Boston trio Quilt have a sound that I’m going to characterize as “mystically quirky indie pop.” They play with sonic psychedelics, but tend to remain on the sunnier, and not scarier, side of things. They recently released “Arctic Shark” as a 7-inch and their sophomore LP, Held in Splendor, is out January 28th on Mexican Summer. They’re currently on a short run of dates that will have them playing Kung Fu Necktie this Saturday, November 16th. All three band members were recently kind enough to take some time to tell me about what they’ve been up to over the past year and what possibilities 2014 might hold.
Izzy Cihak: What’s the Boston music scene like these days?
Shane Butler: The Boston music scene is always a really interesting thing. Right now there is a huge underground/DIY scene that is really thriving — it’s pretty rad. Friends of ours who had been hosting shows for many years in Boston started a publication called the Boston Compass, along with a blog called Boston Hassle — it’s gone from 8×10 photocopies of a few show listings to a full paper with art, shows, a paper route, interns — it’s quite a network. Really focused scene that way. In terms of bands, there are so many, a lot of really great ones. Our friend Doug Tuttle, who used to play in the band MMOSS, is about to release a record that we are all really excited about; it rips.
Anna Fox Rochinski: I think Shane put it well when he referenced the Compass/Hassle. I think it’s the most interesting presence in the city right now. I’m inspired by independent grassroots publications and I’m happy to see that kind of nitty gritty journalistic presence in Boston growing and spreading.
Izzy: What have been your highlights of 2013?
Shane: Recording our upcoming album was a huge highlight; having that month in Brooklyn, learning a lot more about each other as song-writers and really focusing down on this sonic baby we are about to give birth to. We’re not sure whether it’s a boy or a girl yet and I’m pretty sure whatever it’s born with, it’s gonna be pretty fluid with its gender and we are very excited for the world to meet it. Also, we just went and played in Moscow a couple of weeks ago and that was a trip. I mean, really bizarre – four days in a Cyrillic wash. It was amazing and we met some incredible people while out there. We even snuck into the National Darwin Museum of Russia while it was closing. Anna and I were wandering around listening to the sound of our own footsteps, staring at pre-humans and lions and shit halfway across the world with no one in this museum. It was very surreal. Then this lady found me and said something in Russian I didn’t understand. She was pointing at the door so I got the message and said goodbye to the creatures and the glass vitrines. That was a great weekend. The Mexican Summer Five Year show was a great weekend, too.
Anna: Highlights of 2013: recording our new album, releasing our split with MMOSS, having my own painting studio all winter while demo-ing the album with the guys, making two awesome music videos, going to Moscow with Quilt, hanging with my friends and family, hanging with my boyfriend, swimming all summer, LA.
John Andrews: I left Boston. There are lots of great people there, but I decided it was time for a change. I went to Disney World in March. Also went to Elvis’s house. I moved to Philly and then packed up my bags again and moved to Lancaster. I got a job at a hot air balloon company and got fired the same day. I’m almost done making a hand-drawn animation I’ve been working on for six months. It’s about a psychic. I’m also working on myself as a person right now. I’ve made a few mistakes this year and I’m learning from them.
Izzy: You met when you were visual art students. I always find non-musical influences of a band to be far more interesting than their musical influences, so I have to ask what are Quilt’s most significant non-musical influences?
Shane: Oh man, this is always one of those long-answer questions. One thing I personally spend a lot of time with is looking into various occult literature and cultures – I find esoteric texts to be some of the most fascinating. I like reading about people looking outside of their own lives and bodies into some greater vastness — or maybe it’s a micro-vastness, if that’s sensible. I guess a lot of that thought isn’t necessarily ‘sensible’…maybe that’s why I like it. In terms of visual art, I like a lot. I’ve definitely always been a big fan of 60’s/70’s installation works/video art — the births of performance and conceptualism – La Monte Young, Walter De Marias, Gordon Matta-Clark — stuff like that. But also I’m hugely into a lot of contemporary stuff as well — there is a New York based artist named Travess Smalley who’s work I’m really into at the moment.
Anna: This answer could go on forever, but here are three specific things. I’ve been getting back into watching films, which wasn’t a big part of my life for the last few years. One in particular lately was Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master… A nearly perfect film, I think. Amazing pieces of art always remind me of why I love making albums and how special the songwriting process is. Any good piece of art keeps me grateful towards the form I have devoted myself to for now, which is making records and playing shows with my bandmates. They are a huge influence on me, and inspire me to be a better person and artist every day. I also have been thinking a lot this week about Motown, Motown mixing and percussion techniques and the joy I get from Motown vocal arrangements and delivery.
John: I was always attracted to Max Fleischer cartoons, like Betty Boop and stuff. The creativity in those is really inspiring. I’m not too into most art I was introduced to in school. It’s too materialistic and dumb. I appreciate American folk art, though, things made by people’s hands for the sake of making it, not because they want to change the world or anything. Moving to Lancaster has been inspiring, as well. There is this town nearby called Bird-in-hand. The Amish there are very interesting and pure people. There is nothing better than seeing a horse and buggy go by. Especially on a Sunday.
Izzy: You’re signed to Mexican Summer, which is a pretty cool label. What are your thoughts on it? And, for that matter, do you have any particular favorite label peers?
Shane: Mexican Summer has been really great. We’ve been working with them for a few years and have developed a really nice relationship with them. It’s great, we talk about every day and they are always around to help when we need it. We have a few good friends on the label right now, like Fresh & Onlys, Happy Jawbone, and soon – Weyes Blood — people who we’ve met through our wanderings and who we’ve made really great connections with. It’s a cool feeling.
John: The Mexican Summer family are not business people. They are just cool guys and gals who love music and that’s what is cool about them.
Izzy: You’re currently on a short run of tour dates and you’ll be here in Philadelphia this coming Saturday. What can be expected of the live experience?
Anna: My boyfriend started playing bass with us this summer. It’s the best evolution of our band I could have asked for at this point. I’ve also been taking a hiatus from double duty (organ and guitar) and focusing solely on guitar, which has been great.
John: I used to live in Philly. It’s a very special place to me. At this point in my life it’s going to be strange to visit. I’m emotionally very tied to a lot of places there. Our live set will be fun. This is the best I’ve ever felt playing in Quilt. We are communicating with each other musically in ways better than ever before.
Shane: No expectations. Just four people playing some music we wrote. Anna might solo for three hours, though, and then John might drum solo for another hour on top of that, so I take it back – you can expect a lot. And if you’re not into that kind of thing, you can pass. A joint. Or a shoe. Or an oar. Oar an oar.
Izzy: Your sophomore LP, Held in Splendor, is out early next year. How do you feel like the album compares to your debut?
Anna: More mature, polished, and within that, creating more room for a free approach to the live interpretation…
John: This album is much different than our last one. I almost lost my mind a few times recording it. I ate at Peter Pan’s Donuts every day. I also spent too much money on tacos every day and that is something I’m not proud of.
Shane: Have you ever heard The Fugs first album? It’s nothing like that. But also maybe it’s something like that. But really it’s not anything like that, but we do love that record.
Izzy: In addition to the release of your next LP, what are your hopes and plans for 2014?
John: Get holy.
Anna: Traveling, but also to move somewhere nice. And for the record to be well received. I’d also like to get better at roller-skating and diving.
Shane: John almost got a job working for a hot-air balloon company. Ever since that I’ve been thinking about being in a hot-air balloon. I’ve never done that before. This may be the year.