CIRCA SURVIVE will be returning to Australian shores in May 2018 in support of their latest album The Amulet. After a successful run of shows in 2015 the Philadelphia alt-rock outfit are here to prove once again why they’re one of the most exhilarating live bands that alternative music has to offer. With their signature mix of spacey hardcore sounds and progressive rock CRICA SURVIVE bring a interesting and colourfully decorated atmosphere. Soaked with the intense passion and emotion the band produce on their albums, it flows through the band and into the crowd to produce a live show that leaves fans both exhilarated and exhausted. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles spoke to Colin Frangicetto about the tour.
How’s 2018 been, traveling for the band? Have you been spending sort of a lot of time on the road?
So far, we’ve been off for a little bit, but we’re about to kick things into high gear again, go out for a few months and essentially tour throughout the rest of the year with a little break in the summer.
When you do get to take a break, what sorts of do you like doing? Are you still writing or making music? Or are you just totally away from that and just doing the normal day to day?
It depends on how long the break is. If it’s just a small break I’d say pretty often, myself, I will wind up doing a lot of visual art. I do paint quite a bit, and do design work as well. For the last few years pretty much every time I had a break I’m working on some type of show for art related projects. As far as just for fun, I wind up hanging out with my partner Sarah quite a bit, our dog, our cat, and go to the movies, doing pretty much normal stuff.
Is the visual arts for a specific project or for yourself?
Yeah, just my own thing. I started doing it just for fun about eight or nine years ago, slowly got more and more serious about it. Now, I’d say my fine art painting is probably a second career essentially. I definitely do it quite a bit, and makes up a lot of the extra income for me when I’m off tour. It has become a pretty big part of my life now.
Do you get much time to pursue your art when you’re on tour particularly when you’re in a really awesome location do you think, oh, wow, that might provide some inspiration for a particular piece? Or do you kind of keep the two separate?
They’ve become more and more simultaneous. I think in the past I used to try to separate them more because, I guess, it would, like, overwhelm me a little bit but I think I’ve found a balance, and now I wind up doing a lot more drawing on tour now because it’s just easier to carry that stuff. The last few years of touring I would bring a whole set of art supplies, I’d bring a couple wood panels, I’d bring my easel, I’d bring my paints. So, I would end up spending quite a bit of time on tour doing art and now I even wind up making music simultaneously while I’m working on paintings. I’ll paint for four hours, then I’ll take a break and just pick up the guitar and just start doing guitar stuff. It took a while, but now I’m more balanced between the two.
Sounds like the perfect life, really, doesn’t it?
Yeah, it’s pretty great. No Complaints.
It’s great that the Australian tour is just around the corner and being six albums in now, you must be sort of scratching your head thinking, what do we include in the set list, because there’s so much great stuff in there that you could play?
Yeah, it’s like a blessing and a curse at the same time. It’s great to have so much stuff to pick from because it really opens up the possibilities, but at the same time it’s also like you’re constantly trying to make sure you represent each record, and you don’t want to leave anything out. Trying to figure out what people want to hear tends to become a little exhausting. Our focus is on making the set as high quality as possible, regardless of which records are covered, or which fan favourites are played. As long as people walk away feeling like, fuck, that was awesome and that was so good… that’s all that matters. I think that no certain song is going to have that effect, the overall effect of making it flow and making the energy peak at the right time and making it fun is our focus. It’s like you’re writing a story in a way, by creating a set list with a beginning, an end, the middle, peaks and valleys, and all that stuff.
The album, The Amulet, were you happy with how the album was received?
It seemed like a really positive response. It was one of those things where you never really know, but at the same time we had a feeling that what we had made was pretty good. I think after it was all said and done, and we were listening to the masters, feeling like it would be hard to say too much bad stuff about it, because I think it’s overwhelmingly obvious that it’s coming from a pure place, and it’s honest, and not trying to be something it’s not, which is, I think, usually a good sign.
I’m sure there’s people that may not feel like it’s for them, but as artists, you get a good idea of where your weak spots are. If you make something, you have this feeling where you’re listening to it through other peoples’ ears, like, oh, you know what? Maybe this song isn’t that good but it definitely didn’t feel that this time around. When you feel really confident about something you made, it’s a great feeling, and makes it easier to deal with criticism.
The lyrics seem a lot more personal in nature. Was that something that you always had intended to do with the song writing or does it just happen that way?
Anthony is the one who writes, I’d say, ninety-five percent of all those lyrics, and especially now for the last two albums, he wrote pretty much everything. As far as the words go I think that’s the trajectory that he’s on as a writer. I think people who are used to reading Anthony’s lyrics or know him as a songwriter, know he’s developed this language that over time has evolved. There’s a relationship established there already, so he doesn’t have to explain himself. He doesn’t have to explain his existence from the beginning to now, every single time.
I feel like sometimes there’s a continuation that’s happening and naturally I think he’s got slightly more abstract with his words, more personal in that he’s not trying to beat anyone over the head with what this song is about. I think one of my favourite things about his style of writing is that he just gives the listener a lot of respect, he gives them credit, and believes that he didn’t have to dumb it down for them. He feels like he’s doing a disservice if he does that. I think for him it’s definitely a deliberate thing that he chooses not to simplify, but write words that really feel pure, and feel like they’re coming from a true place. If that means sometimes being more abstract then so be it.
Is it too early to start thinking about what album number seven might sort of start sounding like?
I don’t think it’s ever too early, I just think that we’re in this place now where the way we make music is just so much more from this organic place where we will write stuff here and there, but for the most part, I think, we will stockpile some ideas, and then once we’re in the studio is when we’re all in mad scientist mode and totally letting everything flow. The less we think about it beforehand the better because I think if you start getting these ideas ahead of time, it’s easy to get wrapped up in those and feel like those are the only correct ways to go.
I think in the past we’ve gotten caught up in that kind of thinking where we just get obsessed with a certain way something needs to be, or you get this concept, or whatever, and then it’s all about trying to execute that in a very short period of time, and often it’s like trying to execute it months and months, and sometimes years later from when you first came up with it, and it doesn’t always turn out the way you’d hoped. We just need to stop doing that and let albums become what they want to become when we’re making them in the studio.
It has made for so much less conflict and so much less overthinking. It allows us to be in the moment and judge our stuff based on that moment, how does this feel? Does this feel good? Does this feel overdone? Does it feel boring? Does it feel contrived? That’s the kind of stuff we try to focus on more so in the moment, and ironically, somehow, that thinking has pushed us to make really strong albums. They feel very cohesive, somehow, which is just kind of mind blowing. I wish I had known that before we spent multiple years on other albums. So, you live and you learn!
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Circa Survive on the following dates…
Tickets from https://metropolistouring.com/circa-survive/