“On Calling The Dogs (the band’s 5th record) it truly is the most excited and energized the band has been in a really long time,” guitarist Nick Hamm says. “This album makes me feel like I’m 19 again — it’s like therapy or something. It sent a lightning bolt through everybody that worked on it. We’re ready to go.”
Across 11 tracks, Calling The Dogs explores a range of moods, styles and themes with each song as memorable as the last. The album’s first single, “If You’re Lonely,” is the kind of upbeat singalong anthem fans should expect to belt out at shows for years to come. Tracks like “Hyper Trophy” and “Can’t Take It Slow” show that Citizen can still put out unforgettable melodies over dance-worthy rhythms, while others (like “When I Let You Down”) lean more into timeless classics bordering on garage rock. As a whole, it’s as intense and energetic of an experience as the band has ever released.
“I really wanted to hone in on how it would feel to play the songs live while writing Calling The Dogs,” Kerekes says. “The songs on the last record are so much fun to play live, I wanted to make sure that this one would still invoke the same kind of emotion and crowd reaction. I kept asking myself ‘Will this be exciting to see live? How will the energy be?’ more than I ever have before.”
With all that said, the album is one of self reflection, as well as one that exercises personal demons for the members. The band’s overall willingness to confront themes that they’ve alluded to on past records – combating self-doubt, surviving and escaping familial toxicity, the development of self-awareness, and personal healing is one of the factors that makes Calling The Dogs their most poignant and cohesive body of work yet.
Never one to wait too long between albums, Calling The Dogs comes on the heels of 2021’s Life in Your Glass World, an album that (despite finishing recording in early 2020) spoke particularly acutely to millions during the pandemic and helped elevate Citizen to new heights. Combined with this summer’s sold-out celebrations (aka shows) for a decade of their debut, Youth, everyone involved is absolutely ready to explore what the next act holds.
That’s why Citizen sees Calling The Dogs as an incredible rebirth. They’re fully hitting their stride as the leaders of the post-COVID rock resurgence, and they’re in the uncommon place of being able to look back at their success and ahead at what’s to come at the same time. Citizen has the experience and wisdom of a longstanding act alongside the energy and hunger of a young band on the rise, as evidenced by the fact that most artists don’t get to go on an anniversary tour for their breakthrough album while still under the age of 30.
“We’ve been playing in bands together since we were like 10 or 11 years old, so we have a system that I don’t think anyone else would really understand,” Kerekes says. “There were definitely some tensions in the studio when we were younger, because everyone wants to be right and nobody wants to see their ideas thrown out. But now, the three of us know exactly what to do and nobody’s feelings get hurt, so it really makes Citizen a well-oiled machine.”
“The spirit of Citizen is just turning everything we do up to 11 and elevating it creatively as much as possible — and it feels like we can really come out guns blazing now,” Hamm says. “Every Citizen album explores different avenues we want to explore, and I think they always will. Calling The Dogs is the closest we’ve sounded to what I hear Citizen sounding like in my head, but that’s not a stopping point. It aligns with everything we want to do and everything we want to say right now, but that’s always evolving.”
Despite adding two new voices to the creative process this time around, Kerekes and the Hamms are so comfortable with each other that they’re well beyond any ego battles or other flare-ups and truly reaching new heights as both writers and performers. The three founding members have been playing music together for over half of their lives at this point, creating a “magic” bond that can’t be replicated and allowing Citizen to fully commit to everything they want to do.
With the ability to excel in both quiet ballads and distorted rock anthems, Citizen (which recently expanded to a full quintet with the addition of former touring members drummer Ben Russin and guitarist Mason Mercer) has an incredible knack for channeling raw emotion into singalong songs. On Calling The Dogs, the band exemplifies that passionate songwriting and styling while stripping back to what they do best: guitar-driven rock ‘n roll.
Picking up labels ranging from post-hardcore to shoegaze over the years, it’s reductive to try to categorize Citizen as anything other than one of the best rock bands around today. Evolving from teenagers playing local dives to a vibrant band capable of selling out theaters and hitting major festivals around the world, vocalist Mat Kerekes, guitarist Nick Hamm, bassist Eric Hamm, guitarist Mason Mercer, and drummer Ben Russin have earned their reputation as both tremendous songwriters and a must-see live act — and they do both better than ever on their new album, Calling The Dogs.
Citizen is Mat Kerekes (vocals), Nick Hamm (guitar and backing vocals), Eric Hamm (bass), Mason Mercer (guitar), and Ben Russin (drums).