Pennsylvanian alt rockers Circa Survive will be making their long-awaited return for yet another headlining tour across Australia later in May, this year. With the release of 2017’s “The Amulet” being released ahead of their upcoming visit to Australia, we spoke with guitarist Colin Frangicetto about the record, how they’ve changed over the years, the cathartic therapy from their own music, and predominantly, their return to Australia
“We’re always really excited to play over there” he says. “Unfortunately, the distance and the cost of traveling keeps us away longer than we ever want to be. Pretty much every single time we’ve been there, it’s always been such a positive experience and the crowd seems to get better every time. We’re just really excited to play this new stuff. I feel like with “Descensus”, we haven’t really had a chance to play enough of that as well. So, we’re pretty excited to do proper shows with our setlists and just have fun!”
Circa Survive’s first Australian tour dates back to 2007. Since then, they’ve toured with bands like Coheed & Cambria and PVRIS, gone on a festival run for the now-defunct Soundwave Festival, and have performed headline shows of their own. Looking back at everything that Colin and the band have got to experience in the country, Colin has plenty of big memories here, but he also gets astounded by the amount of support and love that Circa Survive receive when they visit the land down under.
“You know, every time it’s more of just a thing where I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and feel so lucky to see such a beautiful place, and play for people that are just so passionate about music. I can never shake that idea every time I go up and play there. Especially to get paid for it is even crazier. As far as memories go, we have all of the generic Australian experiences where we go to the zoos and the tours in various cities. One of my favourite memories was just having a day off in Perth, and get shown around the city, and going to the beach. I’ve always wanted to go back just to visit and hang out for a while. I haven’t made it back there yet, but I’m really hope to go back there as a regular guy and just hang out. You can’t always have it perfectly, timing wise. But, I’m just happy that it’s happening. I have plenty of other memories that are just your typical debauchery – getting blackout drunk in certain cities and just trying to find my way back to my hotel. But, things have cleaned up quite a bit since then. All of us are pretty tamed, and none of us are really drinking or doing anything crazy. It can just be one of those times where we just come and really focus on having amazing rock shows every night and making some new friends.”
After the release of “The Amulet”, Circa Survive went across the United States on a tour for the celebration of the album’s announcement. With another American tour lined up just before they come for the Aussie leg, Colin feels that the fans have already warmed up to “The Amulet”, and that they’ll be just as receptive, if not more than the last tour for the album.
“I don’t wanna ever exaggerate what’s happening, but it really felt like there was some real excitement over the new material. You could tell the people that were coming out to the shows were really excited to hear those songs. You would think that was just kind of a given, but really, when people come out to shows, especially if an album just comes out, there’s this period of time where people don’t quite know it yet. So, they’re still kind of learning the record and the songs, or maybe they’re more excited to hear the old songs or whatever, but that really didn’t feel like the case, the past tour. It seemed like people were really excited to hear stuff off “The Amulet”, and I would say the energy for those songs was just as tight as the older songs. It was a really good feeling, especially coming off from completing it and feeling super proud of it. This one felt like we really did something special here, so it’s all cool to see that reflect well with the crowds.”
Now that Circa Survive have six albums worth of material to present to the world, Colin knows how he and the rest of the quintet will be approaching their set list with “The Amulet” now presented to the world. According to him, it’s less about balancing all the albums and just pick tracks based on the aura they’re going for.
“It’s funny. We always feel that urge where you wanna say “F**k everything, let’s play some new shit” but really, it doesn’t feel well-rounded. Over the years, in every record, you can stack some more atmospheric songs and super banger rock songs and start to build up this collection of energies or you can pick from various vibes. We’re trying think less about equally represent the records and think more of vibes, and how to make the energy flow from beginning to end. Sometimes, that means more “Juturna” songs than “Blue Sky Noise” songs or vice versa. I think we’re trying to make sets that feel really good regardless of what songs are heavier, and just hope that people are just more-so, given a really great performance and experience to live out with the songs and the band.”
Considering that it’s now been thirteen years since their debut “Juturna” was released, many things have changed with Colin and the remainder of Circa Survive. Even though a lot has changed, he feels that he’s changing day after day, no matter how long he’s been at it with the band. The other thing he’s noticed about the current Circa Survive we know to this day, is that one record after the next, they’re always finding ways to do better while still being amazed by what they had already accomplished in the past, to make room for what’s headed in their direction for the future.
He laughs saying “I’m not like the same Colin I was from last year. It’s such a tricky thing. At the same time, you’re like “Wow that feels like two seconds ago” when that was really thirteen years ago. I’d say every single album, as we’ve come closer to the point of like, making a new record, I would listen back to old stuff and kind of be blown away, and kind of like, intimidated by my previous self. I would think “How the fuck did I come up with this stuff?” and sure enough, you do it again and you feel that same feeling again. Then you look back on it like “I don’t know how I’m supposed to do better than that”, you know? Every record, I wouldn’t say you’re trying to top yourself as far as writing better songs. It’s more-so like, “how do I become even more pure in my ability to achieve my visions or become more effective collaborators as a band?” There’s all these things that start to fall more into this strange abstract-no language land where you don’t have words to describe what you’re feeling. It’s a very familiar process you go through where you’re shedding past work and then creating new work. It’s super tricky, weird, and so much has changed since that first record. At the core of it, the reason why we’re still a band and why we’re still very strong as a unit, is that there was a specific core mission at hand from the very beginning and that part of it is still intact. We focus on our mission as five guys making it music and making it from a place that’s very pure with good intentions. You know, make music that brings people together, express their emotions and try to be honest. That part of it is still the same, and even more-so, focused on. In a lot of ways, we stay true like our previous selves, but those people we were are very different compared to what we are now.”
As he has a flashback to Circa Survive’s previous work, Colin states that he would have a tendency to get bored quickly of something that’s been incarnated by his talent. However, with “The Amulet”, even though he has that same feeling as every other band when they assume their latest work is their best to date, he says that he means it when he feels he has made something really special with his best friends. With that being said, it seems that “The Amulet” has held just as much potency for him, and has given him more encouragement to get back to work and start on the next thing.
“I hate to sound cliché, but I walked out of that studio thinking “I think this could be the best thing we ever did”. Especially after I got the masters and listened to it. I do feel like it’s our best album and I feel that everyone says that after they make a new album. But at the same time, even though I’ve felt that in the past, I’ve never quite felt so aligned, time-wise. By the time it actually comes out, I already feel over it and set on the next thing. But with this album, it still feels very relevant to me as of now. So I’m excited to make new music, but it feels like we’re getting better at the efficiency of taking an idea, making it into something and having it still feel new. “Blue Sky Noise” was almost a three year process of writing, demoing and recording multiple versions of songs. We probably wrote eighty skeletons of songs for that album. By the time it was released, we were talking four years from the very first time you make a noise that could end up on that album on release day, which is insane. Now, because of the way we make music, we’re more efficient with it and we try to follow more of a law about the way we do things. It makes me feel very proud to be in this band.”
In terms of the purification of the band’s darkness in their personal lives that has been abolished by their art, Colin states that even though that “The Amulet” carries that same effect as their previous LPs, it turns out one record before their latest; “Descensus” was the most therapeutic product that the band have carved. Simultaneously, Colin doesn’t disregard the catharsis that lies within the heart of “The Amulet”.
“If you’re just measuring it on a scale of whether or not it was therapeutic, I would say “Descensus” is the most therapeutic record we’ve ever made. As five individuals, we were going through more emotional strife and life stuff previous to that record than we ever had with any other one. That record legitimately felt like there was a good potential for it to not happen and the band to just be done. So, when that record was done, we were moving forward with everything. There was a cathartic and therapeutic approach that could not be matched. I think every record is cathartic as far as me looking back on our albums, but that one felt a lot like do or die in a lot of ways, so the stakes were raised so much higher. I would be surprised if any other record could be as therapeutic as that. Especially because, we set out to make it specifically, as therapeutic. We knew that it might not even come out or we wouldn’t be able finish it. The best we could do as best friends that have spent a lot of time creating together, and had just gone through a lot of trauma collectively, it would only make sense to process it for us by making art together. When you make a record that feels like you’re at the top of your game, it really confirms that you’ve made a lot of good decisions and feel like you’re really happy with the people that you’re with. There’s a lot of reaffirmation that’s happening when you make a record like that.”
Purchase your tickets for the upcoming Australian tour here: https://metropolistouring.com/circa-survive/