So I simply wanted to interview Citizen Way about their recording process for an inside scoop at what that is like. Then I realized I haven’t properly introduced the band. However, if you keep your eye on me, I will have the inside scoop on Citizen Way’s recording their first full length album with Fair Trade Services up in the next week or two. It is ready to go, I just have to wait for the right moment 😉 So, for now, I offer you the Citizen Way story as written by Joshua Calhoun and myself.
Citizen Way Story… so far
Lead singer and guitar: Ben Calhoun (Ben C)
Keys, guitar, and vocals: Joshua Calhoun
Bass guitar: Ben Blascoe (Ben B)
Drums, percussion, omnichord: David Blascoe
There is a common misconception that often comes with being a signed recording artist. Many believe that fame and wealth soon follow after the pen hits the paper and that the troubles wash away from the flow of prosperity. Though becoming a signed recording artist is a dream come true, dreams are still often filled with an often-sobering reality. That said, I would like to shed some light on the blessings and trials of being in a band with a song on the radio.
Citizen Way has been a band for a little over eight years at this point, though we haven’t always been called Citizen Way. For much of our “career” we have led, played and recorded under the name The Least of These.
It all started when my brother simply asked Ben to record bass and me to record drums for a set of twelve original songs he wanted to make into a solo album. I literally met Ben Blascoe for the first time in the studio. After the album we decided we wanted to keep playing so I transferred to Judson College from Greenville College and our journey began.
Our band quickly expanded to a five-piece as we added Sam Lima and Neil Lubke on electric guitars. Our first show was at Judson University and our second show was at a Battle of Bands on a flatbed truck. Shawn McDonald was a judge for that show so when we won we couldn’t help but think we had something. Our first shows were awesome, we gelled really well, and we loved ourselves some good ‘ol fashioned rock music. Those first eight years we played everywhere from bars and cafes to summer festivals and churches but our most desired and sought after gig was opening for national acts that were coming through the area.
Eventually we whittled back down to a three-piece with just me, Ben and Ben until we brought David Blascoe on as the drummer in order to move me up to keys and guitar.
We are a band of biological brothers. As a result, we have been heavily involved in each other’s lives and have seen and shared in much joy and heartache. We are deep into the lives of one another and love each other very much. So much so that the four of us have become family to each other, so much so that we are aunties and uncles to each other’s our kids, and that is far more important that ever getting to play. After all, we are, first and foremost, brothers – being band mates is simply a privilege. Now of course there are times of conflict – as with any group of people spending endless hours in a van together. As a band of brothers sometimes deeper rooted issues arise during moments of tension or conflict but that can also be a blessing because you get to live life together. It reaches us to learn to understand the deep-rooted issues and to respect each other.
As a band we have made a few attempts to work our way into mainstream Christian music. First, in 2007 we met with a label and were given the hard truth that we were not yet good enough. In 2009, Ben and I drove down to Nashville to meet with another label to try to woo them. We played for James Rueger that day, the A&R rep for INO Records, and in the end we drove home with nothing more than a launch-pad relationship. Finally, in 2011 we played a Christmas concert with Barlow Girl where a special someone heard our song Should’ve Been Me; he excitedly asked if he could share it with friends in the music business and from there we struck a showcase with another label. So, that December, we piled our gear into our van and drove the nine-hour haul to Nashville to perform a showcase for them. Ten people at the label watched us play and we left with no more than a kind, “we’ll let you know” and a quick shuffle out the door.
We thought we were reaching our conclusion as a band. As we slowly packed our things and piled them back into our van, unsure how to spend the rest of our day, Ben C decided to seize the spare time. He called up James Rueger, the A&R rep for, now, Fair Trade Services, and scheduled a “stop by the studio for a visit” trip. This “visit” turned into a meet and greet that led us to where we are now, a signed artist with a song on the radio!
This past February, the four of us met at Ben C’s to sign the official Fair Trade Artist contract, a contract that says a lot of things that we needed explained by a lawyer. The contract essentially slated us in for a single song. At this point we also chose to change our name to avoid a potential legal hassle with someone else called Least of These, though different from The Least of These, but more on there here.
We drove back to Nashville that March and recorded our first single, Should’ve Been Me, in all of two days. Then, a couple of months later, we hit the road for radio tour. This trip was all about visiting radio stations all over the country to introduce Citizen Way and Should’ve Been Me. We fly to a location then drive, drive, drive, and visit, visit, visit. It’s a great opportunity because we got to build relationships with people that we will hopefully be working with more in the future.
In the end we made it to 55 some stations so this meant we were home of all of maybe a week that whole month. Then, come June 1 of this year, Should’ve Been Me was released to radio stations and began to take off in incredibly ways! First it was a college station in North Newton, Kansas that played our song. The feedback from friends was incredible. We got updates all across the country as to who was hearing it when and where and on what station. Then, suddenly, we were hearing it at home on KLOVE! One of the greatest experiences to date was headlining a show halfway across the country and having people show up because they know our song and they know who we are now.
Currently we are hitting some one-off dates and working on our full length record. There are some more big things to come: in January we go on tour with MIKESCHAIR, in February we hit a long tour with Big Daddy Weave and Chris August, in March our next single should hit the radio, and some time after that the full length album will be released (no solid timeframe yet).
Label: Fair Trade Services
A&R Rep: James Rueger
Producer: Seth Mosely
Management: Creative Trust
Manager: Jim Houser