Boston rock trio Quilt just completed the classic Cannonball Run adventure across North America every band does for the first time: crunched together in a van, joking around, and documenting those silly, ironic run-ins that occur only when you blast 3,000 miles to the other side of the continent. The end result is the band’s first ever West Coast tour, including a gig here tomorrow, 6/17/12 at The Rickshaw Stop with Young Magic (RSVP).
The band – comprised of Shane Butler, Anna Fox Rochinski, and John Andrews – made an immediate splash after releasing their self-titled debut late last year on Mexican Summer. From the first notes of opening track “Young Gold” to the closing, campfire-community vibe of “Gome Home”, the album plays almost as an instant-classic. Their sound invokes late 60’s psychedelia that, in a past era, would have landed them an opening slot for Jefferson Airplane. Butler’s pensive guitar riffs float along with haunting harmonies to generate a truly enveloping sound (like a….quilt?).
In anticipation of their first San Francisco appearance, we caught up with the band while they were somewhere between Vancouver and the California border. A positive crew with a great sense of humor, it’s in your best interest to drop the $10 tomorrow and check out this serious up-and-coming act.
TBB: First off, thanks for taking the time to share some thoughts. This will be your first West Coast tour, correct?
Anna: Yes! There are so many amazing vans from the 70s and 80s here! We have been counting the vanagons.
Shane: Yeah, the west is super rad, we just saw 3 hithchikers in the last 10 minutes and then a lady just spread face down on the median of the highway taking a nap. You don’t get that kind of highway relaxation out east.
John: Yeah! There’s something special about the idea of driving as far as possible from your home. It’s something that has inspired lots of travelers, artists and freaks since the dawn of time.
TBB: Shane and Anna, you met while both attending college in Boston for visual arts. Where was your first encounter and how long was it before you started jamming together?
Anna: We had classes together and saw each other outside of school in the folk scene
Shane: But didnt really hang out much until our first band practice, it was funny how it all came together, but when we first jammed i knew it was gonna be a fun time
Anna: It was maybe about a year of knowing each other before we began playing together.
John: Anna & Shane say they met at school but they really met in an AOL chat room in 2001 about Star Wars.
TBB: Your debut album was released in late 2011 (my favorite of the year BTW) and produced by Apollo Sunshine’s Jesse Gallagher. How’d you like working with him, and, outside of “Cowboys In The Void” and “Penobska Oaklwalk” (released prior), did any tracks that made the album exist before you hit the studio?
Anna: Yes they did, some of them, although they always change a bit once you sit down to record. Some were written more in the studio, and some were written a year later than the rest when we recorded the three tracks with John as drummer. Working with Jesse was great because he’s so open but his ears are very well developed and he challenged us to make our best work, as well as encouraging and expanding some of our weirder ideas into something solid and cohesive. It was a major learning experience for all of the people involved.
Shane: Yeah we had so many songs we were fooling around with at the time, playing them live and calling them silly names like “Joseph Beuys and the Cowvoid” and other stuff that would make us laugh a lot everytime we played em. When we met Jesse we were able to continue laughing at the same time that we were able to make that energy a little more concrete and cohesive. It was fun. We recorded a few songs that never even made it to the album as well, we actually just found one yesterday on a cd in our van and sang it karaoke style on the way to Vancouver…entering beautiful British Columbia in styllee.
John: Jesse is sort of like a wizard but instead of a robe he wears a dirty Celtics shirt and instead of a crystal ball he has an 8 track machine.
TBB: Quilt’s sound has been compared to that of the late 60’s, psychedelic movement. Is that intentional in any way? Does anyone from that time period directly influence the band?
Anna: We love 60’s music a lot and listen to a good deal of it. We love all sorts of music in general and don’t try to sound specifically like anything really. I get down with all sorts of random jams, from cowboy ballads to Gustav Mahler to Salt N Pepa. But the 60’s and 70’s did produce a wealth of very uniquely timeless records and songs and was a special time for everyone, for sure.
John: I sort of think that Quilt gets this comparison because we don’t use heavy synths and samples or something. Music has evolved SO much in the past 30 years, it’s cool to sometimes visit the simplicity of the past. I think it’s weird that how whenever someone does something normal (at least normal to me) people think it’s weird.
TBB: As a still relatively young group, do you feel more confident in your live performance now than this time last year? Any nuances you’ve worked on?
Anna: Yes, I would say that any band playing consistently for a while will improve with time. Any “nuances” and such are all part of a band’s special private formula that makes live shows cool and worthwhile.
Shane: Confidence is funny when it comes to playing live, like back in the day we would charge into some DIY spot with a bunch of broken gear, play really loud, and have a great time. And we were confident that we were providing an “interesting” performance…haha. Now we go into shows and feel really good about the melodies coming out the right way through the speakers. Sometimes we even do alright with the banter conundrum and make people laugh, I think we always all really wanted to be standup comedians.
Anna: Or astronauts, or comic book illustrators, or daredevils. We should combine all that into one act. Or we can just be our own opening act where we can make crass and questionable jokes for an hour and then take our wigs off and be Quilt for another hour…
John: This time last year i played on a drumset that i had since i was 11 years old. There was an Aerosmith sticker on it. Now i have a drumset that once belonged to a dude in a Led Zepplin cover band in New Jersey. Like, duh.
TBB: You recently played Austin’s Psych Fest in April. I saw a video clip where you said lots of your favorite bands were there. Who’s on that list right now?
Anna: Well in terms of Psych Fest specifically, my favorite bands at the festival were Bombino, Sun Araw, Prince Rama, MMOSS, Thee Oh Sees, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Paperhead and Woods. It was an amazing mixture of friends bands that I have watched grow, and then other acts that I look up to. In terms of other music, I will readily admit that I’ve been listening to a lot of Wings lately (among lots of other stuff, but some lesser known Wings tracks I’m hearing these days have been surprisingly so awesome).
Shane: Yeah Psych Fest was pretty stacked. Bombino definitely took the cake that weekend for me, along with Sun Araw, MMOSS, Prince Rama, and The Paperhead. Got me really psyched on the contemporary. In terms of other new stuff lately I’m always vibing on Tirath Singh Nirmala, Weyes Blood, and this great band from Maine that came and went called Laminated Cat. Hopefully those dudes reincarnate themselves and take over the world, they have some incredible jams.
John: THE PAPERHEAD & MMOSS!!!!!!!!
TBB: There’s a day off between your SF (7/17) and LA (7/19) shows. Enough time to check something off your California bucket list? Or is the 18th a total travel day?
Anna: We are going horseback riding in Big Sur!
John: Riding horses. Just like the true cowboy/girls that we are!
TBB: Alright, this last question is arguably the most generic of all but it must be asked. How’d you guys come up with your name?
Anna: We were shooting off a bunch of ideas for band names pretty rapid fire, some were realistic and some totally hilarious and weird, and I was writing them all down. For some reason Quilt stuck. It makes more and more sense as a band name as time goes on. We were almost called “Gome Home” and “Alphabet Eyes”. I’m glad we chose Quilt.
John: It stands for Quit Understanding Internet Lingo, Teacher!!
Quilt. Young Magic, Shock
The Rickshaw Stop
July 17, 2012