After spending a few minutes in a room with Circa Waves talking about their recent trips around the world playing to crowds of thousands, you might be surprised to hear that they still are, for the lack of a better word, normal guys. Bright eyed and brimming with excitement for what’s to come down the road.
The band only formed in late 2013, and have since taken the world by storm. Still yet to release a debut album, they have however been backed by Zane Lowe and those lovely lot at NME, gigged with the likes of The Libertines and The 1975. Now, they’re back on UK soil headlining their biggest tour to date, with a few dates already having sold out, the band couldn’t be in a better place.
I sat down with 3/4 of the band to talk about the past 14 months, the first gig they ever went to, Top Gun and much more.
Can you give us a few words to describe each of your band mates?
Kieran: “Joseph is polite, modest and very good at bass. He also plays guitar.”
Joe: “Kieran is our valiant leader, where he leads, we follow. But we’ll disagree with him first and he grows a fantastic moustache.”
Sam: “Sian’s kind of like the boisterous puppy who needs to be house trained.”
Kieran: “And he’s absent, so you can say anything about him.”
Sam: “And he stinks.”
Kieran: “Sian would say that we’re all awesome so.”
Joe: “Sam’s very tall.”
Sam: “Oh fuck you, is that all I get?”
Joe: “He’s tall, he’s intelligent and he loves a good crossword.”
Since I spoke to you last, you’ve been all over the place. Touring Australia and the US, playing shows in Japan. How’s the response been overseas?
Kieran: “Really good yeah. They know the lyrics better than you do [to Joe], don’t they?
Joe: “I don’t know the words to any of the songs, well I know some of the words.”
Kieran: “No it’s really cool, we played Japan in front of like 10,000 people so that was quite a shock to the system.”
Joe: “You don’t really know what you’re gonna get when you go over there and like when we started doing festivals, it was almost kind of ‘is this gonna be alright?’ and then we went there and it turns out it bloody was alright, wasn’t it?”
Kieran: “It was mate.”
Joe: “There was people there, it’s nice, it’s good. It feels like it’s progressing everywhere, people are getting excited.”
While we’re anticipate your debut record that is coming out sometime next year, 2014 has been a great year for debut albums, what have been your favourites?
Kieran: “These questions are good but I always go blank.”
Joe: “The Alvvays album is fantastic. I was rocking Honeyblood for a bit. Adult Jazz that record’s really cool, it’s good to chill out to.”
Kieran: “Childhood their record is pretty cool and I imagine Superfood’s is good.”
Sam: “I’ve not really listened to any debut’s this year.”
Can you give us a bit of insight into what to expect from your album?
Kieran: “Have you ever seen Top Gun?”
I’ve not actually, I know I should do.
Kieran: “Well watch Top Gun, it’s like a soundtrack to Top Gun. If you watch it from start to finish and play the record along with it a bit, it fits perfectly doesn’t it?”
Sam: “Yeah or Lord of the Rings, I think it works.”
Kieran: “Yeah but you have to do it three times for Lord of the Rings though. Repeat it. It’s just pretty high octane energy. We recorded a lot of it live in a room together and yeah it’s got all the singles that you’ve heard and about six more interesting songs and I think you’ll like it. Hopefully.”
I’m sure I will. The artworks for your singles are always very distinctive; do you work with the same people for each single? Do you always come in with the idea yourselves?
Joe: “So we did the first two singles which is ‘Get Away’ and ‘Stuck in my Teeth’ were we sort of did different things and then from ‘Young Chasers’ onwards and ‘So Long’ the next single. It’s going to be following this collage theme which we’re working with the designers on that, it’s all going to tie in with the rest of the album.”
Kieran: “Yeah with every vinyl we’ve done a different…we started with a see through yellow, orange, red. So it’s going to be like a red based rainbow, so we’re trying to create some kind of, if you collect them all, it’ll make sense.”
Your songs are very direct and immediate. Which song took the shortest amount of time to write?
Kieran: “Young Chasers was about 10 minutes because it’s just like three chords and really basic lyrics.”
The first song you put out really as well.
Kieran: “Yeah, yeah. I remember writing it on my bed, and thinking ‘Oh that’s cool’ and then recording it on my phone.”
What has been the biggest learning curve for you as a band since you started out?
Joe: “I remember for us, we supported Phoenix, February of this year and I remember we all stood at the back and watched them perform and we were like ‘They’re really fucking good’ and I think from that point onwards that was our steepest learning curve, just knowing that we had to step it up. Be as good as Phoenix because they’re a great band.”
Kieran: “And now we are…no we’re not, not yet. Soon.”
Sam: “We’re trying, we’re on the road.”
Can we go a little deeper into the back story of Circa Waves; do you remember the first time you played together? What was it like and what did you play? When was the moment you realised that ‘yeah this could work well actually’?
Kieran: “Yeah I still don’t know, I’m sure whether it’s going to work. No. Our first gig was actually the biggest shambles I’ve ever come across, you broke your strings [to Sam].”
Sam: “I broke my strings, there was no way of replacing them. There was no one there, I had to downtune all the other strings to fit, play on three.”
Kieran: “There was like one crazy lady at the front that was the only audience member. We played all the songs at a hundred miles an hour.”
Sam: “We were done in like 20 minutes.”
Kieran: “It was a typical like first, nervous gig for us. Everything went wrong but once you’ve done that, you’re like it can only get better now, so I was glad it happened.”
When was that gig?
Joe: “14 months ago. Not that long ago.”
So just before the Swim Deep tour?
Kieran: “Yeah basically. They were our first sort of secret shows we did.”
If you were to take a classic song by another artist – a song that you love and give it the Circa Waves treatment. What song would you pick and why?
Kieran: “It’s not necessarily an old classic but we did ‘1901’ by Phoenix in our own style which is really fun actually, we just sped it up and give it a bit of Circa Waves-y feel.”
Sam: “Weirdly we were talking today about doing Circa Waves songs in the style of a band. Really old school, I think we should do that. I think that interests me more at the moment, doing our songs in other people’s styles.”
Kieran: “We did ‘Be My Baby’ by The Ronettes which is a real oldie that was like from the mid 60s or something. We recorded that at Capital Records in LA, so yeah that’s what we did.”
What was the first gig that you personally went to yourself as a punter? Do you think your first live gig experience had any influence on who you are today – did it spur you on to start your own band?
Sam: “My first one was Black Rebel Motorcycle Club supported by the Brian Jonestown Massacre so that was pretty cool.”
Kieran: “That’s such a cool first gig.”
Joe: “I accidentally saw Cheap Trick at Disneyworld when I was 6 and I thought it was too loud. But I still like Cheap Trick so all good, you know.”
Kieran: “I went to see Feeder in Liverpool and I was in my first fight circle. I was like 14 and got really beaten off. I was like ‘this is rubbish, I don’t like gigs’ and I went to really far right in the corner and I was just surrounded by loads of girls and I thought it was dead cool and I thought this is for me. [laughs] I was like in the little girl corner. It was cool though.”
What’s the first thing you do after you come off-stage?
Kieran: “Drink a bottle of water, it’s dead exciting.”
Christmas is coming up. It’s a time of year to be thankful and to give back. But also it’s a time for good and bad Christmas songs. What’s on your go-to Christmas playlist?
Kieran: [he starts singing Jona Lewie ‘Stop The Cavalry’] “I really like that one.”
Sam: “That’s a good one. I like the Boney M. that weird reggae like ‘Mary…”
Joe: “‘Mary’s Boy Jesus Christ’.
Joe: “I like that David Bowie and Bing Crosby duet because if you watch the full video it’s the weirdest thing. Have you listened to any of the Shakin Stevens Christmas albums? His Christmas albums are great.”
I love that Peace covered ‘Last Christmas’.
Joe: “I think that might be the best Christmas song or actually that or ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’. I think in the 80s people didn’t really care anymore, there was no sort of limit to shame or embarrassment so like Christmas songs were popular.”
Sam: “Yeah like genuinely good Christmas songs have sort of died of death, like now it’s all novelty.”
Kieran: “I imagine a good Christmas song is an already well written song and then you make it into a Christmas song.”
Sam: “Do you know how you do that? You get a great song and put sleigh bells over the top of it. That’s why I was talking about Mariah Carey, the bells never stop. It’s class.”