The VirginsView In iTunes
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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 and released a well-received self-titled EP in 2007, having yet to perform live. 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. Full of late-'70s new wave influence and rock-&-roll swagger, the self-titled LP was released in June of 2008. It led to U.S. TV appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Late Show with David Letterman, and later, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. After a few years of international music festival appearances and tours, and lineup changes that left Cumming as the only constant member, a sophomore Virgins album titled Strike Gently was released on Cult Records in 2013. More touring followed, including shows in support of the Killers, highlighted by a performance at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In late 2013, Cumming announced that the band had split and he intended to pursue a solo career. ~ David Jeffries & Marcy Donelson