Cousins Dave Schafer and Pete Vale bore the idea of forming a rock band late in 2011 as a therapeutic release from the pressurized day to day of New York City living. Adding on bass guitarist Andrew Wilkes, drummer Ben Selznick, and keyboard player James Gettinger, the band was complete in early 2012. For about a year, they would get together informally, sing, talk, and enjoy the company of each others’ talents, focused initially only on their favorite rock covers and whatever other melodies happened to pass before their minds. But the energy in the room soon developed into something more, and they began to write songs together: ones they liked so much that they felt compelled to share. In January of 2013 they played their first live show in the basement of a small club in Manhattan. From there, things took off quickly as crowds progressively got bigger and bigger. Denizen soon became a staple on the Lower East Side music scene, quickly moving from mid-sized venues like Arlene’s Grocery and Pianos to professional concert halls like Webster Hall.
But the rise was not without setbacks. The lineup had to be changed with the departure of Ben, James, and Andrew, and for a good while, it wasn’t clear that the band would survive. Fortunately, they had already begun playing with drummer Ross Procaccio, who joined as a full member in 2015. With the addition of Dylan Defeo on keyboards, Rashid Galadanci on lead guitar, and Eric Launer on bass, the current lineup was solidified in late 2017, and the band was back as never before. Two EPs later, Denizen is drawing crowds in the hundreds at venues up and down the East Coast like Brooklyn Bowl, Gramercy Theatre, Ardmore Music Hall, and World Café Live. They are currently working on their first full-length studio LP set for release in 2019.