When the creative lens gets widened, sometimes new projects present themselves. A particular batch of new music might not fit with the sound of a musician’s established band, so they’ll go off on their own and record them on the side. That’s the story with South Kingstown native Rory Quinn and his debut solo album Quinnessential that he self-released on September 10. People from the local scene most likely know him from being the bassist for the Providence instrumental funk rock act Slurp. This new release is somewhat a departure from that sound while still maintaining a love for funk and all that it entails.
We recently had a chat about what made him want to create the album, getting a bunch of musicians involved in the making of it, capturing the vision of the music and his plans for the next few months.
Rob Duguay: What made you want to put out your first solo release with Quinnessential? Did you have a lot of time off last year because of COVID-19 and you decided to do it or was this something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time?
Rory Quinn: A little bit of column A and a little bit of column B, actually. With Slurp, at the start Mike Schiavone and I were kind of co-writing some stuff and then it turned into him writing most of the music. In turn, I had some stuff that kind of wouldn’t fit with the band which I wanted to do on my own. Then once the pandemic hit, I figured there wouldn’t be a better time.
RD: There’s definitely a little more jazziness going on with the album than what Slurp does. Slurp has a bit more intensity going on so I can totally see why this would fit more with your name on it.
RQ: Yeah, exactly.
RD: Did you have a specific vision going into the making of it and did it evolve as the process of making the album went along?
RQ: Absolutely, I’m a super funky kid. I really love funk and hip hop so I kind of wanted to recreate some new school g-funk and add some horns into it. I literally just started laying down some bass and guitar ideas, then I recorded the drums and then I started outsourcing to other musicians to get them involved. They just beefed it up way more than I thought it could be and then it took on a mind of its own after that.
RD: You have the likes of Eric Benny Bloom from Lettuce, your Slurp bandmate Alexander Agudelo and Issac Young & Cody Urban from No Mind involved in the making of Quinnessential among many others. How did you go about contacting everyone to collaborate on various tracks?
RQ: Eric is a good buddy of mine, he used to play in Providence a lot before he made it big. We were hanging out one time, he said that he’d throw me a bone and do a favor for me so I cashed in on that. With the guys in No Mind, Isaac is probably the best musician I’ve ever seen perform and I met him while playing some tribute nights at Strange Brew Pub in Norwich, CT. He was my first call, I knew he would be excellent on the keys and I’m not a very good keys player so I figured who’d be better than him? As it morphed into a little more than that I started asking him to write some sax parts as well.
Alexander came in with Ben Drumm from The River Provides to help engineer and record my drum parts down at their studio, so I wanted to get Alexander on a track for sure. I also got Collin Larkin who plays sax in Slurp on a couple songs as well and then Cody reached out to me about getting involved. He threw in some nice guitar solos to add a finishing touch.
RD: Every track brings something different to the table, that’s what I really like about the album. In your opinion, what makes this album different from any other recording you’ve done as a musician? What sets Quinnessential apart?
RQ: In Slurp, the music is more complex which goes into writing and stuff like that. I’m pretty simple-minded when it comes to composing and writing with a funk hip hop vibe so I was just pumped that I kind of got to do my own thing by myself and then add pieces in to make it pop. I’m excited that I was able to lay down my exact vision on this album.
RD: What are your musical plans for the rest of the year? I know Slurp has plenty of gigs coming up.
RQ: Slurp is obviously the main priority, we got a bunch of new material we’ve written so we’re going to try to go into the studio for that soon for our second album. With COVID-19 and everything we’re only trying to play one show a month so that’s where we’re at. As far as my solo project goes, I’ve been trying to put a band together for some Connecticut dates with some folks from West End Blend, No Mind and Phat A$tronaut to be in it. Originally, everyone had a completely wide open schedule and now we’re all busy so it’s been put on the backburner. I’m sure in the future we might do a gig or two with that material but I’m mostly laying low and writing new music for the next solo record while focusing on Slurp these days.