Interview with Circa Survive: What’s Going On

Circa SurviveA few years ago, Circa Survive seemed to come out of nowhere. Suddenly, singer Anthony Green had left former band Saosin and began penning songs with friends in his hometown of Philadelphia. Then, a short time later, the band’s swirling, progressive debut, Juturna, appeared on Equal Vision and slowly began to blow the minds of all who heard it. Now, two years after the release of Juturna, Circa Survive have an even more mind-blowing album, On Letting Go, that is poised to take the band far higher than they could have possibly ever dreamed.

Guitarists Brendan Ekstrom and Colin Frangicetto, and drummer Steve Clifford discuss the making of the album on their tour bus before a show at Irving Plaza last month.

Do you feel like there’s this pressure on your band to live up to all the hype and frenzied fan reactions?

Ekstrom: When our first record came out all the reviews—well, some reviews were good—but the reviews that weren’t were people saying that they expected more from us.

Frangicetto: Because of that hype, basically.

Ekstrom: We were like, ‘Uh, we’ve known each other for three months. We didn’t even ever played a show. How much could you have expected from us?’

Frangicetto: It all comes down to people’s expectations, which are normally gathered through hype and things that have nothing to do with us. I think we learned early on to take ourselves out of that equation and that people are going to think what they want to think and expect what they want to expect. I certainly don’t feel pressure from it. All the pressure comes from inward.

Ekstrom: And that’s a healthy pressure. When you take in consideration all the fan and media pressure that’s when your band falls apart and you wind up lying in a ditch crying.

Frangicetto: Plus, who besides ourselves is really to say whether we succeeded?

Were you putting pressure on yourselves when writing the new album?

Frangicetto: I would say there was definitely a healthy degree of pressure coming from ourselves, but it seemed to me that it was a lot more natural than the first time around. We weren’t setting the stage anymore. Yeah, there was this first record and this first sound, but to us it was more like, ‘How can we recreate ourselves? How can we make new sounds that are going to keep us excited about what we’re doing?’

Ekstrom: I went through some anxiety during that time, but I think it was all from myself rather than outside. Everything with the band has really been about us and how we relate to each other and push each other.

Clifford: I was really just stoked to be writing and that’s really all I thought.

Frangicetto: I didn’t really sense any worries like, ‘Is this going to be our last record? Is this going to live up to it?’ Any pressure that I sensed was, ‘Am I writing to the best of my ability? Am I spending enough time? Are we functioning artists?’