Boston-based band Quilt is informed by a wide-open musical approach | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Boston-based band Quilt is informed by a wide-open musical approach 

“There was no intention behind our music. We just wanted to be a band.”

Quilt (Shane Butler, second from right)

Photo courtesy of Bill Kopp

Quilt (Shane Butler, second from right)

Though the group has released three albums since 2011, Quilt has been together since late 2008. Formed in Boston by Shane Butler and Anna Fox Rochinski — then students at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts — the group grew out of the city’s do-it-yourself musical scene. “There was a very free-form DIY network,” says Butler. “It was so open that you could play with tons of different kinds of bands all the time.”

That wide-open approach informed Quilt’s own musical aesthetic. “It’s not that we were improvisational like a jazz group,” Butler emphasizes. “There was no intention behind our music. We just wanted to be a band.” They began to write songs, but with no particular style or musical approach in mind. “There was no need to tell ourselves what we were, what we were going to be, or what our songs were going to sound like,” he recalls. “We were able to figure that out, half at home and half in front of people.”

Butler remarks on the uniqueness of that DIY scene. “There will be nothing like it again,” he says, “and I feel very thankful for being around it.” The foundation of those early days allowed Quilt to develop a musical approach that has served it well, as displayed on the band’s third album, Plaza, released this year.

A collaborative mindset might be one secret to the band’s longevity. Butler believes the approach “fully embrace[s] the nature of each member of the group as a member and as an individual. That’s a very, very cool thing,” he says. “And I’m happy to be in a band that has that.”

He notes that in their time together, the band members have become and remained really good friends. “Being together for seven years now, everyone’s become much more talented musicians, and better writers,” he says. “And in a group situation, you acknowledge that and ask yourselves, ‘OK, so how can we honor and use those things?’”

Butler believes that Quilt’s touring has helped his own songwriting. “Whether it’s the thankfulness you have for being home and appreciating the simple things in life — cooking, seeing friends — or whether it’s the literal experience of being somewhere else, I find that touring has a really great effect on the creative process. When you put yourself around different people, places and scenarios, you’re going to learn about things that you would have never known.”

Pittsburgh audiences have earned a special place in the hearts Quilt’s musicians. The last time the band played locally, it was in the midst of a serious snowstorm. Butler recalls, “We were thinking, ‘Nobody’s gonna come to the show.’ But a bunch of kids came! They drove through the freakin’ snow where you could die. And they had a blast. And this does not happen in every city. There’s something really special about the dedication of our group of fans in Pittsburgh. And I hope that we see them again.”

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