, Qualls has classical, progressive, jazz and metal roots dating back to her childhood in the small college/steel town of Huntington, West Virginia. A young classical pianist turned bassist, she found her “bass gods” and musical influences in the likes of Iron Maiden, early Metallica, and Rush. The latter also made a big impact on New Jersey native Trenholm in his formative years, in addition to The Cure and Pink Floyd. Meanwhile, Dominican Republic-born Santos found his niche in early-mid ‘90s rock, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Toque Profundo from his home country. The end result is a hurricane of melodic power whirling around the eye of Qualls’ smooth vocals and whipping into gusts of heavy ‘90s-style indie rock with traces of metal and a dash of progressive.
“Plan-Do-Check-Act” is Recovery Council’s first studio release as a band, and for Qualls, it’s a place she’s always wanted to be. “While you can bring energy to recording and playing solo, it isn’t the same as having the raw, organic power of a band around you. Besides, I suck at drums,” she laughs. “In all seriousness, I’m really thankful to be surrounded by such talented musicians who are equally great friends. I’m continually amazed at the instant life they breathe into the music – I’ll bring in a song, and it will seem to congeal in no time because we get each other musically and we have a blast playing together. Then we’ll goof around, tell bad jokes, talk about all kinds of stuff, and keep each other pretty entertained. We’re all kind of quirky in our own ways, but somehow I think I’ve earned the title of the biggest geek of the bunch.”
Quirks aside for the moment, while “Plan-Do-Check-Act” reflects the process by which Recovery Council has evolved, it also has a personal meaning to Qualls. Her lyrics string together to loosely tell a story of perseverance through struggle and disillusionment, while balancing expectations based on real values as opposed to unattainable ideals. “The will to accomplish something against any odds comes with highs, lows, assessments and reassessments along the journey. It’s as much about self-discovery and experience as it is about determination and improvement,” she says.
Such is the journey for Recovery Council, the musical system that has been engineered, focused, and refined over time. The only way to move is forward. And the geeks shall inherit the earth.