The Quiet Ones
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The Quiet Ones

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
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"The Stranger Suggests..."

Tonight, Seattle’s own the Quiet Ones celebrate the release of Molt in Moments, a record that’s filled with fat, buzzing guitar riffs, harmonies that sound like they’re being sung on a summer day in the 1970s, and acoustic guitar that flirts with Americana. But even with the bright moments, which have become indicative of the Quiet Ones’ sound, Molt in Moments is more aggressive than the band has ever been—singer-songwriter John Totten says he was inspired by “medical issues that shifted my focus to my own mortality.” Whoa. - The Stranger


"Up & Coming"

It's difficult, nay, impossible not to think that some of the Quiet Ones' songs are really long lost and unpolished first takes from Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot recording sessions—gems that were maybe beloved by Jeff Tweedy, but with their slightly noisier spine didn't completely fit in with the gentle flow of the highly revered record. Singer John Totten carefully delivers his words with the same mix of worn-down heartbreak and singing-will-save-me optimism that one can hear in Tweedy's voice, and their bright and slightly distorted indie rock by way of catchy pop sounds like it was created with as much care as any months-long visit in the studio, but the punk rock side of them won out in the end, causing them to bare their hearts in the less-than-perfect basement instead. - The Stranger


"Song of the Day: Girls and Uniforms"

Mrs. Totten must be very proud of her three boys, who comprise the line up in Seattle-based The Quiet Ones. Throw in a couple non-Tottens, including one from across the country, and you get a sextet that recalls a more raucous Wilco. From Chattanooga to Seattle... the band officially got their start in Tennessee via a friendship between bass/vocalist/songwriter John Totten and drummer/producer Mason Neely when they both were studying jazz in college. After deciding jazz wasn’t for him, Totten dedicated his life to popular music and began working with Neely and enlisting the help of his own brothers, David and Chris, and along the way. Soon the Tottens three moved to Seattle, parting ways with Neely (who’s in Boston now) but continuing to work with him anyway. Their latest effort, Better Walk Than Ride Like That, was composed bi-coastally, as songs were sent back and forth cross-country. Speaking of things sent: the album’s name itself comes from a postcard sent to John Totten by Silver Jews’ David Berman. You might have seen The Quiet Ones supporting Blitzen Trapper or The Fleet Foxes recently, but if not, check them out at Fremont’s Oktoberfest on September 20th. They will keep you sane while you’re standing in line for a handful of small beers. You can also check out singer John Totten’s solo gig at Chop Suey on September 15th. - KEXP Blog


"Calendar: The Quiet Ones"

Youtubing the Quiet Ones will bring you to several videos of the Totten brothers – John, David and Chris – and drummer Baine Craft doing some funky dancing in their kitchen, jamming on keyboards, and blithely performing a New Pornographers cover. The videos are buoyant, charming and sure to make you feel like life is all right – just like their music. A cross-country collective, the Quiet Ones’ current lineup now includes the Tottens, Craft, and producer Mason Neely, who resides in Boston and sent and received tracks by mail during the recording of the band’s superior 2006 EP, Nite You Surprised Me, and their latest album, Better Walk than Ride Like That. The record continues in the Quiet Ones’ vein of delightfully sunny indie pop, layering rattling percussion, swelling background harmonies, lively guitar lines and puckish lyrics – all harkening back to the early 90s lo-fi sound of Pavement and Guided By Voices. With Kinski, Marty Marquis (Blitzen Trapper). - Seattle Weekly


"Tonight in Music"

The Quiet Ones—three brothers, two of whom are twins, and one friend—are my sleeper hit of the summer. They released Better Walk Than Ride Like That last year, and I remember thinking (and writing) at the time that it was a fine record with obvious nods to Wilco. But "fine" doesn't usually stick, and away they went into the "soon to be forgotten" pile. But after being reintroduced to them weeks ago, on a hot, sunny afternoon, everything clicked into place—their bright Beatles-esque harmonies, their fun guitar riffs, their playful drumming. Their songs are delightful and imperfect packages of pop, and I want to spend the rest of the summer doing nothing but going on picnics while listening to them. - The Stranger


"The Quiet Ones: Brothers Make An Album"

Seattle's the Quiet Ones have three brothers from Tennessee in the band. The Tottens: John, David, and Chris. Being brothers, they argue and curse at each other. But they also write and play some of the finest songs an ear can hear. Solos and melody rip and make love to an indie rock sound. They have a new album coming out called Better Walk Than Ride Like That. They recorded it themselves, mixed and mastered it themselves, and are releasing it on their own label In Advance Records.

Album release: June 18th at the Crocodile with Marty Marquis (Blitzen Trapper) and Kinski.


The Quiet Ones: "Girls and Uniforms"


Brother John Totten (vocals, bass, guitar) talked about recording the album:

How did Better Walk come together?
John: All sorts of ways. We started recording a long time ago back when we still lived in Tennessee and the recording continued across the country as we gradually made our way to Seattle. It’s co-produced by myself and Mason Neely. We started out with portable hard disk recorders. I had a Korg 16 track and Mason would dump the tracks into Digital Performer. Then I switched to 4 track cassette for a while. Then I got this thing called a computer and it was like that song from Aladdin, "A Whole New World". I started on Logic. Then I met Better Walk engineer and future Quiet One bass helper John Herman (who also mastered the album) and we started recording with this big board and Sony Vegas in his bedroom upstairs in my house. The next step was Pro Tools. We went over to Phil Peterson's (Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground) house and recorded some more. And seeing as how technology is cyclical, my brother David and I went back to 4 track cassette for the most recent song on the record "Valerie". Our mantra when recording is, "There is no shitty recording gear, only shitty performers.” We used all kinds of crappy mics and preamps. Sometimes, we would put one Radio Shack mic on the drums and we would keep that take.

One Radio Shack mic for the drums? Get off. Which song is that? What was the mic placement?
A new song actually, called "E.K.G.” Yeah, one Radio Shack mic. To me, it creates this Bonham-esque sound. The placement was just on the other side of the room.

The Quiet Ones: "E.K.G."


Where did you mix the album?
In my bedroom. Our friend Troy Brandt who also worked on all the BOAT records came over and was gracious enough to sit in my underground bedroom with me for months and mix. The rumor goes that the first U.S.E. record was recorded in that exact bedroom in West Queen Anne.

What was the hardest thing about doing the album yourself?
The biggest challenge was how much time it took. I retook vocals so many times. And bass. And guitar. Convincing people who are playing the instruments I don't to come sit with me in my bedroom for hours and let me engineer their drums or whatever. Also, when you record yourself, you know that it's free to keep working on a song. So sometimes, it can lead to working on a song for years. I think "Biggest Loves" went through about forty-three different versions. It's still not perfect though. And it shouldn't be.

Why did you decide to do it yourselves?
Money. I don't think we'll ever pay for studio time. We recorded one time at Bear Creek in Woodinville, not for the Quiet Ones but for a different project. That was the closest I've ever been to selling all my records to pay for a studio, but in the end I realized I can record an album for basically free. I'd rather do an album on a mini-cassette recorder than pay for a studio. If anything was ever good enough for Robert Pollard, it's more than good enough for us.

When you all set out to record the album, what type of album were you going for? Did you have anything specific in mind?
We never have a concept for our albums. We record on a song-by-song basis. After a couple years of doing that, ideally we realize we have a coherent album on our hands. It usually hits me in the shower. I'll be lathering up or something and a bell will go off and I'll say to myself, "Oh shit, those songs go together real good." And then there's the album. I guess I wanted this album to be really eclectic and it ended up being so.

What kind of 4 track do you use? And I love the word lather. Thank you.
I think it's a Yamaha. It belongs to Double D (brother Dave). He recorded all of Valerie on it and when I heard it I begged him to put it on the album. But there was a lot of tape hiss. So we decided to re-track it using the 4 track as much as possible. Even if it's just running the audio through the machine into Pro Tools I like it better. Must be the preamps or something. When I say we used 4 track, I mean it was a very mixed media thing. Eric from Blitzen Trapper told me that all of "Wild Mountain Nation" was recorded on the same exact machine and I kind of challenged myself to use it more but to do a whole album on it requires a magic touch that I'll never have.

(John breaks down the recording of a song after the jump. He also talks about fighting one of his brothers, and the South.)

Picture: Kaija Cornett

How is the album going to be released?
CD, digital, and VINYL.

Break down the song “Sound of Fog” for me. What guitars are used? And the organ sounds?

"Sound of Fog"


I engineered Baine's drums up in John Herman's room in our house. I'm not much of a drum tech but I think Troy mixed the right sound out of it. Most of the guitars are either my brother Chris' Jazzmaster or John's Musicmaster which is basically a Mustang with only one pickup. I think it's a '64. I like it because it has no frills. For a while when John was playing bass in our band it was my rhythm guitar of choice. The organ is Chris on his Nord Electro and the Moog sound is this keyboard that also belongs to John. He kind of swooped down like an archangel during this recording and moved into our house with all of his sweet gear and knowledge. My favorite piece of gear that belonged to John that we used was his Roland Re-150 Space Echo. You can hear me turning the knobs when that noise comes in after the song is done. My favorite part of this song though, when all is said and done is the guitar solo. My brother David (Double D) did this awesome Abbey Road homage, a dueling solo where he traded fours with himself.

What type of things do you and your brother's argue about?
All kinds of stuff. Usually someone is being a dick. And the argument always ends up being more about what was said during the argument than the original issue. We rarely argue about musical stuff. I guess one time Chris and I got in an argument over what key a certain song was in. Some metal song, I forget which one. Usually, the arguments are just symptoms of brother issues and the band is the context in which they surface.

Do you and your brothers ever wrestle and curse at each other?
One time, when David and I shared a one bedroom on Capitol Hill, the fight got physical. I tackled him and hit him. I called him the next day to apologize and he said it was okay because it didn't hurt. We also curse at each other a lot but we try to curb the pejoratives more the older we get. Telling someone to fuck off doesn't make anything easier. My brothers are my best friends and there are three of us within three years of each other so things can be really intense. Sometimes our practices are more like scenes out of Some Kind Of Monster.

How long have y'all been in Seattle? What is Tennessee like?
David and I have been in Seattle for four years. Chris joined us about three years ago. Tennessee is a beautiful place but there are lots of Republicans and Wal-Marts. It's true what they say about Southern hospitality though. People are more welcoming there. Also, the last call is a soft 3 AM. And you can smoke in bars. I went back there for the holidays so while all y'all were freezing yer asses off and sledding down Denny, I was smoking cigars, enjoying a pint of Yuengling, and shooting pool at 3:15 AM. Southern girls are a special breed. But I definitely got homesick for Seattle. - The Stranger


"The Quiet Ones Cover A Range of Rock on Version Suicides"

From Blitzen Trapper to Steely Dan, these ten covers span a spectrum of rock, but small touches, like the dreamy pedal steel on Gram Parsons' "A Song For You" to the melodica on R.E.M.'s "Find The River" remain devotedly faithful to the original. - Seattle Weekly


"Not So Quiet Anymore"

The Quiet Ones have been pretty, er, quiet for the last few years—their last album, Better Walk Than Ride Like That, came out in 2009. Until now! Word is the indie-rock, brother-centric band (founding members include John, Chris, and David Totten) have a new album on the way this spring. In the meantime, they have given us Version Suicides, an album of spot-on cover songs ranging from R.E.M. to Guided by Voices. It's hard to put the Quiet Ones into a specific genre/sound box since they have ability for days and use it to range over a lot of varying musical ground. I mean, they cover Steely Dan's "Any Major Dude Will Tell You," and any funky one with half a heart can appreciate that. - The Stranger


"The Quiet Ones/Southerly/Little Champions"

Like Little Champions, The Quiet Ones are a family affair, counting three brothers among their five members. Whether a coincidence or a gesture of band solidarity, every member wore a full beard. Frontman John Totten switched between a Spanish-style acoustic guitar and a beat up Fender Mustang; brother David Totten had better luck keeping his guitar in tune than Krueger did; and brother Chris Totten contributed guitar and keyboards, including a nice little Realistic Moog Concertmate MG-1 synthesizer. This Seattle (via Knoxville) group was also showcasing songs from an upcoming record, Better Walk Than Ride Like That, though the set’s highlight was when Dave Totten took over vocals on the super-catchy “Hard to Explain” from 2006’s Nite You Surprised Me EP. The Quiet Ones’ recordings capture more mood and nuance than their live show did, but their set of shambolic, Americana-tinged power pop was energetic and likable, capping the night on an upswing. - West Coast Performer


"Head of the Class - bands to look for in 2008"

"The Quiet Ones attack punk-infused pop rock with absolute confidence
and a raucously steady hand. The band began back in 2001 in Knoxville, Tennessee with the three Totten brothers at the core. The Totten brothers have since relocated to Seattle while producer and bandmate Mason Neely moved to Boston. The members keep in contact Postal Service-style by sending tracks through the mail, while maintaining a steady slate of shows in Seattle. With two full-lengths and an EP
under their belt, tracks from the Quiet Ones' upcoming release Better Walk Than Ride Like That (available on the band's myspace) are well-crafted yet energetic and fun. These Tennessee boys are ready for bigger and better things." - (Sound) Magazine


"The Quiet Ones - Nite You Surprised Me"



Listening to the newest release by cross-country vagabonds The Quiet Ones, I found myself staring out the window watching the wind stir the trees with restless anxiety, and imagining scenes of the past and future as if they were short film clips gathered in a montage and set to. . . well, The Quiet Ones.

The music on this six-track EP is gorgeous. While many bands who categorize themselves as "indie" would be satisfied with five instruments layered in logical "this is how the band sounds in our basement" structure, the Quiet Ones believe that more is more, when done right — and they do it right. The sonic palette, the layering combinations, the overall production aesthetic: it's all crafted with nuance and grace, and deeply enjoyable to hear.

The main reason for the sound of Nite You Surpised Me may be how it was made. The band, comprised of the three Totten brothers (John, Chris, and David) and close friend Ryan Dixon, spent over a year sending tracks back and forth across the country, trading with Boston-based producer Neely, as the brothers relocated the band from restlessness-inducing Tennessee, to Missoula, and then Seattle. These tracks speak, via their calculated, zipper-tight layers, of that distance, of the necessary time infused into such a process, and of course of the wonders of today's digital home recording tools. It's a process that just can't happen if a band is sitting in the basement getting tunes ready for the next gig.

Every space on the Quiet Ones EP is filled, including the preludes and epilogues of songs. Children at play, ethereal synths, and strings blend from one track to another. Ground-breaking? No, pretty standard for the midi-and-multi-tracking adept. Executed successfully? Absolutely. And yet for all these layers of orchestral nuance — hell, there's a harp in the first twenty seconds of the lead track, "The Girl With the Dark Hair" — it never feels overdone. Te group keeps the chord structures simple and the song forms straightforward.

And yet, another reason the album doesn't ever feel like it's too much lies in the main vocal melodies. For all the paints on The Quiet Ones' palette, something is missing that keeps these songs from grabbing you, from affecting you, from transforming that pensive moment staring out the window that the arrangements inspire. The band's melodies are as precise as their instrumentation; there's almost a Stereolab quality to the delivery of the verses on "The Girl With the Dark Hair." The lyrics are distant as well, with a vagueness to them. There's nothing discordant here; the melodies and lyrics fit the music without a doubt, and yet, the melodies aren't urgent enough to distract from your own thoughts, and what's being sung on these songs is not going to cause you to reconsider your window daydream perspective.

The result is that the best track on Nite You Surprised Me is the instrumental: "Se De´Fausser A` Cœur," which transports you to an elegant ballroom circa 1938, complete with either a formal gown or an officer's uniform. The strings and the bells: it's dreamy. And no sooner have you sauntered the floor and spotted the object of your time-traveling affection, the one that got away long ago, then a sneaky electric guitar nudges in, grabs the curtain, and transports you to a hip patio luau some thirty years later, complete with bongos, lit swimming pool, open collars and perhaps a whiff of espionage. With the exception of some Star Trek quality vocal brush strokes, there's no vocal on this track, and we don't mind.

The place where the band comes closest to meeting their arranging flair halfway with a really affecting vocal melody is in the very next track, "I Don't Know Why." The song begins with a grand, Pet Sounds-y opening. Then everything drops away except for banjo and a vocal with a Flaming Lips affectation. The drums sneak in, and by the time we hear the simple refrain: "And I don't know why," well, you don't know why either, in the good way. It's the kind of moment that makes you reconsider the happy daydream, a pop treasure. A late verse about abandoned halls and floors covered and left behind, set to tambourine and bells, brings the song out of a triumphant bridge and into a dreamy, there-goes-the-spaceship-into-the-arizona-night moment of whimsy that works so well you smile out the window.
-Craig Vinyl, March 02, 2007 - Three Imaginary Girls


Discography

Your Inner Ear Vol. 1 & 2 (2004)
Nite You Suprised Me (2006)
Sound of Fog 7" single (2008)
Better Walk Than Ride Like That (2009)
Version Suicides (2012)
Molt in Moments (2013)

Photos

Bio

NEW ALBUM- MOLT IN MOMENTS- OUT 4/11/13 ON IN ADVANCE RECORDS

The Quiet Ones began as a home recording experiment in an eastern Tennessee farm house between high school friends John Totten and Mason Neely and grew to include John’s brothers David and Chris. Mason moved to London and the Tottens moved to Seattle and they continued, from across the world, to work on their next two proper releases, 2006’s Nite You Surprised Me and 2009’s Better Walk Than Ride LIke That. The Quiet Ones’ lineup expanded to include engineer/bassist John Herman and drummer Baine Craft. In 2012, The Quiet Ones released Version Suicides, an album of 10 low-fi cover songs, recorded in The Quiet Ones’ basement studio over the years. The Quiet Ones will release their fourth collection in spring, 2013, a record titled Molt in Moments, all recorded in John’s basement in Seattle.

David Berman of the Silver Jews on Molt in Moments:

“I’m not a blurber, it’s not my thing and I’ve never done it, but let me tell you, this album is quite good! Great singing and backround singing and guitar tone and snazzy shit going on all around. This is superior rock music, it can’t fail to make a big impression on many many people, including good looking women! Although I cant blurb it, I can classify it: ’Remarkable Rock.’”

Press:

The Stranger-

"Seattle’s own the Quiet Ones celebrate the release of Molt in Moments, a record that’s filled with fat, buzzing guitar riffs, harmonies that sound like they’re being sung on a summer day in the 1970s, and acoustic guitar that flirts with Americana. But even with the bright moments, which have become indicative of the Quiet Ones’ sound, Molt in Moments is more aggressive than the band has ever been—singer-songwriter John Totten says he was inspired by 'medical issues that shifted my focus to my own mortality.' Whoa."

“It’s hard to put the Quiet Ones into a specific genre/sound box since they have ability for days and use it to range over a lot of varying musical ground.”

“After being reintroduced to them weeks ago, on a hot, sunny afternoon, everything clicked into place- their bright Beatles-esque harmonies, their fun guitar riffs, their playful drumming. Their songs are delightful and imperfect packages of pop, and I want to spend the rest of the summer doing nothing but going on picnics while listening to them.”

“It’s difficult, nay, impossible not to think that some of the Quiet Ones’ songs are really long lost and unpolished first takes from Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot recording sessions—gems that were maybe beloved by Jeff Tweedy, but with their slightly noisier spine didn’t completely fit in with the gentle flow of the highly revered record. Singer John Totten carefully delivers his words with the same mix of worn-down heartbreak and singing-will-save-me optimism that one can hear in Tweedy’s voice, and their bright and slightly distorted indie rock by way of catchy pop sounds like it was created with as much care as any months-long visit in the studio, but the punk rock side of them won out in the end, causing them to bare their hearts in the less-than-perfect basement instead.”

Seattle Weekly-

“…Delightfully sunny indie pop, layering rattling percussion, swelling background harmonies, lively guitar lines and puckish lyrics- all harkening back to the early 90’s lo-fi sound of Pavement and Guided By Voices.”

Three Imaginary GIrls-

“…crafted with nuance and grace, and deeply enjoyable to hear.”

KEXP Blog-

“Mrs. Totten must be very proud of her three boys…”