Photos taken by Chris Lea
Every school has different types of people. There’s roughly 1,700 students in Brien McMahon High School, translating to 1,700 different personalities. Students dabble in activism, athletics, acting, music, and other interests. One student took his love of music, and with a friend, decided to take it a step further from just jamming in a garage, to recording music and releasing it for sale. I sat in a studio with Ben McNamara and Evan Murphy, built by Ben and his father, and talked about music, the band itself, and what lies ahead.
How did the idea of the Queen of Late come together?
Ben: I was at [Evans] house, for a different reason, his sister was having a party or whatever. And then he saw that I there and he was like “If you get bored, come downstairs we can jam and whatever.” And then I went downstairs, because I was bored, and then we started playing. And I was like “I have a practice room in my house that we could play in.” And we started playing and was like “Let's make music and let's make this a thing.” That’s how it happened.
When did the band start?
B: September of .
Background of the name
B: The sticker [on the drums]. It was that. And also with the old band, this one kid lived in Stamford, and the other two kids lived in New York. The guys from New York would be like “I’m coming” and the kid from Stamford would be like “I’m coming too” and he lived ten minutes away. The kids from New York would get here before the kid from Stamford and the kid from Stamford would show up and be like “I’m here” and we’re like “You said you were leaving at the same time as them and they live forty minutes away.” So it was like “You’re the Queen of Late.” And then I saw that in the store and was like “Can we use it?” And that’s what happened.
What was the idea for the debut album?
B: That was like “Lets put all these weird ideas that we have together.” It could be considered garage rock. It’s a rough kind of sound, trying to figure out what we were gonna do. And that was that, it was eight songs?
And where did inspiration for the new album come from?
B: This one was like…
B: …ten songs. It was more, I’d say, polished. We kind of thought about it more and we were like “Let’s get some people on this” and try to focus on these songs more, having a story almost, and as soon as we finished the first album we were like “That sounds cool.” We started doing that song [Sad Girl], we spent a lot of time on that, like a month and a half.
E: And we fixed all the mistakes.
B: We waited and listened to it and said “Well that sounds like s**t. Let’s do it again.” And then we got [Deb & Liz Wimpfhimer] to come in. Grizz, he came in. He called [Evan] right?
E: Yeah he wanted to do something. And I told him that we were at Ben’s house. So he just came through and that was that.
B: It took him 20 minutes to write that one verse.
What songs are your favorite off each album and/or overall?
E: “Sad Girl” is one. “When I Was Young,” that’s a good one too.
B: For me, on the first album I’d say “Noviascotia” was my favorite. And then on the new album, the one with the twins, I like that song, because they can sing really really good. That one, and the song “Gold,” that one came out.
Why are those your favorites?
B: “Gold” was a song where I just got to let loose on guitar and layer a bunch of parts. There’s like five guitars on the song. “Noviascotia” was the first song we wrote together so it has a special place with me.
E: “Sad Girl” because it's a basic chord progression song, but we made it into something more than what it is.
“When I Was Young” is such a long stretch of notes that sound good together.
Who would you enlist as your main influences?
B: Gary Clark Jr., Hozier, Jimmy Hendrix, The Beatles, [The Rolling] Stones, a mix between everything. I like a lot of new stuff, I’ve been listening to a lot of newer bands trying to figure out what people are listening to now so that way I can write stuff and find influence.
E: Jack White and Chris Cornell. The first song that I ever listened to that got me into playing was Back In Black
B: The first song I learned on guitar was Day Tripper by The Beatles. And then Purple Haze. [To Evan] What was that one song that you were like “I want to play like that?”
E: None that I can remember. I’m sure there were so many songs like that.
Music revenue is coming from concerts and streaming. What is your opinion on the overwhelming access to streamed music vs. buying music physically and digitally?
B: I hate streaming, but it’s also a good thing because you’re getting to more people and a lot of people will listen to your music, but I like vinyl and listening to music physically more than anything. And it sucks that artists are getting kind of f**ked over because people are stealing their money and going online and downloading their music illegally. It’s not that necessarily the artist is not getting money, but even the person who brought the artist coffee, the person who plugged the wires, the person who mixed it, the person who…like…swept the floor, they’re not getting the money because they helped work on that album and it’s like, you’re jipping them. And you don’t think about that when you’re buying the album, you’re only thinking “This artist makes a million dollars, other s**t doesn’t matter,” but they’re not thinking about who was behind the album not just the artist.
E: You said you need to do concerts, but if you want to make music and don’t have money to begin with, them you’re probably not going anywhere, at all. You need money for advertising, for everything.
B: All these bands start out small and will play at a s**ty place, and there will be that one person that hears them and is like “You gotta hear this band.” And they tell their friend and they tell their friend, that’s why all those bands got big in the 90s, people never heard about them and then their friend tells them about another band and they’re like “Let’s go watch them.” Now it’s a lot easier because you can post your stuff on the internet and someone hears it and they’re like “Damn.” That’s how Justin Bieber got famous and all those people you hear today.
What do you see for the band’s future? Would you commit yourself to music completely?
E: If I could, yeah I would do it, because I love it. If it was a possibility that I could make a living doing it, and not have to worry, then I would do it. For sure
B: I want to put myself 100% into music, but for us I think it’s just getting out there and playing shows and trying to play anywhere we can and promote ourselves and just see where it goes. And also work with other people. That's what we were talking about today. We were talking about, since I have all this equipment and how we’ve become pretty knowledgeable about music in general and production, maybe opening it up as a studio and have people come in and record their own stuff, not just us. Charge like $20-30 bucks an hour, which is relatively cheap for a studio, and do it from there.
What’s the next move?
E: More music.
B: More music, playing. This summer I want to try to get us out to play as much as possible. And get other people to play with us, because it’s just us two. At least for when we play out we want two other people to play drums and bass. And then we’ll probably have another EP coming out later with five songs.
You can purchase their new album, Cardboard Casual, on iTunes now, as well as stream it on Spotify below. You can also follow the band on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to their Youtube channel.