EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Ben Calhoun Singer of Citizen Way Talks About Debut Record

Matt LloydMar 29, 2013 06:26 PM EDT

Citizen Way, formerly The Least of These, is set to release their debut record on April 23rd called, Love Is The Evidence.  They have already had success of their songs "Nothing Ever (Could Separate Us)" and "Should've Been Me" on Christian radio. 

Lead Singer, Ben Calhoun, was kind enough to take the time to speak with BREATHEcast in between shows at home in Illinois.  

BREATHEcast: So you have been together as a band since 2004 under the name, The Least of These.  What made you switch the band name and start over?

"There were so many other great ministries under the same name "The Least of These" online or something with that so we were competing with that.  Our label said that when they were shopping us around, producers couldn't find our website.  We talked about it and since we had gotten signed we thought this would be the best time to switch our name, so we did."

BREATHEcast: So how did you come up with Citizen Way?

"Being citizens of the of the kingdom of God, followers of the way Jesus lived.   The bible in Hebrews talks about our citizenship being in the kingdom of Heaven.  The name enables our audience to feel like they are apart of something with us together.  Our bass players (Ben Blascoe) wife actually came up with Citizen and then after throwing around some different names for a second word, decided on Citizen Way."

BREATHEcast: What is the dynamic of having two sets of brothers in a band together?

"We had to learn how to fight good (laughs) thats what I always tell people.  Really the best thing about what we do is that we are brothers and the hardest thing about what we do is that we are brothers.  There is a family dynamic that is really special and difficult to work with as well.  Think about the enemy, he wants to divide us.  There is power in my brother (Josh, guitar/keys/vocals) and I and Ben (bass) and David (drums) being brothers and satan wants to be a part of dismantling that at any time.  So we have to learn how to be not only brothers, but business partners, money and all that kind of stuff that comes in.  You just have to really learn how to be servants to one another."

BREATHEcast: How is it being out on the road with Big Daddy Weave and Chris August?

"We are about 2/3 of the way through the tour, its about 50 dates in total and it's going very well.  A lot of cool ministry happening. Every night, I think the most significant thing for me is, we get to pray for people every night.  You can't imagine that things that people come up and have you pray for.  It's really humbling and all you can do is recite God's word with them and let the Holy Spirit do it's thing.  So thats been the most significant part of this tour for me, but all in all I just love having some new friends.  Chris August makes me laugh and the Big Daddy Weave boys are just great men of God and we just have a lot fun, a lot of jokes, it's just been a good time."  

BREATHEcast: What have you learned from a veteran band like Big Daddy Weave?

"You know, the best part about that, is just that, they have been doing it.  They are seasoned and detailed and know the big picture.  Because they have become good friends, they really look out for us.  Our van broke down and they were checking in on us during our week break from tour and Mike (lead singer) called me yesterday, said they heard the new song on the radio and so excited for us, just stuff like that.  We've made great friends, my kids love Chris August, so we send him video of them singing his songs and stuff like that.  So really we've just learned that it becomes very family oriented, it's a relationship, it's always walking with Jesus and seeking first the kingdom of God.  These guys have been doing it so long, they have struggled through how to do that.  Their not only doing really well and influencing people for the Lord, they are really influencing us as artists with them on the road.  They are great mentors, great examples and really just great friends."

BREATHEcast: Your debut album Love Is The Evidence releases on April 23rd, how would you describe the record for people who haven't heard of you guys?

"Very melodic, pop rock.  Hopefully biblical lyrics with rock n roll guitars behind it. (laughs)"

BREATHEcast: You have the new single coming out, "Nothing Ever (Could Separate Us)".  Tell us more about the sound and story for that song?

"You know, I love that song because it really came out of an idea that Jason Ingram and Seth Mosley had.  (sings riff) They had that riff and the first verse and the chorus which is now the bridge.  We had just finished the song called, "Lights On" so we wrote 2 songs that day, it was a very productive day.  We thought, you know, the chorus isn't quite there yet, lets make that the bridge and write a new chorus.  I had just recorded a melody on my iphone, I had been listening to the Kay Perry song, "Wide Awake" and the melody went like this (sings).  We were going through Romans 8 and Jason was like, "what if we sing "nothing could ever separate us" and it just clicked and right away it worked.  We wrote a second verse and it just worked man.  It was a really great day.  So to have Romans 8 in a song to me is just awesome.  Compounding God's word with rock n roll is so much more powerful then any words I could say."

BREATHEcast: You guys went the independent route for many years?

"We've been together for 9 years and we did independent everything, records, everything.  Our biggest involvement was at Christian Youth retreats and camps.  We had made a significant investment there.  The only bummer thing about being on this tour right now, which we totally love, is that we aren't able to do anymore of those camps anymore right now.  It was difficult for us to have to move on, but we are thankful for the times doing that."  

BREATHEcast: If you could collaborate with 1 Christian Artist and 1 secular Artist, who would you pick?

"For Christian artists I would say Steven Curtis Chapman, Toby Mac, Mercy Me.  We grew up and learned so much from all of those guys and have so much respect for them.  In the secular market we all love John Mayer and the stuff that he's done.  My brother and I would love to work with the Doobie Brothers (laughs).  There's so many good artists out there, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, just as artists to hang out with, that'd be awesome.  Oh! My big one would be Harry Connick Jr. personally."

BREATHEcast: What's up for you guys next?

"We will be hitting the summer festivals and still deciding on what to do for fall this summer.  We are just waiting on the Lord but we will definitely be out this fall.  K-Love is hosting a Fan Awards in Nashville on May 31 so we will be there for that, that will be exciting."

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