Most of us live out our four years at GW as transplanted students. Plucked right out of high school, we’re thrown into classes, we set up internships, and we’re told to make something of ourselves. Something we’re not often told to do is to make the city ours or become a part of the city.
Singer and guitarist Chris Richards did just that after coming to GW in 1997. After a year and a half of searching for the right path, Richards found comfort in his new band Q and Not U. Founded with area natives John Davis, Harris Klahr and Matt Borlik, Q and Not U came into existence in the summer of 1998.
Q and Not U tuned their catchy dance-punk songs and began playing shows in November 1998. With relentless touring, the band became almost an instant hit among the thriving east coast post-hardcore scene.
“I remember rolling up to classes on no sleep after driving home from shows in New York,” Richards said in an e-mail interview with the Hatchet.
The band’s exhausting run was far from over. In late 2000, Q and Not U released their first album, No Kill No Beep Beep on the legendary Dischord Records.
Richards graduated in 2001 and faced different problems than his job-hunting peers.
“I remember feeling so liberated when I finished at GW because I realized that I could do whatever I wanted to do,” said Richards. “You can really fall into the trap of letting (college) define you. People treat their majors like they’ve been sentenced to them in a court of law.”
That same year, bassist Borlik quit the band, forcing Q and Not U to record much of their next record, Different Damage, without a bass player. In support of the album, the band set out on their first large-scale tour including Canada, Europe and Japan.
2004’s Power received even further critical acclaim. The complex album introduced new instruments, new musicians and a new singing style for Richards. Pitchfork Media called it one of 2004’s greatest indie-rock records, intermingling disco and pop into their finely tuned post-punk sound.
Five years and 500 shows after their conception, Q and Not U have decided to disband and take on separate projects. The split, Richards said, is amicable.
“The band was at a crossroads,” said Richards. “We had a difficult time reconciling our ambitions.”
Q and Not U have served as one of the forerunners in the D.C. music scene since 1998 and have established a core audience.
“People seem genuinely bummed out about it, but I hope they’re not disappointed in us,” Richards said. “We’ve really cherished our place in the music scene here.”
“The music scene in D.C. is always fluctuating, and I’m really excited to see who steps up to the plate next,” Richards said. “There’s nothing better than the sound of a fresh wave crashing on the shore.”
Q and Not U plays their final two shows at the Black Cat Sept. 22 and Sept. 23. Tickets are sold out. Juliet Moser contributed to this report.