Citizen @ Bi Nuu, Berlin, Germany (28/09/2018)


Interview: Citizen

With their most recent release “As You Please”, Citizen have experimented further with their musical style. Read on to find out what influenced them during the writing process, what direction they’re going next, and more.

Faultless Sounds: If you had to trade bodies with someone in the band, who would you choose?

Nick Hamm: That’s a good question. Probably Jake, because he has a big chest and I have an anti-chest, it’s really tiny, so I could use some of his. I don’t want Ryland’s shitty tattoos, so I’m gonna go with Jake.

As of today, “As You Please” has been out for two days. How has the reception been so far?

Nick: It’s been unbelievably positive. It really feels like there’s a consensus that people really like it. I don’t think we’ve ever released anything that had such a positive reaction immediately.

How did it come to be such a cohesive album?

Nick: We didn’t go into it with a clear vision, so to speak. We just started writing and we were all really excited about the songs right off the bat. We spent one and a half years writing the album and we just got a little more daring as time went on.

In the end, it’s probably the lyrics that tie it all together.

Nick: Mat certainly does a really good job writing about what his world is at the time, that’s been true with every album that we’ve done. If I write something and give it to Mat, he just has a way of knowing exactly what the vocals should be, and even though it’s not the same person writing the instrumental parts and the vocals, it ends up feeling like one song, not just segments coming together.

So what’s changed for you since “Everybody Is Going To Heaven”?

Nick: We all got better at what we do, individually. We became better writers and better players. Two of the songs on the new album were Ryland’s first time writing for the band, which is pretty crazy since we’ve been a band for so long. He started working on songwriting more and more and then he wrote “Medicine” and him and Mat wrote “Discreet Routine” together, which I think are two of the best songs on the album.

Was there a certain artist or band that accompanied you during the writing process that might have influenced the final result?

Nick: There were certainly some bands that I listened to a lot that I didn’t the last time around, but I’m not sure if it came into play as far as influence is concerned. When you start working on an album, you’re listening to one thing, and by the time you’re finishing it, a year or more has passed, and what you’re listening to has changed completely. At one point during the writing process, I was obsessed with Interpol and Savages. And then Mat wrote the song “Fever Days” and sent it to us and the bass line reminded me of a bass line that would be on a Savages album and it just felt amazing, like the minds are connected in some ways. Mat was also listening to a lot of David Bowie and taking in a lot of new influences. We were all just kind of dabbling in new things.

That’s something that really surprised me. With some of the new songs, the only thing that gave it away that it was a Citizen song were the vocals, because everything else was so different. What’s your favorite new element that you’ve incorporated on this album?

Nick: We started using samples, like on “In The Middle Of It All”, and that’s not really something a band like us would be thought to be doing. Mat also decided he wanted to play keys, so he just bought a keyboard, learned, and did it. So this is the first album of ours that has keys on it, and I think as we go on, we’ll probably explore that a bit more. It’s exciting and really rejuvenating to add things like that into the mix.

What’s the best thing you’re hoping for during this album cycle?

Nick: I’m hoping we get to play some new places. We have hit that point where we’re just playing the same areas over and over, so I’m hoping we can see some new things, hopefully we can explore Europe a little deeper next time. We also want to go to Latin America, maybe even Southeast Asia.

What’s your album of the year so far?

Nick: The new Alex G record, I’ve been listening to that a lot lately. Right now, that is probably my top, but there’s time for more. I really like the new Vince Staples album, but it’s funny, because I think the end of the year is mostly when things start coming out that I get really excited about. Maybe I’m just more responsive to music in the fall, for some reason.

Would you rather never play or never listen to music again?

Nick: I think I would rather never play music again, because I just listen to music too much. If I’m not playing music, I’m listening to music. And I only play music for like an hour a day, but I listen to music 24 hours a day, so I would get rid of the guitar and just listen to music.

What is your faultless sound?

Nick: I don’t know why this is, but I love the sound of orchestras tuning. For some reason, I’ve always liked it. I was in band when I was in school, so maybe it reminds me of that.

What instrument did you play?

Nick: I played trumpet. That is a very far cry from what I’m doing in Citizen now, but I really want to get back into it.

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Citizen @ Cassiopeia, Berlin, Germany (08/10/17)

Citizen – As You Please

With their third full-length album, Citizen are laughing loudly into the faces of those who thought the quintet had nothing left to explore after releasing two records that instantly became essentials for every emo aficionado’s collection. In a world that incessantly creates new genres, “As You Please” proves that, even though Citizen might have already found their place, that does by no means imply that they’ve run out of ideas.

The opener, “Jet”, acts as a reminder to show us where Citizen are coming from and it already offers a glimpse of where they plan to take us in the next fifty minutes, too – spoiler alert: there are lots of experiments coming at you. Be it “In The Middle Of It All”, which starts with choir-like high-pitched vocals before launching into more familiar, somber tones, or “World”, which presents the band at their most melodic, almost drifting into pop-punk. “Discrete Routine”, a slow, piano-driven song in which, at first listen, nothing -except for Mat Kerekes’ vocals- suggests that this could be a Citizen song, even takes on a Brand New level of increasing tempo, volume and complexity. The dark, accusing lyrics suggest that these songs weren’t just written out of personal interest either.

Even those tracks with a simpler structure, like “Medicine” or “Control”, become special by the ever-present passion that acts as a fundament for every Citizen song. I’ve wracked my brain trying to find a negative thing to say about this record, but I have to disappoint you here. There are so many ideas squeezed into these twelve songs that you’ll discover something new with every listen. Despite, or maybe even due to, the tentative steps toward different elements, “As You Please” is as them as it gets… plus, there’s an extraordinary amount of catchy moments, hooks, lyrics.

Faultless Rating: ✔✔✔✔✔

Song recommendation(s): Control, Discrete Routine, I Forgive No One