Missing Citizen Interview by Ben Spencer
Photography by Jo Blackened
[EP Cover by Scott Chalmers]
Hailing from Portsmouth with over ten years experience, Missing Citizen burst full with a vibrant and energetic Rock sound: infused melodies, hooks and soaring vocals. The quartet are ready to unleash the fruits of their labour. We get the latest as these guys are set to give London (and the rest of the UK) a dose of what’s been missing from the current Alternative Rock scene.
Andy: I play the guitar we started the band off ten years ago.
Matt: I’m the drummer, we started ten years ago and slowly evolved into what we are now.
Dan: I’m the singer been in the band for about six years and I’m one of the key lyric writers.
Martin: I play the bass. I was in a band after school with matt and then joined this band.
Matt: we played the joiners a few times last year and we have been building up a fan base. But recently we did some gigs in and around Portsmouth. One guy said “you guys are the edgiest band I’ve seen” without being a Metal band copycat. It’s quite nice being a support band as you can surprise from the crowd.
Dan: sometimes you live in a bubble and don’t realise the impact you have on others. Some people have said “Wow that’s a punch in the face, that’s real intense and real energy” and that’s not necessarily our intention that’s just what comes out. So we’ve been really encouraged. Things in the last year have really started happening and word of us is starting to get out and it’s all very encouraging.
Dan: That’s down to who you know, our friend really liked our music and the guy thrash man is very keen to promote new bands. It sounded awesome on the radio. I’ve spoke to him since and he wants us to do a live session.
But again its one of those things where we ask “would that transfer well onto the radio”.’ it’s one of those things of being in the right place at the right time.
Andy: Gone to war has been one of the flagship song, we’ve got some more stuff that we haven’t finished we would like to bring out some new stuff but I think we’ll be pushing that song forward for the moment.
Andy: we’ve all been in bands together, but with us a song can happen within the first five minutes of a song and we jam, and play riffs which Dan will start singing lyrics on the spot so that you get a really fresh melodies and hooks which gives the music an organic feel.
Martin: it’s an equal process.
Dan: what’s interesting is that working on a sound, you know that sense where a band is really in the zone of knowing when a bridge is coming, everyone gives a wink and nod and sometimes we walk away after a 20 minute rehearsal and it’s like “shit in there is almost a fully constructed song.” And then it’s just picking it out.
I’ve looked back at old songs which I thought were bad and then we later go back and within an hour or two we have something new. Sometimes we go into the studio with nothing and coming out a couple of hours later with new material and being like “ok where did that come from?”
5. In this light how important is social media to you guys? Do you feel that it helps in making name for yourself and expanding your fan base to new horizons?
Dan: well yeah that is unless Martin gets hold of it (laughs)
Martin: well yeah I nearly got us band from Facebook (laughs). I was probably the most resistant to it but even I’m won over by it all now. Like we played with a band that didn’t have any CD’s with them but they just told their fans to go over and buy their stuff off ITunes, so it shows how the world is changing.
Andy: I mean back when we started ten years ago there was no social media, so the way you publicise a band has completely changed to what it once was.
Dan: I think it’s the immediacy of it all, our gig at the wedgewood rooms and our final song ‘Fly’ kind of went viral on YouTube. The song kind of grew its own legs and grew by itself.
Matt: As well in the past it was always judged on just word and mouth where as now people can put it on a YouTube channel so people can see what you do before they see you live.
Dan: Yeah were playing at the Fighting Cocks 15th of March in Kingston under Phoenix promotions. For us it’ll be a London debut for us. Which is really exciting and the fighting cocks is a groovy little venue.
Andy: you do want to spread your wings, I mean Portsmouth is great and that but after a while you will start cycling round the same people so you’ve got to put yourself out there so going places like London is a great place to play in front of a different crowd of people.
Dan: and at this point it’s great as we worked really hard in terms of getting a local following as if you were to ask people about Missing Citizen, they’ll say “yeah I’ve heard of them” which is important where you come from. So now it’s like let’s go up the motor way and play there. Wherever we can play we will.
Martin: I guess areas like Portsmouth, bands may not really do as well as opposed to London which is like a Mecca and I’m sure the suburbs around Manchester it’s the same deal. But I think we’ve done the right thing and paid our dues locally and it feels naturally to progress.
Matt: It’s nice to get away as we lock ourselves away in a rehearsal room and it’s nice to finally get it out there.
Dan: You work hard and you break the back of your local area and you have the confidence to say this sound will travel and this is going to work. And we’ve got that 45-50 minute set that is a real smack in face its that 50 minute Missing Citizen experience.
Matt: I think we’ve worked hard on our live set from start to finish so I think that’s given us the confidence to go anywhere and put on a good show.
Andy: we were together 2005 and we split up and we still play old songs although we are more conscious of our style. We try and come up with something quite edgy.
Dan: to start with we came together with different influences however as we progress we use an in-word called lets “citizenzse it” we have that vibe where we know what we sound like and we play as a unit. We have harnessed our sound and we play a certain music that comes out a certain way. It’s very energetic and emotional.
Our song ‘Dead Eight’ which is months old but ‘am I dreaming is ten years old but these songs have progressed live so everything sounds quite current. There’s a definite missing citizen sound.
8. Are there any bands from your local area that would like to bring with you on a UK tour?
Dan: down south is a strange area, it desperately wants to have a scene and every now and then it has one for a brief period of time. But we knock around with a few bands like The Chase who played with for their album launch, and we meet a lot of bands who are trying to form a scene.
Andy: our last gig was quite a collective show with a couple of acoustic acts with female singer.
Martin: Kind of Fairport convention.
Andy: The next band was like a Hardcore Metal band who were shattering everyone’s eardrums. Then there was a band that had a Joe Strummer sound. It just seemed like a really weird group, as the people watching didn’t know what they were going to get next.
Martin: I don’t think we’ve met anyone who is in the same airspace as us at the moment musically. There are heavy bands, acoustic and folky bands but none who really share our influences.
Dan: You know how NME will tag a scene and its almost a scene for a month and a lot of bands will raise their heads but that scene almost becomes old with the change of month, so you sort of see them come to a peak and drift and we don’t want to do that. With all of our influences we continually change and progress without being categorised. You see a lot of band that easily pigeon hole themselves.
Dan: yeah Blackout. I think one of the things were proud of is that we can go quite dark and moody and minimal and Blackout and there’s always an applause. That’s one thing were proud off because there’s no way that we would just put three chords together and blast your faces for 20 minutes and we don’t work that way.
Andy: All our songs have got their own character as well though ten years ago I was listening to Incubus and some songs sound a bit like that, where as Black out has a completely different character to it.
I am very resilient to playing guitar in the conventional way.
Dan: I also try to avoid falling into the same subject matter, like one song will be about unrequited love, one will be about addiction. Subject matter is vital if the first four songs played are about heart ache it’s going to get repetitive so it’s nice to include life experiences if you can.
10. I see that you guys also have a series of shows between January and March is there any particular venue or destination you’re looking forward to the most?
Dan: The Sellers is a lovely place in Portsmouth that we’ve always wanted to play but it’s a great little venue to play. It’s nice that we’ve put the work in and now it’s time to go out there.
11. If you guys could hit the road with any band at the moment, no matter how great or small, who would it be and why?
Andy: I’m a massive Pearl Jam fan but At The Drive In would be up there. There’s no one like them out there really.
Matt: Probably Incubus and Smashing Pumpkins.
Dan: I would to do something alongside radio Head.
Martin: I think Foo Fighters for me would be great as I saw them in the Isle of Wight and I took a lot from that gig.
12. What are your plans for 2012?
Martin: Looking for new recording as its time to get the next batch of songs laid down.
Andy: Do more gigs in London and work away further in our local venue like the Wedgewood Rooms which is where bands like Oasis have played and get on tour with a band and get more exposure.
Dan: and of course write more material, recording and more impressive live stuff. We’ve got a live set that we think could blow some people’s minds.