Psych-pop-blues-folk band Quilt chat to Ian Maleney about the Boston scene, being on Mexican Summer, day jobs and drugs.
Quilt are a three-piece psych-pop band from Boston. They layer sixties psychedelia with pop harmonies and tropical-leaning guitar riffs to create an impressive squall. Starting off with a blues-based fuzz, the band’s sound has grown more complex and dense in the lead-up to their debut self-titled album, due out on super-cool indie Mexican Summer, home to the likes of Ariel Pink, Real Estate and Washed Out at various points in their careers. The album is a big step for a band who displayed a dazzling array of influences over the course of a handful of DIY cassettes and seven inches. Quilt was engineered and produced by Jesse Gallagher of Apollo Sunshine, whose artistic input the band claims was a huge part in helping to them achieve their most detailed and concise work to date, channeling their disparate influences into something coherent and immersive..
Following a hectic CMJ in New York, Anna Rochinski, Shane Butler, and John Andrews took some time to answer a few questions.
First of all, how was your CMJ? You had a nice bit of attention going into it, what did you feel you got out of it? Anna: CMJ was so awesome! It was our first time playing there, and I felt a really nice positive energy in the room at the Mexican Summer showcase. The bands were great, and everyone seemed enthusiastic and attentive. What I got out of it is that NYC may seem cold at times to some, but if you get there at the right moment and project the right vibe it can be quite warm.
Shane: We got to hang out by the water and jam on electric guitars that weren’t plugged in before our show, it was pretty fun. The show itself was super fun too, we got to play a new song for one of the first times and it was rad.
John: I got a parking ticket out of it, but it was fun.
What do you guys do day-to-day? Do you have jobs or is music a full-time thing for you? Shane: Anna and I work for a conceptual-photographer/activist who is currently running for town councilor in Watertown, MA. His name is Mike Mandel and everyone should look him up. We make large-scale glass tile mosaics and talk about tunes a lot of the day. I also work for a video/performance artist in NYC named Jenny Marketou (you can read a bit about her here.) We also like to ride bikes.
Anna: I think we are carefully inching towards the potential of music being more of a sustainable lifestyle. John has a day job as well.
John: I spook little kids on a haunted hayride.
How’s Mexican Summer working out for you? It’s a pretty great label in general, but what made it feel right for you? Anna: I like the people at Mexican Summer a lot, and I also enjoy their aesthetic and sensibilities as a label in general. Perhaps one of the coolest things to me in general was their roster, which includes lots of contemporary music but also has amazing reissues, like Linda Perhacs and Bobb Trimble. It’s like going into your awesome friend’s living room and looking through their records and being all psyched on a good balance of newer and older material that all fits into a cohesive collection, like a little boutique.
You’ve released a cassette and some vinyl to date, and the album will be on 12″, so is the physical format important to you? Anna: For sure! We knew from the start that we wanted to put this album out on vinyl.
John: It’s definitely nice to be able to hold an album in your hands, and it’s also funny to have old people think you’re weird for doing vinyl in 2011.
Shane: We are all really into packaging and art so physical copies of tunes are rad because they are more than just the tunes. Also, different mediums provide different sounds…even the difference between a .WAV and an MP3 is pretty huge, so to have stuff on cassette, CD, Vinyl, and various digital mediums provides a bunch of ways to hear our sounds. You notice different things with the different mediums/set-ups. Also, the live format is pretty tight too, I like doing that one a bunch.
What’s going to be different about the album from the releases you’ve had so far? There used to be a stronger element of blues and folk in your work, is that now kind of gone? Anna: Blues and folk influences never went away at all… I think we were just doing our older recordings much faster, and perhaps some more acoustic influences came then as instincts that we were familiar with at the time. These songs were recorded on digital 8 track with old school live mixing, no computers, much finesse, crazy EQ’ing and a different level of attention to detail that was a thrill for all of us to experience, because we learned a lot and are already carrying that knowledge into our writing process currently with new material.
Shane: We worked on it for about a year and spent more time paying attention to all the intricacies of sound and song writing. We had Jesse Gallagher producing the record and he taught us a ton about recording and song-writing in the process which was super rad. In terms of the actual songs though, we feel they are definitely some of the most concrete to date. We spent a lot of time working on the tones of all the instruments and really spent time on the lyrical content. I think we are finding more and more ways to incorporate our full range of musical influences into our songs (which are pretty wide spread) and that may seem to bring some of the tracks away from “folk” or “blues” but if you listen to the entire album you will definitely find bridges to those musical traditions as well as many many others
One of the issues that always surrounds psychedelic music is that of drugs, hallucinogens, car mats soaked in ether, etc… Are they a factor of what you do? Anna: I suppose they are indeed a “factor” simply because we get asked this question a lot, and I’m never sure how to answer it because we don’t have a dogma one way or another when it comes to drug use or alcohol. I think we have our personal relationships with those things and those relationships are always changing… I guess i can safely say you won’t find us chuggin’ Drano backstage anytime soon but then again, who knows, kids these days will do anything if it’s marketed properly…
John: You don’t have to be on drugs to realize how weird this world is.
Shane: I think all of us agree that there are ways to reach those same states without substances, were not really pro or anti substance, but it’s not really a big part of our lives.
I personally have a huge interest in Boston music and the scene in that area. What’s it like for you to be a part of that, or do you feel you are a part of any particular scene? John: I don’t live in Boston, and every time I’m up there, I’m amazed at the bands playing, the turnouts for shows and the enthusiasm people have for throwing shows. It’s nothing like that in my small town, and I hope people don’t take it for granted.
Shane: I’m a fan of a lot that has happened and is happening here, but in general I don’t feel that we have ever been a part of any particular scene. A lot of our friends bands from Boston have moved away, including us at certain times, so I think the allegiances are felt more within our friends than within a certain area or scene.
Anna: I grew up in Boston so I have a different relationship to it than Shane or John. For me, it will always be home, regardless of other places I’ve lived or will live, so the music here is close to my heart because I’ve been going to DIY shows here since I was fifteen or sixteen years old. And I have such awesome friends here too, and I am proud to be called a Boston band. However, we are psyched to be approaching all of this from a more expansive standpoint, which is to say that we aren’t holding ourselves back based on a regional affinity. New York has been really good to us so far, and we are also excited to travel because we have friends all over the freakin place right now.
Have you had the chance to play outside America yet? If you could play anywhere, where would it be? Anna: Oh jeez. All I want to do right now is play overseas. I’ll go anywhere. We’d love to do this as soon as we can!
Shane: One time we went to Canada to go play and after hours of trouble at the border we finally arrived in Montreal where we proceeded to get our car broken into in the first hour of being there. We had to drive back to Massachusetts that night and kept each other awake by screaming “MOOOOOSEEE” every couple of minutes because there were Moose everywhere in the surrounding woods, it was an 18 hour drive all around. I’d like to play in Hungary or Turkmenistan
John: I wanna play in an ancient Roman amphitheater in Pompeii, Italy and film the whole thing and make dogs sing.
Did you know there’s another band called Quilt? Or possibly, “Quilt The Band”. I’m not sure. Do you foresee any massive lawsuits down the line? Anna: Haha, yeah, these days band names can’t really be unique anymore! but yeah you do encounter tons of parallels today with code words within different band names. I guess it only took 40 or 50 years of rock n roll for all the names to get used up, but what can ya do? Quietly Understanding Internal Linear Time. Quirky Underwear In Little Totebags. Quests Underneath India’s Low Tide.