On Oct. 24, 2000, Dischord Records released No Kill No Beep Beep, the debut album by Q and Not U. Ten years later, the album stands out as an apex of Washington, D.C.’s post-punk narrative. The cover is an arresting, whimsical snapshot of the punk-rock community that spawned the record—the band asked its friends and peers, most of them under 25 at the time, to pose for a portrait that would show D.C. wasn’t just a town of old punks. In this week’s Washington City Paper, Q and Not U’s members reflect on their rookie achievement a decade after recording it, and five years after the band broke up. Over the next two weeks on Arts Desk, we’ll catch up with some of the community Q and Not U immortalized.
Left to Right: Carleton Ingram, Kate Scorza-Ingram
“Often I would be the only female in the audience,” says Kate Scorza-Ingram. “Other than Katy Otto—-an absolute fixture and critical member of the scene—it was frequently me and maybe one other female who was a member of a performing band. It never made sense to me…” As a constant supporter of the arts, Kate was invited to the No Kill No Beep Beep photo shoot, along with the man she would later marry, Carleton Ingram.
“It was rushed, but really fun. More like a little kid’s birthday party than a photo shoot,” she recalls. At the time, Kate was working at the Kennedy Center, but she felt the punk rock shows of the age were no less amazing than the classical ones. She explains: “It was remarkable to me that the shows were always all-ages, cheap (free or less than $5 to get in), and that the music played a much bigger role than booze or weed. As a classically trained musician, it was fun to attend a show and have it earn the same devotion and critical thinking as a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra.”
Carleton echoes her sentiments, “For me the ethos was really about working hard, or as Hugh McElroy (of Black Eyes and Ruffian Records) calls it, DIT: doing it together. The bands all helped each other out and the community in D.C. provided a supportive audience by coming to our shows. We always kept the ticket prices low and tried to play all ages whenever possible so this would be the most ‘punk’ part of what we did. Because the music varied in style and genres, it was the indie element that was more uniting then anything specifically being punk. It was not uncommon back then for a Black Cat or Galaxy Hut show to include bands across indie genres on the same bill—-think Tsunami with Elliott Smith or Blast Off Country Style (Teen Beat) playing with Fugazi.”
The community and the music were very much the reason Carleton found himself living in D.C. “I was very entrenched in the music community at that time,” he says. “Mike Kanin (Black Eyes) and I were in the band The Better Automatic together and were running both Resin Records (a partner label to Dischord) and booking and managing the Fort Reno concert series.” Kate volunteered at Fort Reno as well, and she also found herself drawn into the network of punk rockers, even though she didn’t play the same music. “I really felt like I was a part of something,” she recalls. “It was a community of serious, hard working musicians and I loved being a part of the audience. I was a volunteer at Fort Reno for seven years and really appreciated how welcoming ‘the scene’ was for someone who wasn’t in a band and hadn’t grown up in the D.C. area. The most amazing thing about the community was how fun the shows were and the fact that most of the people were sober and really there to listen to and appreciate the music.”
“There was a great deal of optimism and creative energy in the air at that time,” says Carleton. “I was fortunate to be a musician playing shows and touring with bands like The Dismemberment Plan, Q and Not U, Faraquet, El Guapo, Most Secret Method, Impossible 5, Frodus, Bald Rapunzel, and many others… I was also able to work closely with a variety of bands through my running of the Fort Reno Concert series and was always impressed by the bredth and depth of the indie music throughout the D.C area from Teen Beat bands to Dischord bands to bluegrass, go-go, ska, and electronica. The city was an amazingly vibrant music scene across many genres.”
Insofar as his interactions with the members of Q and Not U, Carleton collaborated with them quite a bit. “John and Harris played drums on my Roto project (Resin Records), and John used to help me design record albums because he was very handy with computer graphic design,” says Carleton. He managed to get in a few shows with the band as well. “They took my later band, Nazca Lines, on the road with them for a couple shows out of town,” he says. “It was great to see the crowd react to them and how hard the audiences danced. They drew an audience that was supportive of their opening acts which was great for us.” Kate fondly remembers Richards’ unusual ‘do as a centerpiece of their shows: “I was likely distracted by the wild hair style Chris would be sporting—-he had action hair that made him look like he was in motion when he was ‘doing the standing still.'”
Both Kate and Carleton left D.C. in 2003 to move to New York for graduate school. They’re parents, and Kate is still working with arts organizations as the project manager of AMS Planning & Research Corp. Kate notes that she saw Davis and Richards play before Q and Not U even began. “I remember seeing The Elusive in a basement show in somebody’s mom’s house in Annapolis, Md. It’s really cool to see how far they’ve come.”
In case you missed it, here’s the rest of the series.