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Circa Survive - 08.17.12

Interviewed by: Jason Gardner (08/21/12)
Just a week away from the release of their self-recorded fourth LP Violent Waves, I caught up with Circa Survive frontman Anthony Green as we chatted over the phone about the recording and writing process of the new record, the ending of their relationship with Atlantic and how his personal life has influenced his work ethic as an artist.

Itís kind of weird, I never thought I would see a tour with you and Touche Amore on it.

This tour is going to be just a fun tour for us. Weíre such good friends with like Touche and OíBrother. Balance, I practically see those guys all the time in Doylestown. OíBrother dudes, weíre like so close to them. We call Johnny Dang all the time. Weíll call them at 3 in the morning and... I donít know. Itís just really cool to be on tour with your friends. Doing tours in the past, you took bands out that you didnít know and a bunch of the time it didnít work out but they were nice people and you got along. Some of the times though... [sighs]. Itís nice to be kind of grandfathered into a place where we can rely on our fans to show up and we can get people out for different, various reasons . Obviously weíre still open to expose bands to people and to help people out. But to specifically architect a tour around what we want to see has been an honor.

Letís talk about the new record. Starting back a bit, youíre getting ready to release this in about a week, at about what point in the Blue Sky Noise album cycle did you guys start to piece this album together?

Honestly, the Blue Sky Noise cycle was so long and weird, that by the time we were in the studio, all of us were writing songs. Colin wrote a bunch of songs that ended up on his solo record, I wrote a bunch of stuff that ended up on Beautiful Things. We just kept going. It was such a tumultuous time with the band and there were so many things getting figured out. The moment that we discovered that we could make this work and when we started hitting our stride, we kind of got this feeling that we could do anything. Even since then, I feel writing has been more fun. It was super stressful in the beginning and we got through all of this shit. On the other side of it, it doesnít have to be like that. Itís really up to us. I would say probably toward the end of the album cycle right before we went in the studio, everybody felt really inspired and really tapped into the spirit of the creation of the songs for the bands and what was inspiring everybody else. I really donít feel like thatís stopped ever since then.

The whole thing about writing cycles is that people think, ĎOkay, we write the record and then we tour on the record, and then we come back and write.í I think if you just never stop writing, then you never really lose touch with the inspiration and that creative energy. You might see it like, ĎNow we canít tour and weíll go back to the writing.í Just never stop writing. Thatís how you never lose it.

How did that play into when you realized that this next record wasnít going to be on a label, let alone being on Atlantic?

We already had a bunch of songs written. We were compiling songs to send to Atlantic because we were excited. We were sending them songs Ė so we could find a producer that was different and we wanted to find someone that would help us capture this live sound. We didnít know what was going on. We were told, ĎHey, hereís the deal.í And we were like, are we dropped? And theyíre like, ĎNo, youíre not dropped. They want to give you less money to record than you were contractually obligated to get because you didnít make enough off of Blue Sky Noise.í Which had been out a year. And we were like, fuck. Well okay, so then at that point a couple people at the label who were our champions had gone and moved to other labels, so we were like what do we do? Our lawyer was like, ĎHey, by them doing this, you get an opportunity to bail on the contract. Itís a breach of contract, so you can counter with them and say, hey, we donít want to do it with less than you offered us in the beginning and its in the contract, weíre gonna bail.í So we were free agents and we walked with the record. We can do whatever we want. We all kind of had to think about it for a day or two, and we were like, are we ready to do this? And we decided we were ready, thereís no time like the present.

It seems like that happens more often than not where someone leaves the label and then bands end up leaving.

Itís happened to too many bands. Itís happened to so many of our friendsí bands. It canít be overstated how much the music industry is in turmoil at the moment. And everyone is just scrapping at the bit to figure out how they can make money off of selling music. Thatís why the turnover rate is so crazy and people are moving around and getting fired. Honestly, when we got there, it was very stressed to us like, ĎYouíre a career band, we want to nurture your band and be a part of your growth and your fan base. We want to see you guys through and see what your music can do.í We were stoked. And then... [laughs]. Mind you we never got put in a position to do anything creative, we didnít have to compromise creatively with them. We never felt like they were stifling anything we wanted to do. I think they took us on as a project, like letís make this weird band, letís see if we can find a niche in the mainstream. Thatís just never been something that weíve been interested in. We always wanted to get the music out to as many people as possible, but the way they go about doing that... itís just not very smart and it doesnít really leave anything to aesthetic of the message that we have. They really didnít give a shit about that message Ė they just really wanted to break the band. Ever since we started playing, Iíve felt that weíve grown at a very natural, organic pace and picked up fans as quickly as people move on and had such great luck with attracting fans that were fellow musicians or artists and people that really got the message of the band and really got to spread that empowering feeling and that you could be a part of it if you want just on the sidelines watching, you know? But, the label doing that, and not nurturing bands and not really sticking with them for long periods of time, itís really their bum out. You know? If they donít have it in them to see a band grow, then fuck Ďem.

Art changes and grows. Things change constantly. If you canít be excited about... if you didnít get what you wanted this time around on this record, letís move forward. Thatís just were things are headed nowadays. If you canít get on that shit, youíre just gonna miss out.

Especially on the smaller labels now like No Sleep, Run for Cover, Topshelf, that are nurturing bands more and showing the bigger labels like you can make money and put out music that you love.

Honestly, thatís the bottom line. You just have to have patience. When you start a business, for the first five years, you canít expect to have a profit. At best, youíre just gonna make enough to keep functioning the business. And thatís how weíre looking at our careers. Nobody here is trying to be famous. Nobody is trying to be a star. Weíre not trying to take over the world or change the world with our music. We just wanna do what we like and play what we like to hear. Itís very simple when youíre trying to do that. If youíre trying to change the world or become famous or something like that, then youíre in for a fucking fucked up time.

Now that youíve gotten some feedback on the songs and some feedback on your pre-order process, are you still pretty convinced this was the right thing to do instead of going with another label and basically doing it yourself?

I totally felt that way before we even went into the studio, just because of how much the songs really reflected what we wanted to hear this time. Not that every time it hasnít been pretty close, but this time itís right there, and thereís no filter. Hearing people like the record and like the songs and receive it well is good, and I love that. I sort of expected it based on how much we liked it. Since I started making music dude, there hasnít been one time where Iíve released a song or put out anything on any band where if I liked it, it always went over well. I never ever worried about it, and people dug it. People who I wanted to like it, liked it. Iím not going to worry about making those people happy now. All I had to do was make sure I would actually listen back to and say, ĎFuck, this is awesome.í Thatís not easy. It takes work, and definitely takes dedication. But Iíve always been dedicated to it. And if I can get it to a place where I really love it, itís all Iíve ever really had to do. Everybody else who has liked our music has been able to come along with us as long as that happens. Itís super gratifying to hear things, like reading the comments and feedback from people and get validation that this is the right thing to do. Iíve known it in my heart since the moment that this started that this was right.

You guys open the record with ďBirth of the Economic Hit ManĒ, which is seven minutes long even though it doesnít feel that long. How do you feel that song prepares us for what Violent Waves is trying to do musically?

I feel like that song just really runs the gamut of the vibe of the band. Thereís a heavier, loud aspect to it, thereís a mellow, subdued aspect to it. I pretty much sing the variation of my entire scale in that song. Itís just like, this statement Ė it was never meant to be an opening track, we never said we had to open the record with this, it just came out that way Ė but itís sort of just saying, hey, nothing is sacred, letís keep going. You know? I think it gives people a little bit of a taste of what weíre about. I like that itís more of a longer, patient song. You can go through that whole seven minutes and not realize youíve been sitting there for seven minutes. Thatís something Iíve always wanted to do in the band and it was really cool that we were able to accomplish it on that song and a couple other songs as well.

One thing that seems to string this album together is that the Ďchillí element youíve always had to your music is much more prevalent this time around. Was there a conscious effort to do that or did it just happen organically?

There really isnít very much on the record that we did consciously. Like letís make it more chill or faster. Itís all stuff that just happened. We followed it rather than it following our lead. It really just kind of happened that way. We get into a place where we feel inspired and let whatever is inspire us take over and thatís what weíre left with.

You mentioned that you were trying to capture the live essence of the band with this record. How did the recording process reflect that?

Instead of recording the vocals line by line which a lot of producers really want to do, I would record the song. Like start the song and then sing the whole thing a couple times. Then go back and sing something that was really weird or wanted to try. It was important to capture those moments where your voice is breaking or youíre a little sharp or flat because your breathing. I think singing with the guitars, thereís a lot of work that was done on the spot with Brendan doing stuff on the spot with tones because of that. Most of the bass and drum tracks were recorded together and live. We thought of our tones just playing the songs together and running through it. We figured out where it should be fast or slow or whatever based on just playing the songs together in a room rather than just recording it track by track, you know, drums first then bass and basically synthetically building the songs. We took it from a place from where we started in the room and built it up. I think was just more of a aesthetic feeling of playing it live as opposed to recording it live. Thereís stuff on it, overdubs that took hours to do. Thereís stuff that happened in a matter of two minutes. Itís not a live recording record, but I really feel it has the energy of the band that maybe was lacking on the other records.

Do you think doing it that way added any more stress to you guys as opposed to doing it in a more traditional manner?

I know that in the past, there were times where I was more stressed out than I wanted to be, and I think this time there was an idea to not put us in that situation. But when youíre working on something and you have a goal you want to achieve, it can be stressful when you are singing about your family or singing about your friends or about a topic that is difficult for you, youíre naturally going to go through feeling those emotions that you felt and are writing about. That always makes it a bit hard for me. Iíve always been a sort of sensitive dude in a way that isnít always very healthy. When I sing about loss or something, Iím feeling all of it and when Iím writing about it Iím going through it just as much as physically going through it. Being able to feel it makes it so you can really get that across and you can really express that, but itís also very difficult. Itís painful reliving it all. In order to do that, you have to really get into it and let yourself feel that. That to be is all the most stressful thing about writing and recording. Like Iím dealing with this issue with my father and my brother or myself and whatever the problem is about, itís emotionally draining. But I feel like any of the stress was more or less us trying to make it the best that it could be more than anything. There wasnít anything about this process like, we gotta make the label happy or we gotta make the producer happy. In our minds, it was very much a labor of love and that actually made it easier regardless of it being stressful.

Did not having that producer to work with bring any negatives after working with David or Brian in the past?

Those dudes never really got in my face about the lyrics, like there would be a couple things here and there that they would help out with if I needed help. I know Brian, there were a couple songs I didnít have lyrics but... thereís one song on Juturna where he wrote the lyrics for the chorus. I had this thing melody wise and I really liked it. But it really didnít happen very much. Weíre super hands on when it comes to everything. This time though, we just relied on each other. We allowed each other to just did the best we could do. We didnít need to lean on anybody and say hey is this cool or not? But I like collaborating with people. The whole band is a collaborative effort between the five of us. So when we went in with a producer, we knew that we were going to be sharing our vision with this guy. To me that was always kind of freeing. This time around, it was just as freeing. Like we knew we would have to figure out how to get through all of these indecisive spots on our own. We had our friends there, it wasnít like we didnít have help. We were forced to really communicate and compromise creatively on a level wherever the hard spot was. Lyrically, no one really messed with me on this record. Blue Sky Noise was the only time I had a really hard time with lyrics. There was just a lot of different things about that album that was difficult and being on that label freaked everybody out and just had a lot of scrutiny with the lyrics. Members of the band didnít like what I was writing. I was going through a lot of different stuff and was in and out of the hospital. All that stuff weighed in on it. Getting through that, I sort of found my spot again, like, I can do this and feel good about it and not worry about if Colin or Brendan really get it. As long as I really like it, theyíve got my back.

Would you say that this is your most accessible album, and if you donít agree with that statement, why not?

I donít really know. I donít have a great grasp on what really is accessible. I donít know what people like. I never knew what people liked. This is something that people will understand or wonít understand. Iíve thought about it a lot creatively trying to reach other people. But if lyrically youíre on it and you understand it and you connect with it, then people are going to connect with it. If youíre being honest with yourself, then that honesty will transcend. Itís either there or itís not. It doesnít matter if you tell everybody that it is Ė they can hear it. People arenít idiots. As a music fan, I can tell when somebody is full of shit [laughs]. I write what I like and I write about things that are important to me and Iím honest with it. And with that you can never go wrong. You never have to prove it to anybody.

Touching back on the lyrics to this record, and mind my interpretation if Iím totally off, songs like ďSharp PracticeĒ and ďHit ManĒ seem like they are influenced by what either you or the band has been going through the past couple years. What are some specific things that people hear in the lyrical direction that youíve taken this time around?

I kind of just always hoped everyone can take something different away. I never really try and write anything for anybody else, but at the same time like when Iím writing anything whether itís like poetry or a song or whatever, I always like the ideas of using words and phrases that can have two or three different meanings and arenít necessarily about one thing. Where as songs like ďSharp PracticeĒ are like, this is about whatever theyíve been going through in the music industry, I like the idea that thereís other interpretations of it. I just hope people are able to find what they want in the songs. I hope they take something away from it, something that works for them.

I hear that in ďSharp PracticeĒ, but someone else not familiar with the band might hear it and thing something absolutely different.

Thatís what I want. I never wanted to do something where like, this song is about my girlfriend [laughs]. Like this song is about the record label. I didnít sit down and say Iím going to write a song about our experience with Atlantic. Itís more on the music industry as a whole, which is gonna be in there because you canít really help it. Thematically, even in Saosin, I would have like three or four different things going on in a song. Itís never about a specific thing. I find that limits where a song can go.

Do you think there was an outside influence on your lyrics this time around akin to the Eternal Sunshine draw on Juturna?

You know, I guess this time around, it was pretty much just stuff going on in our lives. I donít think thereís going to be something like that again for our shit. Eternal Sunshine, I was going through so much crazy shit when I saw that movie, so many things from it inspired me to write so much stuff. It still happens to me all the time, but I donít think anything will ever inspire and makes its way onto an album like that movie really did.

How would you say whatís been going on in your personal life has reflected into your artistic creation this time around compared to earlier in your career?

I think that the most that my personal life has had an influence on the record is that I have a time restraint. Before I had kids, I had too much time on my hands. I would be lazy when I had to be. Now itís like, you donít have a lot of time to write. The time that I have is synthesized. Itís just nights and mornings and Iím not trying to leave my wife to work with two kids running around. I feel like it plays its part in giving me a fire that we have to work with all the time that we have and not waste any of it, because I have to get up at six in the morning. Thereís like no songs on the record that are directly about my kids or my wife, or anything like that. But thereís little things here and there. Itís not like I have two kids and I wrote a whole record about them [laughs]. Itís more like, I have two kids and now I have a more concise work ethic because I have so much more to do. I donít have so much time to sit around and overanalyze things. You just have to sort of move forward all the time. Not having time to overanalyze kind of helps this record to be crazy and a little bit more freaky.

Touching back on the record release itself, I had heard that the record had leaked not to long ago and in our state right now it seems like it is almost inevitable. To do this yourselves and to see that happen, is it a bit disheartening when you guys made every attempt to give people the opportunity to check it out and even offer a much cheaper price for the digital copy as opposed to the physical?

I was a little disappointed. To be honest. In the past when weíve been on Atlantic and weíve been on other labels, Iíve been like download the record, I donít give a shit. Itís not like directly affecting me. When we were in that situation, you get an advance and they take everything from you. But in this situation, weíre trying to support the band now in a way that weíve never tried to do before. When youíre setting up a business like that and something like that happens, which like you said is inevitable, youíre like, ĎOh shit. I totally forgot that this product is available for free.í Itís scary. We have a lot on the line right now. Itís not like Iím living in my parentsí basement Ė Iím feeding two kids and Iím supporting people. I wanna be able to prove to our fans that you can do this without a record label and you can do this just with your passion and your fire for it. You donít need a big company to come take your publishing and take your hard earned money in exchange for a small advance and distribution team. And I want to prove that to them, because I think that most of our fans are artists or musicians of some kind, and I want it to be true. Itís a little bit of a bum out. The very moment you hear about it, youíre like, ĎPeople are really doing that, even though weíre putting it out this way.í Then you remember that the album was gonna be out there for free anyway. Like as soon as it came out it was gonna be out there for free. It leaking... itís really done more good. People are passing the record around. If the record is good, itís gonna do good. Thatís my opinion. Stay What You Are, that Saves the Day record, released like three months before it came out or something like that. And itís like their best record sales wise that theyíve ever done. I donít know how that is gonna go. I just donít know. But the fact is that the record is in my opinion, amazing. Itís the best thing we could of ever done. I still feel like the hope is there, that people are going to support the band regardless if they downloaded it before it came out or spread the leak. Trying to worry about that stuff too much is just so futile. Itíll kill your vibe with your friends. People tweet at me like, ĎDude, I love the record so much,í and a part of me is like, ĎYou fuck.í [laughs] But I trust those people, and I trust theyíre gonna come to the show. And theyíre gonna get the five dollar download. Itís only five dollars. I believe in those people and I believe in the process. Itís very much like a field of dreams... well Iím not mad. I was a little bummed at the beginning because of how much is riding on it and how important this is to us to prove to our fans and ourselves that we donít need a bunch of old douches throwing us a couple thousand bucks and then taking everything from all the hard work we put into it. I want to start proving to people that that is beyond necessary anymore. I think we already have in a way. The presales are doing incredible, the two biggest tiers sold out in like a day. That just right there is a huge thing for the band to be able to support ourselves and to tour for like the next year. Iím not totally concerned about it... the fact that people are going to pass the record around is a bonus. I think if youíre embarassed about the record or something, the leak will bother you. After you get over the whole butthurt thing, like I couldnít stop the leak or because Iím scared because Iím afraid we wonít be able to continue the band and reach people, once you get over that and your realize thatís just what it is, youíre able to see something positive and see whatís going to happen is going to happen Ė you just have to embrace it with open arms.

Esao Andrews did the artwork again for this release. He might as well be a member of the band for as much artwork as heís done. Was there ever a question of not going with him?

There was in the past, like do we wanna do something else. Like after the first two records, we were in a spot where we asked, ĎDo we wanna do this right now, is this really gonna be the way it is where weíre gonna get the same artist for everything?í. I think we kind of passed that hump awhile ago. This is our dude, heís just as much a part of the band as anybody else. We sort of donít question it anywhere. There was definitely a time where it was like, well this is how it is looking. Weíre going to be touring with this dude forever and heís going to be the visual representation of the music. Thatís a big decision to make and going in that direction was like anything else. I saw him yesterday in New York, and I just love him. He has a great air about him. His aura is very calm and inspiring. The things that he does with his mind and ability is the epitome of inspiration. It makes me want to work better at what I do and become a better artist. I donít see the band ever releasing a full-length album without him being a part of it.

Thatís all I got for you today. Is there anything else youíd like to talk about?

I just wanna say thanks to everybody at Absolutepunk whoís been supporting the band for such a long time. People can say what they want about your website, but Iíve really got so much confidence and creative confidence from the comments and the people who interact at your website. Thereís always people in the world who are negative and will throw negativity at you because thatís who they are as people. I really appreciate everyone there who has had our back through the years and embraced our music through the years and made it a small part of their life. Iíve always wanted to say thank you to everyone and I never really got the chance to. Iím super grateful for all the fans on the website who truly believe in what we are doing.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 24.
07:36 AM on 08/21/12
#2
Hail Lelouch
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cannot wait for this record, great interview too
07:51 AM on 08/21/12
#3
CoheedForever
The Afterman
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Fantastic interview. Anthony is such a great guy.
07:56 AM on 08/21/12
#4
bunneh.
make moves, son
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Awesome interview. Preordered a few weeks ago, can't wait for release!
08:06 AM on 08/21/12
#5
Joey-Wan Kenobi
fourth and goal
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I love listening/reading anything Anthony has to say these days. Especially since his kids he just seems to be in a great place and it reflects on how his words come across. I can't wait to get my hands on this record.
09:10 AM on 08/21/12
#6
brook183
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I agree, "Hit Man" never seems like 7 minutes.
09:58 AM on 08/21/12
#7
irthesteve
All that wander are not lost
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Anthony and the boys are so great
10:33 AM on 08/21/12
#8
Steve Henderson
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Nice interview, thanks for posting.

Anthony and the rest of the Circa dudes are some of the most genuine guys in music. Nothing but love for them...hope this experiment pays off.
10:38 AM on 08/21/12
#9
MyJukeboxBroke
I need a Couch
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love this band. anyone think that they could ever be the next "fun." band where they go from seemingly unknown (to the 'mainstream') and blow up over night, hitting commercials and playing on late night talk shows and all that jazz? and if not, whats the diff?


again, love this band and so so so excited for the new album. i think ill dedicate some of my driving time to work music to some circa this week
10:43 AM on 08/21/12
donwagenblast
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Excellent interview.
11:57 AM on 08/21/12
HeavenResign
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Anthony always gives the best interviews. Every once in awhile I'll go rummaging through google and find any old, obscure Anthony Green interview I can. Always an amazing read.
01:38 PM on 08/21/12
NateGolubiewski
So it goes.
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Inspiring interview, it really put some new light on the record. Also, I had no idea Hit Man was seven minutes until reading this.

More than excited to see Circa again this weekend for their album release shows.
01:46 PM on 08/21/12
ctmk
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love this band. anyone think that they could ever be the next "fun." band where they go from seemingly unknown (to the 'mainstream') and blow up over night, hitting commercials and playing on late night talk shows and all that jazz? and if not, whats the diff?


again, love this band and so so so excited for the new album. i think ill dedicate some of my driving time to work music to some circa this week
the same reason the wonder years will never be huge. There's nothing huge to latch onto like a hook or vocal line. Its really not passive music, it engages you and forces you to pay attention. You cant throw a circa record on at a party and get a party vibe.

Anyway, love this band. I am buying so much merch at this show im going to be broke.
01:49 PM on 08/21/12
thesollopsist
Up all night, and down all day
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Great interview. Loving the new record after being letdown by BSN. This is the band I fell in love with again.
03:04 PM on 08/21/12
sept. 18th
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Great Shit!
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