In Depth Interviews
Quiet Company may be nobody, but they're Austin's nobody
The usual trajectory of rocker dudes as they take on grown-up responsibilities is depressingly familiar for people who’ve seen their friends go through the process: the first few years, he’s a rock and roll animal who lives to play, practice and watch other bands. Then a serious girlfriend, marriage, a full-time job, kids and/or general sleepiness sets in, and suddenly another promising band breaks up. If the band didn’t make it before the responsibilities came along, the odds that they’re going to stick around as anything other than a hobby for the people involved drop way down once those things start.
That wasn’t the path that Taylor Muse of Quiet Company took. Yeah, he’s a grown-up: He’s got a two-year old daughter, a wife, and a full-time job as an insurance adjuster. But with the recent release of the band’s fourth full-length, We Are All Where We Belong—as well as a slew of dates in Texas, Florida, and at New York’s CMJ festival—Muse and Quiet Company have been busier than ever. We caught up with him just before the band’s triumphant trip to New York to talk about what it takes to keep a band going as the responsibilities pile on, why Austin is the perfect place for Quiet Company and the time he almost met Bill Murray.
You’ve got a two year old daughter, a wife and a full-time job. How hard is it to find time to work as actively as you do to succeed with Quiet Company?
There aren’t enough hours in the day. It’d be different if this were all I was doing—and I hope to god that it will be this time next year. If I woke up in the morning and my only job were whatever the band had to be doing... We could tour a few months of the year, and spend the rest of the time playing regionally, looking for licensing placements and whatnot. That would be ideal.
That’s not the case yet. If that were the case, then it’d be a different ballgame. I’m forty hours a week at this job. I get to see my daughter two and a half, three hours a day. It sucks ass. I’m not built for being away from her. It’d be easier to justify I wasn’t gone eight or nine hours a day. It’s not ideal, but I’m doing this for her. I want her to have a father who she’s proud of, and who showed her—not just told her, but showed her—how to persevere, and work hard, and make sacrifices. And hopefully all the sacrifices I make will have a pay off, because I don’t want to sacrifice her childhood.
You really have to believe in your music to make those sacrifices.
Plus, at this point, you’ve got so much time and money invested in it already. You can’t stop now! Then you’re just a terrible businessman on top of being a quitter! We’ve had so many friends where – not even kids, but marriage will take them out of the game. The kid, I kind of get. But quitting just because you got married—I have so many friends in bands that I just loved, and their whole band will just fall apart when a member gets married. My wife toured with us for a year. She’s very supportive. She hates when I have to go, she’s miserable, but she knows who she married, and she’s not going to tell me not to go. Having a kid is a dependent. You’re an active part of raising them. Being there is a big part of that. But just because you got married? I don’t get that.
How’s your wife with taking care of your daughter while you’re away?
She’s a wedding photographer, so she’s home all day. We schedule our lives around each other. We keep a very diligent Google Calendar, to make sure that everyone’s on the same page all the time. It’s just what you have to do if you want to make it work. I learned a long time ago that if you want to do this, you’re either willing to make sacrifices, or you’re not. You’re either willing to have your life kind of suck sometimes, or you’re not. It’s the same as anything. We think it’s worth doing, and I don’t feel like I’d be happy if I wasn’t doing it. Not just making music, but actively trying to pursue it and connect with people. I guess I could quit and just make songs at home, but it wouldn’t feel the same.
There’s CMJ in New York, and you’ve done SXSW a few times. You’re still working it pretty hard. What was your favorite SXSW moment?
We were playing this place—it’s kind of tropical-themed over near the Parish—what was it called? Anyway, Bill Murray was at the show. I didn’t get to meet him, though. I was so pissed. He was there when we got off. I went to get the van—walked the three fucking miles you have to walk—and when I got back and parked, the guys were like, “Bill Murray’s there! Bill Murray!” And it was so weird, because just three days before, I’d had this conversation with someone about if there was anyone I’d get star struck over. And I was like, “No… well, maybe Bill Murray.” And then he’s at our show! And I didn’t even get to meet him. I probably wouldn’t have even talked to him—I just wanted to see that he was there. Somebody showed me his camera phone, and I could see his silhouette.
Where do you think Quiet Company fits in with the Austin music community?
For a long time, I didn’t think we did. When we first started, for some reason, we were doing really well in Dallas. We’d go up to Dallas and draw like 80 people. When we were pushing our first record, that was amazing. We were drawing 15 or 20 people here, and if we did that, we felt like we were great. We were playing The Parlor, which is awesome, but just free pizza. We’d go up to Dallas and play Club Dada or Prophet Bar, and for the longest time we thought that we weren’t Austin-y. But there wasn’t anything wrong with Austin. We just hadn’t done the work. Nobody owed us shit. We kept playing, kept playing, kept playing, and if you’re worth a shit at all, eventually some people will notice and tell their friends. And now, I feel like we do fit in with the Austin community.
Do you think the presence of this community helps you keep focused even with your family responsibilities?
Definitely. Last year, we were getting ready to go on tour. Three days before we left, someone broke into our trailer and stole all our guitars, cymbals, the bass head, all sorts of stuff. And the Austin community came together in such a big way. People donated money – a substantial amount of money! The Gibson showroom here in town was like, “Hey, any guitar you need, come get it, we’ll loan it to you for your tour.” We ended up with way better gear than was stolen. Two different news channels here did stories on us to help find our stuff. The community came out so strong, and so supportive. It was humbling and amazing. It made me so appreciative. I don’t know that would happen other places. Who are we? We’re nobody. But Austin came out. We’re nobody, but we’re Austin’s nobody.