Musicscan: You guys have been around for some time now. What is behind bands longevity? What fuels the fire and keeps you guys interested in the music you create?
Circa Survive: Circa Survive came together from the very beginning with the idea that we wanted to make music for as long as we possibly could. We knew that the most important thing we would need to sustain that is to be on the same page about our musical interests our goals, and most importantly the way we communicated about these things. The band has it’s share of problems with communication or with differences of opinion but at the end of the day we are able to step away from practice or a show and say, „okay so that was a hard day but I know that everyone is here fort he same reason and that is to create the best thing that we can create“. We have a great mutual respect for one another and we make suret that everyone’s personal well being comes before the band. If you want to last for a long time it’s important to know that if you need a break. Take the break otherwise things will build up and eventually explode. I think the main thing that keeps us interested in what we are doing is that we are five constantly evolving changing people learning from everything that happens to us every day. Every time we see each other there are no ideas flying around and we can form them into whatever we want to create new things.
Musicscan: For some time now, the harder music scene seems to go even more extreme than ever before. Bands are pushing the boundaries as far as complexity, technical approach and extreme arrangements are concerned. What are your thoughts on this and where do you see Circa Survive in the grand scheme? In a way you did the opposite as you focussed on intensity and the homogenous flow …
Circa Survive: It’s interesting people ask us quite a bit where we think we fit in and I for one don’t really think about it. In fact, I think it’s fairly irrelevant. We do what we do because it’s what we belive and we write what we write because it’s the energy that was flowing through us that particular day. As far as the more focussed intent of Blue Sky Noise I think it was kind of a subconscious idea that made it’s way into the music. I see a lot of musicians, even close friends that seem to be obsessed with doing things an analog, DIY way, and some of it becomes very self indulgent. I am personally a huge fan of prog rock but with prog taking itself almost to far I start to cringe a bit and shy away from it. For instance I listen to a band like The Mars Volta and I am extremely impressed with some of it but at the same time I lose the emotion of the actual song in what seems like noodling. When I listen to their more focussed songs I think they are one of the best bands ever. Without really talking about it with the other members of Circa Survive I think the song became the most important thing and because of that the album also became more cohesive. I’m not saying this is how things should always be done or how I’ll feel even tomorrow but it’s how we were feeling writing this record and it’s probably a good amount of the reason this record sounds the way it does.
Musicscan: What sort of evolution has the band gone through into Blue Sky Noise? For some parts I would say it is an unexpected record. What I feel about the new album is a more coherent and in "one-style" sounding…
Circa Survive: We went into this record with a lot of goals and it took almost three years to come up with the final album because we refused to settle for anything less than what we wanted on this album. We knew that the recorded needed to sound different. We had made two albums that sounded similar in production and it was time to try something new. Many of the songs have a bit of a more abrasive rock feel and this new production style really works with those songs. We also knew that we wanted every one of Circa’s members to contribute strongly to the songwriting. There were probably sixty songs/ideas that we were working on. We tried very hard to make sure everyones idea got a good look. In doing so we learned a lot about each others styles and strengths in writing. I think this probably had a lot to do with the way the sound evolved.
Musicscan: Every band has a vision of how their songs should sound like after the recording: Listening to Blue Sky Noise right now: Would you say that this was a successful mission or would you even say that you have been able to surprise yourself? If this is the case – in how far?
Circa Survive: I’ve recorded a lot of music in my life and this has been one of the most gratifying experiences. I love putting this record on and I honestly can’t say that about everything. Tehre are things that make me cringe on the last record we did. When we first got the mixes back from Rich Costey I honestly couldn’t believe how good the record sounded. I was kind of in shock. We feel very lucky to have worked with David Bottrill, Brian Moncarz and Rich Costey.
Musicscan: Do you still remember when you wrote your first song for/with Circa Survive and what it felt like and how it feels like now when you finish a song? How has your relationship to the music and the band changed?
Circa Survive: The first song I wrote for Circa Survive was called We’re All Thieves. Colin and I were sitting in his basement messing around with a riff i had written and things just started to come together very smoothe. I still listen to that demo we have of the song with Colin playing keyboards pretty loud in the mix. It gives me chills. I think we knew there was something special there. My relationship with music is different every day. Some days I am in love with it and other days I want to punch it in the face and tell it to leave me alone because it’s ruining my life. Today I am going to buy music lunch and take it out to see a movie.
Musicscan: What are you looking for in a song in general? Do you think there are still genuinely new sounds to be discovered or can modern rock music basically be said to be a recombination of already existing forms and elements?
Circa Survive: It’s hard to say there’s one specific thing i’m looking for in a song. But there does have to be at least one thing in there that makes it spezial. It could be raw emotion. It could be a beat that moves your body without you even noticing. It could be a lyric that you identify with. But there’s got to be something there. There is way to much going on these days that is just filler. There is nothing to it. I blame rock band and guitar hero for making a bunch of people with only passing interest decide that they want to make music. It is dilluting our industry and scene. Now I have to swim through a river of shit just to get where i’m trying to go.
Musicscan: Musically and lyrically Circa Survive seems like a band fueled by raw emotion which is at the same time tempered by a “reflected” vibe. What are the motives behind writing in this style, what reactions are you seeking to evoke in your audience?
Circa Survive: The word motive is kind of dangerous there. If you’re writing anything with a motive in mind, it is most likely not coming from a pure place and you’re probably an asshole. I fell in love with this band because everyone is playing something they love and usually without too much thought. Anthony is the only person I know that can pick up a microphone and sing with the band while we are jamming and not only come up with cool melodies but if you go back and listen to the tape he is singing some amazing lyrics on the spot. When we play to a crowd or when we write a song we first know that if affects us emotionally and that’s how we know it is true. The best we can do from there is hope that the listener will feel that truth.
Musicscan: How important is the improvisation factor to the music of Circa Survive, and is it different when you enter a stage?
Circa Survive: A good portion of our music is spawned from jam sessions at our house. We will record an improv and go back and listen to it, pick it apart and try to write something out of it. Improv live is extremely important to us because it means that a song is never fully written. We have these recordings down that we call albums. Those songs are what they were when we recorded them but maybe by the time we do our next tour they will be different. We love to play and jamming live seems like a much better place to do it, in my opinion than doing it on a record. It gives people something new to look forward to.
Musicscan: Where do you guys see the line drawn between progressing on what you do well, and completely offering a new direction or sound? Especially in the context of your band of course…
Circa Survive: We think we are walking the line pretty well. We are what we are and we want and need to grow.
Musicscan: Have you been surprised by the fact, that listeners from different musical tastes are getting Circa Survive? And is this something that matters to you?
Circa Survive: It does matter. I would love to be in a band that you could play for anyone and they would smile and nod their head. There really aren’t a lot of bands like that. I grew up on The Beatles, Iron Maiden and NWA so it’s hard for me to understand when people aren’t open to different types of music.
Musicscan: What makes the band special to you?
Circa Survive: I think the band is special because we care way too much. We care about every note that we play and sometimes spend hours deliberating on issues like that. We care about our fans and how they feel when they see us. We care about the world and we hope that our music can inspire people and make them feel positive and hopeful. I guess it was a couple years ago I picked up a Rolling Stone magazine that was focussed entirely on people who were trying to help the world and take it in a new direction. I was reading it thinking how I was wasting my life playing guitar while this guy had just invented a new type of fuel that wouldn’t hurt the environment and I decided at that point that it was important for me and for us as a band to use this voice we have to make people aware of issues we feel strongly about, or to raise money for foundations that we believe in.
Musicscan: How would you describe the essence of the band?
Circa Survive: Wet with little bits of sharp.
Musicscan: A last question: Who would you prescribe Blue Sky Noise if you were a music therapist?
Circa Survive: I think our music would be prescribed for the person who is going on a journey, someone trying to learn more about who they are and how they fit in with the world and how they can be better for themselves and the world. I wouldn’t say we would be a guide on this journey just a good friend to help you along the way.