Quails in the Nest is a Canadian folk/pop band formed in Hamilton, Ontario in 2011. The two-piece consists of vocalist/guitarist Michael Molnar and drummer Nicholas Valerio. The two met in 2006 while attending St. Thomas More Secondary School, both playing in the school’s ‘concert band’.
After high school Molnar studied music at Mohawk College, while Valerio pursued a science degree at McMaster. Both played in a number of local Hamilton bands before beginning to play and write music together as ‘Quails in the Nest’ in 2011.
Two duo released their 7-song debut LP, ‘Live at Cottonwood Mansion’, in August 2013. The album was recorded in an 18th century home in Selkirk, Ontario - which the two believed would be best suited to capture their raw and organic sound. The album debuted at #10 on CFMU 93.3 Top Album Chart (McMaster Campus Radio) and has sold over 300 copies (digital and physical) in its first month of release.
Quails in the Nest’s primary influences include Bob Dylan, Plants and Animals, and Neil Young. Their music has been described has “easy-listening folky-pop with rhythmic drums and a bright guitar” and “a surprisingly full sound for a two-piece”. Valerio credits these comments to Molnar’s capable guitar work, which “tastefully fills up a lot of space”.
They have received rotation on local radio stations (CFMU 93.3 and 101.5 INDI FM), and have received features in local newspapers and magazines (Hamilton’s ‘The View’). The band has played shows across Southern Ontario, which includes a number of charity shows. They also donate all profits from button sales to the local Ronald McDonald House.
Molnar and Valerio are also great friends both on and off the stage. They write together, plan together, and play their hearts out together. They plan on taking advantage of the portability that playing as a 'two-piece' provides, doing more extensive touring this upcoming summer (hopefully including some summer festivals).
Quails in The Nest hopes that they can bring listeners a little something new and different, and hopefully make it on to at least a couple iPod’s.
Quails in the Nest Live at Cottonwood Mansion (by Ric Taylor - The View Magazine August 2013)
By the time they’d met each other in the Saint Thomas More High School concert band back in 2010, drummer Nicholas Valerio and guitarist Mikey Molnar had been playing for years. Valerio had been playing drums for 18 years and Molnar the guitar for 10 and the trumpet for 12 but while they’d played in bands before, they realized when they came together as Quails in the Nest, that they shared a similar musical goal.
“We’ve both been in other bands, and I think the more people you play with, the more you understand the type of music you want to play and this is the type of music I want to play, which just worked well with Mikey,” offers Valerio. “I think it’s simplistic, but the way you play makes it sound like so much more.”
“I think it complicates things with more,” adds Molnar. “We have chemistry, and I don’t want someone to muck that up. Having a two–piece makes our music portable and we can play anywhere.”
With just guitar and drums, Molnar and Valerio offer sparse rock, pop, folk, roots tunes that old timers might want to compare to a more rhythmic Dylan sans politics but, as Quails in the Nest, the pair underscores the simpler–is–better motif, with a delicate sound where every note and beat are meticulously placed for effect.
“For me, I guess you could throw Bob Dylan in there as well as Cassino, and Plants and Animals,” offers Molnar on influences. “Nick adds a tasteful rhythm to my melodies. He’s not overpowering with fills or anything. It’s like Nick is telling a story, he adds what’s needed.”
“My favourite kind of drumming is just drumming that boosts the music — I’m just playing to suit the song,” adds Valerio. “Mikey’s this guy that listens to literally everything but the stuff that comes out of him is very poetic, he has a storytelling way of writing. It’s easy listening, folk–poppy kind of stuff. Mikey writes a lot of these raw guitar parts or snippets of lyrics and we work together to make it into a packaged deal. There’s things you kind of have to do when making a song, but you don’t want to make it too cookie cutter. A song needs structure and formality. It’s kind of like a mix between the heart and the mind. The heart is the emotion and the beauty of the song. The brain being the structure and the packaging of the song. I think that Mikey is the heart and I’m the brain.”
To capture the subtleties of their sound, the pair decided to record with Mike Monson in an historical country home built in 1865 in Selkirk. The recording is sonically simple but a near perfect rendering of what the band hopes to accomplish when on stage.
“We did a couple of songs in a studio last year and, it wasn’t what we wanted,” reasons Molnar. “It sounded a little bit too produced, which is not a bad thing, but it’s not what we were going for. We wanted a little more live off the floor vibe. We came up with recording a live album, the only thing was that we needed to find a place. Cottonwood mansion looked and sounded awesome. We had a video crew, Mike Monson, and a couple of tech assistants and we did seven songs in one day. I think it was perfect for our sound, just a microphone in the middle of the room, just to capture what we do live. Two guys making music. Two guys one room — which I wanted to call the album. What you see is what you get. Our music is our personalities being shown on stage.”