Nothing just happens overnight. QTY might seem like they arrived perfectly formed last October with the release of 'Rodeo' - a bright, joyous indie rock lightning bolt that feels as much of a force of friendship as that detailed in its narrative - but Dan Lardner and Alex Niemetz had been working towards that moment for most of their lives.
"I was always a songwriter," Dan smiles, explaining how he first picked up a guitar at 11 years old and started writing songs "about whatever" with a friend. Later, QTY bassist Peter Baumann would teach him how to play properly and, from there, they started a band.
Alex, meanwhile, was given her uncle's guitar when she was 12, practiced as much as she could and then formed her own band with her best friends. "We took different approaches to music," Dan explains. "I was thinking, 'Guitar's alright, as long as I learn some chords I can do whatever.' Alex took the approach of, 'I should be the best.' And then we met and it was perfect."
A few year later, as two 17-year-olds in New York City, the pair began conversing online and even-tually met up in person. They instantly cemented a firm bond that would see them through a myriad of ups, downs and false starts with the band they formed together. It also eventually inspired their aforementioned debut single as QTY, which gained them immediate support and acclaim from the likes of NME, DIY, Paste, Radio 1's Huw Stephens and Australia's Triple J. Just as the lyrics depict finding your person, Alex and Dan found each other. "When I first met Dan, he embodied every-thing that I wanted in a partner in crime and his lyrics exhibited what I was trying to express musi-cally," Alex explains. "They were like nothing I had ever seen before."
"Having a partner in Alex meant for the first time being able to put my lyrics to the music I had dreamed of one day being able to make, but always was out of reach from my ability," Dan agrees. "Al is my other half and has always been able to come up with and execute the exact right parts in every song. To me, she is what makes the band special. I wouldn't want to keep pursuing music without her by my side."
The early days of QTY couldn't have been more serendipitous. A short trip to San Francisco re-sulted in demos of three songs, which were recorded over two days. On their return to New York, Dan's then-roommate sent the tracks, including the original version of 'Dress/Undress', to Dirty Hit. A little while later, Dan got a call from an unrecognised British number. "I was like, 'There's too many numbers [in the phone number]' and I threw my phone somewhere," he recalls. Eventually, he answered and the path towards a deal was laid.
QTY's self-titled debut album is both testament to and justification of their perseverance and pa-tience over the years. Recorded over six weeks in London, the band describe the act of making the record as something of a long-held desire. "Every day, just waking up and recording was so cool," says Dan. "Recording an album has always been a lifelong dream."
As is befitting of a band who'd worked tirelessly just to get the opportunity to turn that dream into reality, the duo weren't about to start slacking off in the studio, taking only a couple of days off in the entire time they were overseas. "We had to be in the studio early in the morning, which - as devout night owls - Dan and I were unsure of how we would feel," Alex explains. "But waking up and walking to the studio everyday was one of the best feelings we've ever felt - having that sense of purpose and running off that natural rush was exhilarating."
The album was recorded with former Suede guitarist and erudite producer Bernard Butler. "He was really good and helpful," Alex says. "He would help zero in on stuff. We had never done that or worked with someone like that before." With him at the helm, the duo's songs were brought to life as the gleaming triumphs that inhabit the album. Alex's guitar work mirrors the lyrics on each track perfectly. On 'Cold Nights'' chorus, she slides through notes that are fittingly frosty and glacial. 'No-tify Me' features a tumbling melody that's as majestic as it is blistering, while she takes the lead on 'New Beginnings' - the album's penultimate and pensive track - bringing her soft, velvet vocals out of the background to make something soothing and stunning.
As debut albums go, 'QTY' is one of the strongest first steps a new band has released in ages. Each of its 10 tracks feel like a vital shot, from the second the record jumpstarts with 'Rodeo', through gently buzzing soother 'Notify Me' to 'Salvation', which steadily builds to a softly searing end that feels like some kind of heavenly interjection. It continuously references life and living in varying shades of dark and light, and Dan's evocative, storytelling lyrics deal out microscopic close-ups of the minutiae of his and Alex's day-to-day.
'Word For This' details nights that go on forever ("Some things you can count on/I've got a number and the night will end/Sometime, later on, when the couch is a godsend"), while 'Salvation' ad-dresses the anxieties of dealing with the world he inhabits ("Came back from a night in to find my-self in the world that I hide from"). The melancholy, '60s girl-group pop of 'Sad Poetic', meanwhile, is a self-deprecating, world-weary lament ("And I heard that time heals all wounds/I never knew that even time could bruise"). Each is shining proof that, what others might consider peripheral mundanities, QTY find the importance, beauty, meaning and - most of all - humanity in.
Fascinated with wordplay and double entendres, Dan's apartment is filled with notebooks that he writes in every day, jotting down lines about whatever's around him or is happening in his life. Those fragments only make it any further if Alex can understand what he's trying to say. "Alex is the smart one," Dan laughs. "So if it makes sense to her then it's okay. Then it can go in a song."
As QTY prepare to bring those specific-but-relatable snapshots to venues and audiences world-wide (live the band's line-up is completed by drummer Alan Yuch), the imminent release of their debut album marks a big achievement for Dan and Alex. "Having an album out has been our dream since day one," Dan says. "I look at it as a document of our lives and time together up until the point of recording it. It will exist out there and you'll be able to hold it in your hands and and pull it out from your collection on your shelf between your copies of 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'American Wa-ter' and play it. With this album, I am now more sure then I have ever been that I do, in fact, exist."