Citizens! Frontman Tom Burke Talks Onstage Band Style And Modeling For Saint Laurent [INTERVIEW]

Tom Burke in the Saint Laurent Pre Collection 2013 campaign .
Photo: Hedi Slimane/Saint Laurent

Fact: any band that puts an “!” at the end of its name wins an automatic place in our iTunes library. But along with their perky moniker, it’s the danceable beats and happy-go-lucky-vibe of London fivepiece Citizens! that REALLY won us over for the long haul. These boys pack some major musical punch on their debut album (out now), AND with a self-described “rock n’ roll-meets-Englishman” wardrobe, you can bet they look good doing it. Hedi Slimane clearly thinks so. The Saint Laurent designer spotted the group at a festival this summer and immediately tapped frontman Tom Burke for the fashion house’s new campaign, setting off a bajillion questions in our brains: Is this the beginning of a second modeling career? Has he been practicing his “Blue Steel” ever since? How did he and Hedi become SUCH good friends? Luckily for us, Tom called in from the tour to give us the scoop on his new gig, Citizens! fashion philosophy, and why he wishes he had style like Jagger.

Photo: Courtesy of Citizens!

MTV STYLE: Citizens! is in the middle of a major tour right now…how’s it going so far?
TOM BURKE: It’s going great! We’re in Jakarta tonight, in Indonesia, where it’s boiling hot. It’s just people hanging out in bikinis and Ferrari’s everywhere, so it’s quite the culture shock [laughing].

How would you describe the onstage style of Citizens!?
It’s actually a mix of a few different things. We have some of that rock n’ roll scruffiness to us, but then there’s also a small Englishman quality that’s always creeping in. It depends how we’re feeling, but sometimes we get a bit psychedelic if we take it really far. It’s glorious being in a new band because a lot of your clothes comes from thrift stores, some stuff comes from H&M, and then if you get lucky, labels like Saint Laurent will give you really nice stuff.

Now you’re the face of Saint Laurent. How did that happen?
Well, Hedi [Slimane] came to see us at a festival in London. He liked our show and we got to chatting with him afterwards, and we got on with him really well. He actually came around to my house a few weeks later to take photos, because he likes taking pictures of people in their homes for his blog. We had a nice chat, and that’s when he asked me to come to New York for this shoot. I’d never been to New York before, so I was immediately like, “Yes!” I said yes even before I knew what it was all for [laughing].

How was shooting the campaign?
It was quite scary, because I’ve never really done modeling before. When I got there all these girls were sitting around, knowing what they were doing, and I was so nervous!

Who are some of your music style icons?
There’s actually a few people who I really admire in the industry. It’s easy for people to always say David Bowie, but his style evolution has just been so amazing. The stuff that Mick Jagger used to wear in the ’60s and ’70s was absolutely incredible, too. I think he might be my new style icon.

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