Q&A: The Quilters

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How did you come up with the name of the band?
Our drummer’s dad, Joe Cunningham, is a world-renowned quilter. We also liked the retro way band names with “The _____ers” sound. Also, capital Qs look really good written out!

How would you describe your sound?
We identify as “West Coast Americana”, although that may not be a real genre. We lean heavily into our ability to sign tight 3-part vocal harmonies, as well as our love for the guitar, organ, and keys tones found in the Springsteen, Pasty Cline, Dylan, and CCR records we grew up on.

When did you first become interested in playing music?
Our parents enrolled us in the San Francisco Boys Chorus when we were about 6 or 7. We got our early training there, then branched out into piano lessons and teaching ourselves guitar as we got older. We played a lot of music together throughout our childhood!

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
We were supposed to be the closing act at a fair in Hayward in summer 2018. The band before us showed up super late though, so our set didn’t end up starting until everyone at the fair was starting to go home. We were pretty frustrated with the band playing before us, and super bummed we wouldn’t be playing to a crowd. We ended up playing our entire set for only the janitorial crew as they cleaned up after the fair. They were super appreciative though, and we left feeling super grateful to play for people who appreciated our music. Turns out it ain’t about the size of the crowd, it’s about how hard they boogie!

What are you listening to these days?
Recently Nathaniel Rateliff has been a big inspiration! Other bands that are always on rotation are Whitney, Phosphorescent, Pinegrove, Big Thief, and Phoebe Bridgers.

What are some of your favorite Bay Area music venues?
We’ve had great shows at Neck Of The Woods and Bottom Of The Hill. A venue that gets overlooked a lot though in our opinion is The Riptide. Charlie does a great job with the sound and production there. What makes a show good is often not the stage/lights/capacity, but the people who come to partake in the music. The regulars at The Riptide appreciate the crap out of good music, and you can feel that when you play there! We’ll never lose love for the smaller venues, but as our fanbase here in San Francisco grows, we’re really stoked to start playing The Fillmore, The Indie, Slim’s, etc. Can’t wait to rip one of those spots when venues open back up!

What are some of your favorites hangs in the Bay Area?
Oh man, we have a lot of love for The Outer Sunset. Growing up here was really special. When the weather is nice in the fall, there’s no better spot to hang than out by the beach. There are tons of great Asian bakeries and dim sum restaurants out here, as well as real quality coffee. If you’re looking for a specific rec, go grab some bomb Korean food at Toyose on Noriega, then mosey over to Whitecap on Taraval for a cocktail! Tell Matt we say hi 😉

What does music mean to you?
That’s a big question. From an early age, we understood that music allowed us to express aspects of the human experience that couldn’t be expressed through other mediums. While singing with The San Francisco Boys Chorus, we were cast in a few SF Opera productions. Performing in The Magic Flute, Carmen, Tanhouser, and La Boheme, we got to see firsthand the range of emotion trained professional voices were capable of expressing. I think that really opened our eyes to what music/performance can accomplish when pursued rigorously.

In the past few years, we’ve been working very intentionally on our songwriting and proficiency at our instruments. We want to get to a place of musical fluency, where our song-writing and ability to play our instruments doesn’t impede our ability to express our ideas.

How’d you guys first get together to play music?
Jerome and I grew up playing together, then met our drummer Dorian Cunningham in the San Francisco Boys Chorus when we were really young. He and Jerome played in bands together throughout high school, then Dorian left for Chicago where he got his degree in music composition. Now he’s back, shreddier than ever. We met Iam Bhisitkul randomly in the water one day surfing when we were about 12 years old. He played in a handful of San Francisco bands throughout the years, then joined us in 2020.

What inspires you to write?
Haha, usually sadness and anger. After scrutinizing our set-list, we noticed those two emotions are the ones we tend to write in/about. We’ve been having a lot of fun trying to broaden our emotional repertoire when it comes to writing though.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city?
Pretty much already answered this a few questions ago, haha but we can go on and on about the good old ‘Set. A lot of our identity, both personally and musically, is wrapped up in The Sunset. It’s a place that you fall in love with slowly. None of the reasons San Francisco is famous come from The Sunset. It’s foggy and cold as cuss most of the time, the architecture is pretty heinous, and there are very few cultural attractions. But there’s a community here that is beautiful once you get past its rough edges. People care a lot about this neighborhood and their neighbors.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
Jerome, Dorian, and I have performed in a combined 6 San Francisco Opera productions.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
Yes! We’ve been throwing live shows outside our folks’ home in the Outer Sunset twice a month. These shows have been a grand old time! We only invite 20 people to each show in order to keep them covid safe. You can sign up for the invite list by entering your email at this link. We’d love to see you at one!

Photo courtesy of Amanda Roosa

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An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.