Though they’ve been kicking around for a few years, QTY‘s first public splash came in the fall of 2016 with the release of the catchy, decidedly NYC-sounding single “Rodeo” – Dan Lander’s vaguely Lou Reed-esque vocals complimenting the Strokes-like garage rock.
The band’s sound caught the attention of the UK label Dirty Hit (The 1975, Wolf Alice, Pale Waves) who is set to release QTY’s full length debut on December 8. Following the strategy that the label employs with most of their artists, QTY has taken the last couple of years to stay out of the public eye and, instead, spend time writing songs and developing their sound. With the album locked and loaded, the band did recently have the chance to do a pretty extensive tour with Bad Suns and Hunny and will be rolling into Rumba Cafe on Sunday night as part of a short, end-of-the-year headlining tour. Doors are at 7pm, The Halamays open and cover is $10.
QTY’s Dan Lardner (vocals/guitar) and Alex Niemetz (guitar) recently took some time while between tour dates to answer questions I sent via email.
Hope you had a good Thanksgiving. Looking at tour dates, it appears as if maybe you might have even had the chance to spend the holiday with friends and family rather than at a buffet in some small town off a highway in the Midwest. Did family and/or friends ask all kinds of questions about the tour you just wrapped up and, if so, what was the best story you told?
Dan & Alex: Our families and friends were asking questions about our experiences on the road well before we made it back to New York for our week long break, but unfortunately – and however temping it may be – we can’t really share the more compelling stories-especially with family members! At least not in any detail. There were a lot of interesting characters that we came across in the motels we were staying at across the country. We have a tendency to attract all different types of people from many walks of life and for better or worse, we always get along with them on some short term social level that makes everything more fun and interesting.
When my family goes on vacation, I am the kind of person who puts together a playlist or grabs a handful of CDs for the ride that I want to be the “roadtrip soundtrack”. If there was a movie about your most recent run of dates with Bad Suns and The Hunny, what songs would be playing during the “in the van” scenes?
Dan: My choices would be… “Cop Shoot Cop” by Spiritualized, some of the more deconstructed Royal Trux songs, “Girl Loves Me” off the last Bowie album, “She” by Gram Parsons, and “Tumbling Down” by Cockney Rebel.
Alex: Lol-I like the idea of an “in the van” scene it’s reminiscent of a 90’s teen-angst road trip movie and honestly that’s kind of how our life felt for the seven weeks that we were traveling the country-despite the fact that we are all well into our 20s. My ideal playlist would be “Farewell Transmission” by Songs Ohia, “This is How We Walk On The Moon” by Arthur Russell, “Shinzo No Tobira” by Mariah, “Trains Across the Sea” by the Silver Jews, “Psalm” by John Coltrane, “Metamorphosis II” by Philip Glass, “Star Witness” by Neko Case, “Raspberry Beret” by Prince, “Drunken Angel” by Lucinda Williams.
I saw the Tidal playlists that QTY put together. I don’t know how old you are but it seems like your favorite bands (or songs) are older. Where did you gain your appreciation for the bands that you like? Did your parents have a cool record collection? Did you have older siblings or friends who turned you onto things? Were you curious by nature and find out about bands like Spiritualized on your own (it’s not like you can turn on the radio and hear bands like them)?
Alex: Our parents have good and eclectic taste in music. They definitely introduced us to some of our favorite bands. Dan’s dad is familiar with some really great more modern bands too-he’s an avid music fan who took Dan to see Fever Ray when he was in high school. My dad gave me my first David Bowie albums on my 12th birthday, and there was no turning back. After that I raided his entire music collection and discovered The Stooges, Patti Smith, The Rolling Stones, etc… My mom is also a really big Bowie fan, she saw him when she was in high school and actually took some photos of it. In the 1980s she was really into the local bands in NYC and would go out to shows pretty often.
A & D: Less mainstream bands like Spiritualized and all of the Drag City bands, we discovered without our parents help. It’s the natural progression of being a young adult who is completely immersed in music.
A & D: Although we’re in our 20s, we don’t really think of bands from the 1990s as “old bands.” In the scope of the history of music, those bands seem relatively new. And in terms of turning on the radio and hearing music-we don’t do much driving these days (I, Alex, grew up without my license and have never driven a car in my life, whereas Dan went to high school in the suburbs and had a car with a radio but I don’t think that his musical taste was dependent on it).
Most of the bands you mentioned in that particular feature are, as I mentioned, older. Are you always on a music discovery and do you feel pretty well versed on your peers or do you settle in on your favorites from the past and stick with them because they have a proven track record?
A & D: That Tidal playlist was a compilation of songs that we’d been listening to in the van. We consider ourselves pretty well versed in what’s going on now and we love a lot of different new music but we’ve got plenty of older favorites. One of our first musical bonding points was over the Drag City catalog and a lot of those artists are still active and making great records that are relevant . I (Alex) also really enjoy listening to Top 40 pop and hip hop, I really enjoy the songwriting behind some of the major hits.
We all go through that early music exploration where we like something that carries through to adulthood and it might not be the coolest thing to admit to liking. I have two teenagers (and a 12-year-old) and they are just starting to come into their own as music fans. They play stuff like the soundtracks from High School Musical and Hannah Montana and laugh and say, “This used to be my favorite music! I still like it even though it’s not the type of music I listen to now.”
Dan: Ha sorry I’m not sure what the question is here but if you’re asking what I’m embarrassed by from my musical past I don’t really believe in guilty pleasures, it’s all just pleasures to me. There’s music that I don’t really listen to as often but it all served its purpose in my life. I think the first album I got was a KISS one purely based off the cover art but I don’t think I played that thing once after 6th grade.
Alex: I definitely agree with Dan, and when I was really young, around eight or nine, I would make tapes with my favorite Britney Spears and NSYNC tracks. I was EXTREMELY into pop music when I was younger, to the point where I would repeatedly listen to $5 bootleg CDs that my mom would buy for me in Chinatown on her way back from work. I’ve always been fascinated by music whether it the pop music that I was obsessed with at a very young age, or the rock bands that I discovered when I was a teenager.
Of the Dirty Hit bands I’ve recently talked to (I interviewed Heather from Pale Waves and I know The Candescents because they are from Columbus), you’re the first to actually be putting out a full length. Are the songs on the new album ones you’ve been working on for a while or was this a pretty quick writing and recording session?
D & A: We’ve been signed to Dirty Hit for a little longer then those two bands, but being in another country and various scheduling concerns required us to wait a little while before recording and now releasing the album. We have a few albums worth of material because we constantly write and create together. A few of the songs on the album are brand new and were basically written right before we went to London, but the majority of them were written over the course of our eight year friendship.
Back in my day (man, that makes me sound old), release dates were important. You had to go to the record store and buy something based on a single you heard, a review you may have read or on catchy cover art. It was a risk but one worth taking. I get that the way music is distributed in 2017 is so different. Instead of having to go to the local record store, at 12:01am on December 8, I can probably log into my Spotify account and start streaming your album. Does a release date mean anything to you other than the fact that now when you play shows, people will be able to sing along? Are you doing anything special to celebrate release day like going to a local record store and buying a physical copy of the album?
Dan: Release dates mean a lot to me, especially when considering our own album. I love the convenience of streaming but I’m still a believer in the album as a whole. I’ve always viewed it like a document or something being put out into the world as a body of work that can be referenced forever.
Alex: I have to agree with Dan, the release date definitely means a lot to me. I’ve been looking forward to releasing an album my entire life-the ten songs that are about to come out are a culmination of all of the time and work that I’ve dedicated to music over the course of my life. I’m sure the band will celebrate somehow, we probably won’t go out and buy a record because we have a huge stack of them at Dan’s apartment, and also because there are barely any record stores left in New York!
D & A: We’ve got a home town record release show on December 10th at Baby’s Alright. Our record officially comes out on December 8th and we’ll be playing in Boston at the Middle East (upstairs), that show will always be engrained in our hearts.
Again, showing my age, I didn’t have a cell phone that could take pictures when I was growing up so when I would go to shows, I’d try to get bands to sign autographs. I’m not sure if kids even do that today or if getting a selfie with a band has replaced that. Can you tell me a story about either the first time (or most memorable time) when you were asked to sign an autograph? Also, same question but about taking a photo with a fan?
D & A: During this massive support tour with Hunny and Bad Suns, we would get asked by a ton of younger teenagers to take photos with them or sign autographs. It was extremely fun and gratifying to talk to a bunch of people after the shows-especially younger kids who are really excited about new music and bands. It is the best feeling when a kid would buy one of our t-shirts or 7 inches and have us autograph them. When you think about it, us signing those items can be impactful on some kid’s life and inspire them to start their own band. One new photographic trend that we couldn’t help but take part in was the selfie phenomenon-we took SO many selfies-but they were usually the most fun photos to take. We are big proponents of the selfie. Everyone would let go of their inhibitions and get really weird.
Dan: Ha I personally don’t really have any stories for either of those. I think I’ve signed someone’s face or something. I get obsessive about things and sometimes if I sign a record in a place I don’t like I feel bad and have to re do it.
Alex: What was the most memorable thing to me was signing items or taking photos with kids or adults who were at their first concert. A handful of people came up to us after the shows and told us that they had just experienced their first ever show. And we were the first band to go onstage, so that means that we were the first live band that these people had ever seen-that’s a complete honor!
And, finally, there might not be anything more than a chance passing, but I’d love to hear the story about running into Skid Row. I saw that you ran into them in your Twitter feed, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask about it!
Dan: Haha that was in Salt Lake City and they just happened to be in the lobby showing off and standing around when I went out for a smoke. Sebastian Bach wasn’t there though, apparently he’s no longer in that formation of the group, so I don’t really know if you can call that Skid Row, although they sure as hell do.