When the Roseville power pop quartet Citizen Smile inquired if we wanted to photograph them at their church rehearsal space, we envisioned the classic setting of a group taking over an abandoned church like Plymouth's Chris Breest or R.E.M back in early '80s Athens, Ga. We realized something was up when we were given a phone call instructing us which door on which side of the church to enter.
See, Citizen Smile's space is an active, full-on mega house o' worship. Roseville's Cornerstone Baptist Church is where guitarist-vocalist Kory Kopchick has been wearing his Sunday best since he was a kid. When Kopchick and best friend and neighbor James Brown started Citizen Smile, it just made sense to practice at the church.
The Cornerstone had been a school when the church took it over in 1994 and proceeded to double its size. Today it's a thriving congregation of a couple thousand. You can only imagine how massive it sounds in the high-ceilinged auditorium when a service is in full swing — or when a rock and roll band takes over.
Given Smile's singsong, high-volume power pop, you'd expect the band to cite the usual inspirations — Big Star, Badfinger, Beatles, Sloan. Kopchick fesses up to differences: "We're actually more into Wilco, Weezer and Nada Surf. And the Who."
Citizen Smile plays the Lager House on Friday, Dec. 10, or see them at Cornerstone Baptist Church on Friday, Dec. 17. For more info go to the band's Facebook page: tinyurl.com/citizen-smile.