Cincinnati’s Electric Citizen livens heavy rock at Jimmie’s Ladder 11

Photo: Laura Dolan of Electric Citizen brings heavy rock to Jimmie’s April 8; photo: Joshua Ford


There’s a saying that goes, “What’s old is new again,” and that adage is often applicable to music. Particularly in the world of heavy metal, the retro sounds of icons such as Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Coven, and Deep Purple are alive and well thanks to the popularity of a fresh wave of bands: Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Blood Ceremony, Purson, and countless others are all contributing to the cause. Another group honing these classic heavy rock sounds and growing in popularity in the modern millennium is Cincinnati’s Electric Citizen. While the group didn’t intentionally thrust themselves into this movement, they understand its popularity.

“We were admittedly oblivious to this scene when we started our band, but we’ve been really thrilled to find it and become part of it, and it has helped us a lot,” says Electric Citizen vocalist Laura Dolan. “I think it’s fun to play this music, and people feel good listening to it, so it’s naturally catching on.”

The band, featuring Dolan, husband Ross on guitar, Randy Proctor on bass, and Nate Wagner on drums, began quite simply with the intention of playing music for their own enjoyment.

“We started this band for fun,” Dolan explains. “Playing heavy rock music is really fun. We had absolutely no aspirations beyond making the music we wanted to hear and making something we were proud of.”

And a listen to the quartet’s 2016 sophomore album for Ridin’ Easy Records, Higher Time, is a collection of tunes they can certainly be proud of. This slab of wax is full of simply rockin’ songs; old school, down-tuned, fuzzy guitar riffs; ’60s-styled organs; crisp and concise rhythms; and cool but strong and sexy vocals. This musical elixir taken as a whole conjures up sonic imagery full of long hair, bellbottoms, pot smoke, and motorcycling down the highway a la Easy Rider. According to Dolan, the Electric Citizen sound is part and parcel of their favorite bands.

“It’s hard not to be influenced by Black Sabbath since they basically invented this style of music, so that’s a big one, but we love so many bands and find influence in so many styles of music,” she explains. “Arthur Brown, The Stooges, MC5, Hawkwind, Blue Cheer, T. Rex, Pentagram, The Runaways are just a few favorites. Ross and I have spent the better part of our lifetime chasing down music to love.”

And while those musical inspirations are among the many they share with their stylistic contemporaries, the band bristles at the idea of calling their music “retro” and suggests that they bring much more to the table than just that.

“I hate the term retro-rock—it makes it sounds like we are playing something that is no longer relevant,” Dolan says. “I think what sets us apart is our wide set of influences, from early punk to soul to blues to classical to psychedelic. This comes out in the music we write in ways that keep it from becoming a mimic of something else. To me, we are simply carrying on a style of music just like punk, jazz, blues, or classical. We write this music for modern times, and we don’t want to be a diluted copy of something that’s past its prime.”

According to Dolan, another way modernity manifests itself is in Electric Citizen’s lyrics.

“I love exploring the current time period—I consider it the dawn of a new age focused around advancements in technology,” Dolan explains. “I love speculating on where it will lead and what it’s doing to humanity.”

While Electric Citizen hasn’t even been together five years, the band has already released two full-length albums and has toured as a headliner all over the United States and Europe, including appearances at Psycho Las Vegas and Desertfest in Belgium. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“We’ve been very lucky for a band that’s only a few years old,” Dolan says. “It feels obnoxious to list, but our latest highlight was supporting the God of Hellfire, The Godfather of Shock Rock, Arthur Brown, on his first U.S. tour in 47 years.  We’ve supported acts like Joan Jett, Pentagram, Fu Manchu, King Diamond, The Cult, Wolfmother—this is stuff we never expected to be doing, it continues to blow us away.”

With all that’s happened to Electric Citizen in such a short period of time, with no initial expectations and their likely continued success, the band remains humble and thankful for everything coming their way.

“Everything that’s happened since wasn’t expected,” she says. “We got signed in 2014 and picked up by a major booking agency. That led to me quitting my very comfortable day job, and to us touring our asses off for the last three years. I just want to thank people for supporting us, for finding something in our music that connects with them. We’ve never been more broke, and we’ve never been happier.”

Electric Citizen performs at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 8 at Jimmie’s Ladder 11, 936 Brown St. in Dayton. Grand Mammoth and Bison Machine are also on the bill. Admission is $5 at the door for patrons 21 and over. For more information, please visit or call 937.424.1784.

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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