“I’m one of those personalities where, when I’m tasked to do a job, I want to do it well,” says Electric Citizen’s theatrical vocalist Laura Dolan. “And I did well in the corporate arena and it was a hard job to leave. But our music is something that I’d rather look back from my deathbed and say, ‘This is how I spent my time here.’ If you look at it that way, and take money out of the equation, it’s an easy decision.” In 2014, Laura quit her job as project manager to go on tour in support of Electric Citizen’s first record, Sateen. Since then, the group has toured with iconic stoner-rock bands including Pentagram, Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu, and Wolfmother, paving a bright future for themselves in the great halls of rock & roll. Recently, the electric quartet released its third album, Helltown, where Laura and husband Ross Dolan (guitarist) feel they have come full-circle in terms of sound and band lineup.
“We intentionally took our time and rejected outside opinions to make this album,” Laura tells Revolver. “That’s the formula we used for our first record and we knew that formula would work.” Sateen was recorded on an 8-track recorder with a $1,500 budget and received critical acclaim for its well-crafted, Iommi-esque riffs and ethereal melodies. Somehow, despite the band’s obvious classic-rock influence, Sateen sounds fresh and authentic.
Following the stirring reception and success of Sateen, the band’s highly anticipated sophomore record, Higher Time, turned out to be, according to Ross, a mere half the album they had hoped for. “We really needed more time to write the album,” Ross tells Revolver. “We got stuck with having to pick a date to go into the studio with a lot of people pulling us in different directions as far as what the album should sound like. I feel like those outside influences really tainted that record. I still like it, but I think it’s just a half-good record.”
The band stood its ground with the creation and recording of their third and current release, Helltown. And in doing so, Electric Citizen delivered a well-crafted album, distinct with the group’s recognizably frenzied riffs and savory songwriting. “We took our time and combined the best elements of the first two records,” says Ross. The pulse of Helltown brings the sense of urgency felt in Sateen, while singles “Heart Attack” and “Hide It in the Night” aptly showcase spooky guitar licks and ghostly echoing melodies. “The Ripper” and “The Pawn” run the pace of classic Motörhead songs. Overall, the album is a noticeable departure from their last effort and gives Electric Citizen fans good reason to be excited about the band’s future.
Helltown clearly benefits from the return of the group’s original bass player, Nick Vogelpohl, who had missed the sophomore recording and subsequent touring so that he could finish school. “I wouldn’t say for the worse,” Dolan says of Vogelpohl’s hiatus from the group. “But we didn’t have that flow like we always have with Nick.”
The album also finds emotion and drive in the Dolans’ aligned political views, which are infused into the record. “I’m really angry with the whole Trump administration and how the planet is getting completely ignored,” says Ross. “All these businesses are polluting the earth, taking away our national forests and doing whatever the fuck Trump and his guys want to do. For ‘New Earth,’ I wanted Laura to write about man destroying the earth. It’s a wake-up call for people to realize that they have the power to rally together — even if they just fucking vote more — and do something positive.”
Laura also took the opportunity in creating Helltown to share her fervor for sci-fi and her concerns about the future of mankind’s relationship with technology. “We are in the very beginning of this era where our lives are being affected by technology in a way that we’ve never seen before as a human race,” Laura tells Revolver. “To me, that’s incredibly fascinating. You can go to a very dark place with that, or a positive place. Either way, it’s an endless well to draw inspiration from.”
On the positive side of things, Laura holds that the future might free people to be more artistic. “All of the mundane tasks we are riddled with might be put into the hands of robots and all that we’ll have left would be to create and be artists,” she says. But as the potential for a dystopian future would have it, “There are certainly signs of corruption that are at play. We are certainly living in dark times — politically, environmentally and socially,” she concludes. “There are a lot of scary things happening that really don’t have a conscience for the future or preservation of the earth.”