FAST, SMART, STRONG & BRAVE: How Grey Area Kept Quinn from Quitting
To fully understand Quinn the man, you’d have to know a thing or two about Quinn the kid. Quinn Duffy was born in 1980. After moving around quite a bit in his early years (from LI, to Manhattan and going to school in Harlem) he’d had enough experiences but no solid direction…until Grandma gave him a practice pad and sticks. “She was just happy that her grandson was taking an interest in music, even if it was banging on things,“ he says of his hip music teacher nanna. When his family settled in the “incorporated village of Northport”, the town’s pleasant atmosphere came with an overwhelming sense of adult authority. This meant that, even though his happiness came from playing the drums, he couldn’t play past 5PM on any given day without neighbors calling the cops. Coming home from school and being prevented from doing the only thing you’ve been thinking of all day, well, that just sounds like fucking torture.
As a kid, Quinn grew up idolizing a lot of pop punk bands like Green Day and Blink-182; bands that definitely appealed to a lot of teens for obvious reasons. For Quinn, both bands were (a) the first technically fast-playing bands he’d heard and (b) both backed by pretty solid drummers. Oh yeah, and their antics made him giggle. Quinn eventually found himself as a central piece of a band that would form around him and call themselves Confuzed, frontmanned by a young Ben Gallup. Quinn admired Ben’s vocals, asking him “how the hell do you come up with that stuff?” Ben responded, “Well how do you do a drum roll? You just do it.” To this day his “trinity” (so to speak) consists of Heads Vs. Breakers, Kid Dynamite and The Backup Plan—bands near and dear to his heart, yes, for their connection with his youth, but more importantly bands that reinforced his talent as being something valid in is own eyes at the time. While comments from friends like Ben confirmed Quinn’s skill, going to see these bands continued to inspire him.
But what about now? What happens when you get older? This is the fear we all had and some of us might feel that it’s come full circle. Are we too old to play? Quinn’s chosen memory has a way of answering these questions altogether:
QUINN: The first thing that comes to mind was the time Confuzed played Life O’ Riley’s pub out in Miller Place back in, I guess, ’98. I think it was us, a band called So Far Away, possibly Hidden Agenda and this band I never heard of called Grey Area. I had been playing in bands for a little while at this point but I didn’t know anything about Grey Area. When they showed up I was surprised because they were all “older” dudes. I definitely thought to myself, “wow, this should be interesting”.
So we played [second to last] and then they played after us. They opened up with “Right Now” which is the first song off their first record. Ernie (singer/guitar) had this clear (I believe it was a Danelectro®) guitar. I’ll never forget that damn thing. [FUN FACT]—I think in years passing Ernie sold it to Collin from None More Black under the condition that if he sells it, has to be back to Ernie. Anyway, that song [‘Right Now’] starts with Ernie playing an octave by himself. Then [there’s] this group vocal “1, 2, 3, 4,” count off. They just exploded after that and I was blown away. I wasn’t expecting anything like that. They were all really into it and you could just feel the energy they were putting out. It was fast and tight and really melodic, but heavy at the same time.
After they finished their set, they hung out for a bit before their trek back to Queens. They were all super nice guys [who said they] would come back and play “lawn guy-lund” as Ernie liked to say. My band after Confuzed (called Dropout Year) was lucky enough to play the release show at the Continental for [Grey Area’s] second album Fanbelt Algebra. We also got to play a few out-of-state shows with them as well. They took a long break, but came back recently to record a split and play some shows.
That night was important to me because I realized a couple of things. One was that line everybody says, but it’s true: you can’t judge a book by its cover. I thought those old guys were gonna stink, to be honest. Instead they blew me away and I’ll forever remember that show and meeting them. Another thing I learned is that we really play music because it’s something that we want to do. It’s just something that’s inside us. I looked at those guys and thought “wow these guys are still going out to play at their age” (and as I sit here and type this I’m easily much older than they were when I met them). They all had full-time jobs and all kinds of real life adult bullshit to deal with…but they still found to time to practice, write songs and go play shows. Most of the time they did it with smiles on their faces, too. They just did it for the love of it and that’s something that I’ll always remember. Ernie used to play drums in a band called Token Entry. In a song called “Birthday” there’s a line that goes “I’m not going to retire, ’cause i’m still young at heart”. That pretty much sums it up for me. I don’t see myself not playing drums. That would just be weird.
Quinn still drums for bands because, you read it, he won’t stop. He currently plays with Those Hated Hearts and you can listen to & purchase their amazing tunes right here: