Quilt has been around since the mid-aughts, the product of art school kids from Boston. Since that time, the trio has evolved and swapped members, as bands tend to do, plodding around the Northeast playing basement shows and wearing button-up shirts. Their music tends to teeter somewhere between floral headbands and tight black jeans, which is a pretty sweet place to be.
Quilt’s sophomore album, Held In Splendor, is out now via Mexican Summer, and it’s a sunnily reflective work of woodsy pop. It’s been described frequently as “psychedelic,” but it seems to me like it’s more like “psychic.” Like, it can read your mind. It knows what you want. And what you want is some vaguely brooding guitar work and unfussy vocals. I spoke to vocalist/guitarist Anna Fox Rochinski about the band’s new album, an amusement park in the woods and wearing monochromatic colors. NPR said each song seems to knit together at least three distinct tunes in one. With three members in your band, was that intentional?
A bunch of the songs on there were collaborative. They are probably picking up on a couple songs that were definitely written all together. I don’t necessarily know if that is our distinct “style.” When you’re collaborating with other people, there are a bunch of ideas bouncing around and you kind of just use all of the ideas. We’re a bunch of eclectic songwriters.
I heard that a lot of the songs are just the result of jam and improv. How much of this album do you think is organic material that happened while you guys were just messing around together, and how much was planned?
We definitely had a lot of songs already. A lot of those songs came out of a process. It’s all organic material. We basically planned all of the songs that were on there, for sure. The only song that was not part of the original group that we planned to have on the record was A Mirror which was written after we finished the album, and recorded a few weeks after everything else was done. It might be easier to tell on there with songs like The World Is Flat, that it definitely just came out of us playing and jamming. But even our more structured songs like Eye Of The Pearl or Arctic Shark, which were originally written by one of us, when you’re writing a song alone you’re kind of jamming with yourself. All of it comes out of a process. Saturday Bride is a good example of a song where the three of us were all going on together writing it at the same time jamming.
Is there a specific theme running through Held In Splendor, intentional or unintentional?
Yeah. I think people can draw their own conclusions, and weave their own storylines in and out of this. Part of the reason we have the lyrics printed very clearly on the album insert was so people could read them aloud like short stories or poems. I’m excited for people to interpret them as they will, basically.
I feel like your music has kind of a natural-energy sound. Do you have a favorite sort of space to play in that influences you music?
Not particularly. We’ve played in a lot of different types of situations. I think that we just take each contact as its own experience and we try to shape that and shape the way we play our songs to fit the environment we have to be in. And I think being able to do that is important for us, so that we don’t get stuck in one comfort zone. We have to challenge ourselves a lot. I mean, we played for years in basements. Basements and living room shows are what we started off doing. So playing in more professional clubs, I like it better because the sound is usually better. But there is something to be said for being able to transfer that energy to a backyard or what have you. I don’t think we prefer one over the other.
Now that you play more professional venues rather than basements, have you revamped your live show because of that to fit the spaces?
Yes and no. It’s something that sort of happened naturally over a course of years. You just learn what kind of volume to play at. The one thing I’m excited [about] for this tour is having a larger catalog of songs to play and maybe being able to improve a little bit more with the set.
Do you have a favorite band to cover, or favorite covers?
Like five years ago we did a couple shows just sitting down, and we did this really funny, kind of mashed together Ring Of Fire and Paper Planes medley. It was really, really funny and cool.
So your tour kicks off next week. which city are you most excited to go to?
I’m really excited to play in Montreal. I am excited to go to Vancouver, I’ve always really liked Vancouver. I’ve been there a couple of times. Definitely psyched for the West Coast, I love it there. Driving through the Southwest is going to be awesome. Driving through, like, New Mexico for a few days is something I’m really looking forward to.
Have you met many fans? Do you have any superfans?
Honestly, it’s great that people come out to see us. Another thing too is that we have friends that live all over the country, and being able to see them is really something special. We don’t always get to see certain buddies that live far away, so that’s always really exciting too.
So your tours can also be kind of like reunions?
Yeah, in a way. It’s cool that all these people I haven’t talked to in years are calling me and telling me they like the record. That’s pretty much all I could ask for—it’s great.
John (Andrews, drummer) says that you guys are building an amusement park in the woods. Was this a metaphor or are you actually building an amusement park?
Yeah, but we can’t tell anyone where it is though. People are going to have to find it. It’s a secret. It’s on a secret map that doesn’t exist yet.
Is it built yet, is it in the process?
That’s something we’re gonna have to know and you’re gonna have to find out.
If you were a mood ring color or Quilt was a mood ring color, what would it be?
Well, we once were living in this house, and we realized that we were on our way to wearing monochromatic outfits. It became this battle for like who was claiming to be each Power Ranger for the day. Everyone was claiming to be one of them. I’m pretty sure I ended up becoming the green ranger. Therefore, maybe I would also be the green mood ring. Green is also my favorite Jell-O flavor.