Get to know Citrus Maxima and their zesty album ‘Big Fantasy’

We asked, Citrus Maxima ‘What is the Citrus sound?’

Prepare to be taken on a musical journey that combines vintage vibes with innovative freshness, resulting in a captivating and exhilarating experience that will leave you wanting more.

Hailing from the distant year of 2014, Citrus Maxima has never been one to rest on their laurels. Drawing inspiration from the alternative and indie scenes of the early aughts, “Big Fantasy” serves as both a homage to their roots and a giant leap forward into uncharted territory.

Citrus Maxima

This New York-based band has cooked up a nine-track masterpiece, a sonic collaboration between its members that pushes the boundaries and reaps the rewards of exploration.

The album kicks off with the instant classic, “I Don’t Wanna Die,” instantly transporting you back to the heyday of cult favorites like Teenage Fanclub. Its mesmerizing and transcendent sound will sweep you off your feet, blending simple yet intricate lyricism with an irresistible delivery that leaves you craving more.

“Second Hand Stuff” continues the journey with its shoegazer qualities, immersing you in an expansive intro that feels beautifully familiar. As wailing guitars and unexpected chord progressions wash over you, a comforting sense of longing takes hold, making this track an immediate standout.

Its emotion is accessible yet powerful, proving that simplicity can be a force to be reckoned with.

Prepare to venture further into the indie soundscape with “Chinese Restaurant,” a track that effortlessly blends modern vibes with echoes of Jimmy Eat World and Nada Surf. It strikes the delicate balance that so many indie acts strive for, relatable and amusing in its concept while maintaining emotional depth.

And when the climactic solo section hits, you can feel the surge of new energy that Citrus Maxima brings, a glimpse into their limitless potential and love for their craft.

As “Big Fantasy” unfolds, you’ll encounter more mellow offerings like “Tried Your Hand,” a personal favorite that could easily be mistaken for a hidden gem from a Built To Spill record. “Reuser” and “Horses From Memory” also grace your ears at just the right moment, seamlessly integrating into the album’s intentional flow.

This careful attention to the track order creates a cohesive body of work, rather than a random assortment of moments, showcasing Citrus Maxima’s ability to highlight their differences while staying true to their essence.

In a sea of releases, both nostalgic and contemporary, “Big Fantasy” stands out for its ability to evoke the past while simultaneously inventing something new. It reminds us of the beauty of music’s history while pushing boundaries and embracing growth. Confident tracks like “Wonderkid” exude a sense of self-realization, leaving room for even greater potential in the future.

And finally, we come to the album’s closer, “Get High, Get Off.” It serves as a perfect send-off, marking both an ending and a new beginning for Citrus Maxima. It encapsulates the essence of their musical evolution and leaves you yearning for what lies ahead.

If you’re curious about the origins of Citrus Maxima’s unique sound and their remarkable journey, we’ve got an exclusive interview that reveals their roots in the Backstreet Boys, the wonders of Google Drive, and the quest to find that perfect “citrus sound.” Dive into their world and discover the magic behind “Big Fantasy.”

Citrus Maxima

Happy: What are you up to today?

Max: I’m at work right now! Shawn and Wyatt and I are going to see They Are Gutting A Body of Water tonight. Looking forward to it.

Shawn: Work as well :/ Very excited for the TAGABOW show though!

Wyatt: Just been waiting to go to this TAGABOW show tonight!

Lucas: Groceries. I love grocery shopping. I’m not kidding.

Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the music scene like in your neck of the woods?

Max: I’m from a small town outside of Buffalo, NY originally. It’s a beautiful place, I love Buffalo. There are some great artists out there, but it’s a pretty compact scene, and less variety than here in Brooklyn. Very Salt-of-the-Earth performers out there.

Lucas: I grew up with the Albany, NY music scene. Lots of really great people out there. Tons of support. It’s a community of music lovers. Makes me homesick sometimes thinking about it.

Wyatt: The Albany scene really nurtured us. Lots of genuinely weird bands and lovely folks, and it’s super active. There isn’t a lot of commercial support in Albany so it’s all very DIY, lots of house and warehouse shows, and that has really influenced how I try to do things musically. DIY music scenes are just the best.

Shawn: Wyatt and Lucas covered everything about the music scene in Albany pretty well. It started out pretty small when we were coming up in the scene, but it’s been really great watching it grow over the years!

Happy: Describe an average day?

Max: I wake up. I slam a liter of cold water. I drink my coffee. I work. I come home, then we rehearse ’til 11 PM some nights. Sometimes I even play minecraft. My schedule is pretty nuts!

Shawn: Most days I work my 9-5, go home for a short period of time, then rehearse for a couple hours, which is immediately followed by sleep. In my free time when I don’t have rehearsal I have been making my way through a number of Star Trek shows!

Lucas: I like to run in the mornings. My problems can’t keep up if I’m quick enough. I work from home so I’ll take time between meetings to write songs if I get the chance. After work it’s practice and sleep.

Wyatt: I also run in the mornings. After that I do 100 push-ups, 100 sit ups, and read at least 50 pages of whatever book I’m reading. Then I shower, go to work, and then come back home, eat spam, and go to band practice. I find that spam really compliments my carnivore diet that i’m on right now.

Happy: What about your ultimate day?

Max: I had an incredible summer day in college where we hung out all day at a creek, made a bonfire, had some beers, then jammed all night without a care in the world. I’d love to have more nights like that in my life. Or play a stadium someday. That would make my whole life.

Shawn: My ultimate day would start with me winning the black belt tournament (I’ve never lost), followed by a visit to an aquarium.

Lucas: I think a lot of my favorite days end with a nice dinner out with my girlfriend and then a movie when we get home. But my ultimate day? BOOM marathon. WHAM win a Grammy SCHLAPP go to space CRACK pet my dog SPLAT Medal of Honor

Wyatt: My ultimate days are usually some combination of a huge diner breakfast, swimming at this waterfall near us in upstate New York, band practice or some form of music making, then a nice fire to end the day. My other ultimate day would be when we’re on tour, just traveling around and playing shows, sleeping on friends floors and constantly laughing. I love it and can’t wait for it again.

Happy: What did you listen to growing up that fuelled your passion for music?

Max: The first record I ever owned was “ACDC: Live”, the one with Angus jumping 14 feet in the air on the front cover. My brother and I were 7 and 9 and the fold out of the CD had a giant 3 panel pinup girl in it for “Whole Lotta Rosie”. My Dad saw it and took it and said “don’t tell your mother…” He burned us a copy without the artwork instead. After a true Dad Rock education I found the White Stripes in my teens. It was all over. I wanted to play loud!

Lucas: The Beatles and Green Day were gods to me. I remember having a conversation with my dad being like “why did you only play the Beatles when I was a kid? I could have so many more influences” And he was like “that’s all you would listen to”

Wyatt: Nirvana totally blew my mind when I was 13. Hearing the feedback from Kurt Cobain’s guitars just blew my mind and I thought “I could do that too”. I ate up every single Nirvana release, demo, B-side, and live track I could find. My parents also lent me 4 led Zeppelin CDs around the same time, so I was on a healthy diet of grunge and classic rock!

Shawn: I remember my first CD was Millenium by Backstreet Boys. My parents listened to a lot of 90’s soft rock, as well as classic rock and country radio stations. I didn’t really fall into loving music until I started spending a lot of time with Lucas’s family in late middle school and seeing their passion for The Beatles and music in general.

Happy: We are intrigued by your band name, how did it come about?

Shawn: Lucas and I spent a lot of time together growing up, so I was with his family occasionally when they would go grocery shopping. We started a habit of trying a new fruit that we hadn’t ever had every time we would go. We tried star fruit, breadfruit, and others that you wouldn’t see often in upstate NY.

Lucas: Our favorite one that we tried is called a pomelo. It’s like a big grapefruit that’s more sweet than sour. I looked it up on google and the Latin name caught my attention. Seriously if you haven’t tried one they’re really good!

Happy: “Big Fantasy” seems to be a dynamic album with a mix of older and newer material. Can you tell us more about the process of bringing together these songs that span across different periods of time?

Lucas: I’ve always felt like most songs could be anything if you dress them up the right way. If the core of a tune is honest and true to a particular emotional quality, then that will always come through. Once we were in the headspace that we landed on for the album a lot of it just clicked.

Max: Definitely. Some songs just need to sit in the vault until they mature into what they need to be, or until you have the right perspective to bring them to life. That happened with Lucas’ tune, Get High. Other tunes like Chinese Restaurant we mostly wrote in a day, and had a full band demo soon after. I think it helped that the writing period of Big Fantasy was pretty “no-holds-barred”. We all had backlogs of material we hadn’t shown anyone yet and were able to choose from the cream of the crop.

Happy: How did the songwriting dynamics change within the band while creating the album, especially with the inclusion of newer musical styles and writing collaborations between all band members?

Shawn: If someone has a vision for a song or an idea for an angle, we try and follow it through which more often than not leads to more and more ideas. A lot of songs are either pitched as skeletal frameworks or someone will show up to rehearsal with a riff and we’ll build off that. We all try to keep an open mind since we have various musical preferences which can be tough but I think it’s easily resulted in our best music!

Wyatt: I think now that we are approaching the band so collaboratively we’re able to incorporate the sounds that each individual person brings to the table, so our sound is more varied and we’re sort of free to experiment more. If someone has an initial idea someone could be hearing it in a totally different way, and that can be really cool!

Happy: “Get High” and “Reuser” were written years apart, yet they find a place together on the album. Can you share the significance of these two tracks and how they contribute to the overall theme of the album?

Lucas: I think in a lot of ways they share a core emotional value that runs through a lot of our music. To me they both represent a longing for misplaced nostalgia. Our minds really tend to warp things when we look back.

Shawn: “Get High” came from an era primarily led by Lucas’s songwriting. We were able to take almost all of what Lucas wrote and we shaped it together into what it is today. “Reuser” was spawned during one of our rehearsals starting with a single riff and was collaboratively built from there up.

We have been making music for a while now and our goal with the record was to establish a “sound” as well as who we are. The inclusion of both of these tracks to me shows that the core emotional value mentioned by Lucas has been present within our writing for many years.

Happy: The album is described as a transitional one, both lyrically and musically. What inspired this shift in storytelling and musical content compared to your previous Citrus Maxima recordings?

Lucas: Lyrically I felt like I was trying to keep up with Max! That man has a way with words. I wish that guy was in our band.

Max: Haha! And I’m always trying to keep up with Lucas. The man’s melodic sense always keeps me on my toes too. I wanna be in his band so bad. I think we were shooting to make a standardized record. We asked, “What is the Citrus sound?” Now we have a foundation to experiment off of. Our previous releases had potential and solid songwriting but just weren’t as cohesive. I think we wanted things to gel better for our debut record.

Wyatt: I was just trying to follow in their footsteps with the lyrics for “Second Hand” but for “Horses from Memory” I stuck to my usual style which is more vague and understated, and I think it paid off!

Happy: Citrus Maxima’s lineup has evolved over the years. How has this changing dynamic influenced the band’s sound and the way you approach creating music together?

Lucas: It’s totally become more collaborative. For so long it was just me and my songs. I wrote this, “here you go. Play it.” But that was at a time when the lineup didn’t really allow for much more than that. Having everyone be so talented it’s really just a waste to not all be working together.

Wyatt: We collaborate more and more with each release now! It’s been really great.

Shawn: As we’ve added members and grown into working with each other the dynamic has been constantly shifting. We’ve become more collaborative, there’s more comfort when saying you agree or disagree with something and I think that’s allowed for more ideas to come forward that may have otherwise sat dormant.

Happy: Being geographically scattered across the East Coast must have presented some challenges. How did you manage to maintain the band’s creative momentum and collaboration during this period?

Lucas: Google Drive does wonders.

Max: I think in a lot of ways once something becomes a challenge, it becomes easy. There’s something about having to drive 7 hours there and back just to hang with your friends and pursue your dream that makes you appreciate it more.

Shawn: Overall it was a LOT of organization. We have a weekly band meeting to discuss practice, merch, marketing and everything in between. Having to manage 4 schedules and make sure everyone is on board with creative decisions is very tough and draining at times, but very rewarding at the end.

Happy: The band’s relocation to Brooklyn is a significant step. How has this move influenced your music and performances, and what opportunities do you hope it will bring for Citrus Maxima?

Max: We’ve had more opportunities to play and rehearse than ever since coming here!

Shawn: Meeting so many incredibly creative bands greatly increases our drive to want to make and try new things musically as well as with our performance.

Wyatt: There’s a lot of great bands and venues here, which is intimidating but also forces you to be better. We’re in the midst of a lot of experimentation and genre blending here, so it’s cool to hear bands that are really doing unique stuff and then just be able to grab beers with them after and just chit chat.

It’s a great place to be for a band, but also I think it can be kind of insular – i’m quick to say we’re based in Brooklyn but not from Brooklyn – we owe a lot to the Albany scene and I want to be honest about that, it feels disingenuous to say we’re a “New York band”.

Happy: As musicians who are inspired by indie rock from the 2000s and mid-2010s, can you share a few of your fav bands?

Max: There’s a lot of 2000s and 2010s era bands that I think are in our wheelhouse as a group. The Strokes, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant and a lot of others. I personally listen to a lot of 60s and 70s music. I love early Rhythm and Blues, bass players like James Jamerson, Jaco, Donald Duck Dunn, and Joe Dart are inspiring to me. Lyrically Bob Dylan is god. I try to keep his sense of aloofness in my own writing when I can.

Lucas: Max just rattled off my favorites. I am also a big fan of The Shins, Bright Eyes, and Alex G to name some folkier artists. I’m not sure if you’ll hear any of those guys in our sound as much as in my lyrics.

Wyatt: Alex G, Alvvays, O Sees, Nothing, lots of shoegazy and noisy stuff mixed with sweeter vocals. Love that.

Shawn: Max, Lucas, and Wyatt covered a lot of favorites of mine. Alex G, Wednesday, The Voidz, Mac DeMarco, lots of other stuff. I’ve been leaning more into some shoegazy and noisey stuff as of late though.

Happy: “Chinese Restaurant,” “Tried Your Hand,” and “Second Hand Stuff” were intense writing sessions during the summer of 2022. Can you share any specific inspirations or experiences that fueled the creation of these tracks?

Lucas: Tried your hand is definitely dedicated to a sloppy drunk night or two. I know there is an actual Chinese restaurant that Max was at when he came up with the idea for that song.

Max: Yea, Chinese Restaurant was about a real place in Hudson. The band had a crazy “Aha” moment when I told them that “Loser Now” is about a cardboard box, haha! I tried to write a song about the most mundane thing I could think of as a challenge, and apparently cardboard boxes carry more connotation than you’d expect!

Wyatt: I was trying to emulate the writing styles of Lucas and Max, lyrically. I feel like they are storytellers, whereas I am more vague with my lyrics. We were trying to write as many songs as we could in 2 weeks for the album and Second Hand Stuff came out of that. It was easy to draw inspiration from everyday experiences like thrifting, and the song is about finding things from the lives of people whose clothes you’re looking through.

Happy: Lastly, what makes you happy?

Lucas: Grocery shopping.

Shawn: Being around people I love and Star Trek.

Max: Drinking coffee, and Rock and Roll B)

Wyatt: Playing live music and seeing my friends create stuff.

Check out the album, and let the gang know if you hear any of that Backstreet Boy’s zest.