Citizen Way is a true band of brothers – in the literal sense. This infectious rock four-piece is comprised of two sets of siblings with strong ministry backgrounds and a mutual passion for music that began long before the band officially formed in 2004. Band members Josh and Ben Calhoun and David and Ben Blascoe share a camaraderie that is undeniable and results in a unique, unparalleled connection for a band that has plenty to say.
Months before their April 2013 label debut album, Love Is The Evidence, this promising new signing was already generating buzz — even as they continued to write and record. The band’s first single, “Should’ve Been Me,” made an impressive debut, shooting up to the top of the charts and peaking in the Top 5 on Christian AC radio. The tune was penned in 20 minutes by Ben Calhoun after a conversation with a group of students at the camp where he was leading worship.
“We had just taken these students through a crash course from Genesis through Revelation. It was the end of an incredibly powerful week and we were asking them what they had learned,” recalls Ben Calhoun. “One of the kids spoke up and simply said, ‘I learned that it should have been me.’”
I remember thinking that was pretty profound for a 14-year-old and was inspired to write this song.”
All four band members grew up in strong ministry families. Josh and Ben Calhoun, the group’s primary songwriters were heavily influenced by their mom’s musical gift and the Calhouns were on stage singing at church from an early age. The Blascoe brothers had a more urban upbringing than their bandmates and while their parents weren’t musical, they were music lovers, exposing the boys to live shows by early Christian acts like Petra and Mylon LeFevre.
The name of the band comes from a few key ideas in scripture that are important to the guys.
“Ephesians reminds us that our true citizenship isn’t here on earth, but rather in heaven,” explains Josh Calhoun, “Jesus calls Himself the way and the book of Hebrews talks about the new and living way we have because of Christ’s sacrifice, Acts actually calls believers followers of the way. So Citizen Way is an idea that we’re part of something bigger, God’s kingdom.”
“Each time we sing ‘Should’ve Been Me’ I still remember the moment when God moved in my life for the first time and I go back to that special week at camp” says Ben Calhoun. “I’m reminded of what He did for us on the cross and how grateful I am for the life that I have in Jesus. Our hope is that people will hear our songs and are also reminded and encouraged in this same way.”
What’s the 2.0 version of Citizen Way? That’s the question lead singer and songwriter Ben Calhoun found himself fielding after the band’s debut album Love is the Evidence gained them a devoted following and produced radio hits like “How Sweet The Sound” and “Should’ve Been Me.”
Calhoun heard the question so often, he decided to name the group’s highly-anticipated sophomore album just that, 2.0. “Everyone kept asking, ‘What’s the next record going to be? What’s the 2.0 version? What does it sound like?’ That kind of stuck.” Calhoun says. “This is what it sounds like. This is who we are. This is the new and improved Citizen Way.”
The band recently went through a season of changes. Bass guitarist Ben Blascoe announced his departure from the band as Calhoun and his family made the move from their home base at Judson University in Illinois to Nashville, Tennessee so that the vocalist could focus and invest in the group’s new record. The singer and his wife also experienced devastating loss with the miscarriage of his son, Jeremiah.
Calhoun relied on his music and the band to get him through the tragedy, and from it was born the album’s first single, “When I’m With You.”
“I wrote that after we lost Jeremiah,” Calhoun recalls. “So many things are wrapped up in this song. How death brought me closer to life. How losing a son made me love my little girls more when I didn’t know I could.”
The lyrics, “Anytime, Anywhere, Any heartache – I’m there – There’s never too much – There’s only grace“, describe the singer’s unwavering sense of faith in spite of his family’s incredible loss.
“That’s how I feel about God’s word because that’s how it’s always been for me. It feels like I’m not alone in the foxhole. I’m getting shot at, but at least we’re together.”
The song is already striking a chord with the band’s fans.