Now that the ’90s are almost three decades gone, it’s easier than ever to hear how the blown out, gritty aura of that era lingers on in new iterations of punk, pop, and rock. For Citris, a New York punk band who came up at Purchase College in Purchase, NY, the ’90s are a major touchstone on their debut album Panic In Hampton Bays. But for the band’s frontwoman Angelina Torreano, the influence of grunge is just another weapon in her already formidable songwriting arsenal.
“The ’90s — of course — is one of my main styles,” she said. “But it seems but if you think about it, the late ’60s, early ’70s and the ’90s share a lot of similarities. For instance, Elliot Smith drew a lot of inspiration from The Beatles, and he was a huge ’90s songwriter. So I’d say it’s actually a combination of those.”
While grunge is a foundational part of Citris’ sound, so is a scathing critique of society’s expectations for women’s appearances and relationships, and a feminist perspective, which specifically brings Hole and Alanis Morissette to mind. Torreano writes all the band’s lyrics, drawing largely on her own experiences, and then collaborates with guitarist and producer Chris Krasnow to create the swirly, heady rock songs that have recently caught the ear of listeners far outside the band’s east coast bubble.
The band self-released Hampton in 2015 as a streaming-only album, but after the small, local LA record company New Professor Music got a hold of the record, they decided to re-release it this year. For Torreano and Krasnow, who write all of Citris’ songs, played every part on this record, and taught the parts to other band members for live show and touring purposes, the opportunity to get another chance with their debut record is a huge positive.
“At first I was worried that people would overlook the reissue because we had released it before,” Torreano said. “But now I’m happy we’re doing it, because I’m realizing how many people we actually didn’t reach. We reached our friends but we need to reach more than just that.” If you don’t have the pleasure of already being friends with the band, get to know them in our conversation below, and look for the new iteration of Panic In Hampton Bays coming out this Friday, 2/24 via New Professor Music.
“Little Scars” feels like an obvious jumping off point for people who are unfamiliar with you. Can you talk a little bit about the process behind writing that one?
Torreano: When I wrote that song, it was maybe almost a year out of college and I felt very frustrated with where my life was at the time. I kept thinking about all the sh*t that bugged me. My failed relationships, my disinterest in people after a while of dating them, my sort of jaded sense of what love meant, my desire to escape in various amount of things, my envy over other peoples’ success and my seemingly stagnant career at the time, plus working a service job I wasn’t very into. I just ended up getting fed up so instead of sitting there all bummed out, I used the very last bit of energy I had in me to pick up the guitar and start messing around. And that’s how all my songs come about, just messing around or noodling on the guitar with a riff or a chord progression. I started writing the lyrics “Here I am with the poison,” and I thought, yes, that’s exactly how I feel! Then once I got to the chorus, I started thinking, Does this sound cheesy or catchy? F*ck it, I don’t care. Let’s just write the song that it’s supposed to be.