CITIZENS! – Interview

Sie waren die Poster-Boys der Indietronic-Bewegung, die ihr französisches Hipster-Label Kitsuné mit ihren Compilations und einigen Releases Mitte der Nuller-Jahre forcierte und haben neben Label-Acts wie Two Door Cinema Club, Is Tropical oder den Crystal Fighters Kitsuné als Sprungbrett ins Musikbusiness genutzt. Die Rede ist von der britischen Band Citizens!, die dieser Tage nach dreijährigem Warten einen Nachfolger zu ihrem Debütalbum ‘Here We Are‘ ablieferten – ‘European Soul‘! Darauf zeigen die drei Londoner, dass sie immer noch die Zutaten für gute Pop-Songs zu einem leckeren Album zubereitet bekommen. Wir freuen uns, dass sie, in Form von Thom, Zeit für ein Bedroomdisco Interview gefunden haben:

© Fotos Tom Oxley

Band Facts

– Name: Citizens!
– Band members: Tom Burke, Lawrence Diamond, Mike Evans, Thom Rhoades
– Founding year: 2011
– Residence: London
– Current album: European Soul


– How did you start to make music in the first place and were you forced to learn an instrument or was it by your own choice?

I was forced to learn double bass and trumpet. But I wouldn’t call what I was making ‘music’. That started when I learnt the riff to ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple.

– How have you all met and at what point did you decide to form a band?
We all worked as refuse collectors for the local council. Someone heard us singing on our morning route and said ‘hey, you guys should start a band’. I wish that were true – it actually has a lot more to do with stale beer and ex-girlfriends who we since left behind.

– Which musical influences do you have?
Mozart, Bach and Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’. Not necessarily in that order.

– How did you get in contact with your label Kitsuné and why did you decide to go with them as your label?
Few labels take bands as seriously as Kitsune. They have nurtured us from the day they heard our first demo. Which is lucky because we only picked them for the nice clothes.

– You received a lot of attention for your debut record and were touring a lot with it after the release – at which point did you start working on the second album and was it easy to get back to start writing after the stressful times following the release of your debut?
It was never stressful. You sometimes worry what people think but our job is the best in the world. Better than chocolate tasting. I think the main problem was bringing all the weird stuff we’d sketched out on the road and mould into into something that looked more like an album than a nervous breakdown.

– Can you tell us a bit about the production process of ‘European Soul’, what was the best and the worst moments during the process and what’s your most told anecdote from the making?
The best was when the label said ‘you have eight weeks in Paris to make an amazing album with this awesome producer’. The worst was when they said, ‘we gave you eight weeks and a great producer, why is it not finished yet?’
On my first night there we ended up in a friends apartment singing Queen songs in the style of Chas and Dave while walking in a big circle. None of the French people knew what was going on, but they joined in.

– What are the usual steps from the beginning to the end during the writing and production process of a song for your band? Who are usual the first people to listen to new songs?
Every song is different. It all starts with hooks and that can be anything that catches your ear. I started one song after a melody I heard a girl shouting from a taxi in Mexico. We always play the songs to Madonna first. But since we can only stand outside her house with a boom box, her feedback is usually very negative. She can be really mean.

– What inspires you to write lyrics? Is there a special place you tend to write songs at?
We all like to write in our own private chalets in the Alps. Unfortunately, until the payment goes through, we have to make do with our own bedrooms.

– ‘Waiting For Your Lover’ is one of our favourite songs from the record – can you tell us what it is about, how it was done and if there is a story behind it?
Glad you like it. It’s indulging the fantasy that we all might be able to turn our lives around by making big positive decisions. It might not be true for us, but the sentiment sounds good over a disco beat.

– ‘European Soul’ sounds a lot more like a pop record, influenced by 80ies pop, compared to your debut – how would you describe this change and were there new influences for you?
The starting point for this album was American Soul music so it’s weird that lots of people have heard eighties. It seems we can’t help evoking a period of relentless capitalist growth and excess, even when we’re talking about personal struggle. The change in our sound is more an evolution based on what we felt we needed in our live show. That’s the beginning and end for us – it’s the best thing about being a proper band. As we’ve grown as a group we’ve started to worry less about reacting to every new sound, and focussed inward.

– For your debut record you were working together with Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand as producer, now you worked with Laurend d’Herbcourt – could you describe your reasons for choosing them as producers, compare their way of working and how they influenced your sound on the two records?
Alex is like a big brother whereas Laurent is more of a mad uncle. I think we change our own sound, but they were both great at getting exactly where we were and pushing it further. Alex is a better cook but Laurent knows all the good restaurants.

– We heard you’re big pop fans – what are your three all time favourite pop records?
‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen
‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ by Cher
‘Got to Give it Up’ by Marvin Gaye and Pharrell Williams

– What are you doing when you’re not making music?
We work as a semiprofessional dance troupe the other six months of the year. We don’t have personal lives so it’s best to stay on the road.

– What did you learn in 2014?
How to make the album we heard in our heads.

– Your 3 top albums of 2015 up to now? Why?
Kendrick Lamar because it felt like a major event in music
Levon Vincent because it turns a London train journey into a b-movie space voyage
Drake because he showed how little it takes to make a great album

– Which song would fit to your actual situation?
Right now, ‘Waiting for your Lover’ by us. She’s late!

– Which song makes you dance independent of your situation?
‘December 1963 (oh what a night)’ by the Four Seasons

– How would your „Bedroomdisco“ look like?
Cramped, sweaty, with Iggy Pop’s ‘Nightclubbing’ on repeat

– Who did fill out the questionnaire?


Bedroomdisco-Gründer, Redaktions-Chef, Hans in allen Gassen, Golden Leaves Festival Booker, Sammler, Fanboy, Exil-Darmstädter Wahl-Hamburger & happy kid, stuck with the heart of a sad punk - spreading love for great music since '08!

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