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Interview: Circa Waves on their album, 'Young Chasers'.

Interview: Circa Waves on their album, 'Young Chasers'.

When we first heard Circa Waves’ song ’T-Shirt Weather’, it was instantly added to our Summer playlist, as it epitomises everything about Summer that we love. However, the band has a lot more to offer than just that one song - their entire album ‘Young Chasers’ is pure joy to listen to.

Coup De main caught up with Circa Waves’ members Sam and Colin ahead of their appearance at Splendour In The Grass, to talk about their album, their distinct sound, and the importance of ‘live’ music…

"On the one hand, we are fundamentally alone, but at the same time, it’s good to have mates, innit?"


COUP DE MAIN: You guys played Splendour In The Grass last year, and are back again! But the real question is, when are you coming to come and perform for us in New Zealand?
SAM ROURKE: We keep trying to come to New Zealand. Every time we start heading in this direction we say, ‘Well while we’re over there can we do it?’. It’s just so far away I think that bands kind of struggle to get there, but it’s definitely not for lack of trying on our part.

CDM: ‘Get Away' seems to comment on modern relationships and commitment. This type of romanticism is quite a rare narrative in male-fronted guitar music. Why do you think male songwriters are uncomfortable to wear their heart on their sleeve when writing lyrics?
SAM: I think it’s just the classic masculine thing of not talking about your emotions; it’s sort of like the stereotypical masculine behaviour. I think a lot of guys maybe feel like they can’t break away from that. Where I’m from definitely, a lot of guys are sort of closed off, you’ve got to be a 'man’ sort of thing, and maybe not everyone is able to get away from that I think. I slipped in the title of the song there.
COLIN JONES: That was good.

CDM: 'T-Shirt Weather' is basically the ultimate road-trip song. What is your ultimate road-trip playlist?
SAM: It’d have to be a mixture of different stuff. For me, it’d be--
COLIN: What would you start with in the morning of your journey?
SAM: Probably go for like some Wu-Tang.
COLIN: Yeah?
SAM: That’d get me pumping. And then ease off maybe into some--
COLIN: Cannibal Corpse?
SAM: Yep, something really heavy. My housemate John is well into Cannibal Corpse, so most of my breakfasts when I’m at home are soundtracked by Cannibal Corpse. First it was weird, now I fucking love it. It wakes you up.


CDM: In 'Lost It', Kieran sings, "We lost it and blamed it on someone," which is a really interesting idea, that in today's society it's so easy to blame someone else for something which is actually your fault. Do you think there's a culture of complacency and laziness when it comes to relationships, and the way relationships end?
SAM: To blame someone else? Wow.
COLIN: Isn’t it easy to blame yourself - like saying, ‘It’s not you, it’s me,’ when really you just wanna blame them.
SAM: Depends what kind of person you are, isn’t it?
COLIN: Yeah, I wouldn’t do that.
SAM: I always blame them.
COLIN: Honesty is the best policy.
SAM: We do live in a very self-obsessed age, it’s a very much ‘me, me’ sort of environment, so maybe that kind of breeds the things like, ‘Oh well, that can’t be my fault, what could I have possibly done? I’m fucking amazing’ - is what some people might think. Do not put that in quotation marks. I definitely think that doesn’t help. I think people are not outward-looking enough. I think it depends on who you are - some people are going to blame themselves for everything. I think, Colin, you’re the kind of guy that might do that, you’re more of an inwardly aware person.
COLIN: Is it because whenever you make a mistake, I always blame it on me, to make you feel better?
SAM: Wow.

CDM: Your cover of Ellie Goulding’s ‘Love Me Like You Do’ has gotta be one of the best covers out there. I love it - you made it sound like a Circa Waves song entirely. How did you develop your sound and make it so unique?
SAM: I think it’s because as a band, we all come from such different backgrounds. So when it comes to writing stuff together, everyone’s bringing something a little bit different. Kieran sort of comes from a background where he listened to a lot of indie [music] growing up in the 2000s and stuff, but also he loves Joni Mitchell and a lot of songwriters. I’m more into hip-hop and jazz, Joe is a lot of shoegaze and Americana and stuff like that. Whenever we come to work on stuff, everyone’s got this sort of different angle, we’re not all into the same thing, so maybe that sort of helps.
COLIN: It’s refreshing to have another mindset working on a song that could be far away from what you think a song could be. Sam could bring in something that I could never have imagined in a song, but because of the different styles you listen to, it just makes it a lot easier.

CDM: In 'Young Chasers', Kieran sings, "So I was young for only a heartbeat" - do you think that people grow up a lot faster in today's society?
COLIN: I think it seems it.
SAM: Possibly. But I’ve only ever existed in this society, so it’s hard to tell really. You only really know your own experiences. Although, it’s different for different places. I know, talking to… travelling around a lot, you find out how other people have grown up. I know our childhoods seem to be slightly accelerated to other people. Talking to American friends of mine, they seem to think I had no childhood, because of the speed that it went at.
COLIN: The stuff that kids have these days - the iPhone and stuff like that - in that sense I think people are getting a lot older, ‘cuz they know more. We would never have known the stuff if we were growing up now - looking something up on your phone would’ve been like two seconds. It’s incredible.

CDM: You seem to write about loneliness quite a lot in your music. Do you think that loneliness is one of the strongest emotions?
SAM: I was really not prepared for this. I think it might be one of the most visceral emotions that you feel. Everyone can get on board with that. I think it might be quite a fundamental human experience, this sensation of being alone. I suppose you can go down that road for quite a long time, there’s a painter [René Magritte] that deals with it quite a lot - the dude with the apple. A lot of his stuff deals with that, and how everyone is fundamentally alone. You can never have a truly shared experience ‘cuz you’re only seeing it from your side. Every experience has you at the centre of it, you can never break out of that. But at the same time, the human experience is one of collective endeavour - that’s a big part of humanity, is societies forming, we are a very collective animal. So I think that’s maybe two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, we are fundamentally alone, but at the same time, it’s good to have mates innit?

CDM: In ‘I Got You Stuck In My Teeth’, Kieran sings, ”And though you take me for a fool / I've got better things to do / Than prove myself to you." Do you think that in society today there's a culture that people feel the need to change themselves to make them worthy for other people?
SAM: I’m not sure, I wouldn’t know how to answer that. I think maybe today there’s a lot of feeling the need to show what you’re worth by what you have, by what you possess, rather than by what you are actually worth on the inside. I think people view worth as more of a superficial thing than they used to. You are what you have sort of thing. Even in the sense of what kind of social group you wanna belong to, you belong to it because you wear the right clothes, it’s all about possessions. It’s a fully consumerist way of looking at identity. I think maybe that’s the problem.


CDM: You re-recorded your song ‘My Love’ which you also just released. What made you decide to re-record the song?
SAM: We felt like the version on the album was maybe... it could’ve been more dynamic. Listening back to it, especially the way the early demo sounded, and the way we started off playing it, over time it gradually became more bombastic. The drum-part fucking hits you over the head - which is great, it’s really good, but it lost some of the emotional content of the song because of that. When we sort of stripped it down and removed some of that, it allowed the emotion to come through in the lyrics.
COLIN: It was kind of like an instant thing, when we started to play, and went, “Oh yeah, it really changes it.”
SAM: It’s way tighter now. Every time we play it now, it’s so much tighter than it used to be. The old drum part was just ridiculous, so now it actually sounds better.
COLIN: It makes the song breathe as well. The two best parts of that song are me and you.
SAM: I fully agree.

CDM: You guys have such an incredible energy live, and I love that it’s translated into the record ‘cuz you recorded everything in one room, which gives it a really natural feeling. How important was it for you to capture that sound specifically?
SAM: That was the driving force behind the album I think. Because a lot of albums they don’t sound like a band in a room. It used to be that the album represented the live element as a way of promoting that, whereas it’s sort of become-- you do an album in the studio, and then you work out how to play it live - you create these completely artificial sounding spaces through mad reverbs and everything sounds completely different. I think we just wanted to do something that’s back to basics; it’s stripped down and real. I think we apply that to our live show as well.
COLIN: It’s a good word isn’t it, 'real’?
SAM: A lot of bands use backing-tracks and stuff that you wouldn’t think-- a lot of people said to us that they were surprised that we don’t have any backing-tracks when we play live, and we’re the only band they’ve seen that do that in a while.
COLIN: It’s a normal occurrence now. You go and see a band that you think is a four-piece rock band, but you don’t have a clue that they’ve got guitar-lines and stuff--
SAM: Backing vocals.
COLIN: People do that, but the person in the audience is going, ‘Oh this is what it sounds like,’ and then they go and see a band where it could be, and they go, ‘Oh that doesn’t sound like that,’ but it’s just them. It’s just four people playing instruments, like it used to be.
SAM: I think we all sort of look at it as I don’t think that’s the right way to do things - it’s a bit misleading. If you’re trying to put yourself out there as a four-piece rock band and you’re doing stuff like that without making people aware of it, I think it’s a little bit... So I think it was important for us, for all the elements of the band to be real, and old-school.


CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
JOE: Bass-lines. All the best songs have amazing bass-lines. I said that as a joke, but it is actually a thing. Think of a song.
COLIN: ‘Another One Bites The Dust’?
SAM: Amazing bass-line. ‘Tax Man’ - great bass-line. ‘Rhythm Of The Night’ - great bass-line.
COLIN: Shall we go for drums then? Phil Collins. <laughs>
SAM: If it was easy, if it was one thing you could say, ‘If it’s got that, it’s a great song,’ then I think a great Christmas song has to have sleigh-bells. No sleigh-bells, it’s not Christmas. That’s the only rule I’ve managed to come up with so far.

CDM: Which Circa Waves song do you think has the best bass-line?
COLIN: I like <sings bass-line> ‘Get Away’. I like that one.
SAM: My favourite one is probably ‘Lost It’. And what’s that one called? ‘Talking Out Loud’.
COLIN: The second verse, me and you. Sam and Colin moment. That’s my favourite.
SAM: It just cuts down to us two, and it’s just locked.
COLIN: What I try and do is, he comes over to me and I try to put him off. I’ll just start saying things.
SAM: And it always works. I always fuck it up.

Circa Waves’ album ‘Young Chasers’ is out now.

Watch the ‘Stuck In My Teeth’ music video below…

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