My London: Lawrence of Citizens!

They’ve been described as a ‘David Bowie-esque indie-pop group’. Their debut album was produced by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand and released by Parisian electronic label Kitsuné. London five-piece Citizens! have come a long way since 2010. Ahead of the band’s gig at Village Underground this Saturday, keyboardist Lawrence Diamond (far left) – son of crooner Jim Diamond – chats to The London Word about Richmond Park, Peckham and his passion for Prince.

I’m in my room in Peckham putting together sampler instruments for our show next week at the Village Underground. I’m also eating a mango.

I’ve been in Peckham for about a year now and I’ve really fallen in love with it. It’s got lots of green spaces, lots of new bars and good coffee shops, and you can climb on top of the reservoir and get the best view of London you could ever wish to see. There is also the best Afghani bread shop by the railway arches which blows my mind daily.

Going to the science museum when I was about four with my mum and running round in the courtyard outside it eating Marmite sandwiches and chasing pigeons is my most vivid London memory.

My perfect London day out would involve a walk around Peckham Rye and up One Tree Hill. Check out what’s on at the South London Gallery while indulging in a Choumert bun from the Bellenden Bakery. Coffee from the Peckham Refreshment Rooms. Train to Brentford. Watch the Bees win at Griffin Park. Back into town to catch a gig at the Waiting Room in Stoke Newington or the Servants Jazz Quarters in Dalston, and then all night bowling at Rowan’s. Best night out ever!

The diversity and the green space make London unique. You really do have people from everywhere mixing every day and doing their thing. Also the parks and the hills and squares; there are so many of them and in winter or summer it’s a massive treat to be able to leave the concrete behind and go walking.

I always get in trouble because I don’t really like summer. I mean London is great in summer, but really we’re a city made for winter. The fog and cold and the rain just bring out the best in the city. Also I like a good coat.

Wherever I can get some peace and quiet and sit at a desk I get creative. Obviously there are great creative things going on all over London: Old Street, London Fields, Camberwell, Soho. But it’s more about finding your own space and the place you need to get things done. The tube can be a really good one for just getting your thoughts down on paper and sifting through your ideas. It’s like a moving, slightly sweaty, office.

I have never been backstage at a Prince concert. Anywhere, anytime.

The guy who designed the tube map is my most inspiring Londoner. Paris and New York are a nightmare.

Richmond Park is probably London’s best kept secret. It’s miles away from anywhere, and it’s not exactly cutting edge but you can see deer just chilling out. You can walk around pretending you’re on safari in Kenya – if Kenya was really cold and had loads of trees that were native to northern Europe.

I miss the cold of London when I’m away. And the variety of food. The grim determination and stiff upper lip everyone shows on the tube or using delayed public transport. The football news in The Evening Standard. The amazing gigs you can see pretty much every night. The slightly aloof, but really cool Antipodean baristas. The Thames.

London should basically make you hate it and want to leave. It’s expensive, it’s rarely warm, there’s no beach, the tubes stop at midnight. But it’s like dating the coolest, funnest, hottest girl at school. Compared to what’s amazing about her, her faults kind of fade into insignificance.

Brush your teeth TWICE a day. I used to just do it in the morning. Not cool.

To revisit my past I’d go to Afterskool on a Saturday night at LSE. I started sneaking in there from about 16 onwards. My friend Mary would sneak into Blow Up at the Metro with her big sister from when she was 14. Mary was much cooler than we were. But now Metro’s gone so there isn’t much nostalgia in visiting the Cross Rail.

To relax I just walk in the direction of the nearest park. A few laps later all is good in the world.

My biggest inspiration is Prince. Cause he’s a musical genius, he writes incredible songs, he’s sexy as f**k, and he can wear WHATEVER he wants and make it look cool. Prince should be the next mayor of London.

I would recommend everyone swim in the Serpentine. I mean it’s the bloody Serpentine and you can just swim in it. That said I haven’t done it so I should take my own advice.

We’re just about to finish our second album and are getting ready to tour it. It’s pretty exciting.

Happiness is… me and Prince bowling till 3am at Rowan’s and getting the night bus home listening to unreleased NPG demos.’

Citizens! play with DJs Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Eli & Fur and Danglo at the Kitsuné Maison Party on Saturday 18 October at:

Village Underground
54 Holywell Lane

Buy your tickets here.

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