WRGW interviews Circa Waves

After taking the UK and European festival scene by storm, Liverpudlian band Circa Waves keeps gaining momentum with more international festival bookings and plenty of hype off their first album, Young Chasers. Shortly after their arrival in DC, we sat down with Kieran Shudall (lead vocals, guitar) and Joe Falconer (lead guitar) before the band opened for Foals in December 16th at the Lincoln Theatre to discuss their whirlwind year in review and their short- and long-term plans for the future.

CA: Ok, so this is our first interview..let’s just start with some musical history background.  What was your first album purchased?

KS: First album…Uhh, I got really into Queen when I was a kid, cause like, when you’re a kid you just like anything that’s awesome. We got like, Queen’s Greatest Hits, so I used to listen to that loads,and I also listened to Michael Jackson loads, so uh I had no shame as a child.

JF: I think that’s pretty standard. I had a Queen box set VHS of all their videos that they had and that used to be just how I was raised.

KS: Raised by Queen…

JF: I was put in front of the VHS, and that sort of um, was a supplement.

KS: Freddie Mercury was your..

JF: I called Freddie Mercury dad for the first six years of my life.  It’s the moustache.

CA: That’s sweet. So you guys met at Liverpool Sound City….

KS: Well researched.

CA: Yeah, wikipedia..

CK: A little bit of both

CA: Yeah, had you gone before the year that you guys met?

KS: Yeah, I’d played it like two years before….and did you play it the year before?

JF: No, I worked it the year before actually, I was one of those guys that they roped into do sound for free.

CA: So you…volunteered.

JF: I mean, that’s just how a festival works.

KS: Yeah it’s so small, everyone sort of just puts in favors and asks you to do things which you should…usually get paid for. So yeah, the year before I played it, he worked, and the year after I worked and he played it.  It’s a cool festival.

CK: Speaking of festivals, we saw that you guys are playing Firefly this year.  Is that exciting, big news, small news?

KS: Any American festival is awesome by me because we’ve only really done Lolla?

JF: We spent some time at festivals like, everywhere else in the world, it feels good to get some American spots.

KS: We’ve done a lot of UK festivals, we’ve probably done like 17-18 European ones so to start moving to American ones is cool.

JF: I’ve heard good stuff about Firefly.

CA: It’s out in the middle of nowhere, and just popped up…

KS: Yeah, I think it’d be awesome, and hot.

JF: Is it hot?

CA: Yeah…very hot.

KS: That’s good. I like the challenge of trying not to pass out on stage.

CA: Like Lolla.

KS: Yeah that was so fucking hot.

CA: So you guys were in Southeast Asia I saw, Singapore and Japan.  How was that experience, how were the crowds there?

KS: Brilliant, wasn’t it?

JF: It was great, it was very surreal.  The crowds were amazing, I feel like there’s not too many bands that can get the opportunity to go and play those places so they seem eternally grateful that you’ve shown up so it’s really nice to go that far and have that level of enthusiasm.

KS: And they knew all the words, which is mental, cause you know, obviously their first languages are not English, and it’s just very interesting to go that far and see fans so it’s sort of a culture shock compared to England or America.

JF: It’s sort of a strange week to do it as well because it was directly in between a UK tour and a European tour, so we’d just been touring nonstop and all of the sudden we had this week where we sort of popped up in Southeast Asia with like no expectations, and we had to move country every day…it’s surreal.  Enjoyable, but dream-like.

KS: It doesn’t feel like it happened.

CA: Is that what you guys have in store for 2016, more touring, maybe more album writing?

KS: It’ll be less than this year I guess because we’ve got to record the record, and it’s going to sort of take a couple of months up to write, and so it’ll be slightly less hectic but towards the end of the year it’ll start to ramp up again, I guess 2017 will be even more intense.  Towards summer and the end of the year, we’ll start to tour more and go to America, Europe.

JF: We’ve only got three shows left on this record.

KS: Really?

JF: Three shows and we’re done with this record.  And then we’re going to never play any of the songs off this record.  Because that’s what you do, right?

KS: Yeah, I hope so.

CA: Just play the record, starting from 1.

CK: So we saw that you released a song benefitting War Child.  Is there any specific reason you chose that charity?

KS: I think this time of year it feels like that’s a good thing to do. And especially what’s going on with all the bombings currently happening.  It feels right to do it now, hopefully we’ll bring some attention to all the shit that we’re doing to these poor people.  I don’t know if we’ll raise enough money to do that much impact, but at least we’ll raise awareness of something, you know?

JF: This cause seems to make a lot of sense, to the whole world.  It seems like a very obvious one to go for.  There’s this big effort in the UK for War Child, it’s been around for a long time.

CA: So for 2015, what would you say were your favorite or best albums of the year?  …Besides yours.

KS: (laughs) Yeah, ours is pretty good

CA: It’s on my top 20 list.

KS: Good, good to know.  (pulls out phone, starts searching for something) Um…shit

JF: I still think Bill Ryder-Jones’ record, like rolled in at the last minute, and I think that was my spot on favorite record.

KS: That was a good one.

JF: Who else released a record? Alex G’s new record I enjoyed a lot, Beach Music, that was good. What else is there?  Oh god, this happens every year.

KS: Alvvays, the Alvvays record.

JF: No, that was the year before.  Pretty sure it was.

KS: I thought it was this year.

JF: I remember DJ’ing at that thing once in December playing it…  The Maccabees released a record, Foals released a record.

KS: I don’t know, sorry I’ve just got loads of old shit.  Um, the [00:07:28]  record’s good.  Father John Misty’s record’s really good.  I mean everyone says that.

CA: Every list I see has Father John Misty and Courtney Barnett.

KS: Yeah Courtney Barnett, the Jamie T record I absolutely love, it’s brilliant. There’s loads of stuff.

CA: Do you have your sights set on any dream collaborations or covers you’d like to work on?

KS: I’d like to collaborate with Jamie T, [00:08:04] It’s growing on me loads.

JF: It just means you’re singing less.

KS: Yeah I want my job to become easier so I need someone to sing.  I’d like to get a girl singing on a track, to reach new levels…like Bombay did that on their second record.  And it just started this sort of completely new…almost new instrument because it’s in a higher frequency so something like that’d be cool.

CK: We’re both here for that…

CA: Absolutely not… Well Bleachers did that, they did a whole album rerecorded with female vocals.

KS: Nice. I mean I’m not gonna do that…I’m too lazy. But yeah something like that’d be cool.

CA: Cool. One of the other things that I saw in one of your interviews was when someone mentioned looking into the crowds and seeing 14 year old girls…you mentioned not wanting to lie to them…sorry this is obscure.

JF: Oh I think that might’ve been from when we very very first started touring and we played under a fake name…and they were like “What’re you called?” and we were just like “uhhh….”

CA: Yeah, have you seen that your fan base demographic has changed….or is it not usually 14-year-old girls?

JF: We were supporting on that tour, we didn’t have any fans at that point.  But I think in our audiences, you can see from the front to the back, the front is like, you know, young teenage girls, and then in the middle there’s sort of like teenage boys who get a bit rowdy and push each other and who are kind of probably there for the teenage girls, and ask you get back you get to like older people who used to love punk music…

KS: People like me who can’t be bothered with dancing…

JF: But it’s good, it’s like a…

CK: A clear divide?

JF: It’s like a rainbow of…demographic…demography? Is that a word?

KS: Uh…yeah.

CA: Music, just brings people together.

KS: Or separating them.

CA: Deep.

KS: I’m profound.

CK: So I really like your cover art for your album Young Chasers. What was the inspiration behind that?

KS: When we saw it, it was pretty clear that that artwork was going to be it.  We sat down with our people following the record and went through books and books of artwork. We’re not artists, in terms of drawing and stuff, so we couldn’t make anything ourselves. They sort of came up with this guy who was putting imagery juxtaposed with each other and it just looked sort of like comic strips.

JF: It was the first image that we saw from him, it was a few different ones, we just saw that one and they were like, “This is an example of what the artwork might be like,” and we we just looked at him like, “That’s perfect. Next.”

KS: And he’s done our artwork for all of our singles, and different things.

CK: I really liked the picture where Conan photoshopped his face on it.

JF: Oh yeah. I think we did that right?

KS: Our US label did it.  

JF: We told them to.

CA: So in theory, you did it.

JF: Well we said you should do this, and they did it, very efficiently.  We have no artistic ability.

CK: Did you like playing on Conan, was it a unique experience?

KS: Certainly unique, yeah.

JF: It was a very strange day, we were there for so long. I’ve never been so nervous in my entire life.

KS: The buildup was just so intense, and there are people there going, “Ok, you’re going on live, there’s only 2 million people watching. Like, thanks a lot.

JF: And the only place you can go to blow off any steam in the Conan studio is like, the closed sets of Warner Brothers.  You’re just walking around like fake coffee shops. And you’re just like, I need to try and ground myself but all I see is like, the town hall from Gotham. And I can’t grab onto the fact that that’s not real.

KS: It was very strange. Like at the end, when it finished, everyone was just so relieved that it went well. Because you know, if you make a mistake, it’s just…out there forever.  And that’s constantly on your mind.  But we did it and it was awesome, and everyone was really cool, and we’re very happy with it.

CA: And did you have any other late night appearances?

KS: No others, hopefully we’ll do some next year.

CK: There’s definitely been a trend with the late night hosts, bringing on these newer bands rather than just straight top 40.

JF: Well the thing is, there’s what, 5 or 6 of these people doing shows, 5 nights a week, I mean you’re going to have to branch out or you’re going to run out. Which is ideal, for us.

KS: For those non-famous people.

CA: So you mentioned you started off of like, 3 or 4 different names. How did you pick those names, and how did you eventually settle on Circa Waves?

KS: Circa Waves was the first name, it was a name that just came up through no other reason than typing it in to upload the song, and needing two words that sounded ok together.

JF: We were always that, and then when we started gigging we didn’t really want to tarnish that name with how shitty we were at the start. We wanted to get good, and then we could use that name. And it was actually kind of easy to come up with all the fake names, because we were like “What sounds funny?”

CA: Did you change it every show?

KS: No, we did like, Malkovich Malkovich…

JF: I think we came up with a few ideas but the only one we actually played under was Malkovich Malkovich.  And…

KS: What What What What What.

JF: Yeah, I mean I’ve found that if you’re a musician, you’re constantly coming up with stupid fake band names.

KS: It’s very easy.

JF: I can come up with fake band names endlessly, but I would never dream of having a career under them. Real band names are hard to come up with.

CA: (motioning towards snacks on counter) So you guys have quite an array over here… I’m just wondering what are your tour staples? Because I like the carrots, and then…tuna.

KS: We don’t usually get all of this.

JF: In the US this is quite a lot.  In the UK we have more because we’ve got a bigger crew, but in the US we don’t get this much food, they seem to be very generous here…

KS: (motions toward carrots) This is for my reindeer.. The cheese is for my rabbit.

JF: We never eat the food anymore.

KS: No, we do, sometimes… We try not to like, get too much processed stuff, so instead of getting like those pre-cut carrots we’re always like let’s get regular carrots.  But then you look at them and you’re like, ugh, I don’t really want that big carrot.  So….

CK: Clearly someone tried… (there is a butchered carrot and a broken plastic knife on a paper towel on the counter next to us.)

KS: Someone’s had a go, but the knife… yeah.  So we’ve not gotten into the carrots, yet, but I feel bad now, so I might try and eat them.

JF: (picks up cans of tuna) And this is your tuna that you never eat.

KS: I… I like tuna every now and again, but it seems to be at every stop, ever, so I need to take off.

CK: You can only have so much tuna.

KS: Yeah, you know what I mean, like once every two weeks is fine.  Not every day.

JF: But we have to get it every day, just in case you really need it that day.

KS: (laughs) I’ll take it all home.

CA: You’re going to fly home with a suitcase full of tuna?

KS: Yeah, I deal tuna in the UK.  Specialty, US tuna.

JF: Well normally like, with the alcohol, whatever’s leftover we save up and then we just all split it up evenly and take it home.

KS: Yeah, and just get drunk at home.

CK: Are you excited or relieved for the tour to die down a little bit?

KS: Yeah, it’ll be good to have a break.  We’ve not really had a break in a couple years, for more than a few days at a time.

JF: I think I’ll have about two weeks off and then just lose all purpose, and freak out.  In my head I really think I could do like a month off. But knowing me, and how much I enjoy touring…

KS: Yeah, because we’re not like going back to a real job. It’s just like a break. It’s surprising how bored you get within like, a few days.

JF: It’s like if you’re a kid, and it’s the summer holidays.  What do you do for like six weeks?  Really, all you do is like sleep in all day or watch cartoons, and then wait for your mom to cook you dinner.

CA: Haha, that’s going to be me in like three days.

JF: (laughs) But if you’re like that and, you know, in your twenties, for six weeks….

KS: You just ask your girlfriend to be your mom for six weeks, and if she can make you some breakfast, if you’re lucky.

JF: I wouldn’t be awake by the time she leaves for work..

KS: Fair enough.  But yeah…the inside world of Circa Waves.

CK: (laughs) We saw that you guys opened for Bastille, The 1975, MS MR… do you have any favorite that you had a really good time touring with?

KS: We toured with The Libertines… Not sure if they’re big in America, but they’re pretty big in the UK.  That was a band we all grew up with and adored, so it was a big inspiration for Circa Waves.  That was very cool.

JF: These dates have been fun.

KS: These dates have been cool, yeah.  To play with Foals, and The Libertines, who we really respect, in the way that their careers have gone, and the music that that they make is really cool so it’s always nice to play with a band like that, that’s inspirational.

CA: You guys have been to DC before… have you done anything in the city before?

JF: We have, the first time that we came here was about a year ago, just over…and we went and did all the things in the span of like four hours.  And now we don’t ever have to do it again.  It was really nice and sunny- cold though.  We went and did the Lincoln Memorial, and the big pointy one, the domey one that looks like a big nipple…

KS: Abraham Lincoln…

JF: All the buildings.

KS: It was a beautiful day, full of memories.

CA: Have you been next door to Ben’s Chili Bowl?

KS: No…

CA: It’s pretty famous, you should go.

KS: Is it chili?

CA: Yes.  The owner has been a good friend of Bill Cosby for years…

KS: Oh no.

JF: Do people still go there?

CA: I mean…. the chili is famous.  Famous enough to cover up…sexual assault? (Kieran & Joe laugh)

JF: They should put that on the sign.

CA: There’s a huge mural of Bill Cosby on the outside and people have been petitioning him to take it down… but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.  He’s been pretty instrumental in the growth of Ben’s Chili Bowl.  But…they have good chili.

CK: Yeah, you get it over fries.

KS: Well, after the show we could do that, if you want mate. Will you go with me?

JF: Sounds good to me.

CA: Aw, it’s date night.

KS: Every night’s a date night.

CA: What are your city plans after this?

JF: I think we’re going back to New York tomorrow. For a day off.

KS: Yeah, day off tomorrow and then we have a show the next day in New York and then a show in Philadelphia, and then we’re home.

CA: Have you gotten a chance to get to any shows this year? And/or seen any good sets at festivals?

JF: We’ve not seen any shows really…

KS: It’s hard to get to gigs.

JF: I saw Lionel Richie at the start of this year, February? It was absolutely brilliant.  So I don’t want to see anymore music now, because I’ve seen Lionel Richie.

KS: It’s not going to get better than that, really.

CK: So, a goal aspiration for you guys is to be as good as the Lionel Richie concert?

JF: No, because if you have dreams that are impossible, you’ll miss the bar..


-Claire August & Claire Kostohryz

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