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.
Allele: Please give a brief history for those not acquainted with Quartershackle.
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.
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.
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
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.]
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.
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?
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
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!
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.
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
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?”
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
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.
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
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.
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
Sounds warm and fuzzy.
Farrell: Yeah, that’s it! We’re warm and fuzzy like that.