Back to the Buzzbin #2: Quit

By Jeff Takacs

Perhaps it was foreshadowing when the Miami, FL punk band Quit got started because of a rainy day in 1988. Over the course of the next several years, this foursome of friends would have to weather many storms together that would ultimately leave them with only one tremendous full-length to their name. With that one record, Quit and bands like them helped blaze the trail that led to the rise of pop-style punk in the ‘90s.

Addison Burns, Andre Serafini and Russell Mofsky were friends who had similar tastes in music and all enjoyed skating together. The boys would often combine the two by listening to their favorite bands while working on tricks on the vert ramp. From Slayer to Descendents, Bad Brains and Dag Nasty to classic rock, the boys had a wide range of bands they listened to and loved. It seemed only natural that one day when they couldn’t skate because of that rainstorm, they went over to Burns’ house and started a band, with each member bringing their own unique tastes to what they created.

Quit, with Burns on rhythm guitar and vocals, Serafini on drums and Mofsky on lead guitar, started playing shows within weeks of that first practice. At the time, Miami had a thriving punk scene with bands such as Load, The Holy Terrors, F Boyz and FWA leading the way and venues like Washington Square and Churchill’s welcoming them with open arms. Once they got started, Quit fit right into this scene, with their songs showed equal parts aggression and pop accessibility, something that a lot of bands weren’t doing in 1988.

The band would often cover the Descendents during their shows, with “Clean Sheets” being a favorite for Quit to play. It was during one of their early shows when they met Tony Rocha, a kid literally wearing a Descendents shirt at the show. After Quit finished, Rocha immediately approached them and a quick friendship ensued. It just so happened that he played bass, so they boys brought him in to round out the lineup as a foursome.

It was after another Quit show when the next piece of the puzzle fell into the place for the band. They were approached by Ralph Cavallero, a student at the University of Miami studying the music business. Cavallero was a go-getter who liked Quit and wanted to help the band get their music heard. “Ralph just told us we need a manager and just kind of took over,” reflects Burns. “He did a lot for the band and I’m very grateful.”

At this point, the band had a handful of songs written and were ready to begin recording their first full-length. Cavallero was a partner in Sync Studios, where Quit began working on their album, Earlier Thoughts.

Quit Earlier Thoughts

While the amount of time it took the band to record the album may be a little foggy to Burns now, one detail stands out in his memory 25 years later. Recording late into the night and going until sunrise, the boys would then sleep at the studio. During the recording process, they stayed there so much it felt like their new home.

The result of those long recording sessions and sleeping on the floor at Sync was a full and completed album of twelve songs that were ready to be pressed onto vinyl or CDs and released. There was one big problem standing in the way of that dream becoming a reality: the band had no money or other financial backing to release Earlier Thoughts.

To raise the $2,000 (which is roughly $3,700 by today’s standards), the band did something that is almost unthinkable now. In addition to the proceeds they would get from their shows, they held a series of car washes to bring in the cash they needed. It’s almost unimaginable in the world we live in now with Kickstarter, PledgeMusic, Indiegogo and other fundraising sites, but soaping up some cars in the hot Miami sun was the best Quit could do. Sure enough, over the course of several months, they had the money needed to press and release the album in 1990, with Cavallero getting the album credit as Earlier Thoughts’ producer.

While many albums recorded in the early 90s now sound dated both musically and sonically, Earlier Thoughts escapes those traps and stands out as a truly timeless punk rock record. Looking at bands that came before them such as the Descendents, and the bands that came after them like MxPx, Face To Face and Blink-182, Quit perfectly bridges the gap between these two eras on the full-length. With the perfect blend of melody, energy and precision, Earlier Thoughts is the sound of a band that could have easily fit on the rosters of Dr. Strange Records, Epitaph Records or Fat Wreck Chords. In fact, some believe that was the direction the band was headed in.

Touring and playing shows in support of their new record was something that Quit did as much as they possibly could. They played lots of mini-tours and weekend gigs all over Florida and got to play shows with some of their punk rock heroes. Two stories that immediately come to Burns’ mind involve ALL and Social Distortion.

“We did a show once with ALL and as a joke started the song (‘Clean Sheets’) off and by the first verse, Bill Stevenson was standing next to me singing along,” Burns recalls. “I think he wanted to see if we could pull it off, but he was up there the whole time. I’m very honored and humbled to say that we’ve been friends ever since and our paths still cross to this day.”

Getting the opportunity to open for Social Distortion just so happened to be on a day that Quit had a show earlier in the same day, at a yacht club of all places. With no cell phones or internet to help guide the way, the band played their early show at the yacht club, packed up all their gear and made it to the venue in time to open for the Southern California legends.

Quit flyer

While the band was busy playing shows and also playing festivals like SXSW and the New Music Seminar, Cavallero was lighting up the phone lines with every college radio station in America convincing them to play tracks from Earlier Thoughts. His hard work paid off, as Quit found themselves on the College Music Journal (CMJ) music charts, reaching as high as #30.

As Quit started to gain momentum, they maintained their approach to their music, to keep it fun. “Back then we played to be better musicians and players that we were the last show, always for fun and never took it seriously,” Burns said. “Having a career in punk rock wasn’t around our vocabulary. People liked us because we were good at what we did and wanted to always do it better. New shows meant new songs so it never got stale.”

With Earlier Thoughts and many shows now under their belt, the band decided to take the next steps to record their follow up album. In 1992, they recorded Grazing Day at Morrisound studios in Tampa, FL. Morrisound has seen the likes of Sepultura, Incubus and Third Eye Blind record at their facilities and was a big get for a band like Quit. However, cash problems confronted the band yet again. Not having enough money to both record and mix Grazing Day at Morrisound, the band decided to record at the studio and have the tracks mixed to tape. This decision, while may have seen small or necessary at the time, actually led to the album never seeing the light of day.

Quit were unhappy with the results of the recording, as they felt the songs sounded thin and lifeless, misrepresented in the recordings. The tapes sat in a warehouse in Kendall, a suburb of Miami, a storm was brewing. A big storm.

On August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew made landfall on Elliott Key and later in Homestead, FL as a Category 5 storm. With winds as high as 175 miles per hour, Andrew devastated south Florida and at the time was the costliest hurricane in United States history, causing $26.5 billion worth of damage. Included amongst the damage was the warehouse in Kendall.
When the boys got to the warehouse, two of the three tapes on which they had recorded Grazing Day were floating in water. The third tape was gone altogether. The band was a bit directionless for about a year when their next setback was to occur.

One night in the summer of 1993, Burns was climbing through the attic of his house to a platform that they had built on the roof. The platform was constructed so that ten or so people could sit among the oak trees and overlook the Orange Bowl and downtown Miami. As Burns was climbing up, he missed the platform and slid off of the three-story house. While falling in the air, his wrist broke a tree limb. Thankfully he landed fine to the ground, but his wrist was severely damaged. In severe pain, he drove himself to the hospital in his roommate’s manual shift Volkswagen Bug and when he arrived, the news on his wrist was not good.

During the fall, Burns essentially crushed his wrist on the tree limb and was told that he wouldn’t be able to pick up anything in that hand for at least a year, let alone pick up and play a guitar. As Burns’ wrist shattered, so did the future of Quit. As Burns began to heal, real life took over and the rest of the band went their separate ways and got day jobs.
Over the years, there were a few attempts to revive Quit, with attempts to record new songs and even the lost Grazing Day tape being located, but they never took off. Burns had moved to Boston for a time and while there was no animosity between band members, the guys just started living their own lives.

As for Burns, he would later move to Gainesville, Florida, after leaving Boston and open his own studio where he recorded many local punk bands. When he wasn’t doing that, he was also a stage manager and guitar tech for bands like Less Than Jake, Lagwagon and Streetlight Manifesto.

Burns was later approached by The Draft, the post Hot Water Music project of the band’s bassist, Jason Black, drummer George Rebelo and guitarist Chris Wollard to record their demo. After recording with The Draft, Burns hit the road with them for about year, as the band worked really hard in support of their amazing debut In A Million Pieces.

After that intense year, The Draft took a break and Burns started hanging out in Gainesville. The two had been acquaintances years ago when Quit played with Wollard’s first band, Last To Go. Now, the two were friends and decided to work on some songs Wollard had recorded back in the Hot Water Music days but never finished. From this work, the two started Chris Wollard and The Ship Thieves who released their self-titled debut in 2009 and the follow up Canyons in 2012. The band recently finished recording their third full-length and is anticipated to release it soon.

For all intents and purposes, this should be where the story of Quit ends. However, the band announced in April that they would be playing a series of three reunion shows in July in Gainesville, Tampa and of course, Miami. The reason for this reunion is a bit more than meeting up with old bandmates and having fun onstage again before a crowd of nostalgic fans. In recent years, some of the south Florida bands who played with Quit in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s have had members pass away far too soon. Burns realized that these bands like Load and The Holy Terrors would never be able to play together again and that Quit is one of the last bands from that great early Miami punk scene that had the chance to play shows. So in honor of their fallen friends, Quit will get back together to help themselves and their friends over the years get through these tough times of loss. As for the future of Quit? Burns put it best as he commented on the upcoming reunion shows.

Quit reunion show

“It’s going to be a very special weekend and we’re just gonna have fun like we used to and we’ll see where it takes us from there. After these shows, the story could be continued!”