Just Can't Quit
Think back to what you missed." That question, asked on "It's All the Same" from Quit's landmark 1990 LP Earlier Thoughts, has haunted the Miami pop-punk trailblazers since the summer of 1993, when Quit singer/guitarist Addison Burns fell off a rooftop and pulverized his wrist -- suspending the career of Miami's most popular band for two years.
"The doctor said my wrist exploded," Burns recalls. "It was a year before I could even pick up a guitar, let alone play one." The timing couldn't have been worse. That same year, Quit watched idly by as the mall-punk revolution began and a parade of its pop-punk contemporaries gained fame and fortune. "I was bartending during that time," Burns grins. "And a lot of the time I was drinking instead of pouring." Nine years later -- after more comebacks and swan songs than an aging rock star behind on his alimony -- the three original members of Quit have banded together behind their strongest material to date.
Quit began in 1988 when Burns, drummer Andre Serafini, and guitarist Russell Mofsky hooked up at a skate ramp near the Falls shopping mall. "We got rained out one day, so we went back to my house and plugged in: instant band," Burns recalls. Within weeks the three amigos played their first show at the Cameo Theater. "We played at 2:00 p.m. and there were five people there, including our parents," Serafini chuckles. "We were playing a Descendants cover and this nut in a Descendants T-shirt ran down to the front and started going crazy. After we played he ran up to us and yelled, "I'VE GOTTA BE IN YOUR BAND!"
The nut -- a.k.a. Tony Rocha -- quickly metamorphosed from Quit's first fan to its bassist. With its lineup solidified, Quit began conquering Miami's sprawling punk and hardcore scene. Venues like Flynn's, the Kitchen Club, Beirut, and Churchill's hosted the band, and a growing throng of skaters, metalheads, and punkers fell in love with Quit's rapid-fire, yet danceable suburban angst.
After a gig at Beirut with the Mavericks, UM music business student Ralph Cavallero introduced himself and convinced the quartet he should manage them. "We were a bunch of teenage punks and he was coming from an ultra-pro, textbook way of doing things," Burns says. Cavallero, a partner in Rat Bastard's Sync studios, brought Quit in to take advantage of his free downtime. After a week of midnight-to-sunrise sessions, Quit completed Earlier Thoughts and began pounding the pavement for the funds to release it. "We weren't making enough from our shows," Burns explains. "So we went door to door asking our neighbors to invest and had Quit car washes." After washing every car from Kendall to Key Biscayne, Quit released the album in the summer of 1990 -- but lost guitarist Mofsky to the New England Conservatory of Music. Undeterred, the band soldiered on as a three-piece, stopping at both Austin, Texas's SXSW festival and New York City's New Music Seminar. Meanwhile Cavallero worked the phones into a frenzy, managing to crank Quit up to number 30 on CMJ's college radio charts. "Ralph got a list of every college radio station in the country and bugged the hell out of them until they played us," Burns smiles. "We washed a lot of cars to pay his phone bill."
In 1992 the trio went to Tampa's Morrisound Studios to record Grazing Day, their second record, but went broke before they could mix. While they hemmed and hawed about their unfinished record, Hurricane Andrew blew through their Kendall warehouse and ended the discussion. "We parked all of our cars in front of the warehouse to protect it from the wind," Burns grimaces. "When we came back the next day, Andre's van was upside down half a block away, two of the Morrisound tapes were swimming, and one was missing." Although the remaining tapes dried out and remained playable, the missing tape was the bane of Quit's existence. That is, until Burns's fall from the roof.
Quit returned to the stage in 1995 as a four-piece with Burns's fellow bartender Bobby Henion on second guitar. Despite the crowds that flocked to the gigs, the band was no longer a top priority for Serafini and Burns. "I was working fourteen-hour shifts, four days a week," Burns explains. "We both just saw Quit as a hobby." After eighteen months, the thrill of reliving past glories as a big fish in a small pond was gone. "It just wasn't the same as before, and I didn't want to be the old guy onstage trying to recapture the magic," says Burns. When reverting to a three-piece failed to bring back the spark, Quit called it quits -- sort of. After 800 people attended Quit's much-ballyhooed farewell show at Marsbar, the band decided to play another "last show" at Cheers. "I just didn't know what else to do with myself," Burns sheepishly admits.
After the second breakup, bassist Rocha left and was replaced by Fay Wray bassist Dan Bonebreak. Fed up with Miami, Burns and Bonebreak made plans to join ex-guitarist Mofsky in Boston and restart the band there. The week before Burns left town, Quit re-recorded Grazing Day but couldn't manage to mix the record before Burns's departure. "No matter what, Quit always takes a long time," Serafini cracks.
The reunited Burns and Mofsky set up a studio in Mofsky's one-car garage. "Addison bartended all night and I taught school during the day, so we'd see each other for an hour or two in the afternoon," Mofsky recalls. Burns slaved in the studio, teaching himself how to engineer and play drums while honing his songwriting with Mofsky. In April 1999 Burns joined Bonebreak and Serafini as Quit and Fay Wray embarked on a two-week bender across the South. "It was a blast," Burns affirms. "The shows were great. It reminded me why I started a band in the first place."
After the tour, Bonebreak briefly stuck with Burns and Mofsky before jumping at the chance to join Dashboard Confessional. Though they lost their bassist to a juggernaut, the duo had plenty to work with: Serafini had located the missing Morrisound tape. Burns contacted former manager Cavallero -- now a VP at Universal Music -- and the two of them began laying down vocal tracks when Cavallero went east for business. "Technology is great!" Burns enthuses. "I sent the ADAT tape to Ralph, he had it converted to his hard disk recorder and then sent me the CDs so I could work on it here." While continuing to crank out songs in Boston, Mofsky and Burns made plans to join Cavallero in Los Angeles to seek a record deal.
Burns hopped in his truck and drove to L.A. this past January in hopes of showcasing for labels on the industry's home turf. What happened was another matter. "L.A. is a rough town when you're down and out," Burns grimaces. No longer with a huge following or a working band, Burns and Cavallero made the A&R steak-dinner rounds. "They took us out to dinner, but then they basically talked to Ralph the entire time," Burns recalls. "After an hour or so they'd turn to me and say, 'So Addison, I understand you're working on some new material.' I'd say, 'Yeah, that's right,' and then they'd go back to talking to Ralph."
After six months in Los Angeles, Burns drove to Miami and found a newly divorced Serafini ready to jump back in the ring. "I called him to ask if he knew any good drummers and he said, 'I'm available -- take me,'" Burns smirks. Burns took Serafini's offer one step further, and moved both himself and his studio into Serafini's house. Serafini recruited Holy Terrors bassist Will Trev. Mofsky offered to fly down for shows. Suddenly Quit was reborn in Miami. Huh? "Andre and Addison are the only two people I've remained friends with for this long of a period," Mofsky explains. "I went to a jazz conservatory to find out I wanted to play in a rock band -- and the only band I want to play in is Quit."
Now back at full strength, with 40 new songs to draw on, Quit finally seems able to maximize its opportunities. "For years Less Than Jake has reminded us of their standing offer," Serafini notes. "'Get your shit together and we'll take you on the road.' Now we're ready." Currently the band is readying a compilation of early tracks for release on Purple Skunk Records this winter -- while continuing to record new songs in its studio. Nostalgic Gen-Xers eager for a trip back to 1990 are in for a surprise at Quit's upcoming gigs. While Descendants' Bill Stevenson still screams "Boom!" through Serafini's drums, the band's new tunes have a gravity befitting the indentations in Burns's wrist. No longer thinking about what they missed, the members of Quit have accepted the tagline of "It's All the Same": "You've lived your life to end up just like this."
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