BANDSPEAK, Music

An Interview with Anna Fox Rochinski (Quilt) and Simon Hanes (Tredici Bacci)

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While this winter has been less oppressive than last year, we’ve still been dealing with some frigid New England temps these last few weeks. Luckily for us, ex-Boston smooth psychsters Quilt are prepping to douse us with some sunshine courtesy of their new LP Plaza. The band’s record release show is at the MFA with Tredici Bacci on the 28th. Ahead of the show, Quilt’s Anna Fox Rochinski and Bacci’s Simon Hanes were kind enough to answer a few questions about the new album, their projects, the Boston music scene, all ages venues, and more. Check it below and get a ticket to the show while you can!

Michael Achille: You recorded Plaza in Brooklyn after recording ideas and snippets while on the road during your last tour. Was that a new way of recording an album for you? Why did you decide to record the album in Brooklyn?

ANNA ROCHINSKI: “Yeah, some of the snippets we had collected were from touring, but a lot of them were from other times in our lives or from when we were just at home doing whatever. It wasn’t a particularly new way, but I think we approached this album with more muscle and a focus on efficiency and just making everything as solid sounding as possible. We recorded it in Brooklyn with Jarvis, just like last time, because we like working with him a lot.”

MA: The album art has a sort of tropical looking background with that lonesome looking chair. How did you decide on that? Quilt’s music is so warm and full of sunshine, is it a reflection of the tone of the album? Did you explore any lonesome themes on this record?

AR: “I found the picture randomly, and had it saved on my phone, I actually barely even remembered I had it stashed away (I take tons of screen shots all the time without a second thought) and I showed it to everyone one day and we all immediately were like YES, THIS IS THE ALBUM COVER, so we had to get permission from Ken Price’s estate, and it’s amazing that they agreed. I think we all like the drawing style and how it’s kind of wiggly and weird, while depicting, yes, a rather lonely scene. Or maybe it’s just a plain, utilitarian room, and all they really need is that chair. Who knows? I definitely think it’s a great fit for the record, not because all the songs are specifically about loneliness, but there’s a subtly idiosyncratic kind of visual experience you get from the cover which I hope is reflected in the music.”

MA: Simon, I’ve seen you perform with a variety of bands, and you are always so animated and enthralled – almost like you’re in a trance. I recently watched a video online of you at Hassle Fest V(?) I think in 2013 where you’re naked from the waist down…almost animalistic! Do you bring that kind of energy to everything you do?

SIMON HANES: “Huh, that doesn’t sound familiar… You sure it was me? Maybe that was before I stopped regularly abusing paint thinner. Oh well! To answer your question, I’ve found that I feel much better about a performance if I can muster an appropriate level of ruthless abandon and bring that feeling onstage. Performing for an audience is sort of like taking a break from the usual boring social constraints of real life; it has its own rules and logic. Because of that I try not to bring any “real life” onstage with me because it stops me from being able to fully commit to the performance. Like how “the wizard of Oz” doesn’t really get really good until Dorothy fully accepts that Oz has completely different rules than Kansas. Flying monkeys.”

MA: The upcoming show/record release is at the MFA! So cool! AND it’s all ages which is great. Do you typically try and play shows at all ages venues whenever possible? Do you think we’re seeing an increase in above ground alternative show spaces like this in Boston?

AR: “We don’t play enough all ages shows! I don’t really know if it’s happening more in Boston, but I know there’s been an effort. When I was in high school there were lots of all ages shows at places like MassArt, the Cambridge YMCA, and Herrell’s ice cream in Allston (which I think is where Refuge cafe is now), and I like that Boston bands are willing to play in these kinds of alternative spaces.”

SH: “So glad to hear you think it’s cool that we’re playing at the museum! Forgive me, but I think you misspelled the acronym – I believe its MNF for “Museum of Nine Farts”. I’m a proponent of playing all ages shows whenever possible – people under the age of 21 have a tendency to be less jaded, so their presence can inject some energy into the audience. Over the last few years I have noticed an increase in above ground alternative show spaces, but they’re usually not high enough above ground, in my opinion. I propose some kind of “DIY turret” venue perched high atop a pillar. It could be called “the Cloud Club!” No one’s using that name, right?”

MA: I feel like in Boston there is a strong sense of community and connectedness. I believe that is a result of promoters and organizations like the Hassle striving to book all ages shows at these alternative spaces and fostering a sense of partnership between all sorts of individuals. Do you feel like the scene in Boston is unique in that sense?

AR: “Yeah, absolutely. It’s easier in small cities to have that community feeling. When I lived in Boston, I loved it. Keep doing what you’re doing!”

SH: “Absolutely! Due to its size, and the amount of freaks and college students residing therein, Boston has a unique genetic makeup – well suited for a strong underground community and support system. It’s important to remember, however, that a community is made up of individuals, and each person has to share in the responsibility of helping the group stick together. With that in mind, it’s important to not sweat the small stuff, communicate openly and in person (the internet is not reality) and to always be looking for ways to bring people together.”

MA: Quilt is playing with Simon’s project Tredici Bacci, a crazy awesome 60’s/70’s Italian film inspired group of multi-talented musicians. Is this your first time playing with them? Their members are involved in so many other amazing projects; it’s a cornucopia of incredible Boston musical talent. Do you feel they are a good representation of the connectedness and cooperation here in Boston that I was talking about before?

AR: “Yeah, it’s our first time playing with them. I think it’s a great thing. I think Simon has an amazing and unique project on his hands and it’s pretty cool that they can all make it work, given the magnitude of the whole thing and the sheer number of participants. I think it’s a good example of connectedness, but being in a group like that which follows very tight arrangements and has a high standard of musicality and like, doesn’t fuck around, is a very old-school and refreshingly straight-up way of being in a band.”

MA: Quilt got its start at The Whitehaus in JP. Do you think being around like minded artists and all around creative people in that scene helped influence Quilt’s music? Have you encountered those kinds of artistic collectives anywhere else in your travels?

AR: “Yes, for sure. Yes to all the questions. We see art collectives all over the place. The “living room show” is something we have done many times; it’s where I felt like I was able to get over a lot of the nervousness and stage fright I had for a really long time, because you are forced into the ultimate kind of intimacy with your audience. You feel like you’re part of the same lump of people, all sitting there in a dimly lit room together. I’m pretty small so whenever I’ve played basement shows I can’t really see anything, and although there’s a time and place for a beer-soaked basement show, I’ll take a living room show any day or night.”

MA: Simon, Tredici Bacci is one of your MANY projects and includes (and has included) a whole slew of incredible Boston musicians including Katie McShane of Listening Woman. Was this your first time collaborating with her?

SH: “Katie is an incredibly vibrant, imaginative musician – her stint in Bacci boot camp actually came to a close last year so she could focus more on her own musical endeavors. We’d worked extensively together on several projects before that – in fact, she and her wonderful partner Jesse Heasly and some of our other colleagues collaborated on an intensive residency/installation piece in Roslindale entitled ‘4073 Washington St. Apt #2’ from early Sept. 2014 to late August 2015.”

MA: The band is inspired by 60’s/70’s Italian cinema. How did you come to that? Are you a fan of classic foreign cinema?

SH: “Yes! When I come across something I like, I try to investigate it as deeply as possible. That’s been the case with films from the 60’s/70’s for a few years now, and I’m still just skimming the surface.”

MA: What else can we expect from Simon Hanes in the coming months? Any exciting projects/albums/collabs you’ve got in the works?

SH: “Oh jeez. Well, TB just finished our third record, which features collaborations with some of my favorite singers and composers from around the northeast. In fact, there might be a sneak peek of that at the Nine Farts show. CBYH has a record out in the spring, and Luxardo has his final hearing with the parole board next month… S’all good!”

MA: Anna, this show doubles as Quilt’s tour kickoff to promote Plaza. Are there any places you’re going on this tour where you haven’t been before? And are there any bands you’re looking forward to playing with?

AR: “We’re playing Iowa and Nebraska, and I think Idaho. All new places! We’re playing with Mild High Club a bunch on the West coast and they are really cool. We’re also excited to play the Marfa Myths festival in West Texas that our record label has been doing a few years.”

MA: Finishing it off, Simon what have you not been able to stop listening to this winter?

SH: “Ennio Morricone and the sound of my heat not working.”

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