Interview with QTY: Friendship and the impact of music

All photos by  Kurt Heyde

All photos by Kurt Heyde

Music finds itself centered in many of the worlds’ largest cities — Los Angeles, New York, London. While New York can be saturated with artists fighting for their break, QTY is not an ordinary group of musicians. Formed by Dan Lardner, Alex Niemetz, Peter Baumann and Alan Yuch, QTY is the alternative-rock band everyone needs to complete their otherwise mediocre playlist. Many are influenced by their surrounding environment unknowingly. Sure, their music is often compared to bands like The Velvet Underground, but QTY is more than that. Rich and robust, the music is contagious while Dan and Alex sing about real life. Undeniable talent is evident, so it is no wonder the band would find their perfect home.

A mutual friend shared their music, which eventually ended in an introduction to Jamie Oborne. Dirty Hit, a London based record company owned by Oborne, was given worldwide exposure due to the exceptional success of bands like The 1975 and Wolf Alice. After signing a record deal, QTY was presented with the opportunity to bring their vision to life. Working with Bernard Butler, nothing was left unfinished. Dan and Alex spent their time in England making their self-titled debut, which was released at the end of 2017. What makes QTY different from the rest is their genuine love for each other and the music.

Teal Magazine: You guys have been making music for quite a while. I know you’ve had bands prior to your current project.

Alex: Well, Dan and Peter were in a band together in high school, and then the three of us played in Grand Rapids when we were 17. Alan has been playing in bands since he was 15, maybe even younger.

Alan: Yeah, when they were recording was when I actually met Dan for the first time. I was in England with another band. When I got back, I actually worked at a deli and I got a text from Alex asking if I wanted to play drums for them.

Teal Magazine: What is most exciting about releasing a debut album?

Alex: Just that people can hear all of the songs.

Alan: It’s definitely weight lifted off their shoulders because they’ve had these songs for so long.

Dan: It’s so surreal that I have an album out now. Since I was kid, I wanted to be a musician. It’s honestly a privilege. I know it sounds cheesy, but I mean it so much. I have always wanted to record and release an album. I’ve always wanted to tour and all that comes along with it, but I’ve wanted the album. I’ve always viewed it as a document, like a library. If you spend 10 years writing a book, then it’s there. I have that now and it’s so wild to me. This has been my first opportunity to complete an album. I mean I have so much material. Alex and I were writing since we were 18 years old. Literally before we went out to record the album with Dirty Hit, I think they had 73 demos from my iPhone. 

Teal Magazine: In your description of the album you’ve said it’s about “the daily struggle the achieve a level of optimism, amidst flash floods of doom and gloom”. Can you elaborate?

Alex: Just sort of like we all work jobs, in our mid to late twenties and are dealing with everyday shit in New York. Even though it’s really hard work, it’s nice to be able to go on tour and see different things and meet young people who are actually excited about what you’re making. That’s probably the most validating thing at the end of the day. It’s really cool, you know.

Alan: A lot of the songs are about real life situations and events

Alex: Exactly. Dan writes all of the lyrics and he really focuses on that aspect of his life, which is really cool.

Dan: I really want people to listen to the lyrics and I really want them to listen to the album. I want them to make up their own mind about what I am saying. It doesn’t matter what I’m saying, it doesn’t matter what I’m thinking. It matters that I wrote it and how that relates to someone. I don’t know David Bowie or Lou Reed, but I know how their songs heavily influenced my life and how I feel about them. I don’t want them to tell me what they wrote about, like half the time it’s about a bar that closed early one night. I don’t care about that. I care about the insane emotional impact those songs had on me.

Teal Magazine: What would you say is something you bonded over that created such a strong friendship, which a lot of your music is based on? I know people talk about soul mates, you know, people you are meant to be with.

Alex: We always say like life partners because we never got romantic or anything, but in the beginning as corny as this sounds, we bonded over having a lot of the same favorite bands. The night Dan moved over to the city, I went to his apartment and Peter was living there and everyone was always sort of hanging out. I don’t know, we would just hang out everyday, acting like 19-20 year olds. 

Peter: A tight bond between a close group of friends that never really went away.

Teal Magazine: Do you think your music has benefitted in anyway because of how close you are?

Alex: Definitely. I think we can be pretty honest with each other, which is good. It’s still hard to have deep friendships with people.