We spoke with John Andrews, Quilt‘s drummer, on their journey through North America. Thus far, they have had a heavy tour with numerous car accidents and van troubles the entire way – it finally died a week ago. If you’ve got a minute and a dollar to share, send them some love and safety through a donation towards a new van, so that they can continue touring. Read on to hear all about their car accident, how they came together through the DIY scene in Boston and working with WOODS’ Jarvis Taveniere.
MURMUR: Hi John!
JA: Hi, how’s it going?
MURMUR: Good, how are you?
JA: We are driving down the highway at 90 mph, because we have a 13-hour drive today and we are trying to get to our show on time.
MURMUR: Oh, that’s awful! Where are you driving?
JA: We had a crazy accident a few nights ago, and a huge piece of scrap metal fell in the road, and we crashed into it. It lit the bottom of our car on fire, and we had to pull over onto the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, and run out of our car – we thought it was going to explode and that we were going to lose everything we owned. We went out and took our van to a mechanic, and we were kind of stranded in Tuscan, Arizona for two days. So, we just got on the road this morning.
MURMUR: Wow, I’m so sorry to hear that!
JA: It’s okay, it was quite an experience. We ended up going for marguaritas, going bowling, and I kicked everyone’s ass.
MURMUR: Nice, well at least the weather is nice there and you aren’t stuck outside in the dead of winter. Your sound is a culmination of 60’s and 70’s era sounds – what are you listening to nowadays, and what bands in particular have inspired your style?
JA: Right now, I would say a lot of Cate LeBon, right now we are actually listening to the early Who, ‘My Generation’, their first album, and a lot of Television. When we got towed, after all that crazy shit happened, the tow truck driver definitely didn’t want a lot of annoying kids sitting in his tow truck for half an hour, so he let us sit in the van while it was being towed. We were above everyone else on the highway, and we put on ‘Marquee Moon’ by Television, and just relaxed. It was the perfect, melancholy pop song and we were just passing around a bottle of wine in the back of the car, chilling. I wouldn’t say that any of this has had a direct influence on us, we wrote this record over the last year and some things come and go. Sometimes, you write a song and you are genuinely not influenced by anything – we are influenced by each other, we jam together and work together.
MURMUR: I read that you met somewhere in the Boston noise and folk scene and at the Art School – what were you into at the time, that drew you together?
JA: Shane and Anna met in College, and they started playing together at the Whitehaus. So many bands and so many people played shows there. I remember seeing them on myspace, and thinking that they were so cool. I wanted to meet all these weird people, it seemed like a really cool collective of musicians. I think Shane and Anna started playing at the Hootenanny’s, where a bunch of people would hang out and they would pass around a guitar and each person would play two songs, then pass on to the next person. Some people would read poetry, some people would play piano, and I think Shane and Anna first started playing music around people through that way. I met them through my old band, called Wisdom Tooth. I played a show up in Boston, and then coincidentally stayed at Anna’s house and then, I was on tour a year or so later, before I was in the band, and I hung out with them. Their drummer was out at the time, so I took over for a bit.
MURMUR: Cool! We have a similar spaces to the Whitehaus here in Montreal, with communal living spaces where they host community events, concerts. Really cool vibes.
JA: I was at the last official show that the Whitehaus hosted, and the cops came, they got in a lot of trouble, and they’re not allowed to have shows there anymore. I don’t even know what’s going to happen to the people living there, I’ve heard rumours that they might turn it in to a cafe.
MURMUR: Well, at least it would still be a community space and not condos or something.
JA: Yeah, it would be bitter sweet, a lot of things in Boston are based out of there. Also, there’s something called the Boston Counter Cultural Compass which is a monthly newspaper thing that the kids make, that has all these awesome album reviews and comics, with all the show annoucements. It’s really cool. I don’t think something like that closing will slow down those kids, they’ll always find a way to be productive.
MURMUR: How was it working with producer Jarvis Taveniere, who is a member of Woods?
JA: He was great. I didn’t know him much before we started working with him, I had met him only once or twice. Anna and Shane knew him from a few years prior. He was working on Happy Jawbone Family Band, we were originally supposed to work with someone else but it didn’t work out, so we were stranded to find a last minute producer. We just asked Jarvis! It was cool, we got to know him really well and he played bass on our recordings. I remember a lot of other producers were saying “I’m not going to play on your record”, but Jarvis was open to a lot of ideas and really helped us out. He was pretty patient, for the amount of stupid shit and goofing off we were doing in the studio. It was awesome working with him, and we continue to see him very regularly outside of the studio as we became great friends with him, which is nice. We will be also touring with Woods in the Spring.
MURMUR: Did you learn anything between your debut and the writing process of ‘Held in Splendor’ that made a notable difference in the way you did things the second time around?
JA: Well, this time we had demos of the tracks in GarageBand. We made string arrangements in the demos, and we knew what we were doing before going into the studio. That wasn’t really a thing for the first album at all, a lot of it was done making up as we went along. I’ve also learnt to not be afraid to re-record songs, if you are not happy with how they sound. There are a few tracks that are really special to me, and I wasn’t really happy with how they sounded since we were on a strict time-frame. But I didn’t want to have these songs around forever that I wasn’t happy with, so we re-recorded some of them.
MURMUR: Are you hoping to draw away from the endless comparisons of the 60’s and 70’s in your music? Does it bother you to be put in such a time-capsule?
JA: Yeah, sometimes! Sometimes all I ever read in any review of our albums is that we are some 60’s psychedelic, retro-bullshit band. You can get a little more creative than that. It can be a little bit annoying, but at the same time we listen to a lot of that kind of music, and it is what it is. I’m just used to it, at this point. When I first listened to Quilt, before I was in the band, I never really thought they were a 60’s psychedelic band, I just thought they were weird and had experimental song writing. We’re not trying to delve past those comparisons, I think we’re just going to keep playing music and they’ll keep telling us what we sound like, so there’s nothing we can do really.
MURMUR: I feel like once one publication says that, it’s easy for others to follow the same train of thought.
JA: Yeah, I don’t know if people can deal with harmonies – as soon as they hear harmonies they’re like “Omg, it’s the Mamas and the Papas!!”.
MURMUR: What are you looking forward to most on your upcoming tour?
JA: Oh man, a lot of stuff. We’re playing this really cool festival in Marfa, Texas. It’s our record label’s festival, Mexican Summer. We also have a few days off, and do nothing. I’m also looking forward to going to Europe, it’ll be our first time there as a band, and we’ve been getting emails from people for years to go there. I just want to go somewhere hot.
MURMUR: If you could have any guest appearance on your album, who would it be? They can be dead, alive, fictional or real.
JA: Oh boy, that’s a really good question, I don’t want to blow it! (moment of brief discussion with bandmates). Haha, okay – Jesus. He would be a magician with the craziest guitar, playing tricks and have the craziest pedals, like a psychedelic wizard.
Watch KEXP’s recent live session with Quilt, below. They will be back in Montreal on May 10th, at Cabaret Playhouse with Woods. See the Facebook event here for more information.