PropertyOfZack Interview : : City (Comma) State

by Zack Zarrillo - Oct 15, 2010

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PropertyOfZack had the chance to interview City (Comma) State just a few days ago and it went great! I had an absolute blast speaking to Joanna and Drew about the band, their upcoming tour, and label chatter. We just put up a stream of a brand new song from the band that you can listen to here if you have yet to already. Read up and enjoy!

For the record, could you state your name and role in City (Comma) State?
Drew: My name is Drew, Drew Langan that is, and I’m the drummer in City (Comma) State.
Joanna: I’m Joanna Pacitti and I’m the lead singer. Then there’s Justin Siegel who plays bass and there’s Frogs who plays guitar.

So, Joanna, what’s your obsession with bubble guts?
Joanna: [Laughs]. I was actually pretty drunk last night and someone used the term bubble guts and I’ve been calling everyone bubble guts all last night and today. I don’t know why I love saying it. It makes me laugh.

On to serious questions; City (Comma) State was formally announced just a few months ago, but you guys have been working on material for a long time and have seen your fair share of name changes. Could you talk a little bit about the creation of the band and when talking about making music to actually making it become a reality?
Joanna: Justin and I, the bass player, we’ve been good friends for about ten years and we worked together a bit when I was a solo artist and he was working at Interscope Records. I had moved back to Philadelphia and I had kind of been living all over the place and we met up in LA, I came out to work on some stuff, and I sat down with him and I started talking with him and I was pretty much just telling him that I don’t even like my own music as a solo artist and I started going through all the bands that I was inspired by and stuff that I listen to and the kind of record that I wanted to make. It was completely off track as what I was actually doing as a solo artist. So we just kind of started experimenting. Frogs actually had some tracks laying around that he was experimenting with and Justin kind of passed him on to me and told me to see what I could do with it. So we kind of just did it as an experiment and we started really, really jumping in and that’s kind of when Mark Hoppus kind of heard snippets of the project and he was like, “Wow, this is awesome and I’d love to be involved.” That’s kind of when it became real, when he got involved. It was kind of just something we were doing on the side; it was never anything like super organic in terms of it coming together.

Two songs have been released so far and have been met with both good and bad response, which is surely going to be the case of any material from any band. How has the response been in your eyes?
Joanna: I think we expected that some people would be disappointed because I think they thought Mark Hoppus was in the band. So some people were disappointed and I think either way, if he was even in the band, I think people would have disappointed anyway because they want another blink record, which I do as well. We were kind of prepared for that, but we’ve gained a really good group of fans, which is exciting. I can’t wait for them to hear the rest of the record because there’s a lot more depth and there’s some really good material on the record.

Could you talk about where the recording process is currently at for you guys? Last time you updated the world I think I read that you had about 13 songs in the works.
Joanna: Yeah, we have 13 songs, but when you’re an artist you’re never done. For me and Justin, we’re definitely perfectionists and we’re still writing. We actually have a writing session after this via video chat. I really kind of feel like we’re just getting into who City (Comma) State is and now the whole band’s involved in the writing and I think the songs are really kind of taking on their own character. We’re going to continue writing, probably throughout the tour with All Time Low and kind of see where we are after that and go from there.

How do you go about the writing process?
Joanna: It’s always different actually. With City (Comma) State it’s always been different since it started out with Frogs sending us tracks and we would write lyrics and melody to it. Or maybe we’d have a lyric idea and we’d go from there. Recently we’ve just been sitting down with the whole band and kind of coming up with stuff. We’re really into our lyrics and not just writing stupid lyrics about going out and having a good time. If you actually pick apart the lyrics to our songs they really have a lot of depth to them.

When would you like to finish the recording process by?
Joanna: This is wishful thinking, but I would love to finish everything up by the New Year, but you never know with us because we’re such perfectionists. I still feel like we still have a few really good songs that are waiting to be put to good use.
Drew: Like she was saying earlier, when you’re creating music you kind of just have to get in the mode where you force yourself to stop making changes, because you’ll never stop if you don’t force yourself to.
POZ: Right, and that can sometimes ruin a song if you keep, keep, keep going with it.
Joanna: I get it from Justin all the way, “Jo, take a deep breath,” because I get into every single little detail, we all do. It’s like we’re mad scientists.
Drew: You’re putting this thing out in the world that totally represents you. You want it to be perfect.

If you guys do finish it up by the early New Year, could an early summer/late spring release be a possibility?
Joanna: I think so. I hope so. Hopefully we’re on a tour during the summer as well. We’ll see, we’re crossing our fingers.

Like you mentioned earlier about people being disappointed about Mark not being a member of the band, but that has obviously given you guys so much publicity. Is it kind of a blessing and a curse to already be so known without releasing even an EP or playing any shows yet?
Joanna: I actually really feel like it’s a blessing. It’s really hard for a band to kind of be heard now-a-days and to get their music out and we were so lucky to even be able to work with Mark and we learned so much. It kind of just cracked the door open for us and got us really excited on something that we thought was only a hobby. It was like a side-project. We didn’t even think anything of it. The fact that it became real when people started buzzing about it was just really exciting and we’re super fortunate. I don’t think it’s gonna be a curse just because we’re so lucky that Mark produced, and wrote, and played on the record. I think it’s amazing and I think his fans regardless, his hardcore fans, will hopefully take a liking to it as well.
Drew: I think there will be a certain, small group of people that will be really disappointed that he’s not in the band, or I’m sure they already found out, but once we get past that it’s gonna be a test of the music. And if the music is good, and we believe it really is, then it’ll speak for itself. Then this thing will have legs for itself.

The band will be heading out on tour with All Time Low in just a few days. Did that relationship get established through the whole Mark and Alex song thing?
Joanna: Yeah, that was another thing that happened pretty organically. We were in the studio working on some stuff with Mark and we were going through some of his older stuff and he happened to bring up this song he did with Alex from All Time Low and he’s like, “You know, this could be really cool from a girl’s point of view. It’s not finished; maybe we can bring him in and finish writing the song.” So that kind of started that relationship and Alex and Jack came down to the studio and we finished the song, recorded the song and it turned out great. We all just really, really got along. I think they were in town for two weeks and we were all hanging out like every single night and at like 5 in the morning we were like, “Hey lets write a song.” A couple songs we actually wrote with Alex on the record that were mostly done when we were completely hammered. We’ve all become really good friends and that’s kind of when they were like, “Hey, would you guys be interested in coming on tour with us?” and we were like, “Hell yeah.”

What should we expect from the live show?
Joanna: Drew, you wanna take this one?
Drew: You can expect to hear maybe some of the songs we have been working on in the past, but at the same time like Joanna was saying earlier; we are a band that is figuring out our sound, and so that is something we’ll be becoming more and more comfortable with everyday and you’re going to definitely hear a little bit of the Mark influence, but you’re also going to start to hear the influence of Joanna, Justin, Frogs, and Drew. Maybe if you’re lucky maybe even a cover.
Joanna: We’ve kind of tried to balance the songs out as much as we can. There’s the group of songs that are super high energy and then there’s a couple songs that are really like dark and sexy. So we tried to balance those out.

How many songs will you guys be playing?
Joanna: We’re doing 30 minutes. How many songs are in our set Drew?
Drew: I suspect we’ll end up settling between five or six.

You guys are not signed to a label right?
Joanna: Nope, we’re not yet.
POZ: You guys are shopping though?
Joanna: We wanted to wait. We’re actually going to use this tour just to kind of warm up to playing live shows and then we’re going to showcase for some labels. Just because Justin’s seen the business side of labels and I was at a label for six years, so we’re just really nervous and we want to find the right family that truly believes in us and is as passionate as we our about the project. It think that’s gonna take a minute. And even if it takes a little while and we’re all scrounging for pennies and trying to tour, it’s okay. I came back to Philly just because I didn’t have a place to live anymore and I was sick of sleeping around on everyone’s couches. To me it’s worth it because I’d rather not sign because we can sign. I want to find the right home for us.
POZ: It’s so great that you both have such great experience with the pitfalls and blessings of a big label.
Joanna: Yeah, it’s frustrating though sometimes because Justin handles the situations sometimes like a businessperson, like he’s a label. I want to shake him sometimes, I’m like, “Get excited, we’re going on tour!” He’s seen so much in the business that it’s hard for him to get too excited about something until it’s like official. I kind of have the same thing, but we’re lucky because Drew is the fresh face to this whole thing and he’s super excited. So it’s all balanced.
Drew: It’s funny because I’ve ever heard Justin talk about how he’s making that transition from label dude to band dude and I get the vibe from him that a part of that is just about letting go and making music.

Are you guys at all nervous for this upcoming tour? It’s your first and it’s a pretty damn big one.
Joanna: We’re so lucky. There were so many bands that were really trying to get on this tour and we were asked to be on the tour and that just doesn’t happen. I’m a little nervous. We’re playing these tiny little clubs, so we’re not gonna have the big stage and there’s gonna be technical difficulties, and there’s gonna be a million things going wrong, we’re going to be gross and sweaty. For me being a girl, I don’t know how often we’re going to be able to shower. I’m nervous, but I’m also really excited because it’s like a family. We’re a really close group of friends with the All Time Low guys. We haven’t met any of the guys from A Rocket To The Moon yet, but I feel like it’s gonna be a fun time.
Drew: I’m personally really excited, and that’s coming from a guy who gets nervous really easily. We’ve had the pleasure to get to know the All Time Low guys and they’re just awesome. I think it’s gonna be a big party. There are gonna be some technical difficulties and stuff like that, but I think it’s going to be fun, and sweaty, and dirty and I’m looking forward to it.

Should we expect anymore-scattered tour dates after the All Time Low tour?
Joanna: Yeah, for sure. I think once we kind of get a feel for our live show and what we’re all about and I think once people start seeing us I think the books will start to fill up, at least I hope. I know there’s a couple things that might be popping up in LA, but that’s about it. We just want to focus on getting the record done and getting it to the fans.

Obviously it’s a long time away, but after the records done, should we just expect a lot of touring?
Joanna: Hell yeah. That’s all I want to do is tour.

So is there anything else we should be on the lookout for from City (Comma) State in the upcoming future?
Joanna: I think that’s it.
Drew: I think for the future of City (Comma) State you can expect a kick-ass fall tour. That’s what we have immediately in our sights.

Thanks so much for your time!
Joanna: No problem!

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