Alter The Press!


Interview: Justin Siegel (City (Comma) State & Stars In Stereo)

Last week pop-rock band City (Comma) State announced they were breaking up after vocalist Joanna Pacitt left the group to persue a solo career. As a result of the break up, the remaining members have started a new band called Stars In Stereo.

Before breaking up, City (Comma) State toured with All Time Low and A Rocket To The Moon had worked closely with Blink-182's Mark Hoppus, with some of the resulting material appearing on their new EP, 'The First Last EP'.

Alter The Press! recently talked to bassist Justin Sigel about both bands including City (Comma) State's connection with Mark Hoppus, their new EP Stars In Stereo's future plans, and more.

Alter The Press: First of all Justin, Could you introduce yourself and your role in both City (Comma) State and Stars In Stereo?
Justin Siegel: My name is Justin Siegel, and I play bass, sing background vocals, and co-write (along with Jordan McGraw, Keith Varon and Drew Langan) for City (Comma) State and Stars in Stereo.

ATP: A lot of people may know of City (Comma) State from their affilation with Mark Hoppus. How did this begin?
JS: Mark and I had been friends for a short while when we felt a mutual notion to work together. Frogs (Ryan McCormack) and I had been working on a few tracks for fun, I showed them to Mark and that same day, he started to record bass. It grew from there. We wanted a female singer and I had known Jo for 10+ years so she came on board, and we just kept recording. Mark started off being in the band, but as his list of responsibilities grew, ie Blink reunion and his Fuse show, it became obvious that he couldn't take on the added load of being in another group. So I tried to fill his massive shoes on bass and backgrounds and we added Drew to play drums since that was my role originally. We added Jordan McGraw (guitarist) just before we started touring.

ATP: Do you think working with Mark Hoppus and touring with bands like All Time Low added a lot of pressure for a new band like CCS?
JS: I most certainly think it did. It was both a blessing and a curse to have such great, supportive friends, who simply liked what we were doing and wanted to work with us. I'm so incredibly thankful for everything everyone has done for us, but I think to answer your question, for a new band, it certainly increases the pressure. We went through three name changes quite publicly (on before we were even established. I don't want to appear entitled or ungrateful. These are our closest friends and they put their necks out for us and helped us massively.

ATP: Could describe how the break up of CCS? Was it something you saw happening?
JS: I've stated before that I don't want to get into the details of the CCS breakup. So many bands that broke up this year aired their grievances publicly and it's not something I'm interested in doing. I'm not knocking the bands that's just not for me. As far as it being something that I saw happening, I was very aware of the issues we were having. I think everyone was, but the music was so great that we decided to keep going and try to push through it. In the end, it didn't seem like the smart thing to do, business-wise or personally.

ATP: Despite the break up, you still decided to release the EP (The First Last EP). Why was this?
JS: We decided to release the EP because it was almost finished, we had fans that were expecting it, and we didn't want to let them down. They had nothing to do with the break up, why should they not get to hear what we were working on. I think we're all very proud of the EP, we worked hard on it, and we love the music. For it to not come out would have been a shame.

ATP: What can fans expect from Stars In Stereo? Is it a continuation of CCS?
JS: I'm ridiculously insanely stupidly excited about Stars in Stereo. The project came about from a place of such pure inspiration. Jordan and I were just talking about music we loved, and if we could make our ideal album, what it would sound like, and out of that, we just started writing. We were writing for fun, for no other reason than we were making music we both loved. Once we added Keith and Drew to the equation, it fell into place.

I've enjoyed the experience of being able to take our time with the songs and with the music and direction. Develop as a band and have a direction before we get musically introduced to the public. Our final step is finding our frontwoman, and that process has been very unique as well.

I don't think you can categorize SinS as a continuation of CCS. They're both very different styles of music and I love them both in their own way. However, the main creative team from CCS is what makes up the backbone of this project, so the quality and songwriting will be consistent with that of CCS, even stepped up massively because of the added resources we have with this. Fans can expect great production and songs first and foremost, but we also have some great ideas for what it's going to look like, from the photo shoots to the logo (for which we have commissioned an amazing artist). We have some great things coming up for people interested in the project to look forward to. We're planning on keeping it fresh and exciting.

ATP: Will any of the material from CCS be re-worked?
JS: None of the CCS material will be re-worked. We want to keep the groups separate. The foundation of the songwriting and lyric writing is incredibly different from group to group. One day we may pick up CCS again just for fun, with a different singer. Who knows.

ATP: What experiences and lessons from CCS have you put to use with Stars In Stereo?
JS: So many. This is one of my favorite questions I've ever received in an interview, but it is equally as complex to answer without giving away many of the reasons why CCS parted ways. I feel comfortable leaving it at that we've learned an incredible amount of lessons from CCS and the experience has been as amazing as it has been invaluable to the future of this new project. We will be employing everything we've learned to ensure that our experience, and that of our fans is nothing but enjoyable, fun and entertaining.

ATP: What are the future plans for Stars In Stereo?
JS: The immediate future plans for Stars in Stereo is to firstly, find a singer! We have auditions this week as we've been able to scour the country and find a little over 50 girls to see and listen to, in order to find the perfect fit for us. Once that happens, we're immediately heading into the studio to record our first album. After that, we're planning on hitting the road for a long time. We're really excited to get this music out there in record and live form. In the midst of all that, we'll have photos, videos, teasers, contests and all kinds of cool things to be a part of.

ATP: Is there anything final you'd like to say to close the interview?
JS: I simply want to repeat what I've been saying over the past week, a massive thank you to the bands and the fans that have supported and helped CCS grow, and we all appreciate the continued support with Stars in Stereo. We're chomping at the bit to get started!

'The First Last EP' by City (Comma) State is available now on iTunes.

Stars In Stereo on Twitter.

Words by Sean Reid

Alter The Press!