segunda-feira, 6 de abril de 2015

Ten Storey Love Song with Quiet Loudly - An Interview

Uma daquelas preciosidades que vivem escondidas no limbo dos bons sons e que raramente vem a superfície, caso dos nova iorquinos do Quiet Loudly.

Uma verdadeira banda completa, pegando tudo que foi feito no rock alternativo de mais de 3 décadas pós a revolução do punk gerando um verdadeiro passeio por todos os subgêneros sem ser possível rotulados desse ou daquele rótulo.

Going into the Light Smiling de 2012 é seu debute e único álbum sem contar um álbum de covers lançado no final do ano passado. O disco é uma cartilha de tudo que há de melhor no rock alternativo, passando por shoegazer, dreampop, noise rock, etc,etc, etc, só que detalhe, quando da entrevista feita há algumas semanas atrás o QL não mais existia por problemas de logística interna da banda.

Porém a questão de uma semana a banda anunciou seu retorno aos palcos, e nada melhor do que entender melhor esta que é uma banda que precisa ser escutada imediatamente.

***** Interview with Quiet Loudly *****

Q. When did QL started, tell us about the history...
Quiet Loudly started in 2007. I had met Sal (our drummer) five years earlier at Emerson College. He lived on the same floor as me on campus Freshman year and was originally introduced to me simply as “the dude that plays drums”. At the time, I was looking to start a band and Sal was the only drummer I knew of. So, we began playing music together as acquaintances and then developed a really close friendship and musical connection over time. Together, we played in a band in Boston called Pinocchio Syndrome for over four years. After we graduated college, the band moved to Chicago and broke up almost immediately— our equipment was in rough shape, we were all broke, the other half of the band were in a really intense romantic relationship with each other that seemed like it was heading for an ugly implosion, and Sal was struggling to find a job, all the while feeling the strain of trying to maintain a long-distancerelationship with his longtime girlfriend from high school in New York. So, when that band was clearly coming to an end, Sal was compelled to move back to New York and I completely understood. I stuck around in Chicago for another few months just to see what might come of it, but deep down, Sal was my best friend in the world and the only person I could imagine playing music with, so I ended up following him to Brooklyn to start Quiet Loudly. Sal is so deceptive in his brilliance behind the drum kit. He put so much thought into all of his parts. He has never been a showy drummer, but he connects to the songs he’s playing on such a deep level. He’s the only person I’ve ever played with that has always wanted a copy of my lyrics so he could know every word and really get inside the song. He’s a master of texture and often plays really difficult, counter-intuitivedrum patterns that people never even pick up on because he does it so seamlessly. I started writing our first songs back in Chicago so we could hit the ground running as soon as I arrived. And that’s just what we did. Sal had an old friend from the local music scene going back to when he was in High School named Krisana. I had gotten to know him a bit throughout our Pinocchio Syndrome years as he’d always been especially supportive of us and I was quite fond of him (and he was eager to play with us), so he became our third member. We played as a three-piece for a little over a year and soon after we recorded our first album as Quiet Loudly, Kris left the band. He had been in another band before joining us who had initially been cool with having him play for us too, but once Quiet Loudly started playing shows regularly, they felt we were taking up too much of his time, so they asked him to leave our band in order to focus on them. In all fairness, he had made a commitment to them well before us, so we understood. The timing of this, however, was unfortunate since we had just recorded our first album, so we ended up deciding to release the record and, instead, put our energy into finding a new permanent bass player. This is when Tony stepped into the picture. He played in a band called GunFight!, who we had played a bunch of our first shows with. They were very different from us, stylistically, but they were terrific and we loved all of those guys— we had clicked with them immediately. They were (and still are) among the funnest people we know. We’d only hung out with Tony a couple times, so he barely more than an acquaintance but he knew we had shows already booked that we didn’t want to back out of when Kris left, so he volunteered to play with us temporarily until we found a new permanent member. But, there was a problem— from the moment we first set foot in a room with Tony, we totally adored him. He was weird and funny and laid back and sweet, just as we liked to think of ourselves. He felt like a lifelong friend from the beginning and that’s not even getting into the musical aspect of what he brought to the table— Sal and I already had a pretty deep-rooted musical connection with each other since we’d already been playing together for over five years. Sal and I really understood each others musical instincts and we were very quick to pick up on each other’s ideas without much verbal communication necessary. From day one, Tony had this same connection with us. It was obvious from the start that Tony came into the band already having a very real understanding of what we were trying to do with our music and he was completely on board. He was perfect: his bass lines were so goddamn SMART. His playing was so intuitive. He knew exactly when to sit on a groove and when to take more of a melodic lead. He was coming up with his own hooks on the bass left and right. Together, the three of us established a very, very full sound for a three-piece. We were incredibly loud, but we were also a wall of sound in a melodic sense as well. To me, it was a perfect marriage of purpose and chaos. For our second album (if you include our debut which never saw the light of day), we got some backing from an amazing guy named Shawn Butler. Shawn had a label that he preferred to think of as more of an art collective called BNS Sessions. He was incredibly supportive of us as well as a few other great local bands. He helped fund Soulgazer as well as hook us up with distribution. Soulgazer was originally supposed to be an EP. I had written four songs with a very specific sonic aesthetic in mind— I had been listening to a ton of old Soul records by the likes of Al Green and Otis Redding and it was my goal to find a way to merge the grooves and raw passion of that music with the loud, immersive, transportive qualities of Shoegazer. I’d long been a fan of Shoegazer bands but I had a common complaint about a lot of them— they had a great sound, but the songs weren’t memorable enough. For me, having a great sound wasn’t enough. I wanted to take some of those powerful dynamics and psychedelic textures from Shoegazer and filter them through more emotional, timeless-feeling love songs. However, when it came time to plan for an actual release, the label and distribution company both thought it would be a better idea for us to do a full-length. Supposedly, record stores are a little less keen on stocking their shelves with EPs for whatever reason. So, we ended up rerecording a few tunes from our first record and improvising a couple brand new instrumental tunes live in the studio to round the whole thing out to be a full-length album. In hindsight, I have some mixed feelings about the record— I feel like we put way more attention into the Soul songs then the ones we were rerecording from the first record (which we more or less just rerecorded because we were pushing for that full length). I wish we had kept it as an EP. However, those four Soul songs that were supposed to be the original Soulgazer EP are some of the songs I am proudest of of anything I’ve ever done with anyone. With the help of our dear friend and engineer PJ Goodwin, we brought in an organ player (Rex Hussman) and a couple horn players (Danny Mekonnen and Bryan Murphy) to lend their talents and help us recreate those elements of the classic Soul sound. Following the release of that album, we began playing out with a rotating cast of organ players. Originally, this was just to help recreate that old school Soul sound on the new songs that had organ on the record, but we ended up really coming to love the extra dimension that the keys gave our sound and the interesting way that more “classic” sound served as both a sonic contrast and a steady anchor to the more noisy and psychedelic aspects of what we were doing. During this time, Sal started playing with John in another band he was in called Scary Living. So, when it came time that we needed someone to play keys for a show when our usual hired guns couldn’t make it, Sal urged us to ask John. So, we played a show with John just expecting it to be another casual “fill-in” situation, but he completely blew all of us away. John has the most natural talent of any musician I’ve ever known. It didn’t take long for me, Sal, and Tony to come to the conclusion that if John was even a fraction as thrilled to play with us as we were to play with him, we wanted to hold onto him for dear life. Luckily, he liked us too. And John has easily proved that he is the true George Harrison of our band. And it’s not easy for me to make that claim because I always wished I’d be the George. But, really— John is a rare breed, like one of those master session players from the ‘60s that would equally be at home on a Beach Boys, Ronettes, or Stax record. He excels at every instrument he touches. In addition to keys, he’s an incredible drummer, bassist, guitar player, singer, and god knows what else. There is no question in my mind that the addition of John was one of the biggest reasons I feel like the band progressed so much between Soulgazer and Go Into The Light Smiling. I think it was the fact that we had John and also the fact that the band became more collaborative. Typically, I never brought a song into the band until it was at least structurally fully formed with all my guitar parts and vocals from start to finish already down. Many of the songs on Go Into The Light Smiling continued to follow that mold, but there are three on that record that began with these beautiful finger-picked guitar parts that Tony had written. We had some really great sessions on acoustic guitars in my apartment where Tony would show me an amazing, intricate, melodic guitar part he had written and he wasn’t sure where to take next. Together, we’d write guitar parts to compliment each other and put our heads together to flesh everything out and develop full songs. That’s how “Deleting People Is Easy”, “You Were The Leaves”, and “Your Wedding/My Funeral” all came to be— Tony’s guitar parts and then the rest of the band brainstorming and writing together. Those are songs I could have never written myself. The recording of that album was a dream. That’s when I met one of my best friends for life, Jeff Berner. He recorded and mixed that album and became my go-to for every single recording venture I had in NYC after. We also had a bigger budget for this record thanks to an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign. Thanks to donations from many friends and strangers alike, we had enough money to not feel like we were racy against the clock in the studio which had always been the case for us in the past. Special shout-out to Amy Everard who donated a particularly generous amount the make the album happen— she has been the most unbelievably support of us for years and she has a Quiet Loudly tattoo behind her ear to prove it :). Although we still recorded almost all the instrumentation for the album live (I’ve always found the energy of live performance impossible to reproduce via overdubbing), we had enough time to fill the record with multiple vocal harmonies, hand percussion of various forms, and a few other nice “textural” elements. And much like PJ, Jeff was just a total joy to work with— always as funny, laid back, and enthusiastic as can be with a one of a kind laser-focus and incredible ears. Flashing forward a couple years, in our last year together, the band had a LOT going on in our personal lives, as is to be expected once you get into your late 20s/ early 30s. Three of the guys got married within a year of each other and if anyone reading this has been married or have a close friend that’s been married, you know how much time and planning goes into that. Also, John was doing a lot of touring with his other band Naam. So, because of these things that made it harder and harder to get us all into the same room together, we tossed around the idea of taking on a fifth member. Tony was already putting down his bass to play guitar on a few of our songs, so we thought it made sense to find another bass player. That way, Tony could just stay on guitar so if either he or John ever couldn’t play a show, we could still pull it off as a four-piecewithout having the sacrifice too much of the fullness of our sound. This is where Jonathan aka JPK came in. I had gotten to know him through working at our favorite DIY space called Fort Useless— JPK would work door or bar and I would work sound. So, I already knew that he was incredibly sweet and a passionate lover of all kinds of music. I also learned that he had a background in Jazz and was an unbelievably dexterous and fluent bass player. He’s also one of the most enthusiastic musicians I’ve ever met so he brought such an eager and joyful vibe to the group. So, in our last six months as a band, we had a monstrously big sound whenever we were all together as a five-piece. It was my musical dream come true and the most gratifying and fulfilling artistic experience of my life.

Q: Who are your influences?
My influences are really all over the map. Thankfully, I was raised in a fairly hip household. When I was with my whole family, my parents would listen to The Beatles or The Talking Heads. When I was alone with my mom, it was always Ella Fitzgerald or Patsy Cline. With my dad it was John Coltrane— my Mom loves Jazz but has a low tolerance when it comes to the more wild, squealing playing of Coltrane’s latter years. So, that was something my dad and I only indulged in when my mom wasn’t around. So, naturally, that more difficult, avant-garde element was pretty alluring to me. I credit that for my eventual attraction to noise and more abstract music. But, since childhood, some other artists that have come to really affect me— Yo La Tengo, Slowdive, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Spiritualized, Otis Redding, Al Green, O. V. Wright, Candi Staton, Ann Peebles, The Ronettes, The Crystals, The Supremes, Funkadelic, Neil Young, Kelley Stoltz, The Dream Syndicate, Teenage Fanclub, Eleventh Dream Day, The Pretty

Things, The Electric Prunes, Wilco, Low, The Gris Gris, Curtis Mayfield, Radiohead, T. Rex, Mazzy Star, Chris Cohen, Hot Snakes, Mink Lungs, The Stone Roses, The Soft Boys, The Zombies, Koushik, Th’ Faith Healers, The Constantines, Iggy & The Stooges, Can, Cheval Sombre, Rain Parade, Sonic Boom….

Q. Make a list of 5 albuns of all time…
This is the most difficult question you could ever ask me to answer hahaha I can think of a few ways I could do this— 5 BEST albums of all time, 5 MOST IMPORTANT alums of all time…. I think what I’m gonna do is the albums that have affected me the most, personally, and have probably left the biggest fingerprints on my own aesthetic. So, the 5 albums that were probably most significant to me, personally:

PacificUV- self titled,
Slowdive- Souvlaki,
The Jesus & Mary Chain- Hate Rock N’ Roll,
Yo La Tengo- I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One,
Radiohead- OK Computer

Q. How do you feel playing live?
Playing live is such an incredible release. All the nervous energy and intense feelings that I keep pent up and never feel comfortable expressing just pour out of me when I’m singing and playing guitar. On the night of a Quiet Loudly show, I would be anxious to the point of making myself sick for hours leading up to the very first note we play. I don’t know why, but even after so many years, this was always the case. As soon as our set began, I’d totally loosen up and feel completely at home. But, leading up to that, I’d always feel sick to my stomach and feel like I was having a hard time breathing. I’m a very laid back person, but I am also prone to severe anxiety depending on which way the wind is blowing. Sometimes it’s something legitimate that’s easy to pinpoint, but sometimes I just feel vague currents of dread. Couldn’t tell you why. I blame it on human chemicals or something. I also don’t really love being the center of attention. Whenever Quiet Loudly would play as a four-piece, I’d end up being set up in the center of the stage by default. But, whenever we played as a three-piece or five-piece, I’ve always felt much more at ease playing off to one of the sides. I used to be extremely uncomfortable with having pictures taken of me, but I eventually got used to that. However, I am probably a photographer’s worst nightmare— I can be a bit of a classic “shoegazer” in the most literal sense. I also have a tendency to play with my back to the crowd when I don’t have to sing— I like being able to connect with my bandmates as much as possible and kind of stay in that little world we’re creating. Also, I feel very vulnerable as the singer— I really try to dig down deep when I’m singing and reconnect with the feelings that led me to writing those songs and those feelings are usually really intense. So, it’s hard to channel all that sadness and longing and find myself making eye contact with a stranger. Don’t get me wrong— there is no feeling more thrilling and gratifying than seeing someone in the crowd that’s making a genuine emotional connection to our music. But, it’s scary to lock eyes with someone you don’t know when you feel like you’re really baring your soul. But there was always a real electric current running through all of us during our live performances I think. I could always feel it. It was amazing to be a part of.

Q. How do you describe QL sounds?
I actually try to avoid describing us at all costs. I think people can pick up on very different things when they hear our music, depending upon where those people are coming from in their own musical tastes. I’ve seen some descriptions of our sound that make me really happy and some that make me wonder if I’m doing it totally wrong and everything is coming across the wrong way. Everyone has different taste and different points of reference. I guess I’d just encourage people to go in with an open mind and draw their own conclusions and I’ll respect whatever it is they pick up on.

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs ?
We usually recorded at a pretty break-neck pace. I feel like it’s easy to castrate a band’s energy but going into a studio and laying down every track one at a time or with all the band members on headphones in separate rooms from each other. Being proud of Quiet Loudly’s live performance, I felt like we couldn’t sacrifice that energy we had when we were all playing together in the same room. Even if the collateral damage was some flubbing of notes or rhythm or any basic “roughness around the edges”, I’d rather the passion feel real and urgent than to produce a perfect, sterile product. We also never had much money or backing, so spending months in the studio was never an option for us. For the most part, we always layer down the basic tracks live, and in the same room whenever possible, and we’d play each song a few times all the way through and just keep whatever take felt the most “right”.

Q. Which new bands do you recommended?
I listen to much more music from the ‘60s and ’70s and now that I’m not an active member of the NYC music scene, I feel a little out of the loop to be honest. I’ve spent much of the last couple years listening to classic Power Pop and new weird r&b slow jams. But I know plenty of bands in both Boston and NYC that I think deserve props— from Boston: Creaturos, 28 Degrees Taurus, Slowdim, Mean Creek, The Dazies, Bent Shapes, Andy Sadoway, Babydriver, Parks, Digital Prisoners Of War, Speedy Ortiz, Burial Sound, Magic Shoppe, The Fagettes…. from NYC: pow wow!, Mount Sharp, Flying Pace, Crazy Pills, GunFight!, Heliotropes, Ava Luna, Monogold, Dead Stars, The Meaning Of Life, Passenger Peru, Hay Baby, Lazyeyes, Eastern Hollows, The Planes, Miniboone, Robot Princess….

Q: What´s the plans for future....
Well, due to the fact that we’re spread out between Brooklyn, Boston, and Philly now, it’s tough for us to do much more together. I’d love to say there will be another album some day— I’m sure we’d all love to do another album, but that might just be logistically impossible. At the very least, we plan on reuniting for a couple shows in NYC and Boston this summer and hopefully we can get back together to play at least one show every year. We’re all still very close and have nothing but fond memories of our time together so if anything ever changes and we’re given an opportunity to spend enough time together to do more than that, we would love to. In the meantime, we have plenty of other music projects to keep us busy. I play bass in a band called Clouder and

I’ve also been collaborating with my good friend Kurt Schneider on a psychedelic r&b project called Classic Dave, plus I recently contributed some guitar and backing vocals to the debut album of the amazing Spirit System from North Carolina. Sal is playing in pow wow! and Mount Sharp, Tony is working on solo tunes and a possible new band in Philly, John plays for Psychic TV, Johnny Aries, The Love Supreme, and Patrick McGrath, and JPK plays in Flying Pace and Misguided By Voices.

Q: Any parting words?
I just want to thank you, Renato, for your interest in Quiet Loudly and for taking the time to talk to me. Even though we aren’t an active band anymore, connecting with people that care about our work means the world to me. I hope all our paths cross again in a way that allows us to write more music together, but I look back on my time with the boys in Quiet Loudly and it never ceases to make me smile. Those guys have my heart and always will and I thank them too for sharing the journey with me and giving me a chance.