Quilt’s textured nature is, although familiar, not to be taken for granted by those who payed attention at an early age to their parent’s music. Their catalog thus far has provided a reasonable evolution of style. Their first self-titled album was an experiment in Appalachian twang – both rustic and soulful. On their second, Held in Splendor, Quilt established their style in 60’s psych, though this is “an all encompassing term”, explains singer Anna Rochinski, “It’s hard to explain exactly what we sound like. It’s constantly changing.” And on that note, their latest Plaza is a larger step in the band’s evolution while not straying too far from their original inspirations. More refined and maybe a little alternative rock leaning, Anna projects a modern rhythm in her voice.
The band recently played Chicago’s Wicker Park Fest, and we got to chat with Anna for a bit.
Tell me about Boston’s scene. What inspired you there?
Anna Rochinski: I grew up in Brookline. It’s geographically part of the city, a little outside of the main city and right on the Boston subway line. My parents still live in the area so I visit a lot. 2008-9 There’s such a nice open culture and underground scene and it’s what I love about the Boston scene. It’s super welcoming. There are a lot of experimental groups.
Your first album was very rustic; almost Appalachian.
AR: We definitely changed over time, and I think our songwriting got a little more firm. From touring we learned to incorporate fewer acoustic instruments, but it’s hard to adapt all those songs live. We started writing with electric setup and I became fascinated with pop music. It seeped into the writing process. On tour we wanted to bring the minimum amount of equipment. We have an acoustic guitar for some songs but I’ve embraced my role as electric guitarist.
Do you ever feel like Bob Dylan when he made the switch?
AR: It might sound dumb, but I was never really a big Dylan fan. I think in the same way what he does for his fans is what Neil Young does for me.
How do you feel your process changed from your first self-titled album to Plaza? How do you think you’re writing differently?
AR: I’m ready for a new chapter. I have more experience and muscle excited to see how that changes. Over time you practice. I have all these voice memos. Our instincts have gotten better in deciding what I’ll pursue. I’m hoping it’ll be easier to develop something instead of hemming and hawing with different pieces flying around. Using that confidence and saying “ok this idea will work.” I think it’s reflected in my life too with living somewhere consistent. Excited to write new material. Stable existence allows more freedom and space. I have a studio space behind my house and I’m excited to get to work when we get home from this tour.
Any breaks lately or planned for the future?
AR: I just took a break recently! I’ve been listening, a lot of ideas tucked away. Neil Young, old Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, The Internet, Harry Nilsson. Oh, and Neil Diamond! He gets such a bad rap. I think he’s misunderstood. On some level he’s a main influence. I enjoy his solo work. He wrote a lot for The Monkees. We’ve never done a song exactly like this but very danceable folk pop. One of my favorite songs is “Cherry Cherry.” Cool harmonies, handclaps, Not cheesy like The Partridge Family. And Harry Nilsson is so much more theatrical. Style is varied. He gets a bad rap too. I appreciate him because he went under the radar. He died too soon. There’s this amazing documentary on him, and while you’re at it, there’s a great video on YouTube of him performing “1941.” He gets a pie thrown in his face. It was all part of the show.
What album or lyric did you like back then that didn’t make sense but makes sense now?
AR: Oh, good question! A good example would be Fiona Apple. I’ve been such a big fan ever since I was a kid. As a kid and teenager I listened to her lyrics but it’s not like they completely hit home, but as I go through these trials and tribulations in my 20’s they make more sense. I was always interested in poetry. But you just understand and appreciate the beauty of the words. Of course sometimes in hindsight you think “oh, exactly.” I remember as a kid I went to the library and found her album Tidal. I checked it out and copied it to a tape. I think I still have it somewhere. Also, I had a moment six years ago when I realized I was older than Alanis Morissette when she wrote Jagged Little Pill. I realized I’ve gotten past that point. I get that a lot more now.
Check out Quilt’s latest release Plaza, out now via Mexican Summer, and catch them tonight at Rock & Roll Hotel with Big Thief.