I DON’T WANNA DIE
Memories of this song’s origin are foggy, but it is known to be written during a challenge between Rinaldi and Gucinski to write a full song every day for the entire summer of 2022. This only lasted for a week, but this song was birthed from it.
The intro of this song was changed drastically many times. Initially it was just 2 drum fills solo’d, then Gucinski layered in Wilco-esque backwards piano hits. These were all scrapped in favor of the shorter, more attention grabbing and more thematically relevant cassette deck recording.
Lots of guitar feedback is peppered into this song, and throughout the record as well, accounting for hours of total recording time being just feedback.
SECOND HAND STUFF
Kirschner’s songwriting debut in the band is found on Big Fantasy. Second Hand Stuff is the outcome of a mental digestion of Pavement, Guided By Voices, and other bands in the fringe and less commercial alternative rock canon of the late 80s and 90s.
Conceptually the song is simple but vivid: it’s about finding something in the pocket of a thrifted item, and the simple pleasure of a good, cheap find. The writing style was an attempt to emulate the more story driven material of Rinaldi and Gucinski.
The song was enthusiastically embraced by the band both in the studio, and live. More pits have been opened on stage to this song than maybe any other in the band’s current rotation.
In the studio, the vocals needed a casual laid back delivery, and Rinaldi channeled Kurt Cobain by performing his final take laying down on the couch in their home studio in upstate.
Always intended to be a single, “Chinese Restaurant” by Gucinski was inspired by an actual Chinese restaurant in the Hudson Valley which featured a decrepit, underused payphone boldly in the foyer. The idea struck him as funny, but the humor disintegrated into despair.
What type of desperate, sad person would use a payphone at all in this day and age, let alone immediately after eating a 5 dollar General Tso’s chicken combo? The liminality of this imagined situation mirrored Gucinski’s: being away from his SO and family for the summer.
After demoing the track on Rinaldi’s relic’d plywood parlor guitar and bringing it to the group, it was reshaped into a modern indie rock tune inspired by the wistful, casual delivery and washed out textures of Phoebe Bridgers and callbacks to the production of 80s one-hit-wonders like Modern English.
Like many of the tracks on the album it features sparkly guitars courtesy of Rinaldi and Kirschner, with Fender and Vox tones taking center stage, along with big and roomy 80’s drums from Majeed.
TRIED YOUR HAND
The songwriting of this track is about embarrassment, but it’s more specifically about being at a party and feeling like you’ve done something cringy, so you leave.
The guitar tones in “Tried Your Hand” were inspired by the gift of a chorus pedal to Rinaldi from Gucinski, with the effect’s crystalline sound driving the writing of the song.
Kirschner’s guitar solo showcases his love for dissonant harmony used in a melodic and sweet context, which set the stage for much of his guitar parts throughout the rest of the Big Fantasy recording process. The drums bounce around the toms, and Majeed fills in a sweet spot of tension between serving the song and Keith Moon-esque chaos.
The writing and recording of “Tried Your Hand” became a major ring on the band’s tree of growth.
A historic disagreement occurred about this track during production. When the song was written, a line from the song “Jet Jacuzzi” was very funny to Rinaldi and Gucinski, and the idea came to name the album after this line.
This would have included a photoshoot for the cover of the band in a jacuzzi having an insane party. This was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek contrast to the mellow subject matter of the record. This idea was not well received by Kirschner and Majeed, and has been an inside joke between the boys since.
HORSES FROM MEMORY
Horses was recorded on a 6 dollar goodwill cassette recorder purchased by Gucinski 2 years prior to the release of the record, with the intent of recording ideas direct to tape to remove complexity in the writing process.
Over the course of the summer, it found its way into the hands of Kirschner, who recorded the “Horses” track in one take in an empty room in Rinaldi’s childhood home.
The writing of this track was long and needlessly drawn out due to Kirchners incessant procrastination, but this was unknown to the band; Kirschner boasted of the songs potential and insisted almost daily throughout the summer of 2022 he was almost done writing a solo cassette track to round out the album.
In reality, Kirschner was lying, and wrote the song the night before the record’s deadline. The song’s origins are an ironic contrast to its moody, dark and atmospheric aesthetic.
Reuser began it’s life long after many of the songs of this record materialized, starting as a collaborative jam in Citrus’ home studio in upstate New York. “Reuser” marks a step forward in the band’s writing process and production aesthetics. Much of the record was recorded “live” in the room, through live amps, but Reuser was recorded direct in with Amp sims, except of course for drums.
The song was written quickly and recorded in just over 24 hours, and the song’s sound points the compass needle in a new direction for Citrus Maxima. The song’s somber tone was rounded out by Rinaldi’s lyrics which allude to the feeling of trying to reconnect to someone who has been distant for far too long.
Wonderkid is a brain-mash of different ideas accidentally plagiarized from other ideas. The chord progression is from a song Kirschner wrote that initially didn’t make it onto Sprouts, which was then unknowingly plagiarized by Gucinski and reworked with a new melody by Rinaldi and Gucinski, in an attempt to write a more raucous, straightforward rock cut.
Lyrically, Wonderkid touches on themes of childhood’s end, which ironically this is the title of a sci-fi book Rinaldi had given Gucinski, which eventually served as inspiration for the song, but like its origin, its lyrics are a mishmash of inspiration and message.
To solidify its hodgepodge of sounds, the song actually samples a vinyl that was composed of Nuclear Submarine and Aircraft Carrier sound effects found at a flea market on Vinyl by Majeed’s girlfriend.
Written during the writing of the initial Sprouts EP, the song is about a cardboard box.
And divorce, maybe.
GET HIGH, GET OFF
A song pulled from Rinaldi’s ancient texts, Get High is the song of oldest origin on the record. It is a classic post-breakup reflection, and is the most dynamic track on the record. Rinaldi insists to the band’s agreement that a song that sticks for as long as this one deserves a chance to be heard; there is something special about it. Sometimes the songs you wrote 4 years ago are really are good.
Previous attempts with Majeed had been made to make this song work in different projects but failed, but with the constant rehearsal and jamming throughout the summer of 2022, Citrus was able to find the right arrangement that was worthy of the song’s place in the band’s hearts.
For those who didn’t know what they were in until they were out of it.
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