Danielle Capalbo is prolific. She writes a song a day, or tries to — a habit inspired by Dolly Parton. The Bethel resident wakes up some days knowing exactly what she wants to put on paper. Other days, she struggles. When she isn't writing music, she creates collages.
She's into volume.
"It gets me out of the mindset that I'm waiting for some inspiration," Capalbo says. "It's important to sit down and have a creative outlet for at least 30 minutes. If you keep working at something, it will grow and get better after the course of weeks and months. But then there are songs that you sit down for 10 minutes and say, 'OK, done.' In my experience, those are usually better."
Quiet Giant, a four-piece rock band once called "loom" (now the title of its first album), is Capalbo's band. She sings with a black Fender Telecaster strapped around her neck, adorned with stickers advertising other Connecticut bands. Capalbo is community-minded and an extrovert: You can't play music in a vacuum, she says. You have to support others, and make yourself worthy of being supported.
"We're a lucky band, because we have people who care about what we're doing," Capalbo says. "We have people who care about what we're doing in New Haven. We have people who care about what we're doing in New London. In those scenes, we like to be active participants: being a band that belongs to the people who come out to see you play, a band that organizes fun stuff for your friends to participate in, a band of people who are trying to do what they believe is right for the community."
Quiet Giant is also a sort of micro-village. Drummer Jared Thompson met Capalbo in Spectral Fangs in 2013. Guitarist William James Touri is Capalbo's younger half-brother. Mark Almodovar, guitarist in Wallingford band Yuppy Flu, plays bass; he replaced Robbie Vozza, who left at the end of last year to work on his own music (as The Refectory). Vozza took over from Ashley Kenney (now in Witch Hair). There's a Venn diagram waiting to be drawn, to help keep track of who's playing where, and with whom, and when. Everyone seems happy to play music in Connecticut.
"loom" was recorded at Bonehead Studios in Cheshire. On "Cathedral" and "A Long Glow," you sense the lo-fi origins — Capalbo's comfort zone — of the music, and also Touri's push in the other direction: toward bigger sounds, more guitars, playing strumming patterns or long-delay arpeggios. Capalbo's voice often sounds like a loud whisper, but it still finds space in the mix.
There's variety in the textures; low-key intros settle into fuzzed-out space-rock riffs and half-time grooves.
"I don't mean to give more to you than I get," Capalbo sings on "Every Crime," and it's a public face grafted onto private thoughts. "It's a habit, it's a face I wear with regret – just killing time down here in this room where I live." You hear "OK Computer"-like crescendos, and the inevitable bottoming-out. "I cannot be wrong, I'm right," Capalbo sings, a little stubbornly, on "Forever Fear (Sylvia Plath)," "ceremonies don't comfort me." (Lyrics also shape-shift, Capalbo says, solidifying after the band has played a song live a few times.)
Quiet Giant rehearses at Mother Brother Studios, a bright, well-appointed space in Bethel, owned by Matthew Vitti, who hosts occasional, intimate weekend shows. Recently, the band let me observe it learn a new song, "I Wrote Myself a Note." Everyone contributed, and smiled a lot. It was loud and cheerful.
Capalbo is happy with the band, and most other things. "I have a day job that I love, that is very cause-based, that I believe in," she says. "I don't know how far I would necessarily want to get away from that."
Still, Capalbo would love more time to create, alone and with other people.
"It's so gratifying to not just make something for myself, but to make something within the context of an arts community," Capalbo says. "You can play off one another, play with one another, go across mediums to collaborate, so that you're not just working with local musicians, but working with local artists, or the print shops, or hanging out at the studio with the sound engineer. I think all of that is exciting, and it's mostly enough for me."
Purchase Quiet Giant's "loom" for $6 and check for upcoming shows at quietgiantband.com. The band has a show scheduled for March 24 at The Outer Space in Hamden.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Press Play is a new column profiling the underground musicians of Connecticut. If you have new music to share, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.