Some bands pick a name because it sounds edgy or capture the ethos of the sound. And some bands… well… they pick their name because their original name was a little too similar to someone else’s. “It was the first Pop Montreal we were playing and there was a band called Citizen Ships. We wondered whether our names were too similar,” explains lead singer Jesse LeGallais. “Scott [Delaney] came up with it. We thought when you took out the vowels, it looks almost Russian. Taking out the vowels is part of a trend, but for us, it was purely an aesthetic choice.”
Aesthetics, eh? Well, this fuzzy, loud, poppy rock band from Montreal has managed to back up its pretty face with some serious shows. The band played at NXNE (opening for the National, no less), CMJ, Pop Montreal, and M for Montreal to name a few. Not too bad for three guys who got together in 2011 through a mutual friend.
LeGallais and Delaney grew up together in Toronto. “Scott and I, we’ve known each other since we were kids and have been playing different bands for years,” says LeGallais. “Flo [Clavel] moved here on a working visa from France and we met. We talked about film and girlfriends and stuff like that. We made a strong connection. It just kind of worked, the three of us, both musically and personally and we took it from there.”
One reason to go to the show is a chance to grab a vinyl copy of the band’s album, Doom Love. The LP isn’t yet available, though the band plans to self-release it digitally in January.
Songcraft is very much the focus of CTZNSHP. LeGallais mentions that songs develop in two different ways. “Sometimes I do the writing on my own and bring in basic structures,” he says. “More often, though, when we rehearse, we jam for about an hour before we play. Out of that comes some really good stuff. We record our practices, so if there’s something good in there, we’ll focus on that idea as a band.”
“The lyrics I take care of. The music itself is a democracy,” Le Gallais adds.
“Lyrics have always been my main thing,” LeGallais says. “I play bass in the band, but only because we had trouble finding someone to do it. Once we had a good dynamic, we didn’t want to throw that off.”
“Lyrically, I kind of enjoy vignettes and cinematic stuff, where I don’t specifically write about one idea. I’ll try and piece together scenes and images that evoke a general feeling or idea. I don’t write about myself personally, but am influenced by my friends and things I love.”
Even though the similarity of the band’s name was once the subject of Pop Montreal controversy, CTZNSHP’s sound and style is unusual in the Montreal scene. They rely less on electronic sounds and as a result, have a greater degree of unpredictability in their shows. “We’re kind of an anomaly,” says LeGallais. “We’re this big, loud poppy band. Not a lot of people are doing what we’re doing all of a sudden. Our live shows have no back tracks. Just three guys. There’s an edgniess, and you don’t know what’s going to happen, if we’re going to go off the rails.”
Things are looking positive for the band. “This winter, we’ll be recording our follow-up EP. In February, we have some dates in New York. This spring, we’re going to hopefully be going down to SXSW and doing some dates around there,” says LeGallais. “We’re pretty excited about where 2014 is going to take us.”
CTZNSHP opens for Bare Mutants at Casa del Popolo (4873 St. Laurent) on Dec 5. 8 p.m. $9