By Kevin M. Cabano ’12
During this previous summer, I attended a concert by a band of largely Brophy students called Treefingers.
I have known Treefingers songwriter, keyboardist and lead vocalist Quinn McGovern ’12 for several years, but this was my first time seeing him in a musical setting.
It was quickly noticeable to me that McGovern was fully immersed in the performance, singing with an emotionally charged voice over the backdrop of a band expertly shifting dynamics from loud to soft and back again.
As a musician myself, I always appreciate and enjoy seeing someone with as intense of a passion for music as McGovern undoubtedly does, and was subsequently drawn in to the band’s performance.
However, things weren’t always this way for McGovern.
Music was nothing special to him until he discovered a keyboard in his sister’s room several years ago and decided to try to figure out some songs by ear.
“That was the first time I got into music,” McGovern said, sitting on a couch in the home music studio that now occupies a portion of his garage.
Since then he has also learned how to play guitar, but sticks to the keyboard and vocals for Treefingers.
Several months ago some friends and I were in McGovern’s studio after Treefingers, currently consisting of McGovern, Grant Parsons ’12, Michael Lucero ’13 and Brophy alumni Austin Tucker ’11 and Mitch Hosier ’11, had played a show with my band, The End of the Line, earlier that evening.
I can clearly recall sitting silently at one point watching him play the piano.
The enthusiasm for his music McGovern displayed on stage was still present in him playing at home for fun.
As his fingers pounded out chords and arpeggios for quite some time uninterrupted, I was mesmerized by the sounds that greeted my ears.
When he was finished I inquired as to what the piece was. McGovern responded that it was something he had just improvised on the spot.
McGovern writes songs often and has written upwards of 20 original compositions, usually on the piano.
McGovern said that he usually writes lyrics for songs after the music is written, and that they draw from a variety of topics.
“One song might be about something as big as religion or government or something, and then one song might be about a bad day or something that happened last weekend,” McGovern said.
McGovern describes his lyrics as “abstract” and says they generally begin from the way the music of a song makes him feel.
Treefingers guitarist Grant Parsons said being in a band with McGovern is “quite an experience” and that McGovern is a very talented musician.
As far as influences, McGovern cited English alt-rockers Radiohead as his biggest.
“Radiohead’s got to be the biggest influence for me,” McGovern said. “The melodies, the singing style, just the whole stage presence of Thom Yorke… I’d say Thom Yorke and Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins) would be my main two.”
Radiohead’s influence can certainly be heard in Treefingers’ musical style. In addition, “Treefingers” is the name of a Radiohead song.
Recently, The End of the Line played alongside Treefingers at the Brophy Fine Arts Extravaganza. During the preparation for my band’s set, we elected to perform a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Time” as our closing song. The song requires a keyboard part and multiple singers, and I turned to McGovern with a request to have him perform it with us.
McGovern obliged, and over the next several weeks we began to practice playing the song together.
Playing alongside McGovern was fun in both playing with and listening to him. He picked up on the song quickly, his keyboard, as well as his vocals on the closing verse, adding a fantastic new dimension to my band’s sound.
This was an experience that I, as well as my other band members, certainly enjoyed.
McGovern doesn’t show any signs of stopping, saying that he will pursue music for as long as he can, and possibly major or minor in music when he continues his schooling at the college level.
Treefingers can be found on Facebook, where they have songs and more information available.