Quiet Company
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Quiet Company

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | INDIE

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Rock Indie

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Jun
14
Quiet Company @ The Basement

Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Jun
11
Quiet Company @ Milkboy Philly

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Jun
09
Quiet Company @ The Stanhope House

Stanhope, New Jersey, United States

Stanhope, New Jersey, United States

Music

Press


Here's how you alienate the meager fan base you've managed to develop as an independent rock band struggling to make a career in the bleak-as-hell music industry of 2012:
First, you cultivate that fan base by filling your debut album with references to God and angels, releasing it on Christian rock label Northern Records (home to DC Talk's Kevin Max), and promoting it at the Cornerstone Festival put on by Jesus People USA.
Next, you follow it up with a well-received second album that continues to bring the religious imagery to the forefront without addressing the fact that your lead singer and songwriter is steadily losing his faith.
Finally, you sign an artist development deal with music streaming website Grooveshark to release your third album and fill it with songs that repudiate – often with extreme bitterness – the Christianity you once shared with your fans.
If you're Austin's Quiet Company, you do all this with the keen awareness that it could have dire repercussions for the career you've worked so hard to build – and you do it while also putting out the best album of that career.
Hallelujah
Taylor Muse isn't a Christian – not anymore – and Quiet Company, the band he formed in 2006 with guitarist Tommy Blank, has never been a Christian band. That's something he's quick to stress, though the band's pedigree makes that seem like a distinction without a difference.
Muse, 30 this month, grew up in East Texas – Tyler – and still carries the accent. He played in East Texas indie rock bands, including as a brief bass fill-in for Eisley, and after watching his friends in the Lonely Hearts move to Nashville and quickly sign to a label, he took his own band, the Connotations, to Tennessee.
"Everyone hated it there," he says of the year spent there.
The band didn't survive the ensuing move to Austin, but Muse recorded Quiet Company's debut, Shine Honestly, big on mythic imagery. Both it and the follow-up three years later, 2009's Everyone You Love Will Be Happy Soon, draw primarily from what Muse today describes as "Christian mythology." On the first album, songs like the dreamy, guitar-driven ballad "We Change Lives" are full of angels, heaven, and hallelujahs. Everyone You Love Will Be Happy Soon ends with the lines, "Oh, there must be a god, somewhere in the universe/ May be looking after me/Yeah, he may be smiling down on me/Hallelujah."
"I've always fallen back on religious imagery as a songwriting tool, just because it was familiar to me and I liked the aesthetic of it," says Muse. "And we were on Northern Records and played Cornerstone."
Preaching to the Choir
This attracted a devoted fan base full of Christian kids who love the way contemporary indie music sounds but who want a little more Jesus in their rock, and whose parents often regulate what they're allowed to listen to. Muse was one of those kids himself – in his Cedar Park living room, there's still a wall of CDs full of Christian music – so he wrote songs like those in his record collection. He may not have considered Quiet Company a Christian band, but the fans who painstakingly transcribed his lyrics onto websites and boosted the band to the top of Grooveshark's charts did.
After the release of the band's third full-length, We Are All Where We Belong, in October, those people don't identify Quiet Company as making Christian music anymore.
"I get a lot of email about it from people now," admits Muse. "Christians apologizing to me: 'I'm so sorry for whatever experience in the church that made you feel this way. Please don't write off God because you had these bad experiences.'"
They're responding to Muse's excoriation of Christianity, which occurs throughout We Are All Where We Belong. The imagery, once flowery and biblical, now roils aggressively secular. On "Set Your Monster Free," a lovely acoustic ballad, Muse refutes the existence of angels he sang about in Shine Honestly's "Tie Your Monster Down," telling his 3-year-old daughter Harper that, "You don't have to waste your life/Holding on to beautiful lies."
On "The Easy Confidence," he sings that "If Jesus Christ ever reached down and touched my life/He certainly left no sign to let me know he had," and shreds his delicate vocals as he screams his rage: "I've got a bone to pick, and I want to pick it clean/Oh, the prodigal son and his shameful disbelief."
Muse says he's encouraged by the dialogue that's occurring now – he responds to every email he gets – and that these fans aren't outraged. Mostly, people who email him "love the record. They're just concerned about me."
All That You Can Leave Behind
Without spiritual concerns weighing on him, Muse focuses on things like his band's artist development deal with streaming music service Grooveshark, which helped fund We Are All Where We Belong (they ponied up the cash for Tim Palmer to mix the album, a service he also performed for U2 on All That You Can't Leave Behind) and pressing the LP as a double-gatefold vinyl. It also helps Quiet Company land the occasional licensing deal to place songs in video games or on episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
"That's the only place there's money left," offers Muse.
Grooveshark's support is vital to Muse's vision of how the band could evolve into a career. Currently, he works a full-time job as an insurance adjuster, and it's clear that spending so much time away from his family, between the day job and his responsibilities with the band, eats at him. Muse dreams of the day he can divide his time between house husband and full-time songwriter, paying the bills with licensing deals and the occasional tour.
"Everything we do now is a sacrifice toward not having to work the other job and just getting to do music," he stresses.
Being able to spend more time with Harper seems to be the eye-on-the-prize for Muse.
Preaching to the Choir
"When we first found out that we were having a girl, he was not very excited about it," admits his wife, Leia Muse. "He wanted a boy to play with and sword fight with and read comic books to. Now, he's finding that he can have all of those things with Harper, because those are her favorite things. He plays with her all the time."
The birth of his daughter nearly three years ago was also the catalyst for Muse finally breaking from the faith he was raised in. Yet, he explains, it didn't start there. In fact, his struggle to accept that he wasn't a Christian predates not only the songs that make up We Are All Where We Belong, but also the very formation of Quiet Company.
"I'd been questioning it, and dealing with it internally – for years," he reveals.
After discovering authors like Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins in his early 20s, he allowed himself to ask those questions more seriously. All of this came to a head, finally, when Leia was eight months pregnant.
"I got to the point where I hadn't really felt like a Christian in years," he says. "I hadn't been brave enough to pursue it any further, but once my parents started asking me questions about if we were going to start going to church once Harper was born, I realized I don't want her to go to church."
That's a theme that runs deep throughout We Are All Where We Belong.
"I don't want her to believe these things," Muse asserts purposefully. "I don't want her to be ashamed based on a 2,000-year-old book that has no relevance in our lives. It'd been a source of anxiety and depression in my life, because I wanted it to be true so bad, and I was constantly trying to force the square peg of religion into the round hole of reality.
"I didn't want that for her."
Quiet Company's Christian fans might see an irony to the way We Are All Where We Belong sounds. The quintet's first two discs are steeped in religious symbolism and Christian imagery. We Are All Where We Belong, meanwhile, is the first one to mention Jesus Christ by name if only to declare Muse doesn't believe in him anymore. Furthermore, the music he wrote to express the process of shedding his identity as a Christian is the most anthemic and joyful of his career. Shine Honestly displays none of Muse's internal conflict about religion in its quiet, almost pained contemplativeness. We Are All Where We Belong, meanwhile, treats its low-key moments as lullabies and its bombastic ones as hymns to the beauty of secular love. For Muse, that's not irony because casting off religion as he did has been a process of seeking joy.
"I see the record as this celebration of humanism and humanity," he confesses. "It's a triumphant record, to me. I'm not sitting around like, 'Oh, I lost my faith! Where is it?' I don't miss it at all. I'm much happier now than I ever was trying to make those pieces fit."
Heathen Chemistry
In 2005, Tommy Blank moved to Austin from San Antonio "with the specific intention of joining bands."
Preaching to the Choir
"I was auditioning for blues bands, country bands, cover bands – I was just trying to play with whoever I could," he recounts. "I ran into Taylor on Craigslist."
The dreamy indie rock that Muse was interested in was a little outside of Blank's wheelhouse, but he gave it a shot.
"I wasn't sure this was the style of music I wanted to be playing, but there was something to the songwriting – these were catchy hooks, and the lyrics were strong, so I branched out."
Blank and Muse are the founding members of Quiet Company, though the band has shuffled through other members in its various incarnations. The current lineup has been consistent for several years: Muse on vocals, guitar, and piano; Blank's keyboards and guitar; Matt Parmenter, whose home studio also serves as the band's base for recording, the bassist; Jeff Weathers on drums; and Cody Ackors as the full-time trombonist.
Ackors, Weathers, and Parmenter, like Muse, all honed their skill by playing in church bands as teenagers.
"All of us except this heathen [Blank]," laughs Parmenter.
While Quiet Company's Christian identity had faded by the time they all joined the band, the idea of having a number of Christian fans never seemed strange to them.
"I don't think it's weird that we have a Christian fan base by any means," Weathers says. "There's not even a line [between us], from my perspective."
"I feel like we all kind of shared the same perspective as Taylor about the songs and the feelings," Parmenter adds
So has Muse simply replaced his faith in god with a faith in his band's potential?
"Faith, to me, is believing in something in lieu of evidence," he counters. "I think 'trust' is a better word. We're five guys who believe in each other. We worked hard all the years of our youth practicing our instruments so that we're good. I get onstage and I trust those guys to perform well, and they trust me to write good songs. I don't think it's faith, because there's evidence involved. Probably the closest thing I have to faith is an admiration for humanistic ideals and the scientific method."
Quiet Company definitely performs well – in suits, ties, and beards that give them a stark, professional look. Muse sways as a guitar player, looking like he's about to start speaking in tongues. He carries a stage presence that speaks to all the time he spent in church. When songs call for their soaring choruses, Parmenter, Blank, and Weathers play the part of choir, Akors blowing the trombone rhapsodically. Watching Quiet Company onstage, it's hard sometimes not to use religious language to describe them.
How, exactly, does the scientific method play into this?
"It resembles faith in the sense that hope is involved," explains the frontman. "You're investing a lot in something you don't know for sure. A lot of good bands could use that argument and still not be successful.
"Just because the music industry has changed, it doesn't mean that success is less attainable. We just have to change our idea of what success is. I don't need a beach house in Maui. I just need to pay the rent on this one." - Austin Chronicle


Taylor Muse is the 31-year-old bandleader and songwriter of Quiet Company, an indie-rock band from Austin. A native of East Texas raised in a Southern Baptist church, he now reluctantly carries the banner of "that atheist rocker from Austin."

"Every band that I was in up until college was a Christian band," Muse says. "It was part of our identity as people, our identity as a community. It was everything."

Muse's life in his hometown of Longview revolved around the church youth group, the praise team, choir rehearsal, mission trips and Bible study classes. Then came moving away from home, going off to college, discovering the writings of avowed atheist Kurt Vonnegut, and getting married.

"Eventually, I came home from work one day and just told my wife, 'I think I'm having a little bit of a crisis of faith. I just realized today that I can't make a case for Christianity that would convince myself,' " he says.

That realization led to the release of the 2011 album We Are All Where We Belong, a startlingly frank exposition of a young man's loss of faith. The record made a big splash in Austin; last year, Quiet Company took home 10 honors at the Austin Music Awards, including Best Band and Album of the Year.

The refrain from the album title — "where we belong" — is at the heart of Muse's problem with Christian theology. He says he was taught from the Bible that good Christians don't store up treasures on earth: They're supposed to store up treasures in heaven.

"They're always making the statement, 'This is not your home, this is not where you belong,' " Muse says. "I wanted to make a record that said, 'No, actually, this is where you belong. This is your one chance to make your life into what you want it to be. This is your one chance to make the world what you think it can be.' "

The humanist community — a term used interchangeably with atheism — was slow to take notice of the album. Greg Epstein, the prominent humanist chaplain at Harvard University and author of the book Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, recalls being skeptical.

"I get sent so many weird things from around the United States," Epstein says, "so I kind of assumed it would be crap. And then I listened to it, and it was brilliant."

Epstein says what Quiet Company did is emblematic of the modern humanist movement, which is not about railing against organized religion, but about being good people and affirming life.

"It's not an album decrying God," Epstein says. "It's an album about what it means to live life that happens to be from the perspective of somebody who knows who he is, and happens to be a humanist and an atheist."

This may be blasphemy back in East Texas, but the band has found a loyal audience in Austin. Before an evening concert, fans have already begun to bunch up in front of the stage next to giant arena speakers on the Congress Avenue Bridge.

"I find it very reassuring," says a 25-year-old bookstore stocker who gives his name as Tux. "When they released the album, I was going through a little bit of a faith crisis myself. And that was my soundtrack during that period."

Quiet Company's appeal extends beyond those struggling with their own faith. Greg Wnek, a devout Catholic who says he likes the humanist band, chatted amiably with Muse after the show.

"I appreciate that he's comfortable enough to sing about that but still shake my hand, even though I have three crosses, and even though I'm completely Christian, and I have not lost my faith, and I'm heavily rooted in it," Wnek says.

While songs about non-faith built Quiet Company's fan base — last year, they were asked to entertain the American Atheists convention — the musicians are uncomfortable being the rock 'n' roll standard bearers for atheism. Muse says they're ready to move on.

"At the end of the day, what we're setting out to be is everyone's new favorite rock band," he says. "We're not trying to be 'the atheist band.' We're not trying to be the band that hates Christianity. I wrote 15 songs about atheism. And I said everything I wanted to say." - NPR.org


SXSW: America’s Top Music Fest Returns. Five Buzz-Worthy Bands to Check Out
Thousands of bands over six days: How can anyone see them all? TIME picks five early standouts from the sprawling South By Southwest music festival
By STEVEN JAMES SNYDER

Okay music buffs, an opening caveat: I’m more of a Beacon Theatre guy than a regular at the Mercury Lounge. More KCRW than KEXP. By the time I’ve discovered a band, they have probably crossed the threshold of Pitchfork and “All Songs Considered.” So I fully admit here — I am not the Great Discoverer of the Hot New Band during my annual trips to South By Southwest. As I set out to wade through the hundreds of daily acts, the ones that catch my eye most have likely already gained some momentum with an outlet I read and trust.

Still, there are plenty of music fans just like me, who turn to SXSW each year less to bask in the glory of Bruce Springsteen, who is presenting a keynote this week, than in hopes of adding new groups and sounds to their playlists. By the time tUnE-yArDs played Austin last year, most music buffs already knew all about Merrill Garbus. But it was thanks to an online SXSW playlist that I was first introduced to “Bizness,” and now Garbus is one of my favorites.

So take these recommendations with that knowledge in mind. These aren’t necessarily new breakthroughs, but rising stars of the indie music scene that are worth celebrating and watching. And if you’re like me, always on the hunt for something new to hear, I hope some of these fit the bill.

The South By Southwest music festival runs tonight through Sunday at dozens of venues across downtown Austin. I’ll have more picks and reports in the days ahead. As far as this evening is concerned, I’m probably most excited about seeing Quiet Company (10 p.m. at The Main). The first hit that’s already caught on from their new album: “You, Me & The Boatman” - Time Magazine


Where Will You Find Your Next Favorite Band?
by STEPHEN THOMPSON
With the Internet, is any artist really "local" these days? After all, word of mouth no longer requires a slow-and-steady crawl: With a well-placed Bandcamp demo, an unsigned band can get a brand-new song heard by fans from Kansas to Kathmandu, without leaving its practice space.

But make no mistake: A level playing field means an ungodly signal-to-noise ratio, and if anyone can be heard anywhere, then you'd best believe everyone is trying at once. Many of the old rules are more important than ever: New bands survive and thrive by finding a following at home — by honing their craft on stage and in the studio — before they try to conquer the world.

Those seeking the elusive Next Big Thing would be wise to look for the bands that have made something of themselves in the cities that spawned them. From Seattle and Los Angeles to New York and Philly to Austin, the Twin Cities and beyond, we consulted the picky and passionate experts at top public radio stations to proselytize on behalf of the bands they love locally. If these experts have any say in the matter — and, come to think of it, they do — then you'll hear a lot more about their picks in the months and years to come.

From: Austin, Texas

Currently in rotation on: 90.5 FM KUT

While several Austin artists are poised for a big 2012, Quiet Company seems ready to make serious ripples in the mainstream: Its big, anthemic indie-pop melodies have already turned on TV shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and MTV's The Real World. Though its radio-ready songs stand alone, the band's third and most recent record, We Are All Where We Belong, is a concept album of sorts documenting frontman Taylor Muse's journey through early fatherhood and a falling-out with religion. A tour beyond Quiet Company's Texas comfort zone now seems inevitable: It's drawing 30,000 plays per day at Grooveshark, where it's signed an artist development deal; the group's fastest-growing fan bases are in Brazil, Colombia and Germany. —David Brown, KUT - NPR


Discography

Shine Honesty (2006) Northern Records
Everyone You Love Will Be Happy Soon (2009) Self Released
Songs for Staying In EP (2010) Self Released
We Are All Where We Belong (2012) Self Released
Winter is Coming EP (2012) Self Released
A Dead Man On My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited (2013) Self Released
Other People's Hits Vol 1 EP (2014) Self Released
Transgressor (2015) Modern Outsider Records (RED/MRI)

Photos

Bio

Live performance Trailer: http://youtu.be/42_-cJ2XB_U
Through the release of three LPs and endless touring, the Austin, Texas band Quiet Company has been making a name for themselves nationally with their energetic live shows and their anthemic, dynamic, indie rock which critics have called a mix of The Beatles, Death Cab for Cutie, Arcade Fire and Weezer. They’ve gained a huge fanbase while gathering praise from The New York Times, TIME, NPR, Last Call with Carson Daly, Paste Magazine, Houston Chronicle, Austin Chronicle and more.
Quiet Company won Rock Band of the Year during SXSW 2014, adding to their previous 10 Austin Music Awards including Band of the Year, Album of the Year, Rock Band of the Year, Indie Band of the Year and Song of the Year, all won on the strength of their 2011 release We Are All Where We Belong.
 
After the success of their 2013 album re-release, A Dead Man on My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited, Quiet Company was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and chosen to be a Red Bull Sound Select Artist, all of which rekindled interest in We Are All Where We Belong and shot the album to #7 on the iTunes Rock charts nearly 2 years after its release.
After an amazing year on the road which included festival sets at NXNE, CMJ, ACL Fest and more, Quiet Company kicked off 2014 in the studio to write and record their highly anticipated 4th full length Transgressor, their most explosive and exposed collection of songs to date.  Recorded in 14 intense days of live tracking at Orb Recording Studios in Austin, the band captured a guitar-driven larger-than-life sound with Matt Noveskey (Blue October) producing and the legendary Tim Palmer (U2, Pearl Jam, The Cure) mixing.  Frontman Taylor Muse's characteristically introspective writing style is in full force as he tells tales of love, despair, pain, and redemption, reflecting on his marriage, from burgeoning young love to a relationship tested through time.
With its soaring guitars and throbbing bass lines drawing comparisons to Foo Fighters, Pavement and Manchester Orchestra, Quiet Company’s Transgressor will be leading the way as rock makes a return to form.
 

Band Members