and New, Improved Recording are proud to present the second installment of New, Improved, LIVE, our ongoing monthly series of live studio sessions with top indie bands, recorded at the New, Improved Recording studio in Oakland, California. This month’s session features San Francisco psychedelic rock band Citay.

New, Improved, LIVE, featuring: Citay

1. Citay – “Nice Cuffs” (originally from Citay)

[audio:|artists=Citay|titles=Nice Cuffs] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3

2. Citay – “First Fantasy” (originally from Little Kingdom)[audio:|artists=Citay|titles=First Fantasy] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3

3. Citay – “Little Kingdom” (originally from Little Kingdom)[audio:|artists=Citay|titles=Little Kingdom] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3

4. Citay – “Set Me Free” (cover; originally by Sweet off their 1974 album Sweet Fanny Adams )[audio:|artists=Citay|titles=Set Me Free] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3

Studio Sessions Video

Citay – “Little Kingdom”

Citay – “Final Fantasy”

Interview with Ezra Feinberg of Citay

TBB: Thanks for playing a New, Improved, Live session. How did you pick the songs to play during the session?

EF: Well we did a similar session for the Seattle station KEXP back in January so we wanted to do different songs. And we were all stoked to play the Sweet song “Set Me Free.” It’s our first recorded cover.

TBB: Citay’s lineup has changed some since the last album. Could you talk a little bit about the band’s newer members? How are they impacting the band’s sound?

EF: The latest members are Josh Pollock and Sean Smith on guitar and Meryl Press on vocals. Josh and Sean have changed things because they’ve brought their own very unique style to the band. Josh has a space station’s worth of sound effects and he uses everything all the time. He often makes the guitar sound like something else, and he does things I could never do. I think he makes us hit higher peaks, and his solos push us as a band.

Sean’s playing is anchored and more traditional. He comes up with really tasteful lines. He lays down rhythm guitar grooves like a bass player and I love that. Plus he breaks out now and then with a few killer leads which is always exciting. Meryl has added another soaring female voice to the lineup. She can hang with Tahlia vocally which is important.

TBB: Is it tough to be a great live band with so many members? To what do you attribute the band’s strong live chemistry?

EF: It can be logistically challenging but we’re all friends so that helps. I think the band’s chemistry comes from our friendships too. Awwwwww… Really though – that’s important. Plus we’ve all played in other bands together so there is a constant musical dialogue happening between us in and out of Citay.

TBB: Could you talk a little about the cover you performed? Why did you pick this song to play at New, Improved, Live?

EF: “Set Me Free” by Sweet is the closest we’ll ever come to playing an Iron Maiden cover. Seriously. It’s a great song and it has been a challenge for us. I envisioned it a long time ago – probably two years ago now. That song has an energy that feels like where I want Citay to go from here.

TBB: Have you been working on material for a new album? Where do you see your newer songs heading compared to Little Kingdom?

EF: Yes we are in the middle of recording a new album. It’ll be done in the late summer and out in early 2010 on Dead Oceans. It’s a similar vibe, sort of. Definitely more upbeat, bigger, louder, but still the same themes – soaring guitars and vocals, groovy parts, long-form songs (for the most part) and a generally epic experience. Also the new album will include a different cover – the Citay version of the Galaxie 500 song “Tugboat.”

TBB: Do you have a favorite song or two for the band to play live? Why is it your favorite?

EF: I’ve always enjoyed playing “Nice Cuffs” from the first Citay album. It’s got a heavy groove and I like the double time rave up at the end. Always gets me goin’. But to be honest I like them all so it’s hard to say. I don’t want to betray any of them. Cuz then whatever songs I don’t mention might get mad at me and then we’ll end up playing those songs badly at the next show. And no one wants that. I try to keep all my songs feeling happy and special.

Studio Session Photos with Citay

Audio: Eli Crews, John Finkbeiner, Jay Pellicci
Photos: Nicole Browner
Video: Nathan Fritz and Brian James