Acclaimed and seasoned rock outfit Circa Survive are no strangers to the process of music making. With two EPs and four full-length albums in their past, the group’s latest musical evolutionary step has been dubbed Violent Waves. The self-produced work was recorded in an organic environment close to the homes of the band’s members, with “Suitcase” being the first single, as well as video, to be released. The album dropped on Aug. 28 and was received with open arms, garnering positive feedback on all ends. The guys seem to have strengthened their control over creating addicting melodies, flavorful guitar parts, and songwriting in general.
This act has a strong following, a dedicated fanbase, and the guys continue to flourish as musicians. Circa Survive have embarked on a U.S. tour spanning throughout the fall with O’Brother, Balance And Composure, and Touché Amoré. Having accomplished much within the lifetime of the band, the boys have many more endeavors ahead of them. Their guitarist, Colin Frangicetto, took a moment while on the road in Arizona to speak with The Aquarian about all things Circa Survive. This is what he had to say:
The band’s latest record, Violent Waves, is distinctly different from your previous release, Blue Sky Noise. How did you approach the recording process this time around?
The actual recording process was quite different because we chose to self-produce [the album] and we did it in a studio that was pretty close to our homes. We were home every night whereas every other record we’ve made, we made away from home. Twice we were in the Baltimore area, another time we were in Toronto. This was a much different feeling, you know, kind of going there in the morning, meeting, and then going back to our homes at night and kind of resting up.
In general, we have just been in a much healthier space, you know, because at this point, we are all a bit older and Anthony [Green, vocalist] has a family. A few of us are married and there is just a pretty large kind of comfort that comes from being able to keep that intact while doing our thing on the record. Then, of course, there is just the day-to-day working at a pace that we decided every step of the way; calling all the shots ourselves was a huge change. As far as writing it, it was very similar to how we wrote all the other records as far as what we had in mind. You go into every record with a mindset of trying to make the best record possible in the most honest and creativity-inducing kind of environment.
“Phantasmagoria” is a particularly cool song with thought provoking lyrics. Where did this track come from and can you explain what it’s all about?
I wouldn’t really be able to explain the lyrics; that’s definitely more Anthony’s territory in a sense. On this record especially, he was very pure; there was really no outside input from any of us about his lyrics this time around because I think all of us just felt the lyrics just came from a very cool place. I felt they were really inspired and kind of unquestionable. My interpretation of it is things that you pine over and want; you place value and desire in the wrong places. It is obviously pretty multi-layered in meaning.
The song itself came from… that was one of the ones that Anthony just brought in and it had a full structure of chords, and just a very interesting song structure, with no real, like, jump-out-at-you chorus or anything. Needless to say, it is one of the more catchy songs on the album. It is one of the more oddball songs on the album as well. It kind of sticks out pretty largely. Oddly enough, it was kind of one of the ones that I was in question about for a while, but it’s interesting to see how it plays out live. It’s such a sing-a-long song; it’s definitely a fan favorite already. The first time we played it live on this tour it was kind of mind-blowing to see how the song really came to life in a live setting. Now it is one of my favorite songs, so it’s interesting how that happened. It’s definitely a journey.
The video for “Suitcase” is the first one that you have released. Where did the idea for that video come from?
That was pretty much a brainstorm session that started with an idea that Anthony had. We had this idea of a girl opening a suitcase and her traveling with this guy and witnessing some stuff that was more on the dark side. We were a little nervous about finding someone who could accomplish that vision. The guy who worked on the video, he is a close friend of the band, he just nailed it. Collectively, it is our favorite video that we’ve made so far. In general, it is challenging to make a music video that is captivating without any band performance in it. It felt really unique and really thought provoking, if you ask me.
What did you guys want to bring to the table this fall, as far as a live performance goes, on your tour cycle?
Every time we try to step up our game, production wise. We try to make it visually interesting, obviously not as much as sounding good and all that stuff. The one major difference in this tour for us has been we chose to play a different setlist every night. We rehearsed a pool of about 50 songs before we left; we have a pretty large pool of songs to pull from. It’s really gratifying to really change that. I think we are probably much better musicians for it. I find that every night I go on stage, the less and less anxious [I get] about it. I’m really excited about it, to see how songs translate live.
Were you previously acquainted, prior to the tour, with the bands that you have brought along?
We knew O’Brother from a smaller tour we did with them; we stayed really close friends with them. They’re just really good guys and we’re just kindred spirits with those guys. We were hoping that we could do a big tour with them so we were glad that this worked out. We have a lot of mutual friends with Balance And Composure and we also recorded with some of the same people as them. Anthony has been out on tour with them before and we also really wanted to make this happen.
Touché Amoré are kind of a new band that, as far as for us, we’ve never played with them before. I think them and Balance And Composure have actually worked together before this. Most of the bands knew each other one way or the other. Everyone is very friendly and we hang out as much as possible.
What musicians do you look up to?
I guess the guitar players that I keep going back to are Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, Radiohead—there’s endless amounts of artists that I’m inspired by. Ultimately, I think the guys that I’m in the band with, those are definitely the people that inspire me the most. They are the ones I get to watch and experience their creativity and their skill.
Is it possible for you to pick a favorite track off of Violent Waves?
Uh, it really changes every day. It’s weird. I think at the moment, I really love playing the first song off of the album [“Birth Of The Economic Hit Man”]. There are two songs that I really love just to listen to—“Brother Song” and “Blood From A Stone.” Those things make me feel really good.
What’s in the near future, besides touring, for Circa Survive?
There always is [touring] but a lot of the times, I’m not always really aware of it until we talk about it. Hopefully, you can expect us to tour a little more, go overseas, do that kind of stuff, and then eventually come up with another album, you know.
Circa Survive’s latest album, Violent Waves, is available now. Catch them at the Starland Ballroom on Saturday, Oct. 27. For more information, go to circasurvive.com.