Since we named them a Best of What’s Next band last May, Chicago’s Company of Thieves have been on the road non-stop in support of Running From a Gamble and have played more shows than they can count. They recently returned to Chicago where they played a New Year’s Eve bash with Cage the Elephant and have been enjoying their time off. But Genevieve Schatz and Marc Walloch are itching to get back on the road and the band announced new tour dates for late February through March. We talked to Schatz and Walloch about how much their experiences on tour have influenced the band.
Paste: How much of Running From a Gamble was written while you were on tour?
Genevieve Schatz: Most of it, actually. We would be working constantly either backstage in a dressing room or in a hotel room. Sometimes even in the van when we were driving from one state to another we would be working on the songs together.
Marc Walloch: We had stuff that we had from when we were home together. Every time we were on the road Gen or I would say here’s something we were working on at home and then we would work on it furthermore on the road because that’s where we were most of the time. We would take any ideas that we had and tried to the songs together and finish them whenever and wherever we could.
Schatz: It’s kind of cool because the first album, [Ordinary Riches], was absolutely written after complete thoughts had been had after we were sitting down in one place before we ever really left our hometown to travel all over the country. There’s definitely, on this new album, you can tell there’s a lot of feelings and that it’s all being formulated in emotions.
Paste: You kind of touched on this, but what’t the biggest difference between the sound on Ordinary Riches and Running From a Gamble?
Walloch: It’s a lot more organic and not as stiff because when we recorded Ordinary Riches, like Gen was saying, we were in one place and focused on the songs and we weren’t used to playing them live and I think when you do that you have a lot of discoveries of things that are working and things that aren’t working. Or trying to bring this energy to a song and that’s why songs that are from Running From a Gamble have such these epic endings like “Nothing’s in the Flowers” or “Gorgeous/Grotesque” and I think after touring for two years you just become a better live band and you want to showcase some of that energy into the actual song. So there’s definitely more energy and life and that’s because of our experience playing so much on the road and not just being at home writing in the room or in the studio and forming the song that way. It definitely came about from playing.
Schatz: I think we took a lot of risks. There was no fear on this record whereas maybe before we were a little hesitant and not as in touch as we are with ourselves as we are on this record.
Paste: Is there a moment from the past two years on tour that perfectly depicts what Company of Thieves is all about?
Schatz: We had to get to a show in Columbus, Ohio and our tire went flat in the morning and we had to try and fix it. That included everything from trying duct tape and praying on our way to the tire shop. On top of that I was sick with mono and we ended up playing this huge festival while I was coming down with mono. Along the way there’s these disasters that come along and we always push through it and overcome them because it’s more important with us to share our music with our fans than to wallow in any band member’s personal problems of the day.
Walloch: There’s always obstacles and it can get really tiring and exhausting but we look forward to that 30 minutes or that hour and we’ll keep it trucking until we get there and not let anything stop us or slow us down. I would say that we’re the people’s people. We’re always really excited to play for people and meeting people. We really love talking to our fans. We’ll always hang out and tell stories or just talk [to fans].
Schatz: We are the band that’s kicked out of the venue by the staff at the end of the night because we spent several hours hanging out with our fans. There’s a sense of community that we really love.
Paste: Is there a specific city that you love playing and never want to miss on any tour?
Schatz: If I had my way I would play New York and Portland on every tour and that’s just silly because they’re on opposite sides of the country.
Walloch: The Bowery Ballroom in New York is on this tour and it never gets old. It seems like it’s our hometown.
Paste: And is there a song you love playing that you can let loose on every show and it never gets tiring?
Schatz: For me, I would say “Won’t Go Quietly” because it’s always relevant to me and it’s always coming from a very pure place. I always feel very small when I sing that song and always relieved that I can relieve myself of all my pain and ailment.
Walloch: “Gorgeous/Grotesque” — I think it’s one of the first songs that we allowed there to be a lot of space. When we toured on Ordinary Riches we would play a 30 minute set and would just be exhausted because all of our songs were just part after part after part and boom, boom, boom. Just really intense and we never had that song that allowed you feel really in the moment where you could breath and just relax. Same thing with “King of Dreams” really does it for me. I really love having that moment in the set where your adrenaline can take a break for a second and just really be there in the moment.
Schatz: I think the reason we can really open up and let loose during our shows is because it’s really the only time that we get in a safe place concerning our music. I think we can honestly say our fans are the only people that we trust. Our fans embrace all of our climbs and all of our falls; they’re there no matter what. I feel calm and feel like I’m blossoming at our shows.
Paste: Has any new material for the third album been written during this latest tour?
Schatz: We have things up our sleeves for sure, but nothing that we want to release yet. That’s part of what we do: we wake up and write songs.
Walloch: We’ll probably put out a song our two before whenever our next album will be. Our whole thing is we try to work on songs that we think are great and when we get that we want people to hear them. We’re just really careful about how we present them to people.
Schatz: If you can say we’re musical athletes, writing songs is how we exercise and how we train and prepare. The game is the show and the album so you want to be able to hone your thoughts and feelings into a format that can be presented properly and can be taken to the extreme!
Paste: One thing I hear you’ve been dying to properly present to your fans is a Tom Petty cover. When and why did you choose to record it for your fans?
Schatz: We recorded it after we finished Running From a Gamble mainly because we are extremely influenced by Tom Petty’s music and his personal story. He has been so vocal about his rights as a person and musician. He would never ever give in to the pressures and that’s a big inspiration to us.
Walloch: It’s all about making sure that we encourage people who don’t usually have a voice to speak up for themselves.