Fresh off of an Official CMJ Showcase and tours of both the east and west coasts, New York City Queens is a Houston based Indie/Pop quintet formed in the spring of 2011 around their debut album, 'Somewhere Different, Something New.' Blending influences that range from early pop to contemporary modern rock, NYCQ has solidified a signature sound which earned them "The Number 1 Local Release of 2012" by the Houston Chronicle and a sync license with Hyundai for their latest ad campaign. In only a little over a year, NYCQ has performed with the finest bands in Texas and abroad and played major national festivals such as SXSW, CMJ Music Marathon and Free Press Summer Fest. Opening up for such notable national acts as Little Barrie, Crocodiles and Miniature Tigers, NYCQ are currently booking their follow up, month long tour of the east coast for May 2013.
John Stephens - Guitar, Lead Vocal
Daniela Hernandez - Bass, Guitar, and Keyboard
Kitty Beebe - Bass, Guitar, and Keyboard
Tom Guth - Guitar
Isaac Chavez Garza - Drums
Philip Stephens - Drums
Somewhere Different, Something New - 2011
Burn Out Like Roman Candles - 2012
The Best Local Music of 2012
The entire band creates a wall of sound sturdier than anything else this year.
The New York City Queens of Kingwood
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Before we get to the music, the drama, the indie-pop nostalgia of “Burn Out Like Roman Candles” — a ...Before we get to the music, the drama, the indie-pop nostalgia of “Burn Out Like Roman Candles” — a few important things about the New York City Queens.
No one in the band is from the East Coast. Vocalist and guitarist/bassist Daniela Hernandez grew up in the Washington, D.C., suburbs; and drummer Isaac Chavez-Garza moved to Texas from Minnesota to escape the cold.
“We’ve all known each other, or at least who we were, for years,” says frontman John Allen Stephens, who got to know most of his bandmates at Kingwood High School. “I knew from the beginning that I wanted Dani (short for Daniela) to play with me. We had done duets together, and I always really liked the male-female dynamic.”
Despite the female flourish of the name, the lineup includes three guys and two girls. And none of them are of the royal or RuPaul variety. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
After a series of discarded ideas inspired by S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders” (see the list below), Stephens was inspired by a thrift-store shopping trip in Montrose.
“There was this military fatigue shirt, and it had all these hand-sewn patches. It had this pink patch on the side that said New York City Queens. It just blew me away,” he says. “What occurred to me was that this could either be some person who is gay or transsexual and really proud about it and down with that, which I thought was super-cool, or it’s just repping for Queens the borough.
“I was looking through my laundry, and I see the shirt in the dirty hamper pile with the patch sticking out. I just kept coming back to it. There was some (sense of) disenfranchisement there, and I felt like we were that kind of band. We were coming in from the suburbs, and no one knew us in the city. I felt like there was some underground quality about it.”
The band played its first show almost a year ago to the day and had a completed EP in hand, along with music videos, completed months earlier. The lineup includes vocalist and guitarist/bassist Kitty Beebe and guitarist Tom Guth. (Chavez-Garza replaced Stephen’s’ brother on drums in October.)
“Two years ago, I never thought I would be in a band,” Hernandez says. “It was kind of terrifying, actually. I had to get over it quickly.”
It’s a rare thing for a band to have so much polish, even a year into the music. To break out of the gate with a strong audio-visual attack is unheard of. It helps that Stephens is an audio engineer, and Hernandez graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in photography. (She shot the album’s cover photo.)
“I just knew if we were going to do something real and see progress and see fans that weren’t related to us, we were going to have to do something very different,” Stephens says. “We’ve always tried to do everything from the standpoint of the viewer. The audience wants video. The audience wants the full artistic statement. The audience doesn’t just want what you can afford or the sound that you can get in your bedroom.”
That first EP, “Somewhere Different, Something New,” was largely a solo project for Stephens, who initially built the band around a retro-pop sound, complete with wistful guitar licks, hand claps and yearning vocals. There’s even an adorable, electro-tinged take on the Ronettes’ 1963 classic “Be My Baby.”
“The first record’s just very dry, and everything’s very clean. The idea behind the band initially was to take this 1950’s, early-1960’s pop influence, and blend it with modern-rock elements like the Strokes and Arcade Fire and Beach House,” Stephens says.
“With the new record, I think we’ve identified what we want to do. I think the lines between the influences are much harder to discern.”
“We’re finding our footing together as a band. Now we know more so how to write together than separate.”
New record “Burn Out Like Roman Candles,” then, is a proper reintroduction of sorts, the evolution of an already solid idea into something the entire group could sink their teeth and talents into. The album was again written, produced, engineered and mixed by Stephens.
The songs have a modern edge, a bigger feel, a more confident glow. “Karma” (co-written by Guth) slides along a bluesy groove; and “Suburbs” is reminiscent of ’‘80s-era power pop. “Roman Candles” simmers for several minutes before breaking into a wall of guitars; and closer “Leave a Light On” features a chorus of soft na-nas supplied by various kids, nieces and nephews.
The band calls the entire thing a “concept album” about friendships, relationships and the process of recording the actual album while trying to maintain personal connections. (Stephens and Hernandez are a couple.) Needless to say, it proved challenging at times.
“It was really difficult,” says Chavez-Garza.
“It was rough,” adds Hernandez.
“It was very hard,” chimes in Beebe.
Stephens has a more diplomatic take on the process.
“There’s this struggle there, but there’s also this underlying message of real hope for the future. I believe very passionately in what we’re doing and that the five of us together made something really special,” he says.
“I think we’re stronger now than we’ve ever been as a result of making this record. I think each mistake that we’ve made has contributed to that progression.”
Failed pre-NYCQ band names
Call Iit On
Killed in 1963
Johnny Killed Bobby
New York City Queens, Burn Out Like Roman Candles
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"Throughout Burn Out, the Queens mash together pretty much every type of pop imaginable, from surf-p..."Throughout Burn Out, the Queens mash together pretty much every type of pop imaginable, from surf-pop riffage to jangly, Elliott Smith-esque folk to ’70s-retro power pop (which brings to mind The Push Kings, for me) to shimmery dreampop to head-nodding, upbeat New Wave, and heat it up ’til it all melts and intermingles and mixes, coming out a candy-colored, thoroughly great pop-rock amalgam that’s just about impossible for a pop-song fanatic like myself to resist.
Some bands take years to hit their stride — these five kids apparently only needed 10 months or so. My hat’s off to y’all."
The Endless Sour: Sour Notes Tour Kickoff at Red 7
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The meat of the bill had to be Houston’s New York City Queens who destroyed the inside stage with th...The meat of the bill had to be Houston’s New York City Queens who destroyed the inside stage with their high-energy rock and preceded a set by the Sour Notes themselves who delivered an equally powerful set.
Kingwood-based band lights it up on 'Roman Candles'
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"Burn Out Like Roman Candles, a lean and slinky guitar album long on danceable hooks. Stephens and c..."Burn Out Like Roman Candles, a lean and slinky guitar album long on danceable hooks. Stephens and company are sly with their vocals, offering up power-pop harmonies here and cheery call-and-responses there. The group is definitely one to watch."
Kingwood's New York City Queens Rock Cactus Music
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"It‘s a true accomplishment and unnecessary anomaly to see such a great local band with unlimited po..."It‘s a true accomplishment and unnecessary anomaly to see such a great local band with unlimited potential and maturity this early in its development. If you were lucky enough to be there, consider yourself graced by indy rock royalty."
Musician to Musician: New York City Queens
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New York City Queens - who burst onto the scene last fall fully-formed, with full-length Somewhere D...New York City Queens - who burst onto the scene last fall fully-formed, with full-length Somewhere Different, Somewhere New already in hand and their sound already firmly in place. Catch them early; it’s worth it, trust us.
A Summer Fest Blind Taste Test
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A lot of bands could learn a thing or two about how to balance multiple vocalists from these Houston...A lot of bands could learn a thing or two about how to balance multiple vocalists from these Houston natives. Whether they're harmonizing or just working in harmony, the vocals always seem to just work.
Introducing: New York City Queens
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The multifaceted band played everything from jangly surf riffs, to complex, modular rock all the whi...The multifaceted band played everything from jangly surf riffs, to complex, modular rock all the while keeping dreamy harmonies between their three vocalists.
Last Night: Ringo Deathstarr & Friends At Walter's
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Lead singer John Stephens provided great vocals, particularly successfully varying from higher- to l...Lead singer John Stephens provided great vocals, particularly successfully varying from higher- to lower-pitched singing while performing final song "Roman Candles." All three well-pitched vocalists were neither drowned out nor overpowered by their own jangly yet melodic guitar riffs.
New York City Queens takes music to next level
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With their latest album, Somewhere Different, Something New, New York City Queens manages to take th...With their latest album, Somewhere Different, Something New, New York City Queens manages to take their music to the next level. The beautifully cohesive and entrancing rock-pop tracks are full of contagious vocal harmonies, dreamy guitar tones and tight rhythms that take you on a quick journey to the beach before making a stop at that all-night dance party across town.
New York City Queens Reign Supreme
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"If you haven't caught wind of them, New York City Queens are quickly becoming known for their pench..."If you haven't caught wind of them, New York City Queens are quickly becoming known for their penchant of writing catchy riffs that are as refreshing as diving into a pool on a hot day."
Friday Night at Fitz
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"Post-Houston Press Music Awards, Twitter has been abuzz with praise for the New York City Queens. A..."Post-Houston Press Music Awards, Twitter has been abuzz with praise for the New York City Queens. And now I know why. The band played an amazing set - more solid rock-n-roll with a dreamy, melancholic vibe mixed into their sound."
Set lists typically range from 30 minutes-45 minutes but can extend up to an hour if necessary.
Waited For You
Tell Me All About It
One Trick Pony
Somewhere Different, Something New
|May 28, 2013 Tuesday||9:00 PM||Bear's Den Pizza||Conway, AR, US|
|Jun 8, 2013 Saturday||12:00 PM||Hermann Square Park - City Hall||Houston, TX, US|