At this point in their career, Citizen has reached an almost cult-like status. With roots in the angry, aggressive side of pop punk, fans quickly flocked to the band. However, each of their releases has marked growth for a band unwilling to remain stagnant, and on their third album As You Please we find Citizen in a full melodic bloom. Where sophomore record Everybody Is Going to Heaven, while gorgeously arranged, was sonically demanding, As You Please feels less jarring, more fluid and effortlessly captivating.
This Thursday, October 19th, Citizen will be headlining a record release show at Saint Andrew’s Hall in Detroit while on tour with Sorority Noise and Great Grandpa. The Michigan Daily recently spoke to guitarist Nick Hamm about the tour, changes to their live show and the reception of their phenomenal new record.
The Michigan Daily: I keep seeing the Detroit show referred to as the record release show. Do you guys have anything special planned for that date?
Hamm: Oddly enough, we generally do our record release shows in Toledo, but this time around logistically we weren’t able to. So, we decided to do the record release in Detroit, but we’re going to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Toledo public schools foundation. And I’m excited about that, because we feel a bit guilty. So many shows pass over Toledo, so we’re excited to be able to, I don’t know, make up to Toledo a little bit. So that’s probably the most special thing we have planned for it. It’s also going to be the first show that we’re showcasing, like, some production that we’re doing that’s nothing we’ve done before. We’re kind of excited to break in this new kind of style of Citizen show.
TMD: Could you touch on specifics? Are you adding lights to the show or instruments for the production of the album?
Hamm: The most noticeable difference with the new album and the new live show is that we’ve added keys into the mix. So now, you know, that’s a very new thing to see Mat (Kerekes, vocalist) up there playing a keyboard. And additionally, we have some lights and things like that that we’re going to be trying out. Hopefully there’s no bumps in the road as far as that goes. We’re excited about it, so hopefully people enjoy it.
TMD: In your recent interview with New Noise Magazine, you said that there was a pushback on the new sound on Everybody Is Going to Heaven. How has the reception with As You Please been compared to your sophomore record?
Hamm: It’s been overwhelmingly positive. I really don’t think we’ve ever released anything that has had such an immediate positive response. Touching back on the Everybody Is Going to Heaven thing, you know, we had a very clear vision for that album and a very clear sense of how polarizing it might be, coming off of such a different record with our debut. This time around we knew people would — you know, it’d be a little less polarizing — we knew that people would like it. But we really had no idea that people would be as receptive and as responsive as they have been so far. So, it’s super exciting after having an album that people either loved or hated, it’s kind of nice to have this record out and seemingly anyone that hears it is really excited about it.
TMD: With the tour starting tomorrow, are there any songs you’re excited or nervous about playing live for the first time?
Hamm: Yeah, we’re doing a new song called “Control,” and I think ever since we first wrote the song we’ve been really anxious to be able to play it live. So, we’ve been practicing that one pretty diligently, just making sure it’s perfect before we unveil it. That’s probably the one I’m most excited to play.
TMD: I know you’ve toured with Sorority Noise a few times at this point, and they were really well received at your headlining show with Turnover. Could you tell me a little bit about your touring experience with them and the addition of Great Grandpa as the opener?
Hamm: So we first toured with Sorority Noise in 2016 with Turnover, and we didn’t really know them at that point. We knew their singer Cam (Boucher) through mutual friends, but we just really love touring with them. They not only are just a really cool band, but they’re great people. They also just know everything about gear, and they’ve helped us with little things like that along the way. If I’m having technical issues, I just ask one of them about it and they generally know what it is. They’re super fun to have on tour with because they’re so positive and friendly. But they’re also just so helpful, and they don’t ask for anything in return. They’re just really cool people to be able to tour with. And as for Great Grandpa, I had not heard of the before we started routing the tour, and I’m friends with their booking agent Greg Horbal, and he suggested them so we all listened to them. There were a few other options in the mix, and we all just really liked it and thought they were a really cool band. Unfortunately for them, they have to drive all the way from Seattle to meet up with the tour, but they immediately said yes to doing the tour. Obviously, it doesn’t always work out that way, but immediately they were down and it seems like it’s going to be really cool getting to know them and watch them every night.
TMD: How would you describe a Citizen show to someone who has never heard of Citizen before?
Hamm: I would say first and foremost that it’s dynamic. I think that describes it pretty perfectly. There’s moments that are pretty chaotic and loud, and then there’s moments that are really calm and really pretty, for lack of a better word. So, I think that it’s something that not every band offers, and I’m pretty proud of the way we handle the dynamics throughout our set. I think that’s probably the best word to describe it.