If an accident was waiting to happen, it was my discovery of Small Houses – more specifically Jeremy Quentin of Small Houses. I was doing some research on Tiny Homes; so as I typed in that phrase into a search engine, it appeared. There was the band Small Houses. I had very few tasks that morning, so I went ahead and clicked on the link. Doing so brought up his website, where I saw his video “Old Habits”. I watched the video and my jaw dropped in amazement. “How did I not discover this sooner?” I thought to myself. After perusing the site a bit more and clicking many external links, I decided to write to Jeremy (by email) and request an interview. After losing all hope that I was going to speak with Mr. Quentin, he finally replied a week or so later. He explained that he was on tour with Jared Bartman (whom we did an article on at the same time coincidentally), but he was “totally down” to do an interview as long as it wasn’t a “high school form letter” I had in mind. I assured him it wasn’t and we went forth with the interview about a week after that.
“Hey Jeremy” I excitedly said. “Glad to finally catch up with you!” My first question concerned his lack of Canadian touring. “Jeremy, I have combed through your tour dates and out of the 80 odd venues you have played at, only a few have been in Canada. You also just completed a European tour. Is Canada just not friendly towards Small Houses?” He replied “I’m with you, let’s knock down these damn borders.” He went on about how crossing the border as young person with “a guitar and dry eyes” wasn’t the easiest thing to do. I laughed a bit and said “Right, dry eyes.” I decided to give him some commentary on where he should tour, starting with (of course where I live) Vancouver Island, then Vancouver, and ending with Kelowna for his west coast tour (exclaiming that there is huge indie music scene, many moustaches too).
Apropos of facial hair, I reminded him that in 2010 he had a clean-cut look (sans moustache), for example in the Country Flowers video. I exclaimed, “Now you have a killer moustache. Is it a branding thing or do you just love the stache?” Jeremy replied, “Still Crazy After All These Years.” I was more than somewhat confused, so I tried to cull an allegorical reference, “The more things change they stay the same?” Jeremy replied, “Still Crazy After All These Years is an album by Paul Simon. Check out the cover art.” “Right” I said softly. I added a quick remark letting him know that he’s my moustache idol, and he was the reason I started growing one.
I decided to segue from moustaches into life (and such) saying that back in 2010 “pre-moustache” I said with a quick laugh, he was quoted, “I just needed any reason to leave town, if just for a moment. I’ll be able to dream of the weeks to come where I’ll be free from school and free from the binds of New England.” I naturally inquired, “I thought you were a native of Flint – why were you going to school a few states away?” Jeremy said that most likely someone told him he had to do so. He proceeded, “Isn’t that how most of us end up in college?” going on about his mental state and how going so far away was an attempt to say that he was in control of this decision someone else made for him.
I stayed on subject with asking about school. “So are you still in school, or what are you doing now, [is] Small Houses full time?” As Jeremy discussed taking a lot of time off from touring to focus on recording a full length album, writing a book of poems, and doing film photography, I felt sort of blindsided – like I wasn’t doing nearly anything as productive as him. I responded “Nice”, in envy.
I decided to bring the conversation to another quote I found. I cleared my throat and said “A few years ago you said that the next Small Houses album would be named The Goodness of Toledo with Splitting Headaches. “Was that a joke?”, I asked, wondering if he was still planning on doing that (because it’s a peculiar name). He laughed a bit and said “I would definitely say something like that, but that’s a terrible title, so I must have been kidding” Then he alluded to trying to find a clever way to say that he was hung over that day. I laughed and said “I should use that one from now on.”
We go on the topic of allegorical titles. I was referencing his song names such as “The Ground is Glass”, “Old Habits”, “Exactly Where You Wanted to be”. Humble Mr. Quentin was caught off guard. Stating how he never really thought of the titles that way, saying “I think I understand what you’re saying. Maybe it’s for the sake of accessibility and later recollection, or maybe it’s more due to the influence from my favourite writers”. He went on talking about James Arlington Wright and his books Autumn Begins in Martin’s Ferry Ohio, The Branch Will Not Break, Shall We Gather at the River. He continued, “From what I remember of these poems, the titles are sort of vague constants for a later hail of memories. Maybe they’re reference points in case the writer gets out of hand?” Impressed with his answer, I only replied “Maybe ya” (for some reason, must have been an off day for me).
At this juncture, I had several questions written still, and with all the side convo I wasn’t even half way down my list. Naturally I decided to get those out of the way. I asked him about his Kickstarter in 2011 for his album. “Did you notice that the exact amount your Kickstarter received was the same as the year it was launched in? I immediately joined that question with another. “If you were able to do it for $2011.00, why do other artists ask for $6000.00 or $10,000.00?” again not leaving room for him to answer I said “Why didn’t you use a Kickstarter for your latest album?” With my burst of questions he tried to answer them accordingly. Jeremy wondered, “Weird, do you think it’s a sign?” then answered the next “Well, extra time in the studio is a luxury that money can easily provide, and everyone prefers a life of leisure”. And finally regarding the second Kickstarter he said “The fear of standing still and/or treading water; no use in doing the same thing twice. The second bottle of champagne never tastes as nice as the first”. “Agreed” I said
In a few of Jeremy’s songs I noticed that Jesse was referenced quite a bit. My curiosity got the best of me, so I apologized for the intrusion and asked if Jesse was a past love. To my shock he replied “Ha, Jesse is a boy. He is a character in an album/short story fictional/non-finctional autobiographical group of poems that I’m writing”. A slight pause and he continued “Jesse is based on a few different friends of mine”. “Well who knew?” I said. “Have any poems out there?” I continued. “Been published in some journals and local indie papers, but an official first release is yet to come” Jeremy said. I found out that he’s currently working on a short group of poems as a preface to the next record accompanied by my 35mm photos. “It’ll definitely happen in 2014,” Jeremy assured me.
We basically chit chatted about his previous interviews and features with big outlets such as Daytrotter and AV Club. Then I asked “Have big things come out of the exposure?” “Sure,” he said sharply. “Every little bit counts!” Jeremy briefly discussed accessibility, and it being key right now – making it easy for people to find the songs and keep interest! “That’s for sure” I replied. Just about coming to the end of the interview I asked “Anything else you want to share before we wrap it up?” Jeremy didn’t have too much, he just replied “Keep an eye out for Small Houses at SxSw 2014.” Indeed, we will. While wrapping up, I meant to say “Well you keep an eye out for my moustache in 2014”. You know like Dr Claw from Gadget always ads “Ill get you next time Gadget, next time”. I thought of no such ending to a swell interview. However I’m sure he will catch wind of this.