05 Mar Interview – Circa Waves talks about the latest album and tour
We met the quartet before their Paris concert.
Sound of Brit: This is our 4th interview with you, since the second album you always accepted to meet us, so a big thank you first of all for your trust !
Circa Waves : Oh yeah, that’s right!
SOB: You released the Hell On Earth EP in August, and a few months later this great new album, Never Going Under. Why this choice?
CW: This is a very interesting question. I’m trying to remember why we did this. After the lockdown, we had quite a few songs so we thought we’d put out an EP. Then we had some new material and it was time to release this new album.
SOB: Before talking about music, there is first of all this beautiful cover. Would it be possible to say a few words about it?
CW: It must have taken a year to stick to one idea. One day I was bored, and I started thinking about a cover with pictures of animals like a panther, a lion, some stupid stuff. And for many reasons I ended up sticking with a horse. From there we worked with an Australian artist we love, Conor. We sent him this idea and asked him « Can you do this but making no shit? » The first one he sent back was amazing. This album is very much about resilience, coming back on top, and the horse in a race is an example of that, having to be victorious.
SOB: Listening to it, we have a very punchy opening with a very short introduction. Then a series of hits, to give way to longer tracks that develop little by little. Finally, a very constructed, complex track, ideal for closing an album. With time, haven’t you found the magic recipe to release very good opus?
CW: We spend a lot of time choosing the right song order, Kieran listens to the album with different tracklistings to see what it sounds like. A lot of people today only listen to playlists. But we’re at a stage where we’re able to come up with different tracks like Living In The Grey which is perfect to end the album with. We’re getting better and better and it’s very important to make tracks like this. But you’re right, this album is perfect! (laughs)
SOB: In terms of songwriting, Living In The Grey really hits the spot. Can you tell us more about the writing of this particular track which evokes different subjects compared to the other tracks?
CW: I think it’s interesting. We came to a point in our career that was like a turning point. There’s a song in this style that could have been on the second album but in the end it wasn’t, and it seemed like this last album was the place to put a song like this, it was the right time. And the feedback we’re getting from the audience is that it’s a very good thing to do and we should continue on this path.
SOB: The drums are a major element in Circa Waves, giving a whole new dimension to the tracks. Colin, don’t you feel too frustrated on tracks like Hold On and Want It All Today where the rhythm is more calm? Isn’t that where it’s harder for a drummer to bring his personal touch?
CW: (laughs) I think Hold On is my favourite song on the album. I think each of our albums has a different style and especially for the drums. I just think it’s nice, it’s nice to do. Kieran knows where he wants to go with the drums, and I don’t feel frustrated.
SOB: On Do You Wanna Talk, the bass takes a very important place, while the electric guitars are more in the background. It’s a way of doing things that is very often found in your tracks: what is your point of view on bands that don’t give more importance to the bass?
CW: They are all idiots, all of them! (laughs) I think it’s very important, my favourite bands have always had a drive with a good bass. [Joe: But isn’t your favourite band Rush?] (laughs) Ahah that’s true, but I think live as well as on our records the bass has a major place and it responds to the crowd.
SOB: Would it be possible to give us the chords of Never Going Under? There are almost all the chords from the last album on the internet except for this one for some reason!
CW: I think it’s a B minor, right? Yes it is, it’s the main chord. So B minor, A major. Those are power chords, G major, E minor. And for the chorus it’s D major, A major, E major, G major.
SOB: On the networks, you said Kieran that you like to wake up in a new city every day. But tell us, what is the typical schedule for a day? Wake up time, sound check, free time, interviews by annoying French people like me…
CW: It’s always very different. Sometimes we like to chill out, do exercises in the morning… The priority when touring is to find a place to wash, to go to the toilet: if a place like this is found before the hall opens, you win! (laughs) And then you wait, you send postcards, you read. We all need a little bit of time on our own because there are so many moments together on a tour.
SOB: You’ve already been here a bunch of times. If you had only one memory or anecdote to keep from France, what would it be?
CW: Oh my god the day I almost died in Paris (laughs). After our first show here, we were very drunk. We climbed up a scaffold and were walking around on it. I (Sam) then hit my head and fell totally horizontal and that was only the first gig of the tour, so the rest was complicated… I laugh about it now but I could have died, I could have easily died (laughs). Yes, it was at L’International and we had a great time.
SOB: We’re really looking forward to this new setlist. In an interview, you said Colin that it was a bit of a headache to make choices. And then the other day you asked on Instagram if Crying Shame should be played on the tour. What do you think about concept shows where fans vote for their favourite songs? With all your discography, you manage to do without bangers like Wake Up Call and Be Somebody Good!
CW: There is a lot of talk about this. We try to keep the fan favourites, the singles that we have. We’re not Bruce Springsteen, we’re not going to play for three hours (laughs) because there would be disappointment. We want to make sure that the songs that are played are very good, we want the set to be perfect.
SOB: On this subject, what is your point of view on the ideal time for a live concert? Is it better to have an hour but intensive or a longer set but with more songs?
CW: An intense hour for me, and you’ll have a great time. If you want to do much more, it would be too long and less interesting like a Rush concert or something. (laughs)
SOB: I don’t know if you have noticed, but your concert tonight is particular. Indeed, it’s the first time you’re doing a headline gig on a Saturday night in France! So there will be fans from all over France who can’t normally come during the week. Don’t you find it frustrating to only go to Paris?
CW: Oh really? We would like to play in many more cities in France but we don’t make all the decisions. Anyway, we’re always up for it. We’ve done a lot of festivals all over the place, it’s been great. On this tour we’re doing 4 shows in Germany, I’m sure we could do the same in France. My (Joe) cousin just moved to Lyon.
SOB: It’s funny because I live in Lyon, and I came just for you this weekend.
CW: Oh thank you so much, that’s so sweet. You’ll have to go back soon to talk more about us and we’ll come! (laughs)
SOB: Personally, I haven’t seen you since… 2014 ! By the way, it was your first festival in France. Careful, tricky question: do you remember the name of this festival?
CW: There was a lake! Disclosure and Jungle were playing too, fuck I can’t remember… Tell me?
SOB: Les Eurockéennes de Belfort !
CW: Ooooooooh yeah! I remember that day very well, we were wearing t-shirts!
SOB: Speaking of festivals, can we expect a venue this summer in France? You’re going to have a busy tour: USA, Australia, UK…
CW: I can’t say no, I have to say that we are in the period where we are booking a lot of festivals. In any case, we would love to. We want to play everywhere, we want to go back to places where it went well, we want to discover others, it’s hard to be everywhere. It’s hard to be everywhere. In any case, when an opportunity comes, we take it.
SOB: Thanks again for your time, see you tonight!
CW: Thanks to you, see you tonight!
Our review of their last album here, our report of their Petit Bain there.