Citizen’s Treasure is a band just coming into their own, despite the fact that they play like well seasoned musicians. With two members merely 20 years old, you can hear and see the energy of youth in their performance. They play together like a well oiled machine, yet the current line up of band members has only been together for just over a year. When I saw them perform, of course the first thing that struck me as they walked up on stage, before they even played a note, was their young ages. They were the opening act for Last Daze that evening. I saw this group of what I considered “kids” (as I am beginning to feel way too old to be “hip,” or “groovy”, or whatever the kids are calling it these days) hanging out in the front rows of chairs. It struck me that the gentleman in the group who appeared youngest was wearing a The Doors tee shirt. As I thought that they were a random group of young men (and clearly hoodlums up to no good by default in my old, anti-social, crazy cat lady brain), I was just so happy to see someone so young wearing a tee shirt representing a classic band, overlooked by many their age. I recall turning to the person next to me and saying, “It renews my faith in humanity to see a kid his age wearing a Doors shirt.” Then they walked up on stage, and I grinned. Then they started playing, and my happiness turned to awe. They were face numbing, mind blowing-ly awesome! The first thing they played was a long, amazing Doors medley. One of the next things they played were some Pink Floyd songs. The young man with the tee shirt ended up being the guitarist. With a shy manner and a completely straight face, he tore that electric guitar up! No one else in the band held such a serious expression. There was enthusiasm and joy all around! The young vocalist expressed emotion and conveyed it to the audience better than most I’ve seen.
I walked away from that performance repeating their band name in my mind, and vowing to learn more about them. And I did! Though, unfortunately I have yet to make it out to another one of their performances yet (don’t forget, I’m a tea drinking, blanket knitting, isolated cat lady who’s aged before her time). But I was lucky enough to catch up with the singer, PJ Ferguson, for a phone interview. He gave me the low-down on the band: himself, Jon Carl Smith, the bassist, Tim Irwin, the drummer, and Ben Fox, the guitarist.
As I said earlier, the current lineup of musicians in the band has been together for over a year. The band originally formed in 2013, with PJ and Jon in the beginning lineup. Prior to that, PJ had recorded a solo and a duo album. The recordings on their site, as well as the originals they perform up until now, have been from those albums. Now, however, they are currently in the studio, recording their first album as a group, with Tom Case recording and Mike Packard producing. PJ says the creation of their songs is a collaborative effort, with different members coming forward with a riff, or a beat, or a piece of a melody, and things progress from there. PJ then writes all of the melodies and lyrics.
Their sound is primarily rock, but I noted a touch of soul and funk in their playing. This aspect, according to PJ, is brought by Jon. He described him as a “funky bass player.” Jon enjoys Motown, Stevie Wonder, and other such musicians. Play that funky music, white boy!!
I noticed right away in their performance how into the 70’s rock music scene they seemed to be. I was curious as to how they got into this genre. PJ credits this to his father, who was a wedding DJ, getting him into this music at a young age. He mentioned how a lot of today’s music disappears after 5 years or so, but musicians and bands such as Tom Petty, The Doors, Led Zepplin, ACDC….their music is “timeless.” The members of Citizen’s Treasure share a love of this music, which is a part of the reason they came together.
As I mentioned, the band was very into their performance when I saw them, playing in a manner that reeled the audience in. One of the unique things they incorporated was the use of a megaphone. PJ used it with his singing on a couple of songs, one of which was “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd (“you can’t have your pudding if you don’t eat your meat!”) I asked where that idea came from and PJ said from a few bands, but mainly Stone Temple Pilots (Scott Weiland, the lead singer, is his favorite musician).The use of the megaphone in their performances not only distorts the vocals and provides a visual effect, but also is a sort of representation of protest-a symbol of “rebelling against the man” that seems to be a frequent theme in rock.
As I had noted earlier, guitarist Ben Fox looked so straight faced as he played. Later I discovered that he was also the only band member that didn’t have a photo next to his name on their website. I inquired to whether or not Ben is a shy person. PJ said “we all try to tell him to smile more.” He mentioned how some guitarists really overdo the theatrics in their performing, and they would like him to do something like that just once. But, the explanation for Ben’s serious demeanor is that he’s “in the zone” when he plays. He is so focused and into the music. Totally worth it! His playing is incredible! PJ, though so very outgoing and expressive when performing, claims he is shy when they are not playing live. He says performing is like “coming into your own skin.”
With such talent, I suspected some formal training in their pasts, but apparently the band members are pretty much self taught. I told him how I find people who have the discipline to do that inspiring. I know personally there’s things I’d really like to learn, but now that there’s no teachers to answer to, the couch is just too damn comfy… PJ says “You gotta have drive. You may go even months without touching it because you feel you’re not progressing fast enough.” Yeah, that latter part sounds more like me.
As for the future of the band, they want to see how their first album appeals to their audience. They will also be making a music video for one of the songs. They’re finishing up recording in February, so keep an eye out for it in the near future! Their next performance is at GUG’s in Glens Falls on February 4th of 2017.
So, in the opinion of this old lady, with old taste in music, these guys are on the fast track to joining the ranks of “timeless” music. Check them out! And, if I ever decide to leave my house again, maybe I’ll see you at one of their upcoming shows. Who knows… It’d definitely be worth it!