Young guns: Citizen ready to rock U.S.Written by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
Don’t let the youth of local band Citizen fool you.
Though two of its members just graduated from high school, the group has already put out two splits, an EP, signed with Boston-based label Run For Cover Records and will kick off a national tour on June 22.
“Earlier this year we were offered a tour with Man Overboard, and it was really frustrating to see we were getting tour offers and we couldn’t do it because we were all in school,” said Citizen guitarist and 2012 Start High grad Nick Hamm. “We were searching for any way we could to still do it, but obviously it just doesn’t work when you want to graduate high school.”
Prior to its national tour, Citizen will perform at Frankie’s on June 17.
Nick’s brother Eric Hamm (bass), Mat Kerekes (vocals), Ryland Oehlers (guitar) and Cray Wilson (drums) round out the group. Citizen’s core of the Hamm brothers and Kerekes has been playing music together for years.
“It’s really rewarding,” Hamm said. “Obviously we’ve been around each other so much that we fight, and me and my brother kind of have clashing personalities. But it’s been exciting because our past bands haven’t really paid off, and when we started Citizen it’s just like all of a sudden the shows are insane.
“It’s crazy to see people as excited about it as we are, and it’s awesome that it’s with people that I’ve known for so long and that I grew up around.”
Since forming about two years ago, Citizen has steadily built a name for itself. The first steps of that journey started in August 2010, when the band headed to Fairless Hills, Pa., to record with Vince Ratti (August Burns Red, Bury Your Dead, Tigers Jaw).
“I think I was 16 when we went out and recorded, and it was really the first time I had been away from home with a band,” Hamm said. “It was pretty nuts. Like, our vehicle broke down and stuff, but it gave me a good taste of what to expect in the future.”
The result was Citizen’s split EP with The Fragile Season titled “The Only Place I Know,” released on Nov. 26, 2010, via Either/Or Records. The release caught the attention of Run For Cover Records owner Jeff Casazza.
After releasing its second EP, “Young States,” in September, Citizen sent Casazza tracks from its new split with Turnover. Impressed, Casazza added both bands to Run For Cover Records in March and released the split on May 22.
“He’s known about us for a few years, and it was always the label that we thought would be great for us,” Hamm said of Casazza and Run For Cover Records. “They’re kind of the lifeblood of the scene we’re in.”
With a sound that Hamm described as “indie punk,” Citizen has gathered a large fan base with its honest lyrics and energetic live shows.
“Our vocalist Mat writes most of the lyrics, but I think it helps us that we’re experiencing growing up right now because it’s easy to write about things that we’re experiencing,” Hamm said. “He writes a lot about dealing with frustrations of growing up and dealing with anger and things like that.”
Fans have connected with those lyrics, too, as Hamm discovered during an intimate classroom performance at Bled Fest in Howell, Mich., last year.
“That was really, like, the first show I had played that immediately when we started playing I was just overwhelmed by the amount of people in that room and the amount of people that knew our words,” Hamm said of the performance. “I didn’t even know people listened to us like that, so it was just really overwhelming and really exciting.”
With a strong core fan base and more than 7,500 likes on its Facebook page, Hamm is looking forward to that continued excitement with Citizen.
In addition to doing its first national tour with Turnover and Light Years this summer, Hamm said Citizen will probably begin recording its debut full-length this winter with Will Yip (Papa Roach, CKY, The Wonder Years).
“I haven’t been past Chicago west,” Hamm said. “So I’m really excited to see the country with good friends.”
On June 17, Citizen will perform with NRR, React and Freedom at Frankie’s, located at 308 Main St. Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. Doors are at 7 p.m. and all ages are welcome. For more information, visit frankiesinnercity.com.