About two weeks back at SLG Art Boutiki & Gallery, San Jose’s Curious Quail unveiled their 7th band member – Erin Whitworth. Erin is an expert at working in the Bay Area music scene. Many know her from being the violinist of the former Please Do Not Fight. Erin is an accomplished violinist and pianist who teaches students by day then shines her talent in her work with various local bands. She talks about how she got into music in the Bay Area, joined Curious Quail, and shares some of her advice for bands just starting out.
How did you end up joining Curious Quail?
When the Quails were recording Instant Gratification Mike asked me if I would sing harmonies on a few of the songs. Of course I said yes. When the album came out I sang on said songs at the CD release show at San Pedro Square Market (see pictures here).
The next month Please Do Not Fight broke up, and I became without band. Those were dark times…
In November (2012) I sang again with Curious Quail at the Art Boutiki benefit show to re-violin Alan, who had his violin stolen (see pictures here).
The next day Mike and I send some texts back and forth:
Mike: Ok. Real talk. You ok with being ad-hoc or you want more involvement? Because every quail has the joy when you’re around.
Me: Hmm. I’d love to be more involved, but as far as practice goes I could only commit weds nights
Mike: That’s fine with us if it is with you.
Me: So next Wednesday?
Me: So like, what should I bring?
Me: Am I a real quail now??
Mike: I THINK YOU ARE
Then we had to sit on this secret for TWO MONTHS. I still don’t know how we did it.
How did you get started in local music?
When I lived in Austin I was in a grungy indie band called the Entellicats, playing violin. It was fun, so when I moved to the Bay Area I searched Craigslist and found a band to be in. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of this band!
My involvement didn’t last long — guitarist/songwriter/singer Steve Sanchez (A.K.A. Freddy Hillcrest) and I broke off to form Aeroplane Soul soon after I joined.
Then I started hanging out with Zen Zenith, a friend that I met at summer camp when I was 15 but previously lived halfway across the country from, and he asked me if I’d like to be on his album. That’s when we formed Please Do Not Fight! I got to know the Quails through being in PDNF.
What are some of your favorite bands and why?
Eisley – I absolutely love their harmonies, the instrumentation they use, the fact that they’re all family (three sisters, a brother and a cousin), that they’re homeschooled and from Texas (like me!), and they way they mix a softer indie sound with a harder more rockin’ sound.
Picture Atlantic – So much to say. Everyone in this band is such a top-notch musician, and the songwriting is incredible. Every time I hear a new song by them I’m floored by the beauty, honesty, poetry, and musical artistry in it. Every time I hear an old song for the millionth time I still hold my breath, enchanted by every nuance.
There are many other bands that I like, but these two are my very favorites, so I’m gonna leave it at that so they get the emphasis I feel they deserve.
What advice do you have for musicians who are just starting out?
-When playing a show, stand up front and be the kind of audience member for the other bands on the bill that you would want to be in audience to your set! This one is really important.
-The sound guy (or girl) is your best friend. Find them and get to know them immediately when you load in for a show. Let them know if you have any strange setup requirements. Remember their name, and thank them on stage! They’re doing hard work to make YOU sound good.
-Move on stage. Dance. Be animated. Have fun. It makes a way bigger difference than you might think!
-Be real. There are enough pretentious, fake bands out there who are just in it to be liked, and not to make real art. Be a real artist. If it feels like you’re forcing something, do something else-regarding the music you’re making, or the image you’re presenting.
-Play a lot. Play shows, play house concerts, play street fairs, play on the street corner! The more you play, the better you are at your instrument, your stage presence, and the better your band is at being really locked in and sounding good together. And every time you play you’re exposing your band to potential fans!
-Don’t put anything on your credit card. Trust me, it’s not worth it! If you can’t afford something band related, save up or do a fund-raiser.
See Curious Quail at Rockage 2.0 Fri. Feb 8th at San Jose Woman’s Club (75 S. 11th Street) at 8:30pm. Get tickets here.