"Every Form Of Art Has Influence..." An Exclusive Interview With Electric Citizen
Between the U.S. and Europe, Riding Easy Records artists Electric Citizen have rocked out the underground with their vintage style of music and fun energy with their live shows. Preparing for their European Tour in May, we had a few moments to speak with singer Laura Dolan and discuss music and art, her own personal influences, dogs, and more!
MHW: Thanks for taking the time to speak with Metalhead World! For those that may not have heard of Electric Citizen, tell us a little about yourselves!
EC: My pleasure, thanks for having us. We’re from Cincinnati, Ohio. Formed in 2013. Our band name comes from an Edgar Broughton song called “Death of an Electric Citizen”. We’re a rust belt hard rock band.
This band was started for fun, we didn’t expect people to care, we try to keep that mindset, and just work hard at the music. If the music comes first and matters most, the rest follows.
MHW: You can definitely hear the undertones of Black Sabbath in your music. What other influential musical elements do you bring to the table that separates you from what seems like an explosion of similar sounding bands?
EC: There does seem to be an explosion lately, I think that that’s a good thing, it’s catching on. When we started in 2013 that wasn’t really the case. It’s nice to have a big family of like-minds around us now.
What separates us is that our influences are all over the place, we write short, to the point, hard rock songs. Black Sabbath grandfathers this genre, you’re bound to hear their influence in anyone playing this type of music, but we get it from many other places. I’d say Pentagram is a bigger influence than Black Sabbath for us. We love soul music, afro beat, psychedelic, folk, classical, punk and glam just as much as heavy rock and metal. We are music lovers and collectors. To me, the ability to take your influences, and make them into your own unique creation is just as important as the musicianship. Every form of art has influence. Take the Van Gogh Museum for instance; the painters who influenced his style to hang right next to his works, it’s celebrated. We need more of this mindset in music.
MHW: Your recent release Helltown has been very well received since it’s release back in October. What are your thoughts on the reception of the album?
EC: We’re really happy to hear that. To me, the music takes on a life of its own after you create it, and even during its creation. To see it thriving, being well received, we’re grateful for that.
MHW: Going back a little bit, can you take us through the songwriting process of Helltown? How did you do things differently than previous efforts Higher Time or Sateen?
EC: Our songwriting never stops, we’re always at it. When we have enough songs to make the cut for an album, we release one. I don’t think the process has really changed since the onset of this band, but perhaps where we take the music does. We try loads of things. Some succeed, others don’t. It’s important to me to not get attached to our creations, always be willing to critique, do better.
MHW: It was stated on your website that you weren’t happy with the previous album Higher Time when you went to record Helltown. What was it about the album that rubbed you the wrong way?
EC: We feel we overproduced it and in some ways, we rushed it. No regrets, it’s a stamp in time. A lot of people call it their favorite, so it comes down to how you like the song to sound.
MHW: Laura, you have a very nice flow in your vocals which blends perfectly into the music backing you. What are your vocal influences and if you’re the primary lyricist, what are some topical influences that are brought into the lyrics?
EC: Thank you, that’s nice to hear. I write the lyrics and melody with a couple of exceptions. Ross (Dolan) has contributed a few times. At the onset of this band I knew I wanted to sing using melody, but not in a pretty or overly pleasing way; like Geddy Lee. I get inspiration from many singers, male and female, but the ones I really adore are those you can identify from the first note. Like Nina Simone or Marc Bolan.
MHW: Electric Citizen is about to embark on a European Tour kicking off with a couple of US festivals. Psycho Smokeout on 4/20 and Desertfest New York on April 26th. What are your thoughts on being a part of these “who’s who” line-up of the Psychedelic/Stoner genre?
EC: We are really happy to be recognized and be a part of it.
MHW: What can someone expect attending one of your shows?
EC: A real good time on a real wild ride. We have a lot of energy live, I think it’s the best setting to hear us.
MHW: Being from the United States, what are your thoughts on the American cannabis culture and the convoluted situation in regards to nationwide legalization?
EC: Legalize it. We’re in this probationary state with weed, I think it’s ridiculous. It helps people, let it help people. I am glad to live in a time where it’s now generally accepted, at least we’ve progressed enough to say that.
MHW: Laura, you recently showed association on your social media to the Instagram page “Dogs Of Doom” sharing a selfie with your dog. Is there a stray problem in Cincinnati? Would you like to expand on the band’s stance on animal rights in regards to rescue and adoption?
EC: I have been an advocate for animals practically my whole life. I feel just as connected to them as people. I was a dog and cat groomer through college, helped with many rescues, volunteered for shelters, bottle fed puppies and kittens round the clock, and protested the circus and venues that exploit wild animals. Animals have given me so much happiness, I feel I owe it to them to advocate on their behalf.
I don’t really see a stray problem in Cincinnati as I did 10+ years ago It’s vastly improved and that’s thanks to the hard work of volunteers. I think social media has also helped raise awareness and funds to enable this. There’s a lot of good people out there, I admire what they do, it takes a tremendous amount of selflessness to advocate for animals.
MHW: You are asked to book a “Dogs Of Doom Metal” festival where attendees can bring their dogs. The show takes place in a nice sized grassy clearing during the day. What 3 bands would you ask to attend?
EC: I think the dogs would really enjoy Acid King or Boris, and Ozzy Osbourne so he can play “Bark at the Moon”, and perhaps we could get Witchfinder General back together for a show. We’d all like that.
MHW: We have to ask. Any new studio material set for 2019?
EC: We’re writing and album 4 is coming, but no promises on when it will be released.
MHW: Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us! We wish you the best of luck and well wishes on your upcoming tour! Is there anything else you would like to add?
EC: Thank you, hope to see everyone out on tour, means a lot to us when people come out to support, keeps this whole thing going ya know?