A band displaying ambition is always something that should be admired. As the saying goes, even if you shoot for the moon and miss, you’ll still end up among the stars. When Citizen released their debut album here last year, they were pegged as newcomers with potential, their pop-punk sound a solid foundation upon which to build in future. For its follow-up, the quintet decided to stray well outside their comfort zone, and create something that displayed how much they’d grown as a band since their formation in 2009.
‘Everyone is Going to Heaven’ bears some resemblance to the Citizen of old, but it’s superficial at best. They’re moving on in style, and have now got the guts of two months on Warped Tour to show off the new material on stage. They begin the jaunt in California on Friday; ahead of that, we got drummer Jake Duhaime to fill us in on such things as who they consider to be the “sixth member” of their band; the highlight of last year’s UK tour; collaborating with Max Moore, and the meaning behind the album title…
AH: How have Citizen dealt with all members of the band living in different parts of America?
Jake: I’m not exactly sure why people have been asking this lately but we actually all live very close to one another. 4/5 of the band reside in Toledo, Ohio. Two of them literally live in the same room. I’m the furthest away from the pack, in Metro-Detroit. It’s only about an hour long drive though.
AH: What’s the meaning of the album title? Would you consider yourself religious at all?
Jake: We wanted to have a title that really felt like it had a lot of weight to it. Something that sounded ‘classic’ in our minds. The title ‘Everybody is Going to Heaven’ is used to describe the journey the record takes. But I like the idea of people finding their own meaning to it. No one in the band is religious. I think the majority don’t even find themselves anywhere close to the idea.
AH: This is the second time you’ve worked with Will Yip. What was his role in helping the band find a new sound on ‘Everybody is Going to Heaven’?
Jake: Will is the sixth member of our band- His help was crucial in realizing our record. He challenged us to play around with different song structures, wrote melodies alongside Mat [Kerekes, vocals], and obviously made the record sound incredible. We couldn’t have done it without him.
AH: What are the biggest differences between ‘Youth’ and ‘Everyone is Going to Heaven’?
Jake: If you play two songs side by side, I feel like there are a lot of obvious differences. Tuning has come up… brightness went down. We really tried to harness noise as an instrument and make the record have a lot of grit and urgency to it that ‘Youth’ knew nothing of, but with nfectious melodies and hooks still remaining intact.
AH: The album deals with darker themes than its predecessor – how much of the lyrical content was drawn from personal experience?
Jake: It’s all drawn from personal experience. A lot of things change as you get older – you experience more loss. The fear of speaking your mind also passes and the songs become more honest then they ever could be when you’re 17 years old.
AH: You’re heading out on Warped Tour this week; is there any band you’re most excited to play with?
Jake: Looking forward to watching our bus-mates in Lee Corey Oswald; Pup, American Opera; our friends in The Wonder Years. Riff Raff is likely to be a spectacle, so I’ll be around for a set or two.
AH: You played some shows here with Diamond Youth and Headroom (R.I.P.) last year – do you have a favourite memory of the UK tour?
Jake: My fondest memory is when Headroom took us to this incredible swimming hole. Cliff jumping and all that – it was so sick. We really solidified our friendship that day. Support Nai Harvest, Unjust, Insist, New Instinct Records, and any other project those people are a part of. Salt of the earth.
AH: Are there any plans to come back this year once your US tour’s finished?
Jake: Not this year. But we’ll be back. We can’t wait to get back!
AH: Did you go into the studio with just the 10 songs that make up the record, or were there extras that missed the cut?
Jake: There are 11 songs in total from “Everybody is Going to Heaven”. One had to be cut, though- it just didn’t agree with the flow of the album. I like the song quite a bit, but some members didn’t feel the same. The song ‘Weave Me (Into Yr Sin)’ was the final song written. It was the only song written completely in the studio.
AH: What was it like working with Max Moore on the video for ‘Stain’?
Jake: Incredible. We literally still talk about how much we loved his work process. He really understands exactly what he needs and what he has to do to achieve it. The end product is so unreal. Not to mention, he is a super pleasant guy. I just added him on Facebook last night, actually. I hope he accepts.
‘Everybody is Going to Heaven’ by Citizen is out now on Run For Cover.
Words by Gareth O’Malley (@riversidemethod)