Quilt Has it Covered

Published February 24, 2012

ABOVE: QUILT. PHOTO COURTESY OF TREVOR POWERS

When the three-part melodies of Quilt begin to play on their debut, self-titled album, the whole world seems to fade away into its psychedelic, folk-filled sound reminiscent of simpler times. Originally from Boston, Quilt’s latest 10-track was produced by Brooklyn label Mexican Summer. Comprised of Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler, and John Andrews, Quilt has a flair for the quieter, country aesthetic that builds into waves of sporadic jamming. The album’s forerunners include “Cowboys in the Void,” “Penobska Oakwalk,” and “Milo,” all of which herald an unhurried pace that continues to build—layers of harmony upon harmony—until a final climactic ending of dance-worthy beats.

With a show at Glasslands already passed (they opened for new kids on the block Slowdance and veteran synth-king Jeremy Jay), and one to come on March 3 (they’ll be opening for Brooklyn babes Widowspeak), Quilt has a full spring tour ahead of them. From shows in Boston and New York, to a showcase at SXSW on March 15th alongside other indie notables Light Asylum, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Peaking Lights, Quilt’s free-falling, unfiltered sound is the kind you’ll have a hard time getting out of your head following a show. You’ll hum it softly, then dance along to the tune in your head, repeating the words like a mantra as they do. Recently (and very accurately) described as “kids from the ’80s, dreaming about people from the ’60s, thinking about the future,” Quilt continues to edge their way into New York’s music scene.

AVERIE TIMM: Tell me a little bit about how you formed—where did you meet and how did the band come together?

ANNA FOX ROCHINSKI: A combination of destiny, art school, mutual appreciation of different art and music, and friendship.

SHANE BUTLER: We met playing in different projects around the Boston noise/folk scene and at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Quilt originally started as a way to bridge some of these different projects and play together.

JOHN ANDREWS: For the most part, I met the whole band on their first tour.  They came through New Jersey and played in this beautiful old barn house in the middle of nowhere. We stayed up late and swam in a pond and snuck into a field with oxen and slept in a spooky attic with a spiral staircase. They asked me to play with them in 2011 after Taylor left, and I would’ve been a dummy to say no.

TIMM: You seem to be influenced by a quasi-country, quasi-folk sound, and the sounds of the ‘60s and ‘80s. When you sat down to write, did you have this certain sound in mind?

ROCHINSKI: I wouldn’t say we aim for a specific category of sound, we just write songs to have fun and challenge ourselves.

ANDREWS: We’ve been writing songs pretty spontaneously lately. They just sort of happen. It makes you wonder where you are channeling things from sometimes.

BUTLER: Actually, somebody else wrote that quote about our band and we all kind of liked it. It personally reminds me of the feeling of a Tarkovsky film or something… kind of dystopian and future-oriented while still calling upon certain traditions and folklore. I definitely have always been into that space of collision, the past-present-future one. It’s nice to sometimes hit upon it with sound.

TIMM: Your work has been said to have elements of a “mantra” in it, with the repetition and way that the voices are layered on top of each other. Is there some sort of spirituality that speaks to the writing?

ANDREWS: We’ve all separately spent time in Ashrams, communities, and Pagodas. I spent time in the Middle East when I was 18. I was staying next to a mosque and woke up every morning to locals praising Allah. I also joined a group of monks for four days and walked from Trenton, New Jersey to Philadelphia. We chanted our mantra the whole walk… na mu myo ho renge kyo. ROCHINSKI: I think something like that would speak more to our daily interactions with the world and ourselves, and just naturally perhaps is reflected in the songs, but not as an intentional statement.

TIMM: The album is such a cohesive, yet unique set of tracks. What was the producing process like for the three of you?

ROCHINSKI: Over time, it ended up being more like a group of five, including our founding drummer Taylor McVay, and the engineer/producer Jesse Gallagher. All of our distinct creative energies can be heard on the record, and I think we’re really lucky to have been through this collaborative process together, because we taught each other a lot.

ANDREWS: We are all songwriters and have three different styles of songwriting that somehow work well together. I think it’s really important for each song to be its own thing, rather than having an album that is so straightforward the whole way through.

BUTLER: Working with Jesse Gallagher was super-cool; he taught us a lot about songwriting, singing, and cayenne pepper. Having a live mix is insanely fun, it’s like having the producer surf along to your tunes. I remember watching Roots Rock Reggae and there are all these scenes of Lee “Scratch” Perry dancing along so vibrantly to the bands he is recording. So when we recorded one of the first tracks on the album, I remember looking down at Jesse on the ground with like four different hand-built delays and reverbs, just jamming along to us while mixing live. I was so psyched. The panning is unbelievable at certain points in the record, subtle mixes that upon inspection get me real psyched. I’ve been thinking a lot about the “production” of live shows and how to incorporate some of the same feelings of space that the record is able to convey.

TIMM: I know that you are still operating out of Boston, but you recently played a show in Brooklyn at Glasslands; are there any particular Brooklyn bands that inspire you?

BUTLER: Oh man, there are a lot of really great bands in Brooklyn. The first thing that pops in my head is probably the first time I went to a Black Dice show, or the first time I heard Gang Gang Dance. I feel like that music will forever be what I think of when I think of Brooklyn in the early ‘00s… they just do the most incredible job of encapsulating the feelings of that city in their sounds.

ROCHINSKI: My friend Edan is a great psychedelic hip hop artist who is based out of Brooklyn, whose aesthetic sensibilities and collection of amazing vintage audio-visuals is always inspiring. I’ve been loving Widowspeak lately, I really enjoy the song arrangements and how tasteful the songwriting and the execution of the sound is. Although he moved out of NYC recently and relocated to Massachusetts, Gary War is also pretty incredible. And having just finished Patti Smith’s autobiography, her days spent in Brooklyn and NYC as a 20something while she was developing her art practices early on were really uplifting to read about.

ANDREWS: Sharon Van Etten is so good. I wish we could hang out with her and talk about New Jersey. Also, I believe St. Vincent is based out of NYC now. She’s awesome. My dad has a secret crush on her.

TIMM: What is the band looking forward to in the future? Will you be touring to New York again soon?

ROCHINSKI: We’re working on new material and having a blast while doing so. And other than that, I know for sure that we are seriously looking forward to going swimming on tour this spring. March 3rd we play at Glasslands with Widowspeak.

BUTLER: Over the year we are gonna play some tunes and watch the year unravel, I have a feeling it is going to be a pretty incredible one, for everybody.

ANDREWS: We are still building our amusement park in the woods. Maybe someday soon I’ll be able to finally beat Shane in billiards. Maybe someday soon Ringo Starr will answer all my fan mail.

FOR MORE ON QUILT, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE.