Feature: A Conversation with Shane Butler of Quilt


Polar vortexes, mysteriously occupied hotel rooms, blood stains, burning pieces of metal appearing out of thin air…these are just some of the freakishly weird events that have taken place on Quilt’s current winter tour. As the band made their way through the snowy mountain passes of the West, we were given the chance to chat about their new album Held In Splendor with guitarist/vocalist Shane Butler, a man with an ever-interesting outlook on life. Read on below.

We’ve got a couple pairs of tickets to giveaway to Quilt’s show on Monday night in Toronto. Follow us on twitter (@doggonepresents) and look out for a chance to win before week’s end. Also be sure to pick up Quilt’s new album at your local record shop or via Mexican Summer.

What are the biggest differences between this album and the debut both in terms of songwriting and how the album came about?

Well, we were younger then, we are older now. We used different types of metal and wooden objects on this album than on the first; but also we used some of the same. With this album we were writing about now; with that album we were writing about ‘now’, then. I guess albums are just products of specific moments and the ways we as artists relate to the situations presented to us. We grow as songwriters constantly and we constantly have a new set of materials to work with; I guess those things mark the ‘difference’ or progression between the two.

Who were some key influences that inspired the music on Held In Splendor?

Well, to speak about that specifically I would really need to go into the history of all the music I’ve ever listened to, and all the experiences I’ve had. I think it all comes through in big ways. I can mention some people who recently have been very inspiring; but it’s such a partial list — La Monte Young, Ruth Garbus, Broadcast, Prahladji Tipanya, Kabir, Mary Oliver, Kurt Weisman, Sweeney’s Men, Relatively Clean Rivers, Ultimate Spinach, Pelt, Sonic Youth, Deerhunter, the list goes on and on and on and on…right now we are driving down the Pacific 5 and there is a lot of dark mellow-green moss everywhere; it is taking over every stone, branch, and dead animal in sight. It’s just climbing up through those beings and giving them new life; helping others breathe. That’s an influence. Also; we watched Eternal Tapestry play last night, both sonically and visually they hit a spot with me; As did the breakfast we just ate. The list goes on and on.

What are some of the key lyrical themes or messages that appear throughout the album? What were the major inspirations behind them?

For me; the concept of ‘you’ comes in throughout the album a lot. What does it mean to ‘you’? Who are ‘you’? You are you? I also second Anna’s beckoning towards Saturday Bride; the way that song progresses in stages lyrically and the way it is presented on a sheet of paper gets me vibing for sure. I think we ask a lot of questions on the record; i don’t know if we have any answers, but by putting out the questions we may be one step further towards our answer. The questions deal with life, death, love, our identities as goofy twenty year olds in the bizarre music enclaves of the world, the in-between, oranges, everything…

How did the change in personnel affect the sound of Quilt both on the road and in the studio? What was the reason for the change?

Working with Jarvis, Al, and our friends who played with us on the record was a wonderful experience. Very different from the last record in some ways; very similar in other ways. It’s always great working with different voices on a project, when we spend the time collaborating with new folks our artistic vocabulary always progresses a ton. I’m really excited to apply all the knowledge we learned from Jarvis and Al into all our upcoming song-writing, in the same way that Jesse who helped us with the first record left an impression on how we thought about songwriting after that experience. These creative relationships really stay with us a long time and I am thankful for that.

What are some of the biggest lessons or realizations you have made as a band since the formation of Quilt?

Well, it might sound cheesy, but for myself something that just becomes increasingly clear is that patience goes a really long way. In anything; but in being in a band, definitely. Being patient with each other as artists, friends, collaborators, and with the way our particular incarnation as creators progresses is something that keeps becoming more clear and pertinent to us in time. Patience and flexibility; not allowing ourselves to settle into some rigid orientation of ‘who we are’ ‘what we are’ or what our ‘roles’ are – while still dancing with these ideas and allowing the play of our band to blossom in it’s own time. I love watching it unfold. Maybe that is where the ‘you’ question comes into play again; the you question continues to unfold.

What are you most excited for in 2014?

To see more species of moss and to travel around the world.

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