Been Stellar Scream New York City

Been Stellar Scream New York City

By Erica CampbellMay 22, 2024

New York City will always be intrinsically tied to the bands and artists it made possible: The Ramones, The Strokes, visions of Patti Smith lounging in the Hotel Chelsea. But as time passes, it’s rare we get that same grit, nostalgia and guitar-laden version of the tension we feel when we walk down crowded, chaotic streets.

Enter Been Stellar. The New York City five-piece has been opening for the likes of The 1975 and Interpol, and is soon to be taking the stage before Fontaines D.C. They're young, earnest and excited to make a mark. It’s refreshing to know that there are, in fact, real bands scouring the streets of the city again, with a dream, talent and a rebellious slant that makes you believe that, thankfully, the kids are all right.

Below, guitarist Nando Dale, bass player Nico Brunstein, drummer Laila Wayans, vocalist Sam Slocum and guitarist Skyler Knapp talk about their new album, touring, and what we can expect next.

Tell us about “Pumpkin.” What inspired the track and how did it come together in the studio?

Sam Slocum: Lyrically, I was focused on describing a relationship. I was thinking about shared, intimate spaces, and there was a certain melancholy feeling that came with it. I thought about looking through a window at night into an apartment, seeing people inside interact, like a doll house. Musically, it came together over the course of many months. We needed the driving beat with it, and once we found that groove it clicked.

Scream From New York is out next month. How are you feeling about sharing your debut? What has the fan reception been like for the singles so far?

Laila Wayans: We’re super excited to finally share it with people. From the start of the process to now it feels like it’s been a long time, so it feels good to finally have new music coming out. The reception has been great so far and we hope that people continue to resonate with the singles and the rest of the album.

If you could describe Scream From New York with one single emotion, what would it be?

Skyler Knapp: Stress. Not sure if that counts as an emotion, but that's the closest thing I can think of.

You released your track "Passing Judgement" as a teaser for the album. I read it came together while you were on tour. What was it that you experienced that inspired that track?

Skyler Knapp: I think at the time we were writing this we were starting to play more “high profile” shows. We felt really weird being scrutinized all of a sudden and I think the tension of the song is trying to reflect that. It’s an uncomfortable thing to all of a sudden face scrutiny for your music. Makes it feel like you aren’t doing it for yourself anymore. As we were on the road, this song fell out of us from those feelings.

So much of the album is an ode to your experience in New York City. What do you think makes being a band in New York so different than coming up in other cities/places?

Sam Slocum: We talk a lot about how New York is such a commanding presence. It’s almost a character in its own right. You can’t walk outside without instantly being reminded of where you live. It’s the chaotic hum that is always there, it’s very inspiring.

You’ve got a massive tour with Fontaines D.C. coming up. How are you feeling about it? What are you most excited to share with fans next?

Nico Brunstein: I'm excited to tour the US extensively again. We did it with Shame last year but didn’t get over to the West Coast on that run, so it’ll be fun to make it back out there. It’ll be nice to have the full album out months before then so people will have time to get to know it.

Outside of the new album and the upcoming tour what’s the most exciting next step for Been Stellar?

Nando Dale: I think just writing music and seeing where all of this can go. We are all very passionate about this band and take it very seriously and we just want to make sure that we can do as much as we can to support it. The exciting new step is just the road ahead, the next songs we’ll write, the through lines for whatever comes next.

Photography: Gabe Long