Racing Up The Charts- Company of Thieves
by Jason Pollak
Company of Thieves is a breakout band from Chicago. They were formed in 2005 when lead singer Genevieve Schatz bumped into guitarist Marc Walloch while riding on the train together. It was a train ride of fate as the two instantly gelled creatively and have been making music together ever since. They would later add drummer Cris Faller and bassist Marcin Sulewski to complete the lineup. Their band features a wide variety of musical sounds and Genevieve’s voice truly caps it off.
Although still growing, Company of Thieves has released two albums as of today. They released “Ordinary Riches” in 2009 to a favorable audience and instantly drew in further fans. Most recently the band has released their second LP entitled “Running From A Gamble”. Currently the album is sitting at #162 on the Billboard 200 and #12 on the Alternative Albums chart. The band is also currently touring to promote their new album and will be in NYC at the Bowery Ballroom June 13th. (continue to next page for more)
Jason: Where and when were you born?
Genevieve: Chicago, IL 1987
Jason: How did you begin singing? Was it something that happened naturally?
Genevieve: I watched the Wizard of Oz when I was a baby and when Judy Garland was singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ I was completely captured. I started to sing along, wide eyed and hypnotized.
Jason: Did you always have aspirations of being in a band when you began singing? When did you realize you wanted to be a performer?
Genevieve: No way! I realized I wanted to perform when I first got the chance to do just that- at my pre-school graduation ceremony my entire class sang ‘This Is The Song That Never Ends’ in front of our families while we found our way out of the room, one by one, and I was chosen to be the last kid standing on stage, singing the song. The whole audience erupted into a joyful laughter and it was the best feeling in the world. I knew right then that I wanted to inspire joy, or laughter, or any feeling even if it meant making an ass out of myself.
Jason: What is the driving force behind your powerful voice? How do you find that explosion for when you belt out those high, long notes?
Genevieve: Pressure! Positive or negative, doesn’t matter, rather I sing than explode.
Jason: How did you develop such a diverse range in your singing? You have that rare ability to go from a low note to a high note at the drop of a pin?
Genevieve: By searching for the appropriate release- dynamics are an incredible tool for communication. It is often not what we are sounding, but how we are sounding.
Jason: How did “Company of Thieves” form and when?
Genevieve: Marc and I were introduced to each other by a mutual friend at Union Station in Chicago in the fall of 2005. We sat together on the train and made plans to hang out soon after to listen to and play music. We have been almost inseparable, musically speaking, ever since.
Jason: What is it like being an up and coming band in the Chicago music scene? Does that contribute to the diversity in your sound?
Genevieve: We aren’t in a scene; we have our own thing and just happen to be from Chicago. The diversity in our sound comes from the diversity in our tastes and our life experiences. We like to express ourselves with instruments that fit the feelings! Our influences are across the board, so they probably all come out to play at one time or another!
Jason: You guys seem to play and enjoy playing, a lot of acoustic sets. When playing acoustic, it breaks the song down to its bare minimum and leaves you very exposed. It’s just you and your voice; there are no instruments to hide behind. It really requires the artist to project and deliver the power of the words. Is that something you want your fans and audience’s to experience- how much these words mean to you and how seriously you take your craft?
Genevieve: Yes! Not how seriously I take the craft, but how sincerely I live the craft.
Jason: Do your songs often originate as acoustic material that is later reworked to be a rock song? One example would be your song “Nothing in the Flowers”, which got a whole new sound for your album.
Jason- Do your songs often originate as acoustic material that is later reworked to be a rock song? One example would be your song “Nothing in the Flowers”, which got a whole new sound for your album.
Genevieve: Yes! We write in hotel rooms while on tour and we live next to an old lady at home, so we are often considering others while they sleep and we are tinkering away…it is completely liberating to gently structure a song and then fiercely flesh it out with the entire band! It comes to life!
Jason: Who partakes in the songwriting in the group? Do you all contribute to the writing process?
Genevieve: As of today, Marc and I have written all of the songs. Our band-mates bring their unique abilities to the table and we create the final draft together.
Jason: How do you and your band relate to the personal experiences that are described in your songs? Are the words and songs really just a musical projection of everybody’s feelings in the band?
Genevieve: I live them, but cannot speak for anyone but myself. Perhaps they relate to certain aspects/feelings/thoughts. As a group we are very open about that stuff with each other.
Jason: In what environment do you feel your band is able to create its best music?
Genevieve: In a welcoming one. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as we are each appreciated.
Jason: How did Company of Thieves further develop their sound on the second album “Running from a Gamble”? Implement any new and cool ideas that you didn’t get to do on the first album?
Genevieve: We got to experiment with sounds and tones more than on the first record. A cool and new idea/thought was that we were all capable of sonically communicating ourselves, no matter what doubts/insecurities we faced.
Jason: “Death of Communication” is just one of many great single’s off your new album “Running from a Gamble“. It’s a very powerful song, how did that song come about?
Genevieve: Thanks! It came about from feeling ostracized for being honest with folks near and dear to my heart. Also, Marc was playing the progression for a couple of years, just doodling around with it.
Jason: What was it like playing with the legendary Daryl Hall on “Live from Daryl’s House”?
Genevieve: Pretty surreal. He was incredibly present and open hearted to our music. When I looked over at him while he started singing one of our songs with us I couldn’t believe it! I wanted to laugh, it was so cool. And his band was as smooth can be. They made it easy to just play.
Jason: What are your aspirations for your band?
Genevieve: My hope is to continue to make honest music and share it with as many people as possible!