5 Questions with Twin Citizen a newish band playing around the Twin Cities

Great to hear from a new band with a unique lens. Twin Citizen plays accessible, funk, alternative, synth, progressive and independent style of rock music. Consisting of Joe Hartley on vocals and rhythm guitar, Adam Lifto on lead guitar, Paul Narlock on bass, Will Hanson on keys and Joe Diaz on drums, Twin Citizen reflects a vast spectrum of musical interests, influences and musical experiences.

Tell us about the band and the bandmembers.

The idea of the band was born in my (Adam Lifto) last rehab stint at River Ridge’s Glen Creek Lodge.  It had been 8 years since I had taken the stage live, written with other artists or been in a recording studio.  Before entering treatment for the last time, I had spent 4 long years living in isolation at the A-mill Artist lofts writing and and recording music like a hermit and struggling with my mental health and substance use problems.  When I had gone to treatment I had literally pawned off every instrument I had owned for drug money, had no connections to the local music scene, and had pretty much given up on ever playing music in the public eye, or ever again.  Thankfully, I was blessed with a counselor in inpatient treatment who had overcome his addiction and mental health struggles and rejoined the local music scene who encouraged me that it was possible and helped establish a small spark of hope in my artistic spirit.  Shortly after I graduated inpatient treatment and moved into a sober house, I shattered my ankle on some black ice and COVID-19 blew up and found myself living with my parents in isolation while rehabbing my ankle and my life in general.  The stars aligned for me as I met my wife, moved into a duplex in NE Minneapolis, started re-assembling my musical instrument arsenal, and practiced guitar religiously.  I knew that I was going to need some significant support in order to ever start playing live seriously again, and considering that my new family had recently become the recovery community, I thought I would start by reaching out to them to see if there were any other people out there who were in early recovery like myself, feeling reluctant to join a band due to the precarious nature of the environment musicians often find themselves at night, and who might be interested in a group of musicians coming together to support each other in that early recovery and musical journey.  Over a period of about a year, I had reached out to Minnesota music facebook groups about possible interest in my project and had assembled a group of men that consisted of 4 people in recovery from substance use and mental health challenges and one “normy” who is familiar with the population as he is a clinical social worker.  Once we had this lineup together, which consists of Adam Lifto (lead guitar), Joe Hartley (lead vocals/guitar), Paul Narlock (bass), Joe Diaz (Drums), and Will Hanson (Keys), we have hit the ground running and have experienced a lot of fun and exciting early success.

You have been vocal about your sobriety – how does that impact or manifest in the music you play? I don’t want to read too much into the imagery in Domino (swallow emotion … swallow potions) but it seems like it might be there.

I think the major impact sobriety, or what I like to call recovery, has on our band, is that all of us are 100% present for everything we do including practicing, writing, recording, promoting, actively listening and communicating with one another and of course, performing.  The majority of the members of this band have spent a significant amount of time in their lives avoiding very difficult and oftentimes debilitating mental health symptoms.  Over time, masking these symptoms with the use of substances, drives an individual further and further away from their core values, interests, feelings, emotions, love and true passion.  What this band is all about is working through these challenges with authenticity, vulnerability, integrity, support, hard work and compassion.  We believe that a majority of the time, people are exposed to mental health and substance use disorders in the entertainment world in the form of an artist’s accidental overdose death or suicide.  We want to exist as an example of people overcoming mental health and substance use problems by living a healthy lifestyle and becoming successful and productive musicians without the traumatic and tragic ending that is all too often seen in the mainstream media.  The truth is, a majority of people do find recovery by learning from mistakes, lots of support and overtime, but unfortunately that is not usually what is publicized or reported.  I think our singer, Joe Hartley, spends a lot of time reflecting on his past, present and future struggles, and I would agree that some of that has to do with addiction and mental health, but I also think he writes about the human condition in general, from the perspective of his own life experience and lessons he has learned along the way.

Do you feel like you escape from the Escape Room (in the song of that title) and could you escape and be “written out” at the same time?

I think the individual in our song, “Escape Room,” escapes from the current circumstances that have puzzled him and kept him in the cyclical and problematic patterns of his life. This escape has allowed him to arrive as a newborn at the door of the next puzzle of life in which he can work to solve with a fresh and new perspective.  I have experienced being written off and written out consistently in my life, both in my past struggles, and in the redemption I have found in my personal recovery.  I do believe a person can escape and be written out at the same time, meaning that the circumstances and challenges of a person’s life can become intolerable and undermine the potential for growth, leading them to escape that intolerable reality, and when you exercise that autonomy to escape and choose a different direction in life, it is inevitable that you will be written out by some of those around you.  Practicing acceptance, compassion, love, and empathy for those who write you out, may be the most difficult challenge I have faced in life, but it is a worthy challenge that can help resolve the dissonance of the soul and your capacity to show up in your future interactions with others.

Most of the band is from Minnesota. How do you feel like Minnesota is cooked into your music or like you have a Minnesota flavor?

At times, I like to think about musical arrangements from a visual lens as opposed to a musical theory perspective, and there are few places that have quite the diverse beauty that can foster inspiration like the seasons of Minnesota.  I have had people I look up to in the Minnesota scene as mentors, including the likes of Ryan Smith and Mark Joseph, but my musical inspiration comes from all over the world and isn’t so much wrapped up in what has or is taking place in the local MN music scene.  One thing I think all Minnesota bands and artists share is that we all spend a significant amount of time indoors during the winter months, which inspires such an enormous amount of really diverse musical ideas and sounds throughout those darker months.  All you have to do is turn on one of the independent or community radio stations in the Twin Cities to hear the vast amount of musical ideas coming out of Minnesota at any given time, which is really something to be grateful for and to celebrate.  Overall, Twin Citizen is proud to be mostly Minnesotan, we love working with our wonderful friends in the local Minnesota music scene and look forward to our upcoming and future musical experiences here in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota area.

Where can people see you playing in the next few weeks?

You can catch Twin Citizen in one of the following events, and thank you so much for your time and interest…

  • 3/18 Underground Music Cafe
  • 3/27 KVSC Monday Night Live (Live on the radio)
  • 4/15 Aster Cafe
  • 4/30 KJ’s Hideaway
  • 5/13 The Terminal Bar
  • 6/04 Lake Harriet Bandshell (Minneapolis Music in the Parks)
  • 6/10 The Amsterdam Bar
  • 8/03 Lowertown Sounds (Mears Park)
  • 8/5 Caydence Records & Coffee

Facebook/Instagram/TikTok: @twincitizenmnmusic
Twitter: @twincitizenband
Official Website: www.twincitizenmnmusic.com
Electronic Press Kit: www.twincitizenepk.com
Find our music on all streaming platforms!

4 comments

  1. I saw this band at 7th Street entry – halfway through one of their songs (I wanna say Domino?) I had a feeling like I was watching the early days of a Nationally headliner. They have an It factor and a polished sound. Can’t wait to see them skyrocket

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, Alex, that might be one of the kindest responses Twin Citizen has ever received. Thank you so much for coming out to our 7th St. Entry show, for the support and for the testimonial, we hope to see you out at a show again soon and we too hope for continued success!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on Recovery!!! Thank you for sharing from your heart about your successes and challenges that have changed you. The Lord shapes us through the things that we face, and every step of the way He is placing people in our direct line of sight and our peripherals to change shape also through the way that we ourselves live our lives. You have a great platform to speak to others and encourage Recovery!!! I hope to see you using that platform the best that anyone ever has!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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