Music Festivals

CITRA Is Figuring It Out on the Fly

Denver rock band CITRA.
Denver rock band CITRA.
The bandmates in CITRA are learning how to be in a good old-fashioned rock band and be friends with one another on the fly. While their musical chemistry and rapport with one another is obvious, it hasn't come without effort.

“You get to know people over the course of two years,” says drummer Dan Naddy. “I think how we work together has always been the same, but now we know each other better, so it’s different in that sense. We’re not unearthing weird secrets about each other or anything.”

What started as a Craigslist post mentioning “collaborative songwriting” has now developed into one of the more exciting rock outfits in Denver, thanks in no small part to the natural musical fit of vocalist and guitarist Brandon Arndt, guitarist Auggie Menos, Naddy, and bassist Sean Slattery.

“Lacking musical chemistry is like pulling teeth: You try to explain how something should go, or how you think it could be cool if it went a certain way, and they’re just on a different wavelength,” says Menos. “It’s like you’re speaking Spanish and they only know German. You’re trying to speak Spanish to them, and it just doesn’t work that way.”

Depending on the moment, the members of CITRA might be teasing one another about their road-trip eating habits (deviled eggs are a hot topic), joking about fighting one another with instruments, or even laughing about all of their previous bands. These days, CITRA feels more like a group of guys sharing a house in Cap Hill and less like four musicians still learning their way around one another.

“We spent a long week driving out to Milwaukee, and you can’t do that with just anybody,” says Slattery. “Being stuck in the car with people for sixteen hours at a time, through Nebraska, through literally nothingness for a while, being forced to entertain one another — you can’t do that if you don’t like each other.”

With the release of the 2018 EP Mr. Copacetic, CITRA has the early makings of a successful rock band: quality music itself, tight bonds and a collaborative music-writing process that empowers each member to participate equally.

“Playing music and writing music has always been the easiest part of this band, which is good, because that’s what a band does,” says Naddy with a laugh. “That’s where it started. That’s where we laid our foundation. It was like, just get in a room and play, write some songs, and then I think the friendships and personal relationships were kind of born out of the fact that it started good, rather than the other way around.”

Citra, with In the Whale, 8 p.m. Saturday, July 21, Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue, $12.