So much music journalism is hyper-concerned with soundalikes, influences, and comparisons. And for good reason, really. Providing a reference point for readers creates an instant understanding between writer and reader. But this is quite the opposite of Boston-based trio Quilt’s approach to music. We met over coffee and pancakes recently at the East Village brunch-stitution, 7A, where I was able to learn more about the origins of their self-titled debut and one of my favorite releases of 2011.
Now, instead of keenly crafting my sprawling notes into a coherent, concise article, I’d rather you, the reader, experience it as I did. I kept looking at these notes trying to distill the experience into a consumable sound byte, but these short impressions represent the interview almost better than an article can. The band was a word-a-minute of super-fascinating genre theory and speculation on music criticism. It was interesting and enlightening. I had a great time. So, below, I present to you, my notes from the interview (nearly) unadulterated and raw as they came.
Grew up in the Catskills. Moved to NYC when he was 14.
“Actually can my eggs be scrambled instead…”
Went to a Quaker boarding school in PA. They have weekly meetings for worship. 45min of just being with each other. Teaches you about community.
Dad teaches meditation courses. Lives in the endless mountain region of PA near the Poconos.
Lived in NYC when she was 19 for a summer, 2007. Bed Stuy. Did an internship. Lived with Shane for a minute.
Her dad is a gigging jazz musician that teaches at Berklee school of music. grew up on Jazz.
Grew up in NJ. Came to the city to go skating. Had an older friend that was an original Fiveboro writer. He and Shane would spend full days skating everywhere around the city.
The met Katie from Captured Tracks when she went to BU. She passed their 7-song record recorded in 2010 along to Mex Summ. They were all part of the same house show scene.
The white house, a DIY ‘music and art collective’. Anna lived there. They used to have ‘hootenanny’ nights, which is probably where Shane and Anna first really hung out, though they met in art school.
Shane: “I was Anna’s TA in college…she had a CD that was a White House Family CD…you know those people too?” he said to her.
Both were in folk bands. Shane was in punk bands in high school but when he was living in Bed Stuy all he had was an acoustic guitar. He recorded folk-sounding songs that were written more in the style of punk rock, like The Urinals, or something. . .
Getting Compared to other bands?
Anna: “We got compared to the Beastie Boys once…”
They’re not completely adverse [sic] to getting compared to other bands, though Shane particularly dislikes being equated with only old bands.
Anna: “Comparing bands to other bands has always been a part of music journalism, but it’s especially prominent now…”
Influences, if there were any?
Less about the sound, more about the scene.
Shane: “Taking a futuristic view of the past which I’ve always loved.”
Anna: Linda Perhacs, the reissue on Mexican Summer “a friend played parrallelograms [sic] for me and I’d never heard anything like it. the way she was layering the sound…so beautiful”
Friends with Bob Trimble
Another Mex Summer re-issue. He lives in Mass. He’s seen their shows. Their friends play in his band.
Another Influential Character
Outsider cult musician. Famously wrote songs for David Bowie and others. He was living at Jesse Gallagher’s (producer and former Apollo Sunshine member) place in Boston, while they recorded their record. He would often read his own poetry over their music and jam with them on new ideas.
Shane: “He can be hilarious and he can be offensive, but it’s also slick and it’s also smart…in the end it influenced our songwriting.”
Their song children of light is loosely related to Biff Rose. First he has a song with that name. and second, they piggybacked on the post-baby boomer generation’s idea of not taking stock in the rigid rules of previous generations.
Anna: “The way we explore song structure is from a place of intuition.”
Shane: “It finds itself.”
On Their Band Name, Quilt
They think a lot of people make more of it than it really is. They just chose a name that they like, but —
Anna: “We learn more and more about our name as we go.”
Their approach to song structure, for example, is like a patchwork Quilt. Playing pieces of songs and mashing them together, or trying new variations of songs every time they play them live until they end up with their idea for a studio recording that “becomes a song you want to play over and over.” – Shane
Plus, their influences are disparate. Varied. Like a Quilt. The band credits the internet age, a time when “authenticity is questionable” — Anna “Questionable, or doesn’t matter…” — Shane
Shane: “You can have a Pixies bassline and a George Harrison guitar line…” Anna: “…and then rap over it and drip it in reverb!”
Band photo by Robert Bredvad.