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Quartershackle interview- February 2006

A refreshing blast of straightforward hard rock, Texas four-piece Quartershackle have hurtled their way into a new year with American takeover in their sights. The quest for Ozzfest and SXSW, the triumph of radio airplay, and repeated critical approval have each befallen Quartershackle; The Dominant Allele was fortunate to discuss this developing success with drummer Chris Farrell.


The Dominant Allele: Please give a brief history for those not acquainted with Quartershackle.

Chris Farrell: Well, we’ve been around for two years. The first year, the band almost completely different members; Joe [Schlaudraff, vocals] and Arturo [Jaimes, guitar] were the only ones back then still involved with the band now. After that group fell apart, they recruited Blaine [Matte], our bass player, and another drummer to keep the project going. I met Joe in a dog park, of all places, and we got to talking. I told him if he ever found a band that needed a drummer he should give me a call. Awhile later I saw an ad in the Austin Chronicle for a band that sounded like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains and needed a drummer. I called the number listed, and it turned out to be Joe! After that, we jammed and had a blast, so our lineup was set in stone. We started playing shows and recording demos, have worked with 2222 Productions, and even done some demo shopping.



TDA: How has the Austin and general Texas music scene helped Quartershackle?

Farrell: It’s been pretty good! We’ve been so many places and met new bands. We’ve definitely found a sense of community through meeting cool people and working together. Also, Myspace is an amazing tool; that’s definitely a big help. San Antonio has especially welcomed us with open arms as well.


TDA: How would you describe Quartershackle’s brand of music? Does this reflect your personal musical tastes?

Farrell: It absolutely reflects my personal taste! I’d say we’re a hard rock band, a blend of a few different styles. We leave room for expression on each instrument and give each person the chance to show off while keeping it entertaining. For instance, we’ll take a catchy hook the audience will remember and improve on it with expressed musicianship.


TDA: Please describe everyone’s position in the band, especially yours. Are you the crazy one, the serious one, you know, something like that?

Farrell: Well I’m the oldest one of the group, kind of like the big brother. I like to pick on the other band members. [Laughs.] The other guys are always stumbling on new things, so sometimes one of them will call me at 4 A.M. to tell me something new. I’m like, “I’m sleeping, can’t it wait?!” I’m just the old curmudgeon; they’re young, sprite, you know, always opening up new doorways. Arturo is the second oldest I think, and he’s the most laid back. Someone could tell him we have a show in Nebraska tomorrow and he’d just say, “No problem!” It’s funny, because you have to wait until he’s onstage to see where all his power really comes from. Joe’s the “go get ‘em” guy, and definitely a social butterfly. He’s always interacting with the fans. Blaine’s always doing something behind the scenes working on something; it gives me opportunity to make fun of him. [Laughs.]


TDA: From whom do you personally draw artistic and image inspiration?

Farrell: It’s kind of weird, but I have lots of jazz influences. You’d think drummers would be inspired by more drummers, but I’m not, for the most part. I like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, you know, that kind of jazz. As drummers go, probably John Bonham [Led Zeppelin], Will Calhoun [Living Colour], and Stuart Copeland from the Police.


TDA: What’s on your playlist right now?

Farrell: Right now I have in some Sevendust. I just took out Flogging Molly, and before that I was listening to some Temple of the Dog.



[INTERLUDE FROM TDA: My cell phone service was unfortunately breaking up, so I jumped in my car and drove up the road to continue the interview. On the way…]


Farrell: So, you’re based out of Austin?

TDA: No, actually, Pittsburgh.

Farrell: Oh! Are you a Penguins fan?
TDA: Sure, even after this year’s disappointing season.

Farrell: I’m a hockey player myself!


[We further discussed hockey until I reached my destination, then continued the interview. Interesting!]


TDA: What have been some highlights of your musical career?

Farrell: Personally, I thought playing for 6,000, my largest crowd, was fun and pretty cool! I also enjoy record release parties with lots of people. As for the band, a highlight was definitely the Edge compilation release in San Antonio. We got to meet and play with bands from the CD. We’ve been getting lots of press and radio airtime from the Austin Chronicle, 99.5 San Antonio, and even Austin 101X on request. It’s really fun to turn on the radio and hear your band!



TDA: Some disappointments or setbacks you've experienced?

Farrell: Recently, it’s been losing Arturo; there were other things he wanted to do and things with his personal life. He was definitely a big part of a one-guitar band! [We’re all buddies, so when we have to replace him, we can’t just have people fill out applications. We’re all really close and need to find someone who will be our friend and contribute in that department, not just musically.


TDA: Do you have any upcoming recording plans or concepts in sight? Ideas for the album?

Farrell: Well, there’s no structured concept. We try to keep stories in the actual songs, but they stand independent of each other. Of course the new recordings have the Quartershackle sound, but we didn’t write the entire album yet; we need the new guitar player. We want to share melding into a new era with the new guitarist, so the listener may notice changes in the band’s style and progress through the album. We also want to incorporate people as part of the band as opposed to people just watching the band—you know, sense the feeling and changing through the band’s experience.


TDA: How is the chemistry among band members in the studio?

Farrell: We have a blast! It’s the most fun, efficient band in the studio I’ve been in. When we go in the studio the songs are already so tight that we rarely need more than a few takes and there are hardly any screw-ups. The time many bands spend arguing about details and creating tension, we spend screwing around. It’s a great combination of getting something done and having a good time; a kind of utopia.


TDA: Who makes the final studio decisions--one band member or the whole group?

Farrell: We’re really good at deciding together; it’s not like in some situations where the stronger personality wins. In the studio we all sit down together and plan the course of action. There’s always some kind of strife, though; right now one of ours is “How are we going to get signed?”


TDA: If your band could tour with any currently active band, whom would you choose and why?

Farrell: Metallica, because they play in great venues and have a really nice bus! [Laughs.]  No…[Pause.] That’s a good one. My first choice is biased. I’d pick Sevendust; I really like the drummer! Well, that might actually be a good choice. No, we’ll tour with the Chick Corea band. [Laughs.] The club owners that would let Chick Corea’s band play probably wouldn’t even let us in; they’d tell us to go play in the parking lot. We could play with Soundgarden, except, you know, they decided to not play anymore. [Laughs.] What do you think? Who do you think we should tour with?


TDA: That’s not exactly my decision.

Farrell: What do you mean? You probably haven’t even listened to us. [Laughs.] Naw, I’m just playing with you. See? I’m the one in the band who messes around with everyone else.


TDA: What’s the strangest thing a fan has said to you thus far?

Farrell: Hmm…[Pause.] That’s a good question. We’ve definitely gotten all the clichés, you know, like sign my body part. [Pause.] I KNOW!! Some guy came up to us and said, “Take my daughter.” We didn’t stick around that scene to see who she was, see if she was underage, or find out if he wanted an exchange or something. [Laughs.]


TDA: Please tell a story about something that’s happened to or among your band.

Farrell: Well, alright—I’ll tell you this story. It was an Austin show and we went on later than we expected, as in last. The guys in the band were at the bar for quite some time, losing track of time and number of drinks they’d consumed. I always razz them about their stage presence, you know, like, “Do you always have to stand so close to your amplifier?” Well once we got onstage, a particularly inebriated Arturo was especially energetic and practically stole the show engaging the crowd. He was doing all these crazy things like playing his guitar behind his back and other tricks. There was a particularly large woman in the crowd...[Pause.] I believe said woman was married as well. She really, really liked Arturo. And I mean she was really big, and Arturo is so petite and short; she had to have towered over him by at least ten inches. She gave him a hug, and basically engulfed him; he just disappeared! We basically just let it happen. [Laughs.] I can just remember her saying to him, “I want you to be my lover!” [Laughs.] We saved him, but it was priceless to see the look on his face. It was such an, “Oh, please help me!” face, especially because he’s shy and not really outgoing.


TDA: That’s certainly amusing. Has being a musician helped you grow as a person? Please explain.

Farrell: Absolutely! Music has helped in a lot of ways. I used to be an angry person, but it gave me a way to control my anger, at least to the point where I can be socialized. [Laughs.] Music provides a voice to project that angst on society and it’s important to express it creatively and not on fellow man, like I do with a pair of drumsticks. It’s definitely kept me out of trouble in the past and given me a choice of direction in life. I totally encourage young children to enroll in their local school of rock.


TDA: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Farrell: Well, we’re adding new tour dates with the new guitarist. We’ve allowed a couple weeks for him to learn the material so we can go back out on the road. It’s kind of like, “Hey, welcome to the band! Hope you learn fast.” [Laughs.] We have one show March 11 in Houston, we’re playing the Quadruple Heart Bypass Fest, and we’re trying to get a spot in SXSW, an unsigned band festival in Austin. It would also be great to get people to request us on the radio; it’s awesome when our fans to show us love like that. We’ll send little digital hearts all over the world.


TDA: Sounds warm and fuzzy.

Farrell: Yeah, that’s it! We’re warm and fuzzy like that.

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