CITIZEN // 5 Minutes With Mat Kerekes

With UNIFY Gathering only a few days away, it’s well and truly time to stock up on your festival essentials (baby wipes, anyone?) and get your road trip playlist ready.

MORE: DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL 2019: Drop Second Announcement

As for team Hysteria? We’ve been jamming Citizen in anticipation for months now! With their appearance in Tarwin Lower just around the corner, we caught up with frontman Mat Kerekes to chat about the gathering, his solo work and Cannibal Corpse.

Night Of The Living Shred

Hysteria: Hey Mat! Where are we catching you from today?

Mat: You’re catching me from a gym in Toledo, Ohio.

How are you guys feeling about being on Unify Gathering?

Super good, that’s the one that’s in the UK right?

No (laughs), that’s the one in Victoria, Australia.

Oh shit (laughs). Sorry I kind of just say yes to everything and then don’t pay attention. But seriously I do love coming to Australia. I think we’re also doing a run with Turnstile around it and I’m just excited for the whole thing.

Will you be checking out Turnstile or any other bands at Unify?

I haven’t really looked at the lineup (laughs), I just said yes to playing. I will take a look at it though!  I love the guys in Turnstile so I’m sure I’ll be watching them.

I love the honesty dude!

(Laughs) That’s just how it goes! I get the email and I see what the time frame is like and then agree or disagree. I just like being home so I base a lot of my decisions on how long I’ll be home and I don’t really pay attention to the details!

Your appearance will come off the back of As You Please, the last record Citizen put out. How are you feeling about playing some of those tracks to an Australian audience?

I’m really excited about it; it’s always fun to play newer songs. It’ll be rejuvenating to play them in front of different people, It’ll feel brand new to us again.

You’ve also been working on some of your solo stuff lately, how’s that been going for you?

Good! I just released a new song and it’s coming off a record that I recorded myself. At my house I have a garage and I actually converted that into a studio specifically so I could record that solo stuff. So I did that and then I got it mixed by Michael Brauer and he killed it! I’m really excited for it, I think I’ll release another single next month but I don’t have a release date or anything. But that’s over and now it’s Citizen time so we’ve been writing some new stuff. That’s my life; it goes in cycles–solo record, Citizen record, solo record, Citizen record. It’ll be probably be like that until I die.

Over time your influences change and what you’re listening to changes and no matter who you are, what you’re listening to bleeds into what you write.
[ Mat Kerekes ]

So what new material have Citizen been working with lately?

We’ve been writing things here and there. We feel like we got caught in a routine with our album releases, we’re technically unsigned right now so we’re just exploring all our future options. We’re really taking our time to write the next record, there’s no rush or deadline, it feels pretty good to be on our own terms right now. We’re not getting together and making it a point to write or anything, but if someone does something we’ll just throw it in the group chat. It’s all super relaxed, we have a few songs written but not much, there’s really no rush at all.

I feel like your last couple of records have all switched up the sound a bit, is mixing it up something that you want to try carry through into your newer work?

There’s no direction. I don’t think there’s ever been a planned thing where we said, “Okay this is what we’re going to do for this record”. Over time your influences change and what you’re listening to changes and no matter who you are, what you’re listening to bleeds into what you write. We never go into something saying we want to sound like this or that. Whatever we write, whether it’s Nick [Hamm] or me or whoever is writing in the band, is what we use.

I think as you get older and change, your sound is just going to evolve too. If you just write the same record over and over again, you’re not really growing as an artist. I don’t know what the next Citizen record is going to sound like, the couple of songs that we do have written don’t really sound like they’d fit into any of the other records that we’ve done. I think that’s a good thing though, it feels very natural and that’s how we all want it to be. We don’t want anything to be forced and we don’t want to make it a point to decide what we’re going to do, we just want it to happen naturally. That’s been the case for us for every record so far, whatever happens with them happens.

And since Citizen have been a band for so many years now, it feels natural to have that progression right?

Yeah totally. Some bands write the same record over and over again and hey, if it works for them then that’s cool, if it’s what they’re into I’m not dogging on it, but it’s just not something I’m interested in. I don’t listen to the same music I did back in 2012, so I don’t expect that I’d write the same music I did back then.

So have you been listening to any music lately that’s really inspired your sound?

As of late I honestly haven’t been listening to much music, or at least much music that would be translated into Citizen. I’ve been listening to a lot of Cannibal Corpse lately (laughs); I go in phases like most people do. I just really feel the need to switch it up and I’m kind of spent on the music I normally listen to, it feels good to mix it up and just listen to some other shit. So there’s Cannibal Corpse, but I’m also back to Slipknot, my old favourite. I haven’t really made it a point to discover any new artists that could bleed into Citizen.

So basically what you’re saying is that we’ll be seeing a death metal Citizen album?

(Laughs) Maybe! I did say whatever feels right!

Catch Citizen with Turnstile at the following dates:

Saturday 12 January // Unify Gathering // Tarwin Lower
Sunday 13 January // Triffid // Brisbane w/ Empower
Wednesday 16 January // Factory Theatre // Sydney w/ Rage
Thursday 17 January // Corner Hotel // Melbourne w/ Outsiders Code
Friday 18 January // Enigma // Adelaide w/ Sleep Talk
Saturday 19 January // Amplifier // Perth w/ Triggerlip

Tickets available here.

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