With their debut album finally out, New York's QTY discuss their chance signing, furniture and falling in love with London.
The first American band to sign with the home of The 1975 and Wolf Alice, Dirty Hit, New York's QTY discuss their chance signing, furniture and falling in love with London.
New York's QTY are about to release their debut album, and are on the brink of a major tour. Dan Lardner, one-half of the duo, is sitting at his desk in New York and explaining how QTY managed to secure a record deal with Dirty Hit in London without ever meeting anyone from the label.
"When I got the call from Dirty Hit it was a number I didn't even think could exist, it was too many numbers!" he laughs. "We had just played some random show in San Francisco, and we recorded some demos at a recording studio there. I sent the songs over to my roommate, who's from London. She passed them on to Jamie Oborne at Dirty Hit and the next day I just got this phone call, and I couldn't believe it. We'd been through the most difficult way of doing things in the past, and it had fallen apart, but this just worked immediately from one phone call. It was kinda magical, and kind of like some cosmic joke. It's taken so long, and it took someone I've never met in my life giving me a phone call to finally get things going."
It may have only taken a chat on the phone for Dirty Hit to sign QTY, but that doesn't mean it's been an easy road to a record deal: "Between me and Alex and Peter, our bassist, we've played in bands since 2008," says Dan. "We've been writing and working with so many fucking labels…" He pauses, before explaining: "Sorry, my mom asked me to try not to curse! It's been a long road, and that's alright when it's all happening, but when you're playing annoying shows and not getting anywhere, it can be frustrating.
"I dropped out of school for music once, but after a couple of months of being wined and dined it all fell through, so it's a real mixture of relief, excitement and anxiety to know the album's coming out finally. We've been trying forever, but we've only just found someone that's willing to come along for the ride with us. If it was up to me it would've happened the moment I picked up a guitar and met Alex; it just didn't work out that way. "
Alex Niemetz, the other half of the band, got in touch after the interview to flesh out her and Dan's friendship: "I've been playing the guitar since I was 13," she explains. "Dan and I met when we were 17 - he had just moved to New York from New Jersey where he had spent his formative years, while I grew up in downtown Manhattan."
Dan's more candid about just how close the two are: "Alex and mines relationship, she's very central to my life," he says, without hesitation. "None of that's exaggerated, I very much depend on her in all facets of life."
With their album out soon, Dan's keen to point out that it isn't just cobbled together from ten years' worth of songwriting: "We made a point of everything on the album being new. Well, except for one. We have so many songs because Alex and I have been writing together since we met when we were 17, but after our last band stopped playing shows, we wrote a plethora of songs that no-one had ever heard, except my roommate. There is one song I wrote a while back that we played at maybe one show that made its way on there somehow, but aside from that they're all new."
When asked about his songwriting process Dan is slow to answer: "I'm a lyricist, I'll always put the things I write to chords and a melody. I just keep a notebook with me, and I write things down, then I come home to my desk… A bit of a tangent, but I'm ridiculously proud of my desk, I think I even mention it in a couple of songs. I'm actually here now!" He exclaims. "I've got a notebook in front of me too; I have no idea what for but it felt good to have it with me." He stops momentarily, before continuing: "Where was I? All of my lyrics are about real things. I'll put all of those things together and make sure it all makes sense, but it's all based on real experiences. I do write a lot; we have so much material for coming albums, EPs, whatever, it just needs recording."
What about when QTY run out of relatable observations? Dan whistles, before answering: "Do you think that'll happen? I think I'll always be somewhat of… I don't wanna say a degenerate, but a man of the people. I think it'll always be relatable; you've gotta walk places, you've gotta see people and have experiences. If I have a nice apartment, maybe I'll sleep better, but I'd still have to interact with people."
The band's broadening horizons mean they've got plenty of material for the foreseeable future anyway: "I've basically never left New York. I've been to Detroit a couple of times, a few minimal tours, but I've never really left the country." Dan laughs. "I don't wanna seem like some naïve country bumpkin, but it's true! Going from that to touring North America, all the way up to Canada, that's incredible. Going to Europe? That's crazy. Australia? That's so wild, it's just so many miles away, and I'm getting paid to travel there." When Dan talks about touring, he sounds like a kid in a candy shop, and you really get the sense that he's been waiting his whole life for the upcoming shows. "London's what I'm most excited for," he says, "because that's where it all happened. It's a special place for me, I had hands down the best time of my life there, recording the album. I got along with the city so well, there are so many outside interests over there, all mixing together. It's a weird feeling, but I feel like London's got my back. Those are my people somehow, I don't know how it came about, but it's true."
Taken from the November issue of Dork, out now. Order a copy here.