Wednesday, May 4, 2011
With a sound that mixes 21st century indie tones and the late-'70s new wave attitude of Talking Heads or the Modern Lovers, New York City's "The Virgins" were formed in 2006 by lead singer/songwriter Donald Cumming. A true product of N.Y.C., Cumming grew up in Tribeca. His teen years were filled with clubbing, especially at the hipster spot Don Hill's and their very successful '80s Night. He became a model for Ryan McGinley, a photographer known for his striking portraits of N.Y.C.'s youth. When McGinley landed his debut show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the photographs of Cumming were featured. More importantly, during a photo shoot in Mexico, Cumming met future Virgins guitarist Wade Oates. With bassist Nick Zarin-Ackerman and drummer Erik Ratensperger on board, they now had a band.
The Virgins only had two loft party gigs under their belt before their monumental third show, a showcase alongside Patti Smith and Sonic Youth during Paris Fashion Week. They then hit the road, and while they were playing clubs and opening for the likes of Mark Ronson, Tokyo Police Club, and Tapes 'n Tapes, the producers of the Gossip Girl television series thought the artsy but not uptight band perfect for their show and featured the Virgins' music in an episode. Atlantic Records soon signed them and work began on the band's debut album with S*A*M & Sluggo as producers.