After a struggle that included brief homelessness, hospitalization and unemployment, Philadelphia-area artist finally released his solo album, “What Makes You Happy” — it’s not ironically titled, he says — in October.
Indeed, there is an upbeat feel to Quirk’s music, which draws from emo and pop punk, among other genres.
“It’s really cool to be able to gather new influences from different walks of life,” he said in an email interview late last year. “In the past few years, I’ve tried to make it a priority to take on as many new adventures as I can. So along with that has come a lot of new music I wouldn’t have listened to before.”
Quirk, who also plays in the Philly-area group My Cousin’s Girlfriend’s House, also chatted about the roots of “What Makes You Happy,” his trips to NEPA to perform and what he’s working on for 2021.
What type of musical projects were you involved in before you made “What Makes You Happy?”
I have spent the better part of my “adult” life playing in a pop punk band called Kissing the Klepto. During that time I have met so many people and shared countless experiences that are irreplaceable, it’s so cool. I think each style of music has its own individual personality in terms of those who you will meet and learn from when you invest heavily in it. Growing up, I dug pretty deep into Blues, Rock, jazz, and funk.
What inspired these songs?
The summer of 2019 was a time of great magnitude for me in terms of realizing what I needed to do to put myself first and start making positive changes in my life. The album title itself surrounds the subject of experiencing the struggles of life to ultimately discover what brings you happiness. While each song in inspired by its own individual chapter of my story that relates to the love struggles I was experiencing, my self-doubt, or anything else, it all contributes to a storyline that displays the journey to rediscovering happiness. I’m so excited to be able to display an accurate representation of my experiences and allow listeners and friends a closer look into my life. I think songwriting and musical performance is an incredibly intimate experience, and the influences come from powerful life experiences.
How long were you homeless?
So, it was a very brief time. But it’s a good story. [In 209] I moved to Santa Rosa to live with my cousin for a while. This is where the bad wildfires happen and people have to evacuate their homes. So this happened once or twice while I was there and we had to evacuate. However, one time I ended up on my own and didn’t know the area. I drove out to a Wal Mart parking lot and had to stay with about 200 other people in the parking lot. There had to have been several rows of RVs, some people on pavement, some in cars, and me in the back of a Prius. The next morning we went to Outback and all they had was salads, French Onion soup, and Bloomin onions. So that was what we got. That honey wheat bread too, of course.
Where have you performed in NEPA?
I’ve played a few super cool shows up there actually, one we did was at a venue called Karl Hall in Wilkes Barre. That was my first time playing up these and I have made some very good friends up there since. Fun fact: while I was recording What Makes You Happy with Derek, we went to the NEPA music awards in Scranton. I ended up somehow being brought on stage with Send Request to announce nominees. Interesting evening. Then I got lost on the way home and ended up doubling the length of my commute. But I feel like these things make them the nights we’ll never forget. Another fun fact: after my band’s first show in NEPA, we almost drove directly into a creek on the way home. Another interesting evening.
What bands or artists did you get to know there?
I have met some really cool people in the area who have also come to my area. Our friends in The Maguas have been killing it this year which is really cool. A band of mine Kissing the Klepto had the chance to play with them and FRND CRCL in January and they have been tearing it up all year since. Stay Loud are also good friends, dropping a really cool ska single recently. We actually met them and Send Request at our show at Karl Hall about 2 years back, we made a lot of very good friends there.
What music did you listen to growing up?
Oh dude, everything. I feel like a lot of people say that, but really. I was raised on The Beatles, Fall of Troy, and Weird Al. Strange line up? Kinda. I would feel safe saying The Beatles were always on though. My brother and I probably watched The Beatles Anthology on DVD with my Dad about 700 times growing up. I could probably make it through the first 15 minutes from memory. I also had a REALLY big thing for Green Day, who combined with my dad’s sage advice got me into bass playing. His advice worked, because playing bass got me in a lot more bands.
What are you hoping to accomplish in 2021?
2021 is gonna be cool, I have decided. I have a single polished off and Pete [Zen] and I are cooking for a Sophomore release. I think a big hurdle was figuring out how to actually release an album. I don’t want to say too much, but my plans are revolving heavily around outdoing myself and what I was able to accomplish this past year. Experience is a great teacher too, so I can’t wait to see how this year unfolds with what I have under my belt now. I gotta be at least 3 or 4 levels higher.