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Local band New City Gypsy overcomes hiatus, finds signature sound

Courtesy of Ted Bigham

This is part of our weekly series titled “Columbus’ Own,” where we profile a local band every week.

It seems like the band that grows up together stays together.
New City Gypsy is a Columbus-based five-piece that recently came out of a six-month hiatus. The band has been comprised of Austin Bain, Joe Black and Devin Ryan since the beginning, and for them, the beginning was middle school.
“We all grew up together, we went to school together,” said drummer Black. “The three of us became friends out of middle school into high school, and then started working together and started with the band.”
The guys were introduced to their love of music right around that time, Black said.
“We started playing music together in middle school,” Black said. “I had older brothers that were interested in playing music and same with Devin, and so out of high school, like 2004, that’s when we started our band.”
Though Bain, Black and Ryan have been around since the band’s conception, two others have joined since then.
“All three of us is just the original lineup,” said Bain, lead vocalist and guitarist. “Andrew (Mooney) joined in 2007, and then Bill (Fankhauser) is the most recent addition. He joined late last year.”
Throughout the years many different styles have influenced the band. New City Gypsy’s sound has always been changing, said Ryan, who plays keyboard and bass for the band.
“Early on, with the three-piece, a lot of people thought it sounded like Modest Mouse or Built to Spill,” Ryan said. “And then Arcade Fire … at our CD release (in 2010) we had nine people on stage at one point, and that’s not just visually but also aurally representative of the Arcade Fire show.”
After returning from its hiatus, New City Gypsy finally has a signature sound it’s sure will stick with audiences, Ryan said.
“I think it can be described as guitar-forward,” Ryan said. “It’s aggressive, but it’s layered and well thought out. It’s not just three chords and a cloud of dust, it’s intricate.”
Ryan said the band’s shows will be even higher energy than before.
“We try and configure the set in an order that will arouse different emotions throughout – from a dance feel to people wanting to bang their heads – because they want to get that aggression out,” Ryan said. “I think the music does a good job of swinging the pendulum back and forth.”
With New City Gypsy’s new sound comes new musical influences. Classic rock is much more noticeable in new material, Bain said.
“We’re just going to take all the lawn clippings of the grass-roots and make it happen,” Bain said. “The newer stuff is a little more classic rock … paying a little bit of homage to (Pink Floyd) and (Led Zeppelin) and (Black Sabbath).”
Bain said this sound could only be produced from the band taking special care with the production of its songs.
“We think it through a lot, and these songs will change up until the last minute when we’re recording them,” Bain said. “If I don’t like it, or someone’s got a problem with it, we need to change it.”
The band has also cycled through several different names, but Bain says this one is here to stay.
“I would care not to say (the other names), just because I think they’re not as good as what we have now,” Bain said. “This one, I like the way it sounds better. I don’t want to be known as anything else.”
Black said the name New City Gypsy came to be in 2010, when the band released its first album “The Night Never Sleeps.”
Up next for New City Gypsy is more studio time. In addition to releasing new songs digitally, the band plans on going back to a tried and true medium as well, Bain said.
“I think we’re going to try to release possibly a 45,” Bain said. “I want a record, I want that hiss. Making anything else just doesn’t make sense. I think I wouldn’t be happy with it unless it was a record.”
The band will also be releasing a video of “Tugboat,” a single off the album “The Night Never Sleeps” to let fans know it’s back and working on new projects, including scheduling shows, Ryan said.
“We’ve been working on a music video that will be dropping this Saturday,” Ryan said. “And keep your eyes on the horizon for our next show. We don’t have anything booked right now, but we are looking to be booked March and April.”

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