“It started as a vision I had while listening to the song over and over again during the early stages of the quarantine.”
Originally from the South Shore, the Quins finally made Boston their home base during this crazy past year. The four-piece rock outfit of co-guitarists and co-vocalists Quincy Medaglia and Robbie Sturtevant, along with bassist and co-vocalist Donny Hayes and drummer Dave Petti bring truckloads of melody and soul into the musical equation. They aren’t afraid to turn it up, either, or to get emotional and wear their hearts on their sleeves.
All these qualities are evident in two new music videos the Quins released, for “Wild Ones” and “Sit & Wine.” I spoke with Medaglia about the making of both, comparisons and contrasts in working with different people, and plans to put out a bunch of new music.
The video for “Wild Ones” has you guys wearing old-person makeup and fighting the devil while regaining your youth. Who came up for the vision for the music video and what was it like wearing the makeup?
It started as a vision I had while listening to the song over and over again during the early stages of the quarantine. The song had already been finished for a few months at that point and we were all very excited about it. One of our big moves for 2020 was to tour in support of our recent album, The Woods Look Good, and in the midst of creating a buzz we were going to drop “Wild Ones” as a big surprise. Obviously our plans floundered like a dying fish amongst countless others who watched their lives crumble in the wake of this madness. Left alone in the dark with my lament and praying for a bit of peace, I stayed awake night after night while listening to the song.
I conceptualized a story that had us all being haunted by our own personal demons and then eventually triumphing over evil. I gave the rough draft to Tyler Ayers at Revelry Studios in Manchester, New Hampshire and he was impressed by how complete the idea was, so he took it and ran with it. When I originally wrote the outline it was dark, serious, and dramatic, but when Tyler got hold of the plot he managed to take the bare bones and turn it into something that was uniquely us. Instead of dark and serious, he turned it into something funny, intense, and just twisted enough to make the viewer uncomfortable yet not be able to look away. I’m so grateful we were able to take such a bummer of a time and make it into a positive experience.
The fact that the “old man” aspect of the video became such a focus was an absolute riot, even when we weren’t shooting we were hamming it up in our old-man makeup. We were chasing each other around and trying to trip each other with canes while howling and laughing. It was so believable thanks to Amanda Marie from Project 2, which is located upstairs from Revelry Studios. Her makeup work is legendarily awesome and the minute she finished with us we each immediately started playing the part. It felt so real being in the makeup it was impossible to not act like a bunch of old farts, we were like little kids who had just gotten their face painted.
How were you able to use the Cameo Theater in Weymouth as part of the filming process for the video?
We needed one last scene for “Wild Ones” to tie the whole thing together, so I called the Cameo and got the email for Michelle Hardy who owns the theater with her husband Brett. I told her what we wanted to do and she was really enthusiastic about it. They agreed to let us use the theater during their off hours and they had already been quite affected by the pandemic, having to cut their hours and attendance down significantly. We chose a day and got the shot we needed in about two hours. The Cameo and many other theaters like it are really struggling right now so being able to use the theater the way we did was a huge blessing and a joy.
Donny and I had gone to see Sunday matinees there all the time as little kids, so the Cameo has an extra special meaning for us. Michelle is hoping to be able to start a concert series in the theater soon called “Cameo Underground” in which bands will be able to perform in front of the projector screen for a live socially distanced audience.
The video for “Sit & Wine” examines the chaos of 2020 while putting you in this crazy acid trip where you’re transported from the woods and sunshine to a gloomy evening on the beach. Which beach was the video filmed at and musically what inspired you to go the route of having the song be a piano ballad?
We filmed the beach shots at Duxbury Beach in Duxbury. We filmed over the course of a few months in early morning hours on overcast days and we had to return several times in order to get all the shots we needed. Some of the water shots you see are in early December and I was freezing.
We have a 140-year-old baby grand piano in our living room that hardly gets used and I had been toying around with that piano line that you hear at the beginning of the track for quite a while. I always wanted to make it into a song but never really figured out a way to make it work. During the lockdown I invested in a MacBook so I could start recording all my ideas. As soon as I had the capability, I was recording like a madman.
Within that creative explosion, the piano line I had been messing around with became “Sit & Wine.” I recorded the track with the antique instrument and was totally surprised at how good the sound came out considering I really had no idea what I was doing. I try to never let myself get stuck in one particular style. I do love rock and roll and I always will, however, I truly believe that music is music and if it wants to come out of me I won’t stop it no matter what style or flavor. I just love creating.
Red Bridge Productions in Whitman were involved in the making of “Sit & Wine.” Are there any similarities or contrasts between them and Revelry Studios?
Both companies are good friends and at the same time impeccably professional. Each video project was a uniquely different experience; Revelry had hammered out their shots and set changes ahead of time and had them down to an absolute science. Thanks to the incredible amount of pre-production and Tyler’s work ethic, we managed to bang out all the scenes for “Wild Ones” in one whacky 15-hour day. Working with Red Bridge was just as professional but it was a far more intimate experience. While “Wild Ones” was filmed in just one day, “Sit & Wine” was shot over the course of several months.
My good friend Carl Benecchi directed the video and had a very specific vision. In order to get it done, we had to continuously use trial and error to get it to a point where we were all happy. Carl has a very hands-on approach and due to his personal and emotional connection to the song the shoots were very intense. Shooting “Wild Ones” felt like we were in Willy Wonka’s factory of genius, it was a magically whimsical and silly environment and also incredibly efficient. Shooting “Sit and Wine” was like standing alone in a room sculpting a statue, taking little pieces off here and there until it’s perfect. Both experiences were an absolute blessing and we all learned so much from each other and about the creative process.
Are both songs a preview of the next album from the Quins? If so, when can we expect it to come out?
We are planning on releasing a ton of new content over the next 15 months or so. “Wild Ones” is the first ever song of ours to feature all three lead singers on the same track and we would really love to dive more into that concept of 100% collaborative writing.
On the opposite end, “Sit & Wine” has opened up a door for each of us to write and release songs on our own, but under the Quins banner. I feel like both directions are beneficial to all of us as artists and releasing these videos has really given us a ton of inspiration as a band. With these releases, we’ve given ourselves the opportunity to entirely break out of the box to explore all sorts of styles and flavors not just in the music but also with how we present ourselves. I’m really excited about what we might do next.
Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Providence Journal, The Connecticut Examiner, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Northern Transmissions and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.