Caffeine Machine
Gig Seeker Pro

Caffeine Machine


Band Alternative Folk




"From near-tragedy to personal triumph"

That Quinn Arlington Waters is fronting a 10-piece band on area stages, delivering songs from an album he wrote, produced and recorded himself, is a major accomplishment.

That Waters is performing at all is a miracle.

The Langhorne native was sitting in his car in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia the night of Black Friday 2011, waiting for a friend to come down from his apartment, when a young man with a gun decided, for no apparent reason, that Waters deserved to die.

“It was totally random,” Waters recalls. “I just looked over and saw in this guy’s eyes he was up to no good. I put the car in reverse, but the guy ran up and blasted me through the open window.”

Waters was shot near his left shoulder. The bullet severed some nerves, broke his collarbone and nicked his carotid artery. Despite his injuries, he was able to drive away from the scene, but his ordeal was just beginning.

“They told me during rehab I probably wasn’t going to make a full recovery,” Waters says. “I said, ‘(bleep) that’ and kept trying to play guitar.

“I think about that, that I could have died. But I didn’t. And I definitely don’t harp on it.”

Waters, 29, who performs under the moniker Caffeine Machine, says he was about 75 percent done his first album at the time of the shooting. He was forced to put the project on hold for about five months before recovering enough to finish it last summer.

The end result, “Race Music,” is a 10-track, all-original alt-folk effort that employs strings, horns and traditional pop instrumentation, varied tempos and grand (but not over-the-top) production to create a dramatic sonic atmosphere. Think Radiohead meets Ennio Morricone.

The album, as Waters describes it, “varies up and down in intensity. There’s anger, softness ... I wanted it to feel like a little bit of a ride.”

He recorded it at home in South Philly and later Doylestown with friends and fellow musicians he had known for years — as well as complete strangers. The violinist who appears on the album literally met Waters on the side of the road.

“I saw her with a violin case waiting for the bus, and I pulled up and said, ‘Hey, I’m making a record, do you want to play on it?’ ” he says. “She was, like, ‘Yeah, I guess so.’ ‘Can I get your number?’ ‘How ’bout my email?’ It was a little bit creepy, but it worked out. She also brought the violist and cello player.”

It’s fitting that Waters didn’t take a traditional approach to assembling his backing musicians, because little about the path to his first album has been traditional. A 2001 graduate of Solebury School, he began his music endeavors in a strictly behind-the-scenes capacity, working with Grammy-nominated producer-engineer David Ivory at Dylanava Studios in Blue Bell.

He did “a little bit of everything” with Ivory, producing, writing, engineering, doing video and promotion, while working with artists as prominent — and diverse — as hard rock group Halestorm and soul singer Patti LaBelle.

“I was always behind the scenes,” Waters says. “Even making this record, I was behind the scenes. I didn’t think I was ever going to actually perform it.

“But I was always writing songs for myself, and it came to a certain point where it was time to get serious and make an album that people could actually listen to, not just a collection of songs that come out a few times a year.”

When it came time to assemble the band to perform the songs from “Race Music” live, Waters thought big — maybe too big, given the limited space onstage in many small venues. But he wanted a band that could replicate the lavish instrumentation of the album. So he ended up with a 10-piece unit: two guitars, upright bass, drums, organ, trombone, trumpet, baritone sax and two background singers.

“When we played our first show at John and Peter’s, it was really cramped, but it was really awesome to have all those people and have that energy onstage,” says Waters, who will perform with the full band Saturday at Maxwell’s on Main in Doylestown. (A scheduled show Friday at Connie’s Ric Rac in Philadelphia has been canceled due to the weather). “To have an amazing, big band like that is every artist’s dream. At least it’s my dream.”

He describes the band’s live sound as “early Pink Floyd with a horn section,” adding: “at some points, it’s very rambunctious. I like to improvise and give people unlimited solos. We’ve got some good players up there; I like to let them show their chops.”

Waters, now living in a house he rents from a friend in New Hope, acknowledges he’s probably too old at this point to pursue music as a career. He works full time as director of IT at Solebury School.

But he’s happy to still be so heavily involved with music, taking on new challenges.

And, of course, he’s happy to be alive, even if reminders of the shooting are frequently with him.

“Sometimes, my arm doesn’t work the way I want it to, especially when I’m playing,” he says. “I get fatigued easily when I’m playing. But all in all, it’s coming back.”

He’s bitter about the shooter (who was never caught), but not for the reason you might expect.

“What upsets me most about the whole situation is that it was, like, a 16-year-old kid who shot me,” Waters says. “I had been working at (John) Bartram (High School) in Southwest Philly with at-risk kids, so I knew kids like that. That night, he stepped over a moral line. I’m more upset that he did that to himself.”
- Bucks County Courier Times

"Caffeine Machine Building Anticipatory Tension In sound"

Quinn Arlington Waters has a sense for the dramatic in both his professional career having studied and worked as an audio engineer, producer and videographer - notably under the tutelage of Grammy winner David Ivory (The Roots), and his personal life has also seen its share of drama, particularly when he was shot last year while smoking a cigarette in his car around Northern Liberties. With that history, it should come as no surprise that Waters, who performs under the moniker Caffeine Machine, brings that cinematic sense into his music. Marked by the use of instrumentation: viola, violin, cello, trumpet, and guitar, his work stirs the pot showing off his ability to build anticipatory tension in sound. However, while he certainly grasps a sense of cinematic timing, the music doesn’t fall hostage to an artist attempting to go big at all costs. It simply heightens narrative style lyrics and vocals that are spoken/sung from a man whose life has left him with stories to tell. The sci-fi-natured synth-pop of Time Ghost a.k.a. Matt Cannon, who has previously been produced/recorded by Waters, is set as the opener. - The Deli Magazine

"The cinematic life of Caffeine Machine’s Quinn Arlington Waters"

Quinn Arlington Waters was sitting in his car with the window down, smoking a cigarette in Northern Liberties when he unknowingly exchanged the wrong glance with two of the wrong guys walking on the sidewalk.

“I could tell this was no good,” says Waters of the shooting that left him unable to make music for months. “So I put my car in reverse right away and by the time I could get in first gear and skid out…he ran up and blasted me.”

That was around this time last year, shortly after recording wrapped up on the alt-folk album Race Music, Waters’ debut under the moniker Caffeine Machine.

“I called my girlfriend and told her I loved her while we waited for the ambulance,” Waters says. “She didn’t think it was that serious since I was able to call her.”

He was hit in the back of his left shoulder. The bullet exited out his neck below his Adam’s apple also fracturing his collarbone, Waters explains, pointing to the scar of the exit wound.

“I could only feel my thumb in my hand and I was numb all the way up my arm for a while,” he says lifting his left arm straight up while sitting at a table in a somewhat seedy bar in South Philly. “I am just getting full motion back now.”

It was about five months before he could play guitar again, which essentially put Caffeine Machine on hiatus until he self-released Race Music last summer. The album as a whole is a listening experience that flows with ups and downs in tempo and 13-piece arrangements, appropriately placed instrumental segues and moving climaxes. Waters explicitly put on the back of the CD’s case that it “was created like in times of old, meant to be heard from start to finish.”

It starts with wrenching strings and horns on “Kerosene Theme,” inviting the listener into a scene of something mournful, then leading them into the gripping “Nothing to Me,” the album’s standout. The stomp-along, “Eros” feels like it was born in new weird America and shows Waters at his most adventurous, employing vocal effects and being a bit more daring behind the mic.

In fact, Waters says vocals were the only thing he was able to lay on the record while he was recovering from the shooting. Which may have come to his advantage on the tracks, “Simon Says Garfunkel,” “Red River Valley” and “Hades,” which reveal his range a bit more. At the intermission, “Kerosene Theme/Nothing Interlude,” highlights the strings and horn players at their most dramatic. But how Waters met the strings players to be on Race Music is more comedy than drama.

“I saw a girl with a violin case waiting for the bus at 3rd and Washington Streets,” he says. “And I stopped my car and just yelled, ‘Hey, do you do sessions? I’m doing a record, do you want to be on it?’”

That girl with the violin case was June Bender. She’s responsible for bringing the cello and viola players, Andrew and Veronica Jurkiewicz into the project. The trio’s combination with trumpet player Daud El-Bakara, saxophone and clarinetist Matt Clauhs as well as Pat Fitzgerald and Dallas Vietty both on accordian are what make Race Music stand out.

“People have told it sounds very cinematic,” says Waters. “I think having a video background might have something to do with making music that’s overly dramatic.”

The video for the delicate ballad “Drifting Away,” doesn’t match up quite the same as the other video off of Race Music. It features some emphatic dance moves by members of the ArcheDream for Humankind Theater Company in blacklight costumes, masks and makeup. Waters’ years of experience freelancing video production is what made the music video for “Nothing to Me” so riveting. It follows a story in reverse – a woman that murders her man after finding him in bed with another woman. It was shot in one take with a few of Waters’ friends.

What’s seen in the video for “Nothing to Me,” may be appropriate but Waters insists the heartbroken themes throughout the record are simply stream of consciousness.

“I wish I could give it deeper meaning like that,” he says. “But when I sat down to write, that’s just what came out.”

Despite Waters’ casual explanation of Race Music, there’s something to be said about his demeanor. The heart-heavy feelings he displays sound more genuine than he allows to come through. It’s as though Waters is telling a story, but it isn’t his own. Perhaps it’s because he’s a bit of a storyteller by trade and this record melds his video background and the music he writes. And Race Music, based around eros and the need for that life energy – love – is a story told whole-heartedly by Waters. - WXPN's The Key


Boombox Trident - 2011
Race Music - 2012



Quinn Waters started Caffeine Machine in his bedroom as a dare from a friend who challenged Waters to write, record, and release a full-length album. The result is Race Music, a heartfelt debut record with dramatic arrangements, earthy vocals, and captivating melodies.

Waters is no stranger to the hardships of life as an artist. In January of 2012, while recording Race Music, he was shot point blank through the back of his left shoulder while parked outside of a friend’s house in Northern Liberties Philadelphia. The bullet exited through the front of his neck, barely missing his Adam’s apple and fracturing his collarbone. Waters gradually recovered through five months of physical therapy before he was able to hold and play his guitar. His narrow escape from death inspired the completion of Race Music, an honest journey of love, loss, life, and the meaning of it all.

Race Music “starts with wrenching strings and horns on “Kerosene Theme,” inviting the listener into a scene of something mournful, then leading them into the gripping “Nothing to Me,” the album’s standout. The stomp-along, “Eros” feels like it was born in new weird-America and shows Waters at his most adventurous, employing vocal effects and being a bit more daring behind the mic.”- WXPN 88.5 The Key

Waters’ work under Grammy-nominated producer David Ivory combined with his own personal film studies, provide a solid foundation for Caffeine Machine. The current released videos for singles Nothing to Me, Drifting Away, & Untitled #8, showcase an unconventional approach to the oversaturated indie music scene. Every video was written, directed and produced by Waters. Nothing to Me “uses hauntingly powerful horn and string arrangements as atmosphere to paint a cinematic one-shot of gore-less violence.” While Drifting Away features black-light dancers in a mythical world “floating in a sea of darkness telling the story of a lost soul seeking a meaning. Musically melancholy, it is juxtaposed well with a barrage of colors and movements.”-