It’s always interesting to see which albums stand the test of time. Sometimes, albums we love at first don’t sound as great after a while. Sometimes the opposite occurs, and an album we overlooked grows into an album we hold near and dear. On Keep Calm, that seems to have become the case with Citizen’s Youth. The band’s emotional, grunge-empowered rock hits hard and hits often, making them a definite band to watch moving forward. Playing an off-day show at The College of New Jersey, the band’s drummer Jake Duhaime and guitarist Nick Hamm were kind enough to sit down with Madison Ouellette to talk about their tour with The Wonder Years, touring in Europe, and more. Read on below to see what the guys had to say!
Keep Calm: So you guys just started this week on a big tour for the Spring. It’s The Wonder Years, Fireworks, Real Friends, Modern Baseball, as well as you guys. How have the first few nights been so far?
Nick Hamm: They’ve been really good. We were doing two technical “warm-up shows” in “B” or “C” markets, in Lancaster and Clifton Park, New York. So we’ve yet to hit a major city, but so far it’s been really cool. Really big shows, which is incredible.
Jake Duhaime: Starting tomorrow, it becomes a little more official. That’s when Real Friends tacks on. They’re just coming home from Australia. I think they needed maybe one day to regroup and then they’re tacking on tomorrow at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland.
Keep Calm: You guys have a European Tour coming up this summer. Headlining, right?
JD: Yeah, we’re just doing ten shows in the UK.
Keep Calm: Okay, gotcha. So have you guys been there before?
NH: We haven’t. Three of us have never been on a plane before.
JD: It’s gonna be Nick’s first plane ride, and he’s extremely not looking forward to it. He’s a little apprehensive about the whole plane ride. I’ve been to Europe in the past with other bands, and I can’t wait to get back. The UK is so nice and accommodating, so it’s going to be great.
Keep Calm: So Nick, especially for you, since it’s your first time going on a plane, what are you guys most looking forward to for this UK tour?
NH: Even though I’m really scared to fly, I’ve always been really interested in just traveling, especially to the UK, for whatever reason. I think it’s–not so much for me, but for the rest of the band–less of a culture shock, going into the UK as compared to flying over to, like, Russia, or something like that. So it’ll be really comfortable, and an easy transition. I’m just excited to see it, see what it’s about.
Keep Calm: So has anybody given you any tips about playing in the UK, or any things to anticipate, to look forward to, or to see?
JD: We honestly haven’t, now that I think about it. It’s not too different. I think maybe interest-wise, maybe some bands that are popular over here are a little less popular [in the UK], and vice-versa. But for the most part, it’s relatively parallel to what we have going on on our side of the pond.
Keep Calm: And then you also have stuff, at least on this continent, you’re doing Bled Fest in Michigan, which has a huge lineup. You’re also doing Heart Fest in Quebec, so you have two big festival shows coming up. How does your performance differ from small shows here, or the tour with The Wonder Years? These are big festival shows, so what’s the difference in the way you perform?
JD: I feel like the crowd’s reaction and energy perpetuates our own reaction and energy. No matter what, it’s always going to be a really enjoyable time, and we really believe in the songs that we play. I think it just goes with anything: we’re going to match the audience. If the audience is really vibing, and getting into it, it’s almost infectious, and we can’t help but get even more into it ourselves. We try to give 100% every single time, but it really does make a huge difference. In this case [author’s note: this was referring to the band’s show at the Rathskellar, a dining room at The College of New Jersey], there’s going to be some seated attendance, and we’re going to hope, maybe, they won’t be as seated while we play. Even if they’re just standing up front, they don’t have to be wiling out by any stretch of the imagination, but it makes such a huge difference for us, coming from more punk backgrounds, you know? This would be my first show that I’ve played where people sit down, so I’m a little nervous. But it’ll be fun all the same.
Keep Calm: Is there any way that you prepare differently for these shows? Does your setlist differ when you’re playing to more of, I guess, a general audience, as opposed to people that come directly to see you?
NH: Not really. With set time allotment, we might play less or more songs, but I don’t think really in terms of content, and what we decide to play, I don’t think it’s too much different than if we were just playing like a headlining show.
JD: Probably the major difference is our amps are a lot quieter.
Keep Calm: And we thank you for that, too, so we aren’t blowing out our ears!
Keep Calm: Kind of switching gears a little bit, you guys just released a music video for your song “How Does it Feel?” a couple months back. Who came up with that concept for that entire thing?
NH: Well, we had a more-involved concept that we were going to use up until like two or three days before we shot it. Our director, Rob Soucy was like, “Guys, I think we should just do something simple, and just focus on it looking good, and not worry so much about a story or a concept. So we just decided to that, and trust him and his vision for it. So it was all him on that one, which was kind of fun to just sit back and let somebody else take control.
Keep Calm: So how was the overall experience, you know, to do–it was like a bigger video, it was in the middle of the woods, so how was it to get everything there, and just the overall experience of shooting the video?
JD: I think that’s a little movie magic, as they would say in the industry. It literally was in our singer, Mat’s back yard. We just kind of lugged some gear back there, set it up, and shot a really nice, traditional video that kind of maps the somberness of the song itself.
Keep Calm: Again switching gears, you guys were featured on Will Yip’s Studio 4 comp, with “Cicuta.” What made you guys want to participate in helping out Will Yip and putting a song out on the comp?
NH: When we were in the studio recording our album Youth, while we were there he talked to Phil, the owner of Studio 4, about becoming a partial owner of the studio. So when he decided to do that, he decided he was going to raise money by releasing a record with all the bands that he produces for. Obviously all of them couldn’t be included. He asked us if we’d be down to do it, and I think I speak for everybody when I say that we would do anything to help Will out. And we knew it was going to be a great lineup of bands. It was like an easy decision to just pound out another song. The comp’s awesome.
Keep Calm: So was that song specifically for the comp, or was it something that you wrote for Youth, and decided to send it to the comp instead?
NH: We actually wrote it after we left the studio, so yeah, we wrote it just for the comp.
Keep Calm: And you’re also writing a new record right now, that information was put out a little while ago. How is the writing process for this upcoming album different from what you guys did for Youth?
NH: Well, with Youth, we booked studio time before we had the record finished. So it was like a huge, stressful process: getting a record finished in time we went in, and then it didn’t end up that way, so we had to write partially in the studio. There was just a lot of pressure to get things done. This time around, we’re taking it easy, and just writing when it comes to us, and doing what we want to do. It’s stress-free, pressure-free.
JD: Yeah, it’s very much still in its early stages, and we’re just being really contemplative about it, and making sure everything we do is calculated, so we’re not rushing, and we have all the time in the world, as of right now. We’ll be pretty busy playing some shows for the remainder of the year.
Keep Calm: Especially with this tour coming up, is that you’re not anticipating it coming out, or even recording any time soon?
JD: Yeah, it’s gonna be a while. Somebody pulled the trigger on that news pretty fast. We don’t even know where they heard that.
Keep Calm: Well that pretty much does it on my end, is there anything else you’d like to add?
JD: A lot of these shows are sold out, but if they’re not, come out! It’s an incredible package.
WTSR would like to thank Nick and Jake for taking the time to talk to us, we really enjoyed it! Thanks again to the wonderful people at CUBRat at TCNJ for helping set this interview up. Until next time, open your mind and bang your head!
Author’s Note: This interview was originally published on The Garden Statement’s parent website Keep Calm and Carry On. All content of Keep Calm and Carry On is now property of The Garden Statement. A letter explaining the switch in sites can be found here. Cheers!