The band America now knows and loves as Citizens on Patrol was born in
the spring of 2001, the brainchild of Dave Wiemer and Alex Thomas, as a
direct response to what they saw lacking in the local music scene.
Rather than a showcase of musical skills, lyrical complexity, and a way
to peddle their wares, they dreamed of a band whose only goal in life
was to play their hearts out and thoroughly entertain the audience.
Their vision was of a cover band with a female vocalist that would play
high octane power pop.
Having been recently reunited with high school friend bk, the
two wanted to put this plan into action. That summer they formed the
band Cousin Larry (along with Matt Wiemer and Jessica Manske) to play a
friend's graduation party. They rocked Glenview, IL's world, then promptly
never played together again.
For a year and a half Alex and Dave continued to dream about reforming a band of some sort. After class one day, they recruited Jenn Frank as
lead singer (without any direct knowledge of her vocal abilities -
thankfully, they lucked out). In the winter of 2003, the three finally
saw their opportunity. They had heard Northwestern's Dance Marathon
was accepting submissions for their Battle of the Bands. The time for
diplomacy had passed. The three headed to the Wiemer basement to
record a demo tape (literally) of a few songs they knew they could
play. Not thinking they would be accepted, they kept it a trio
with occasional assistance on guitar from Dave's father (who is blind).
The tape was submitted, along with a lie. Written on the tape was a
description of the band as power poppers who dressed as a flight crew
and were called Sandpiper Air (from the hit nineties sitcom, "Wings").
No such band existed. At least yet.
To their surprise, their submission was accepted. But now they knew
they needed an actual band. Shredder bk was re-enlisted as
lead guitarist (after some convincing that the uniforms would be cool).
With Alex on drums, Dave and bk on guitars, and Jenn on vocals, they
needed a bass player. Alex began writing an email to Will Butler asking
if Dave could borrow his bass for the contest. Halfway through the
letter, Alex realized that Will was perfect for the band and he should
ask him to join. So Alex asked, and Will was brought "on board."
From there they jumped into rehearsals and bought their uniforms to
dress up as a flight crew. Jenny as stewardess, Alex and Dave as
pilots, bk as mechanic, and Will as male stewardess. True to their
philosophy, they played high octane cover songs, playing everything from 60's Motown, to 80s tunes, to modern power pop. They
accomplished their mission, rocked the crowd, and won the the Battle of
the Bands. From there, they played in front of hundreds at the Dance Marathon. The dance-weary crowd was energized by their high octane covers. As their success took off from there, the band realized they were on to something.
In the spring of 2003, Will Butler left the band briefly to record an album
with his real band, The Arcade Fire. In the interim, the
band recruited Andy Brommel to fill in on bass. By the end of the summer,
Dave Wiemer moved out to Hollywood, and most assumed it was the end of this
successful experiment. But when Will returned in the fall ready to play,
the band decided that they should continue playing together. Rather than
stay on as Sandpiper Air, they decided to change the look (now performing
as law enforcement personnel) and rename themselves Citizens on Patrol (as
a tribute to the cinema
classic, "Police Academy 4"). A new era was born. The gigs continued to
roll in and the band recruited trained dancer Eric Tal and barely-trained
walker Mark Bowden as COP's official District Attorney/Convict dancing duo.
At the end of 2003, bk ran off to Boulder, CO in search of nirvana. To fill the vacancy, Eric was promoted from dancer to
guitarist and Mark was demoted from dancer to manager. In 2004, Adam Yanke
was recruited as bailiff/keyboardist to provide the synths and order in the
court that COP so desperately needed.
The band continues to roll along, now playing original music as well, but
never forgetting their original mission: to play their hearts out and
thoroughly entertain audiences everywhere they go.
Click here to read individual band member bios!