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Citizens Here and Abroad

Here in San Francisco and Beyond

A few of my on-line snapshots of lead singer Adrienne Robillard from the bands opening slot gig at the sold out Arcade Fire show at Bottom of the Hill, led me on a circuitous route to the band's Oakland studio. There I peppered them with questions as they worked out new songs and prepared for a performance next week at the Great American Music Hall.

As the band explains it, they met at Mission dive the Tip Top, a funky neighborhood watering hole. Adrienne and husband Dan Lowrie (guitars) were playing in the now defunct Secadora. Chis Groves (bass, vocals) and Chris Wetherell (drums), also members of local band Dealership, were drinking at the bar. Over time a friendship was developed, then a shared practice space and finally a name snatched from a 50s era Girl Scouts handbook which led to the formation of Citizens Here and Abroad in 2002.

I asked the band about the name, especially since many of the songs on their debut LP, Ghosts of Tables and Chairs, are about driving, changes in scenery, moving furniture, and strip malls in suburbia. The bands name takes on a deeper meaning inside the lyrics of their lush, dreamy pop album. Chris G. took up the challenge of answering my elaborate question.

"I like the interpretation, when we saw the phrase, it jumped out at us; it wasn't intentional. I think that maybe it was part of the process and for whatever reason it stuck out to us."

Adrienne adds, "We came up with the name before we really had the band together. We thought it'd be a good name because it includes in it everyone in the whole world, here and otherwise."

Which led us into a discussion of 2005 and the bands up upcoming European tour of 22 cities in April. Being true to their name, Dan wants to let their fans across the pond know that "our main priority right now is learning new languages, so we can communicate with our fellow citizens abroad."

The band is recording several new songs in anticipation of its sophomore effort due out sometime this year. "Radar", with it's driving drum line and mesmerizing guitar work reminds me of Blonde Redhead, one of my longtime fave bands they also like. "We don't sit down and say let's make this one a Blonde Redhead tune," Chris G. says. "But if you're listening to a band, it's hard not to have it in the sound that we're making at the time." "In the Dark", a song they debuted at The Arcade Fire show, has a dream pop flavor that defines the San Francisco sound.

I conclude my interview with a question about food, a subject that ranks highly in the band's on-line tour diaries.

"When you're on tour", Dan relates. "So much time is spent in clubs and on the road, everything blends together. The only thing breaking up the 8 or 9 hours on the road is food."

I like this answer, for some reason it makes everything fit together, until Adrienne reminds everyone that it's important to "eat before the show...".

Citizens Here and Abroad perform with SoCal-based Elefant and Everybody Else: Saturday, January 22nd at the Great American Music Hall. The show $13 and is all ages. Doors open at 8pm. See you there!

MP3's, sound clips, tour journals and photos can be found at:

Chris Groves and Chris Wetherell also play in Dealership. More info can be found at:

Elefant perform on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday January 18th