Citizen are a pop-punk band split across the Michigan and Ohio border and what started out as a side project for some members has quickly evolved into a project that demands much of their attention. Or at least as much attention they can give after their schoolwork. They might be 5 baby faced youngsters but don’t hold that against them, their take on pop-punk is a little rough around the edges which, for mine, is part of the appeal.
Nick Hamm, who takes care of guitar and back-up vocals, took some time out from life to let us get to know the band a little better. We talked about their split with The Fragile Season, their take on the pop-punk genre and he spills the beans on an upcoming UK release. Read the full interview here.
Can you give our readers a little background about the band?
We started as a side project roughly two years ago. We’re a young band. We’re in school but we try to remain as active as possible. We are putting out a split EP fairly soon on Either/Or Records. We are also releasing a 7″ over the summer on our current label in addition to a UK release by City of Gold Records. (Daylight, Man Overboard, Daytrader, Basement)
How did you decide on the name Citizen?
What relevance does it have to the band? A few years ago, two of the members fumbled around with the idea of starting a side project called Citizen. The ideas never came to fruition. Later, Mat asked us if he could use the name for a project he was working on. Hence, Citizen became Citizen.
Would you consider yourselves model citizens?
Well, not in particular. I wouldn’t suggest anyone look up to us. (ha)
While being pop-punk at the core, there are raw and heavy sounding guitars in your songs which is something that not many pop-punk bands do. Is that something you aim for or is it a result of production?
We don’t necessarily see any excess of value in music being ‘heavy’ or the lack there of. If it does seap through, then it’s just a natural result of writing. Vince’s production is very organic and really brings out a raw sound so what you hear on the recordings is sort of what you get in a general sense.
Pop-punk sadly became a ‘dirty word’ for some many ago due to its commercialisation. That said, there has been a resurgence of awesome pop-punk in the last few years. How do you guys put your own spin on the genre?
I would call our music aggressive. I’m not going to pretend that our music is ultimately groundbreaking. But, it is pretty aggressive and our new material definitely accompanies a more solemn tone. I would say the most ‘different’ thing about Citizen is how young we are. That doesn’t really say much about putting a spin on anything but, we are rarely playing shows with kids our age.
The Citizen songs on the split have a live ‘feel’ to them; I can imagine a crowd full of people singing along to them. Do you write songs with the live show in mind?
Yes and no. We spend the majority of our time playing shows so it is definitely important that we have material that will impress a live audience. Simultaneously, an album or EP or 7″ could be the first impression made to a lot of people. Therefore, it’s definitely important to create something both pleasing to a live audience and also to someone checking us out online or something to that extent.
Do you think a band, any band not just Citizen, should sound exactly like the recordings when playing live? If so, why? If not, why not?
There are certain bands that sound exactly like their recordings. Those bands generally blow me away. But, I definitely think twists on things really spice up a live show. So if the differences are positive, then I think some alteration is a very good thing.
The band is split between Southwest Michigan and Northwest Ohio. What is biggest hurdle for the band when members are located across different areas?
It’s not bad. Mat lives about 5 minutes into Michigan and we all live about 10 into Ohio.
You guys have released a split with The Fragile Season. As a band, what is the appeal in releasing your music as part of a split rather than a stand alone release?
Especially in this case, we loved doing the split with The Fragile Season because they are our good friends. It’s also great to be able to expose others to great music that is not your own. Their side turned out very well and I think that they will quickly become popular, if their activity level stays high.
Can you tell me a bit about the recording process for Citizen side of the split?
Did you collaborate with The Fragile Season for the split or did you record the songs separate from them? We went to track the three songs in August. We chose Vince Ratti to do the job and it was really great to be able to trust an engineer as much as we did with him. The Fragile Season did their songs with him as well but they went at a different time. We discussed collaborating on an acapella cover of Barbara Ann but it just didn’t happen. haha.
What are Citizens plans for 2011?
Our plans are to release ‘The Only Place I Know’, TOUR, release a 7″, tour more, and continue writing everywhere in between.
What are 3 things the world should know about Citizen?
We love pizza. Bring us pizza to a show and become an honorary member of Citizen.
Evil Weevil is, in fact, releasing The Offspring.
And we are going into a Macbook distribution business with Jonny Craig. SUP.
Any famous last words?
PLEASE listen to these artists: Seahaven, Hostage Calm, Louder Than Bombs, Allison Weiss. All great people. And thanks for the interview!