2016 Artist Survey: Drew Citron of Beverly

Citron on Trump and the Election, Brexit, Bowie, Self-Driving Cars, First Kisses, and Practical Jokes

Jan 04, 2017 Photography by Byron Kalet Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 14th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2016. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2016 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Drew Citron of Beverly. The New York band's sophomore album, The Blue Swell, came out in 2016 on Kanine.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about Trump and the election, 2016's deaths, self-driving cars, Stranger Things, first kisses, scary movies they shouldn't have seen as a child, which Friends character they are most like, and much more.

Pick up or download Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue for Artist Survey interviews with Amber Arcades, Austra, Faris Badwan of Cat's Eyes and The Horrors, Boxed In, Caveman, The Charlatans, Cursive, Lucy Dacus, The Dears, C Duncan, Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, Dutch Uncles, Ezra Furman, Robyn Hitchcock, The Invisible, Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories, Lost Under Heaven (LUH), Lush, Midlake, Phantogram, The Range, Springtime Carnivore, Sunflower Bean, Surfer Blood, TEEN, The Thermals, Nick Valensi of CRX and The Strokes, Jenn Wasner of Flock of Dimes and Wye Oak, and Yuck.

A shorter version of Beverly's survey appeared in the digital version of the Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue, this is the full unedited version.

2016 was regarded by many as a fairly tough and negative year. Was it also a hard year for you personally? If so, how? And also what were the high points for you?

Personally, the year started off on a very exciting note, with the completion and release of our second LP. I learned a lot about production, mixing, engineering, and playing live this year as we've been touring non-stop. Lately, though, the dark cloud of current events seems insurmountable, and yeah, the verdict is in: 2016 is the worst.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. presidential election played out?

We were in England just coming off our tour there with We Are Scientists. Watching poor Wolf Blitzer and the results tallying up like a class five hurricane on a weather map was incredibly painful and shocking. I felt dread, followed by acute anger, and then grief in its many stages. I am shattered by Hillary's loss, and very determined to find out exactly how Trump voters feel, who they are, and how we can listen to them and bridge the divide. I also feel that among the more extremist supporters (militant pro-lifers, neo-Nazis, bigots) we must tread with caution, refuse to relinquish our hard-earned civil rights and remain 100% engaged in the necessity to overturn the house and the senate in 2018.

Let's discuss Donald Trump. What does the rise of Trump tell you about America in 2016? What concerns you most about a Trump presidency? How do you think his presidency might personally change your life? What message do you have for those who voted for Trump? What actions will you take over the course of the next four years to either protest a Trump presidency or support it?

So many things worry me about a Trump presidency, and I think the top of the list is just the absolute uncertainty I feel about his motives. Obviously he wants to evade taxes, con working class people into believing his anti-establishment rhetoric, trash minority groups, and line the pockets of his friends. But what scares me the most, believe it or not, are his recent Twitter battles about the cast of Hamilton apologizing to Pence. It's utterly baffling. Like, is he truly that petty, or is it the hallmark of something more sinister? Is it his ego? Or does he truly desire a stranglehold on free speech and artistic output? If you zoom out just a tad, it doesn't NOT smack of fascism. Another point I take serious issue with is the demonization of the "liberal media" by Trump and his supporters (or as I've heard it called, the "Clinton Network"). In my experience, pretty much only terrorist groups throw journalists in jail, but we may soon be in for a big wake-up call. The general bullying of liberals and critical thinkers living in a fact-based reality is so absurdly binary, it's like the plot of a John Hughes movie. (Aren't the Biffs of the world supposed to have the best years of their lives behind them? Isn't it Marty's turn now??) But much more perilous than the nerd-baiting: I recently watched a video on The Atlantic of a Nazi group led by Richard Spencer (a key "leader of the alt-right movement," according to Steve Bannon and Breitbart) extolling the virtues of the original, pure, white states of America, and smirking at the "Lugenpresse" or "lying press." This is a Nazi term coined in the 19th century, a rallying cry against the liberal elite, and a way to stoke the flames of a stagnant middle class who desperately need change in their lives. This is how Hitler came to power. Sound familiar? There are actual white supremacists in The White House this January. I will be personally devoting any time not spent on music to shift the tide away from hate speech, do what I can do with my vote, my dollar, and my voice to steer us back toward the right side of history. Be nice to all my neighbors and strangers I meet. I have family who voted for Trump, and all I can say is, we're Jews and that's insane.

What reality TV star would you have rather been elected president?

Not a reality star, but wouldn't Tina Fey be great? Maybe she could run as Palin; bewitch all of the red states and then save Planned Parenthood.

If you were president, what would you try to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?

Gun control and renewable energy investing. A socially democratic justice on the Supreme Court. Save the Affordable Care Act. God, so many things.

What are your thoughts on Brexit and the future of the European Union? To what extent do you think the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump were motivated by the same factors?

Yes, they are definitely closely related. Most British people I talked to while we were over there for two months seemed either sad and angry and shocked (remain) or totally conned (leave). Those who voted "leave" feel cheated, and that UKIP leaders didn't accurately describe their motives in leaving, or the repercussions of Brexit. I think it will take American Trump supporters a bit longer to understand what a nightmare we've gotten ourselves into, but they will find out soon enough. It's a matter of when, and which group gets targeted first. Will it be low income families and their affordable healthcare? Women and their right to straight up go to a judgment-free doctor for the health of their breasts and ovaries? Gay people and their right to feel safe in their communities? Black people and their right to feel like they exist as humans in the eyes of law enforcement, employers, and school administrations? Immigrants and their right to contribute their talents and hard work to our economy? Muslims and their right to practice their religion? Someone's getting shafted, I just hope it's not literally everyone who's not male and white and rich, and I hope political violence will be relatively rare. It's my birthday today, and something I've come to understand as I get older is that when you're working in a group, if one person gets shafted, everyone does.

We lost three highly influential music icons in 2016. What are your thoughts on the passing of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen? And what are your favorite albums by each artist?

I was most upset about Bowie for some reason. All of them are very important to me. My favorite Bowie album is Hunky Dory because of "Quicksand" and "Andy Warhol."

What do you think Prince and Bowie's afterlife project sounds like?

Minimal and blissed out; akin to the feeling of listening to those Beach Boys a cappella stems on Youtube. The bass synth cannot be patched on earth as it is in Bowie/Prince heaven.  

Which Friends character are you most like?

Chandler.

What scary movie did you see way too young as a child, how'd you end up seeing it, and does it still scare you now?

I saw The Mangler when I was really young with my cousins in a hotel room over Thanksgiving. I think it's about a textile factory? Yeah, like a sheet machine that devours factory workers? There is an ominous foreman with goggles and a leather trench like some steampunk Clockwork Orange train conductor. What's scarier to me now is the fact that one of those cousins definitely voted for Trump.

Are you ready for self-driving cars and a more automated future?

Yes, I am for the future.

Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.

A girl in Savannah, Georgia came up to me at the merch table and cried quite a bit and shakily blubbered at me to "never stop writing music" as if she were me and I were Joni Mitchell. It is something I definitely think about when I'm having a hard time. Thank you!!

Tell us about your first kiss.

In a bush outside Nick Mindel's house. All class.

Under the Radar has been around for 15 years now, since December 2001. How do you feel the music industry has most changed in that time, both for the better and the worst?

Sometimes I miss Myspace. Sometimes I miss going to Amoeba and digging around in the dollar bin. But technically I can still do those things.

After Donald Trump won the election which band (or song or album) did you first turn to for solace and motivation?

The Sufjan Stevens album about his dead parents because it's so fucking bleak and depressing and sprawling in its understanding of grief, it was the only catharsis to get me through the worst of it.  

What deli menu item could you buy with your 2016 Spotify earnings?

Maybe half a pastrami at Katz's, but that's definitely enough for one person.

What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

I'm at a mega church with Mike Pence as the preacher, and all of the congregants are blonde debutantes smiling and loving it.

Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? Explain.

I think I'd just get bitten and roll with it, being a zombie is way better than running from one.

In which ways are you most like your parents and in which ways are you least like them?

I'm exactly like them, it's stupid.

What's the best practical joke you've ever played on someone?

Thank you for asking. My friend Lauren and I crafted an insanely detailed email posing as hot shit architects looking to collaborate with her boss, when she was working at an architecture firm in New York. The email lured them into building a "jaguar sanctuary" in honor of Michael Jackson at the Mandalay Bay in Vegas, when really we were just revealing to her that we'd bought her tickets to go to Vegas. She was super pissed because she forwarded the email to her boss, it was so legit.

What's your favorite year for music and what were your favorite albums from that year?

So played, but it might be 1968. The Zombies' Odessey & Oracle, Bee Gees' Idea, The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society, The White Album, Joni Mitchell's debut, Francoise Hardy's self-titled, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

"Run of the Mill" by George Harrison, as sung by George Harrison.

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