Citizens!: True Pop

Oxfords, leather jackets, and colourful socks are a few of the facets that make Citizens! the band that they are. Emerging from the London scene and freshly signed to record label Kitsuné, this indie disco-styled pop band has always had the ethos of reclaiming pop – justified with their catchy, vibrant, and danceable songs. As the headlining act for Fred Perry’s 60 Years of Rebellion string of events in Asia, JUICE got the chance to speak to the stylish lads – Martyn, Thom, Mike, Lawrence and Tom – finding out about their immense love for Kanye West and what they would be doing if they weren’t making music.

How does it feel like to be the headlining act for Fred Perry’s events in conjunction with their 60th anniversary?
Tom It’s amazing! We’ve been really looking forward to coming to Asia for a long time. It’s a really good feeling for us to be playing gigs in new places and for new audiences. We love that we can be here to play for you guys.

Did you guys try any bizarre dishes in Indonesia before heading here to Kuala Lumpur?
T Yeah! I ate cow’s intestines and petai. But they played a trick on me, they didn’t really tell me what it was, so they gave me the whole pot. I was trying to be polite so I just ate it.
Martyn I was told to have a prawn brain, apparently it’s quite normal there but it was weird for me.

Your debut album was produced by Alex (Kapranos) of Franz Ferdinand, do you guys like being compared to them?
T I don’t like it! I can see that there are some similarities, but we’ve never really wanted to sound like that band. I think it’s because there’s this spirit that we share, that music can be celebratory and still be cool, because we don’t have to be sulking to be cool.

Do you have any artistes that play a major role in influencing the kind of music you do?
T Yeah! A lot of influences. But I think it’s about trying to contrast influences away from what people might not have heard. So for ‘True Romance’, our vision was Kanye West, and we thought that might be interesting. So you know it has a hip hop beat, and it has a very plastic poppy riff which might come from a Kanye song, and then it has that big epic guitars that really open up, or even like an Arcade Fire tune.

Are you hoping to collaborate with anybody for perhaps the next album, other than Yeezy?
T (Laughs) Of course we would like to collaborate with Kanye! We’ve been talking about this a lot recently.
M It’s actually one of the most fun things when you start thinking about producers you want to work with. You can just make a Christmas list and write to Santa Claus saying I want to work with this guy, or this girl. Then you can actually phone them up and ask them and maybe it might happen. So that’s kind of exciting stuff.
T So if you interview Kanye next time, tell him that we’re clean, yeah!

Your official video for ‘True Romance’ features a lot of people making out in public spots. Where is the worst spot you guys have made out at?
Thom In a Volvo.
T It should be who’s the worst person you’ve made out with!
M In a disco or something.
T Yeah… Probably in a rainy park at night when I was a kid. Adelaide, actually! Adelaide was pretty bad. I won’t give you any specifics, I’m just going to say Adelaide.

Could you tell us about your previous band Official Secrets Act before Citizens! evolved?
T There’s not that much to tell, really. It’s something we did when we were a lot younger. It was fun at that time. We did release an album but it wasn’t especially kind of serious, it was a part-time thing because we had jobs and stuff. We didn’t tour very much. Actually I’m really glad that I was in a band before this one because we made a lot of mistakes in that band and we learned from all those mistakes.

What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?
T Thom is a really great football player!
M I’d probably work in a café and cry myself to sleep every night.
T (Laughs) Me too. You know, you get your head so deeply stuck into being in a band that it’s really hard to imagine what else you’d do. Mainly because I don’t think anyone would give us a job really, because we just seem like draggled ragamuffins who just go around the world playing music. No one is actually going to give us responsibility.

Your style is obviously impeccable, who amongst you takes the longest to get ready?
M Me, but not usually. I’ve just been really slow at getting ready!
T I’m the late one. I’m very often late. But in terms of preening, I wonder who takes the longest…
M Probably Lawrence.
T Yeah, probably Lawrence. He’s a very well presented man.
M He lost his bag today! So he’s been wearing the same thing all day.

Tom, how does it feel like being the face of Saint Laurent? Is it a lot of pressure?
T I don’t know if I’m actually the face, but I did a shoot for them and it was great, I really enjoyed it! The shoot was in New York so that was really nice.
M Ever since he came back everyone has been calling him “The Face.” They don’t refer to him as “Tom” anymore.
T (Laughs) When people call me that I get really angry.

Our bad, ‘The Face’. Lastly, describe Citizens! in three words.
T I’d say, heavenly experimental pop.
M One mean zapper.

Citizens! headlined Fred Perry’s Sixty Years of Rebellion on Friday 30 November 2012. Find out more about the band at