Quitters adjust aim but keep their drive

Miqah Malcolm's mohawk is gone.

He had it for six years.

As drummer for Vegas punks The Quitters, it was, in a way, a signifier of the band's sound. A totem.

And now it's nowhere to be seen as Malcolm and his bandmates are tucked into a booth at Steiner's on a recent Tuesday night - and not just because Malcolm's sporting a stocking hat.

Yeah, it's just hair, but in a way, it's symbolic of where these dudes are at these days.

The Quitters are still a punk band, still capable of brushing you off the plate with two-minute rock 'n' roll fastballs. But armed with a new record deal with Vegas' SquidHat Records, a fleshed-out lineup and plans to record its third album this summer, the band is intent on moving beyond the sound they've been synonymous with up until now.

"We all have a love of punk music, but we also realize how repetitive that can be," says Malcolm, who bears a passing resemblance to actor Jason Segel. "There's only so much you can do with a boom-chick beat and three or four chords. We've really been pushing it. Even now, we've got a lot of jazz influences, Latin stuff. We just want to take a ride."

Their destination is still unknown at this point, even for them. But the band is mining fresh inspirations.

To wit, singer-bassist Marc Rowland, an avowed classical music fan, gets playfully ribbed by his bandmates over an album he's been listening to of late: Leonard Bernstein's symphonic "Mass."

"It's a great piece of music, man," Rowland defends with a smile. "My brother got me this record because I told him that we were writing a record and that we were going to grow punk rock out a little bit."

On The Quitters' previous disc, 2011's "No Big Deal," the band already began to branch out from the bare-bones fusillade of their debut by favoring longer, more elaborately arranged songs that were more varied in pace and mood.

Since then, The Quitters added longtime band fan and friend Randy Rivas on guitar, intent on making their sound even more robust.

They also got a little creative nudge from the head of their label, Allan Carter.

"He was like, 'I'm going to be honest with you, your influences are a little obvious,' " guitarist Tom Carr recalls. "And we were like, 'He's right. If we want to put our own stamp on it, we have to take it in a new direction.' We really got motivated."

And so now the emphasis is on mixing things up.

They're not going to start pulling their punches, but they will adjust their aim.

"If you repeatedly get hit in the face over and over again, you become numb to it," Carr says of playing fast song after fast song. "Every once in a while, you've got to throw in a gut punch."

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.