Updated Fri, Jan 31, 2014 2:02 pm
Rock singers aren't known for their stability.
But stability is exactly what Christopher Vincent, 27, has found through his band Qiet.
The ensemble, once large enough to field a football team, is smaller than ever but is gaining big attention.
Fans delight in Qiet's strange blend of gypsy music, rock, jazz and punk. They are playing shows all over the East Coast, their upcoming album Pet Driftwood is getting good reviews and they were recently featured on West Virginia Public Radio's Ecclectopia.
But more importantly, Vincent finally is feeling confident. For the first time since the band's creation, he's confident in his band mates.
"We're pretty good," he said. "There's some kind of chemistry. It's that thing, you've got it or you don't got it. We've got it."
That sounds boastful, and Vincent is aware that sounds boastful. But he also admits there were long periods of time when Qiet was not very good, did not have much chemistry and definitively did not have "it."
There were years when Vincent was making music in his bedroom but wouldn't let anyone listen. In the beginning he didn't even know how to properly tune his guitar.
Vincent spent much of his childhood bounced from place to place. By the time he was a young teenager, he dropped out of school and began running away from home. At 15, Vincent had his own house in Washington, D.C.
Around the same time, he began recording songs on a boom box. With no musical training, he thought a guitar was in tune when all its tuning keys lined up. He used pots and pans for drums.
By age 17, Vincent was writing voraciously, churning out three to five songs every day. He was recording, too, although many of those songs were "thrown under the bus."
Sometimes he didn't like the lyrics. Sometimes the chord progressions and melodies fell flat. Sometimes, he would erase a recording as soon as he was finished with it.
After he had completed his first self-recorded album, he played the CD for some friends. They listened for a while, and then started skipping through the tracks.
Vincent asked what they were doing. Why weren't they listening to his songs? "It's bad quality," they explained.
They were right, of course. The early songs were rough, and the recordings were far from professional quality. But the criticism crushed Vincent. For the next several years, he only allowed a handful of people to hear his work.
But he kept making music.
"It was never for them, really. I am compelled beyond anything I know to create," he said. "I was going to do it with or without them."
By the time he completed his seventh record in 2009, another of Vincent's friends offered some encouragement.
"(He) said 'You should make a band out of this.' I remember laughing in his face, like, who's going to listen to this?"
Yet, two weeks later, Qiet was onstage with 13 members.
Vincent, who was living in Huntington at the time, decided to show up on Marshall University's campus with some friends and play "noise music," thrashing on instruments and making a ruckus until campus security asked them to leave. Anybody who decided to join in became a member of Qiet.
"We got two or three musicians like that," he said.
In 2011, Vincent decided to make Qiet a "collective," allowing anyone who knew the songs to get onstage and play.
To Vincent, it was tough love. His band members, however, viewed it as the ultimate "shape up or ship out" statement.
"They all hated it. All the members were mad," he said.
The band's lineup continued to change as musicians came and went, but Vincent eventually began to pare the group down.
The last original member left a few months back, leaving Vincent with a solid sextet: his guitar and vocals, Lacey Hazel on vocals and percussion, Alasha Al-Qudwah on violin and vocals, James Maddox on bass, Max Venoy on trumpet and guitar and Raphael Godfrey on drums and saxophone.
The band will release its newest album Pet Driftwood on Feb. 25. The project, recorded with producer Eddie Ashworth, began as a weekend project but ended up taking most of 2013 to complete.
Ashworth, who has worked with many big name bands like Sublime, Great White and Pennywise, saw the band perform at a show in Athens, Ohio, and offered to record their next album.
Qiet started recording Pet Driftwood in January 2013, but the band kept returning to Athens for months to work on it. They had their last recording session in August.
"We couldn't stop refining," Vincent said.
"It's really, really good. I mean that objectively. I'm listening to it months after it's finished, and I can't think of a single thing I'd change."
And for someone like Vincent, who has never had a problem changing anything, that's saying something.
Article republished courtesy of the Charleston Daily Mail.