Sessions: Company of Thieves (Chicago)

Written by Aidan Rush Posted in: Sessions on February 29, 2012

Anyone who’s read the story of Company of Thieves as told by lead singer Genevieve Schatz has an idea of the adversity she’s overcome throughout her lifetime. But hers is not a step and repeat tale of black and white triumph where tickets and albums sold are the only measuring sticks of success; progress in self-discovery is taken into account too, a notion demonstrated in COT’s thinly veiled autobiographical (from Genevieve's POV) concept album Running from a Gamble

Here, nearly every song unabashedly revisits Genevieve’s past struggles and her newfound life affirming energy through a fictional protagonist named Karen, despite the fact that the similarities of Karen's character to Genevieve were not heavily premeditated.  The moral of it all as told by the real Genevieve: “Even though there is a big, bad world out there, it is what you make it.”  Though the accessible self-deprecating to self-respecting narrative heard on Running from a Gamble is easily the most resonant way Genevieve connects with Company of Thieves’ fans, it is far from the only way.

Schatz says she and her band mates learned during the process of recording their first album, Ordinary Riches, that making it in music required treating the band as an all or nothing prospect. The same ethos translates to their interaction with fans.  First and foremost, they are all honest when it comes to communication on social media. Genevieve will be the first to admit that being in a band is not as glamorous as it may have seemed when she was younger—the imbalance of work invested and initial payback are one of the reasons the band’s been through 8 lineup changes—but believes that being transparent about this fact with their fans fosters a meaningful bond, and sparks a sense of creative charity among followers. For instance, COT was overrun with submissions when they announced a contest inviting fans to create tour posters for the headlining tour they’re currently on.

And with that modest take, there is of course a monumental give.

Because simply writing great songs is no longer enough to appease rabid music fans of 2012, COT goes the extra yard to make sure their committed fans (those already following on social media, subscribing to the newsletter, etc.) are rewarded for their devotion beyond a great show or song. One such example was the method in which COT built buzz for the release of Running from a Gamble. Where most bands would announce a pending album drop through a variety of written messages with borderline irritating frequency, COT released one bare bones video of Genevieve and guitarist Marc Walloch playing almost every song on the upcoming album in a quirky location every day leading up to the album’s release. In total, it netted them more than 37,000 views on YouTube. In addition, COT sends care packages to the most active members of their street team army with goodies like post cards, snow globes, location-based souvenirs, Oscar Wilde poems, etc. That is how you show thanks to those who are directly responsible for where you are today.

“Coming together over this thing that’s bigger than everybody” is how Genevieve sees Company of Thieves’ relationship with their admirers, and if they continue remembering that music is the most important component in the bigger picture, chances are we’ll all be coming together over their tunes for many years to come.

We had the chance to get to know the band over brunch at Indie Ambassador HQ, and then saw them play an IAtv session afterwards. Check out “Modern Waste”, “Never Come Back” and "Syrup" in the player above, and don’t miss the band on their current tour or out with Group Love later this spring if you like what you hear!


"Modern Waste" | "Never Come Back" | "Syrup"
Recorded: February 26th, 2012 at Strewnshank Studio in Charlestown, MA
Recording engineered & mixed by: Chris Thomas and Joe Mahoney
Video direction: Chris Thomas and Joe Mahoney
Video editing:: Chris Thomas (Never Come Back) and Joe Mahoney (Modern Waste, Syrup)



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