As we unveil the band's new video 'Reptile', we find out how a house party and a shared fail in picking up girls formed a band that would like a threesome with Kanye West and Freddie Mercury
Alex Kapranos’ latest protégé, Citizens!, met in the grim early hours of the morning, at the bitter end of a house party. Amongst the cigarette butts and unconscious bodies, Tom and Lawrence bonding over their failure to pick up girls that night, and a shared penchant for Kanye West. Naturally, their next move was to acquire more members, and start a band.
It would sound cheesy if we started telling love stories. It’d be like that Jo Whiley show
They may have met under melancholic circumstances, but lack of love forced the London five piece to seek solace and throw their efforts into a new musical relationship. Citizens!, not to be confused with the band of the same name, sans exclamation mark, are reminiscent of 80s disco pop, and despite their self imposed rules not to sound like their musical predecessors, their unique Franz Ferdinand meets Bowie-esque, highly danceable pop offerings are certainly something special.
We set ourselves really strict rules when we were recording the album... at no point were we allowed to rip off anything that had already happened in the past
Dazed Digital: So how did you form?
Citizens!: We met at a house party one night. We were all trying to chat up birds, it wasn’t going very well, we were failing miserably and we ended up being those miserable guys in the corner listening to music. But I guess something beautiful came out of it! That’s how it started and then the other guys we met subsequently.
DD: Oh dear. What were you listening to?
Citizens!: Well, we were just playing stuff we liked, someone put on Martin Rev and someone put on Kanye West... I guess our taste in music kind of ranges a lot from stuff like Micheal Jackson and Kanye, that a lot of people wouldn’t allow themselves to list as an influence for starting a band; to artists like Suicide and Martin Rev and artists that people mention as influences all the time. When we realised we were all open minded in that sense it seemed like a good idea.
DD: Why did you choose the name “Citizen!” when there’s already a “Citizen”? Is it all about the exclamation mark?
Citizens!: We didn’t know! We were stuck in our own world at this point, writing all the songs and stuff. We weren’t really venturing out. The exclamation mark was kind of a call to arms, we wanted to let people know that something is going on here and to let people kind of come to it.
DD: You formed in the summer and you have your debut album out in a few months, does it feel like everything’s happening pretty quickly?
Citizens!: It just kind of happened. I think the album will be out by the end of May. We were introduced to Alex Kapranos and we’d been talking to a bunch of producers, we did some recordings as a test and they sounded good so we just went on to record the whole thing.
DD: How did you meet Alex?
Citizens!: He heard our demos and just really liked them. We met initially, just to talk and then ended up making the album with him.
DD: Your last single, 'True Romance', on the surface is an innocent love song. It’s juxtaposed massively with the really dark video by High 5 Collective. Did you always imagine these sinister undertones?
Citizens!: Well, that was their video, we respected the stuff they’d done already, they presented this idea to us and we just told them to do what they wanted to do. They explained what it was gonna be like. It brings out something in the song that we’d never really seen before. Any particular video doesn’t necessarily define a song, it’s just an idea.
DD: What are your own experiences of romance? I guess not from the party you met at?!
Citizens!: Oh God! It’s terrible because the person who’s party we met at.. I shouldn’t really say this in interviews cos she’ll know I came to this party to try and chat her up. I actually ended up getting drunk and chatting Tom up instead. It would sound cheesy if we started telling love stories. It’d be like that Jo Whiley show. I see “True Romance” less as a love song and more as a road movie, the image of two people stuck out of space and time.
DD: What can we expect from the album?
Citizens!: Well, we set ourselves really strict rules when we were recording. At no point were we allowed to rip off anything that had already happened in the past.
DD: Is that what you mean when you say you hate, “Revivalism and Ugly pop”?
Citizens!: Well, It just seems pointless to start a band that sounds like something that’s already happened. Obviously, you have to reference the past. We’re not trying to claim we don’t sound like anything else, but what we’re trying to do is play around with all different kinds of different things. It’s about being human and honest, making music that sounds like it was made by a human, not by some ugly monstrous machine that was just put out there to make money.
DD: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
Citizens!: Kanye! And if we could resurrect Freddie Mercury and do a three part project, then that. Freddie could do the Bon Iver bits of the new album.. I don’t know what we’d do in that collaboration though; probably just sit around with our jaws on the floor.
The new single is out March 19th on Kitsune