Analogue Music | Company of Thieves

Company of Thieves

By Matt Conner

It wasn't a pause; rather, it was a full stop.

When Company of Thieves decided to call it quits in 2014, all parties involved knew it was over. While other bands might consider taking a hiatus, Genevieve Schatz, Marc Walloch and Chris Faller all knew something permanent had to change. A life cycle had reached its end. Statements were made. Blank slates were faced. Identities were challenged.

Three years later, some tough but important lessons have been learned, but what hasn't changed is the creative chemistry that exists between all parties involved. Initial talks led to songwriting sessions which culminated in Better Together, a brand new EP with a pop finesse that shows Company of Thieves are even better on this side of their break. They had to grieve the loss to find themselves on the other side, but the music is all the better for it—as are the actual band members. 

Analogue: I wanted to ask about the time apart to get the bigger picture here. Was it the sort of split where the door is left open for later? Was there any expectation that you could come together again as Company of Thieves?

Marc Walloch: I personally thought it was over, and I needed to feel that, because to try to move on in any way was really difficult. That's why all of this is such a pleasant surprise or a beautiful gift of a second chance.

I personally thought it was over, and I needed to feel that, because to try to move on in any way was really difficult.

Genevieve Schatz: Whereas I felt like we didn't have a choice at the time, so it felt over. There was no way for us to move forward. We couldn't even take care of ourselves or pay our bills or anything in addition to being overwhelmed with life on a personal level. 

Analogue: So there was for both of you a real grieving of something that had died, so to speak.

Genevieve: Oh, yeah. It was the end of this whole thing. Pretty early on from the time that we met, we were firing on all cylinders, as they say. We were very fast friends and then we're hanging out all of the time. Then we're making music and playing shows and then we had a band that kept touring. It kept growing more and more as we would pay attention to it, and that was all we really knew for the majority of a decade of our young adult lives. 

Analogue: You both continued to make music, so was it refreshing to learn to creatively exist apart from the other?

Genevieve: Totally. It's a great reminder that the spark of inspiration is timeless. It can show up in any realm, really. You just have to let yourself be open to it. It was really wild to do that without each other.

Marc: Yeah, I think if it didn't feel refreshing, there would be no reason for the break in the first place.

Analogue: Is there something identiable for either one of you that you can say you discovered about yourself from that time?

Genevieve: I figured out that I can adapt, that I can and will make a lot of art anyway. It's how I navigate life. In that way, I became super fearless about it and more comfortable in my own skin. Now I like to just make as much music as I can. I also love meeting new people and making music with them, getting out of my comfort zone and putting myself in an unfamiliar situation to find the spark of my truth, my essence, and have it come forward no matter what is going on. It's a fun way for me to get in touch with myself. 

Credit: Shervin Lainez
Credit: Shervin Lainez

Marc: I think for me it's wanting to maintain a balance of nurturing the needs we'd neglected from having tunnel vision when we were younger and being in a band—like taking care of yourself as a human being first. On an artistic level, it's trying to maintain a balance of multiple streams of creativity so that you have a fresh perspective in any scenario that you're in. You're not trying to shove every idea about art in general into one single project. It helps to make you hone in on the strengths of the project at hand and figure out how to bring those things out. 

Analogue: Those sorts of lessons makes it sound like a much healthier band on this side.

Marc: Yeah. I think we're still figuring out what adjustments should be made based on what we learned while we were apart and how we make this better. 

Analogue: Did it take some time to discern that you were going to start making music again or was it this quick impulse where you just knew?

Genevieve: We'd gotten together several times over the course of two years. We were intentionally sitting down to discuss our visions and also what we'd experienced when we were younger that had created major roadblocks for ourselves as individuals and as a team. There was a lot of healthy confrontation and apologizing and sort of clearing up a lot of misunderstandings or filling in gaps left open. By the time we got together and specifically shared an interest in making music together again, we really had addressed all of the stuff that would have kept us from being able to share a picture of a future together musically.

So when we did do that, it was really cool. We were in Big Sur going camping and it was a rainy, dreary time but it was great anyway. We both realized that we did want to make music together again, so that talk was really simple. It reminded me of when I was a kid and I'd play pretend with my friends. The first idea was, "Hey, it'd be so cool to make music together again." Then the fear comes in because of our label and all these people who have ownership that make you feel held back or trapped in your old contract or this and that. 

Then there was a feeling of, "Well, if we just decide to do it, then the path will open up for us. We have to have faith that's how it will go." We're the only ones capable of making it actually it. So that was cool because it was a breakthrough in the way we were even thinking about it. That was Halloween weekend from 2016 and five days later, our record label shut down or closed. It all just felt right, like some divine orchestration. 

Analogue: How does the music feel compared to the past?

Marc: It feels better with a clearer picture. I would hope so because we're five years older. I hope everything we do in life is better. We were always an alternative style band... when people ask if it's like our old stuff, we don't know how to make that out. All we really know is how to apply our lessons to a new creative scenario. With that said, I do feel it's stronger.

Analogue: And the relationship to the fans?

Genevieve: It's been so overwhelmingly beautiful. They've been so positive and so supportive. It's great because it's a two-way street, an infinity loop of sorts. It causes us to really show up and bring it because people are willing to receive it. We had a ton of very heartfelt letters that people wrote us. The most incredible part is that when we booked this reunion tour last fall, everybody came! We packed these rooms and sold out a bunch of these places. 

We had no idea what to expect, because the only tools we have now to communicate with our fans is really via social media. We don't have our old email lists because our label never gave them to us. So we are feeling like we're taking this huge risk every time we book a show. The only way we know people are out here is through social media. I'd love a new way to reach them.