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Citrus Pit Takes Over

Alex Donosolo
Citrus Pit performing at The Pillars, San Jose. From left to right: Sam Immel (‘24), Daniel Sarinara (‘24), Lennon Heitkam (‘24), and Blake Hall (‘22) (not pictured).

Lead singer and guitarist Lennon “Ludacris” Heitkam (‘24) credits his own father, a musician, as his initial source of inspiration for forming the band. By 2022, bassist and Heitkam’s lifelong friend Sam “Swaxelhead” Immel (‘24) was on board, along with drummer Blake Hall (‘22), and ex-member Daniel Sarinana (‘24). Self-proclaimed “roadie” Jamie “JTAC” Cool (‘25) also agreed to work with the group as a manager and instrument tuner. 

Over the course of a year the band wrote and recorded their first song “Midnight Doom” in Heitkam’s garage. Upon reflection, they collectively believe that their songwriting has greatly improved since then, with Immel stating that “the song is not as complex as the music [they] make now.” When describing their process, the group claims that the songwriting is “easy” as they simply build onto the “lyrics and guitar riffs that [Heitkam] writes” in his free time. They are often influenced by the music they enjoy such as Black Sabbath, Weezer, and 100 Gecs. Interestingly, the band members stated that their “favorite” song, titled “Skinhead,”  remains unreleased.

By mid-2022 the band ditched their original name, The Whaling Karens, and released “DEMO”, a collection of home recordings, under the name Citrus Pit. The group had their first show in Heitkam’s backyard, and has since performed at numerous venues including The Pillars, The Art House, and the Sofa Street Fair in downtown San Jose. 

In March of 2023, Citrus Pit released their first studio album “Self Titled” which featured a combination of songs from their debut album and new songs such as “Sleep Song” and “Monsters In Love With Felonies.” Partnering with local bands Pluie and Globo Cons, the group began bringing their music to venues in San Francisco such as Bottom of the Hill and Toxic Beach, while continuing to host regular shows at The Pillars and the Art Boutiki. Citrus Pit has hinted at a new album coming in 2024, but no release date or album title has been confirmed. 

Along the way, band members Heitkam, Sarinara, and Immel began working on a new project titled The Capital of New Hampshire (TCONH) with Cool, and Alex “Abstract” Vierra (‘25). Through what they describe as a “forward thinking boy band hip hop collective,” they hope to incorporate more storytelling into their songwriting. 

While there is overlap between Citrus Pit and TCONH, the former embodies more of a punk sound while the latter incorporates sounds and samples from a larger variety of genres. When asked about their influences, the group cited New York rapper JPEGMafia who is known for his alternative approach to hip hop music. The combination of each members’ individual preferences contribute to TCONH’s unique sound as well. When it comes to their favorite songs, the band listed Stevie Wonder’s “Summer Soft,” Apollo Jake’s (‘24) “Heroin,” Tyler, the Creator’s “Lemonhead,” Bladee’s “Jaws,” and System of a Down’s “Arto.” The diversity of this list and the manifestation of this diversity in TCONH’s music makes it abundantly clear that the group simply draws inspiration from music they love, instead of limiting themselves to a single genre. 

Currently, TCONH has released three albums: “The Capital of New Hampshire,” “Happy Holidays,” and “A Very Spooky Halloween.” This year, TCONH announced their plans to make a deluxe album, set to release this spring.

Note: In light of recent allegations, guitarist Daniel Sarinara is no longer a member of TCONH.

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Rebecca Philips, News Writer
Nate Labao, Activities & Athletics Editor

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