Company of Thieves’ Genevieve Schatz recalls humble beginnings and newfound success

The delightful Genevieve Schatz leads Company of Thieves, an indie rock group from Chicago.

Image By: Jon Yoon

Many know that Walk the Moon stopped in Madison last week as one of the final stops on their Press Restart Tour. Not many know the band that opened for them.

Company of Thieves is an indie rock group from Chicago led by the delightful Genevieve Schatz. The band consists of Schatz on vocals, March Walloch on guitar and Chris Faller on bass, drums and keys.

They have recorded two albums, their first, Ordinary Riches, was released independently in 2007 and then again with Wind-Up Records in 2009. Their second record, Running from a Gamble, was released in May 2011.

Then the group took a four-year break.

Now they are back with a brand new EP, Better Together, and just finished touring with one of the biggest pop bands in the country — quite the comeback.

When Schatz was 18, she met guitarist Walloch getting on a train at Union Station in downtown Chicago. She noticed he was carrying an acoustic guitar. They started talking about music, The Beatles and how it was rough to be teenagers — they were both living on their own at the time.

They kept in touch after that fateful day and made plans to meet again.

“I remember, we were really poor and we just took Tostitos and spread cheese all over them and made these homemade nachos in the oven,” Schatz said. “He would play guitar and I would just sing as he was making chord progressions — one day we realized that we kind of had a song.”

From there, the lead singer was ready to perform for the world, already scouring local papers for open mic nights.

“We wanted to show it to people — or I did, at least,” Schatz stated. “I kind of instigated us getting there, maybe before we were ready but you’re never really ready! You just have to put yourself out there.”

Now, the group is based out of Los Angeles and just finished a huge tour with Walk the Moon. 

They’ve traveled the entire country and it seems Schatz has a favorite moment from every location, from stepping out on stage the first night in D.C. to playing a show in Philadelphia the night the Eagles got into the Superbowl.

The whole city was buzzing that night in Philly, according to Genevieve.

“There was this sense of, I don’t know, roots and belonging and pride. It was so beautiful,” the singer said.

Another favorite part for Ms. Schatz was running around New Orleans with the lead singer of Walk the Moon, Nicholas Petricca.

“We were talking about the beauty of people in New Orleans, how they know that any moment the whole city could just disappear with a flood so they have to depend on each other,” she said.

Additionally, playing the Hollywood Palladium was incredible for Company of Thieves. The Palladium is known for adapting to current music trends — from old '30s music to punk rock concerts in the '80s.

“I guess now, because this is what’s exciting on planet Earth, we’re playing there with [Walk the Moon], said Schatz. “It just felt really cool.”

When asked about her favorite part of being on tour in general, Schatz stated, “Being in constant motion makes it important to be checking in with myself because everything is changing all the time but the only thing that is the same when you’re constantly moving like that is you.”

This motion makes her more honest with herself and “feel very much in present time.”

And if you’re wondering what it’s like spending six weeks with Walk the Moon — according to Schatz — it’s inspiring.

“I feel like they’re a band for the ages,” she claimed. “I feel welcomed and comfortable and included because they treat their crew and everyone around them like family.”

She added, that the band has a beautiful way of writing songs about very relatable things but brings them into a heightened state. They take risks.

Schatz has been learning about that herself recently.

“Now is all that there is and it's up to you to be able to appreciate the now as it’s happening,” she said. “I feel like music is so healing and it’s a gift. Sharing it with other people is just one of the most beautiful ways to spend some time here on the planet.”

Company of Thieves plans on continuing to share their songs and to spread joy: They will be recording new music this spring.

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