Hailing from Austin, TX rock ‘n’ roll band Quiet Company is definitely not a company to keep quiet about. The five-member group lays out punchy guitar beats with meaningful lyrics that have warranted coverage on NPR’s “All Things Considered” as well as several Austin Music Awards. We were graced with the opportunity to sit down and chat with them at the Chuggin’ Monkey in downtown Austin during SXSW and talk about their biggest successes, the new album coming out, and their love of Game of Thrones.
VM: So 2013 turned out to be quite the year for you guys. What do you guys think was your biggest success of the year?
Tommy Blank: It was the first year we were able to fully dedicate – all of us – to Quiet Company, so we were a full-time band. And we toured, so any one thing really encompasses everything. We were able to spend the full-time amount on rehearsals and writing up songs. I guess we got All Things Considered on NPR too, and that’s a pretty big thing. It was kind of an interesting thing, because it wasn’t all songs, and [it was] based on the topic of our last record and Taylor’s tackling of religion and his perspective.
VM: I saw on your website that you guys have started recording a fourth studio album. Can we expect to hear any thing off of it during SXSW?
Taylor Muse: Yes, I think we are only playing like one old song. Everything else we are playing is new. We are really excited about the new material, and we just got out of the studio Tuesday. We are adding some mixing now, and Tim Palmer is mixing it. He is one of – if not the – best mix engineers in the world for our money, so we are super excited about what we are hearing back. We are really proud of it. It’s our first record we have done with a producer, and we are working with Matt Novesky.
TB: It’s also the first one we have done completely in the studio, and we are using Orb Studios, which the grand opening is actually this Sunday, so we were in there before they actually opened the doors, and it was a really good experience.
VM: What should your fans expect from the new album coming out?
Evan Smoker: They should expect loud, catchy rockin’ guitars and awesome drums from me, the best drummer in the band and super hard punches. It’s going to be a great tour de force of rock ‘n roll greatness.
VM: What has it been like working with Matt Novesky producing?
TM: [Jokingly] Matt is just real human garbage. No, Matt is just a really lovely, amazing person. He is really kind and generous, and he made our recording experience so much fun. He was really all about getting the best version of us, you know, instead of making us into to something else. He helped us to see the making of the album as more about capturing a moment rather than capturing an idea. It was all about capturing a particular performance, something believable, something pure and genuine. Not how we have seen records before, when we were trying to capture the idea of something instead. We recorded it live, which is the first time we have done that, and I would hate to have to go back to recording any other way in any other studio. It was a really great experience, and Kevin Butler was the engineer, and he is fantastic.
TB: Because we had a great producer and an amazing guy like Kevin, we were able to focus on it being a live performance on this record. We were able to just perform and focus on that, instead of all that bullsh*t like miking amps.
VM: You guys recently re-mastered and re-recorded your 2006 album Shine Honesty. what was the inspiration to get back in the studio and give it another shot?
TM: Part of it was bad advice, but that’s the one record we didn’t own since it was on our record label. And they did nothing with it, and so it had been out of print for three years. So really, it was just a way for us to own the record again. We corrected a lot of things, but we were pretty true to the original as far as arrangement goes. It sounds better now, and it ended up being cheaper for us to just do it where we can manufacture new copies whenever we want, as opposed to spending money buying them back from the record label. It wasn’t a big thing for us; [it was] really just to fill that hole in our catalog.
VM:I know we are all dying to know, was the title of the Christmas EP Winter is Coming a Game of Thrones reference or just a coincidence?
TM: Oh yeah, of course.
TB: What’s Game of Thrones?
TM: Tommy doesn’t really watch game of thrones, but the rest of us do. It’s an overt reference; we weren’t really trying to hide it.
VM: Who writes the songs? Is there a common theme or subject that tie them together in any way?
TM: We did Belong, and that record dealt exclusively with the whole religion thing and not having one anymore and all the emotions and stuff that come with that. But we aren’t ever going to talk about that again. Oddly enough, I have always been a big fan of that imagery. To some degree, you can take the boy out of East Texas but you cant take East Texas out of the boy. There is still a lot of very religious imagery on this new record, but there is not a religious thought on it whatsoever. The new record just deals with this past year that we have had, and the overall message of the thing is anything that you love that is worth having, you will have to struggle for to some degree, so it deals with struggle in different aspects.
VM: What is the process you guys go through to make new music? Do you have a routine, or does it vary?
TM: I don’t know, since we have a new band now, we got a band that really wants to be here, so our process may differ from how it was in the past. Bill has only been our keyboard player for about a week. He has gone from being a piano player to a sensation worker. Evan may be the best drummer I have ever met; he’s phenomenal, but we have only had him for maybe a couple of months. We had been struggling to write this record for about a year, but then there was such an energy there with these new guys. We were just plowing through stuff, and everything was so easy.
TB: All the doubt from the writing room that we had been having was gone.
TM: Not to say anything bad about the guys from before; you can’t really control what you like and don’t like. But now we have a group that is a little more like-minded creatively. We all like big guitars and big rock songs, so let’s make big guitars and big rock songs.
VM: Could you give us any hint as to when the new album will be available?
TM: No. Not in the past; it’ll be in the future! We have never shopped a record before, so we aren’t going to do that. And if the right deal comes along, we just have no idea. If we don’t get it picked up or don’t find the right match for us, we will just release it ourselves, and it will probably fail. But we are really hoping it does get picked up. Plus, it is not even done mixing yet; we have done that thing in the past where we set a goal before the record is even done, but this year we finally learned all the lessons we need to learn.