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Interview with Electric Citizen


Electric Citizen is a four piece female fronted band from Cincinnati that plays 60s and 70s influenced Rock. To date they have released and EP and two full length albums, namely Sateen (2014) and Higher Time (2016). Roland Oei talked with vocalist Laura Dolan and her husband and guitarist Ross while they were touring the UK. Here's what they had to say ...

electric citizen - interview

Can you please give the readers a brief history of how the band started?

R: I started the band totally for fun. We didn't plan on doing any touring and thought maybe we would do some local shows. Laura had been singing for maybe a year and I wanted to be in a band with my wife and a couple of my friends and we had another friend of ours that heard an EP that we did and she said send it to this label called RidingEasy which was very small at the time and again we weren't looking to do anything like what we are doing now and he put our record out and all of a sudden it was like do you want to go on tour with Fu Manchu and it was like yeah. So it was that simple. We aren't supposed to be here but I am glad that we are here.

Why do you sound so surprised that people like your music?

R: Because it was for fun. It was just for us you know. To have fun and drink some beers and write some music and it is a surprise I guess.

L: I think sometimes bands have different intentions when they get started and we had no intentions and everything has been a good surprise for us. We just see where everything takes us. We have grown as a band and our label has grown too and so we are all seeing the benefits of that as we go along. I didn't know that I would have to quit my full time job to do this. We have jobs that we work when we get home but I had a pretty steady salary job that I wasn't able to meet and I had to make the choice when we had the first tour and it was crazy for me to quit the job I had because it was a really good job and my heart was here. So far I have been able to tour and when I go home I just work really hard at whatever odd job I can pick up and so far it has worked and I have never been happier.

Can you describe your music to someone that has never heard it?

R: That is a tough one. It is 70s inspired rock like Pentagram and Black Sabbath, the heavy riff. I love that and I love playing that. Again it was for fun and it was like hey guys I have written some heavy songs do you feel like doing it?

L: Our music is absolutely inspired by the 70s and even further back than that. I am a huge fan of the 60s psychedelic movement and even back from that, the soul singers and different parts of that come out in our music and we try and interpret that in our own modern way. I don't want to be known as a throwback band either. We take it in a way that brings to mind a modern sound as well. The song writing and the lyrics in particular are centred around current events and things that are bothering me and it is current issues with the world and I think that modernises it and I don't have that much of a background in singing so I feel like I have developed a different voice just coming at this from an untrained angle and for me that sets us apart as well.

How has your music changed over time?

R: I would say the second album is more inspired by my favourite bands like MC5 and The Stooges and it is raw, mid western sound from the mid to late 60s whereas the first album is more let's have fun, I have these Sabbathy kind of riffs so the second album is more geared towards rock n roll rather than metal

Have the other guys contributed on the last album?

R: No, it is still just me. As we are progressing I bring less of a structured song and like for this record Randy has written a couple of riffs that have worked out great for us because he is a newer member and he wanted to be more of a part of it so I am cherry picking from his riffs and that works perfect so it is definitely changing but it is not going to change to the point where we aren't who we are anymore. We got here with a certain structure of song writing so we don't want to stray too far away from that. It is a happy medium right now.

L: I think we are getting better at what we do as we go along. We have got a lot more touring under our belts and a lot more experience with song writing and for me I try and push myself and find new things to do in songs and I like to try and explore that so I am not falling back into the same formula. I think that is the natural progression of time.

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Some of the songs on your EP ended up on your first album. Did you change them much?

R: They got remixed. I wish I had changed them. Looking back on it I would have doubled the guitars because they were really thin sounding. That is one thing, on the second album, everything is doubled, all the guitars. I played the rhythm track and then I played it again and had one guitar pan left and one pan right to give it a bigger sound.

L: There is so much depth with layering that gives the song a fuller sound and that is something that I want to explore more. We can still record on tape and dump those tracks and layer it more. On the first album we recorded on 8 tracks and that was it. The whole thing was mixed live on analogue board which is a performance in itself as the producer is sitting there and dialling things in and taking things down as it is rolling through the tape so the first album was done like that. On the second album we still recorded in the same studio but we had way more layers and that is something I want to continue to explore because it is a fuller sound and that is a more modern thing for sure.

You have said that lyrics usually come quickly for your songs. Were there any songs where that was not the case?

R: Misery Keeper took a while. It is on our second record and she must have written three different versions of the lyrics.

L: We have an old recording of the first version and it was a completely different song. Misery Keeper was a completely different song lyrically and the melody was different as well. Sometimes you write things and then you step back from them and you don't like what you hear and for me I think that is a very important element of being an artist, to be able to critique yourself and not think that everything you are doing is great. You should be able to look back and critique yourself and that is one where that happened and I think I went back and wrote two versions before I landed on Misery Keeper and then when I finally landed on that song it came together very quickly but I was determined to get that song to the point where I was happy with it and didn't stop writing until it was where I wanted it to be because it was a very good song that deserved more than the first two versions that I had.

Do you think you are more critical of yourselves now it has become more serious than the fun thing which you started with?

R: We are definitely thinking more about it now. You definitely think more about it and I did that with this second record. It is definitely different from doing it for fun, to a lot of people liking our band and they have an interpretation of what we should be doing in their minds at least.

L : I think it is an interesting question though because I think something to keep in mind is to not forget the spirit of the first album where it was very care free and there was no pressure and nobody cared and we could just create for us and I definitely have felt that stress before but it is important to stand back from it and go wait a minute, I still need to keep the same formula where I am creating stuff that I think is cool because I think that transcends better to people than maybe writing something with a certain audience in mind or a certain formula in mind because I think that can really get you in trouble and you have all of a sudden forgotten what you are doing this for and I think there are bands out there and they go down the road and they are just writing to be successful or to fit a certain audience and it changes their sound and I don't want that to happen to us. I want us to evolve and explore and find new things to do but not for the wrong reasons.

Can you pick two songs that people that have never heard the band should check out?

R: I would go for Social Phobia from our new album because it is a good driving song that is meant to be a fist pumping, fuck yeah and from the first album I would go for Light Years Beyond.

Have you got any message for your fans?

L : Thank you for supporting us and allowing us to do this and the fact that people find something in our music that they identify with is what drives us and without the fans we would still be at home making our shitty music for ourselves.

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