Circa Waves interview: 'break through the noise'

'In ten years time there will still be people listening to Foals' Inhaler but they might not be listening to one of Post Malone's random tunes. Longevity for me is where bands will stand up against everyone else.'

Henry Lewis

Last updated: 2nd Apr 2019

"I never wanted to be a frontman. I just demoed some stuff and Zane Lowe played it and then I was a frontman."

Reluctant or not, Kieran Shudall's role as Circa Waves lead singer has helped spring the four piece out of their native Liverpool and across the world, following in the footsteps of a slew of scouse indie giants such as The Coral, The Zutons, The Las and The Wombats

Ahead of releasing album number three What's It Like Over There?, the follow up to 2017's top 15 placing Different Creatures, Shudhall  says of his role in leading the line "I'm definitely warming to it now" and so he should.

Aside from being the focal figure of the indie outfit, songwriting responsibility falls firmly at his feet, explaining "I generally just record all day every day that's pretty much all I do. I've got a bit of a home studio set up I've built it up over the years so I have a little amp and guitars and monitor system and all that business. I eventually want to become Rick Rubin but for now I'll just stick to little old me in Liverpool." His tongue in cheek manner, wit and charm are all present here and continue throughout our chat.

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Speaking of the new record, which is slated for release on 5th April and features new track 'Me, Myself and Hollywood' ( listen above), Shudhall explains a process experienced by many bands:

"We finished it a while ago now , maybe summer last year and it was all written on the road when we were touring with Two Door Cinema Club."

"It's all songs we started in America and then finished in Liverpool so it has this long distance feeling to it and most were written in a totally knackered, dream like state. Putting the music to the lyrics I wrote then has been a really enjoyable experience."

Shudhall reveals that his songwriting inspiration is purely down to however he feels at the time, and when asked about whether he's thought of following in the footsteps of the likes of IDLES, The Blinders or Cabbage in treading a political route, Kieron says:

"There are no hard and fast rules on the way I write songs. On the last record there was a song that was more political than I've ever written but then next to it there was a song about drinking Strongbow down my mate's house when I was 18, so I find inspiration in the silliest and more serious things and that is the most interesting way of writing songs, so you're not repeating yourself."

In the same way he dismisses his frontman attributes, the singer isn't afraid to be critical, and if anything self deprecating, about some of the band's early work, especially when comparing it to the music they're producing nowadays:

"The songs on Young Chasers I never thought anyone would listen to. They were written well before we were a band who would be playing main stages and shit like that, so I listen to the lyrics on that first album and go like 'For fuck sake that's so bad'. With experience you know people will sit and listen to what you're saying more so you want to make it more poignant and be better."

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Outside of writing and recording, it's obvious that time on the road that is something you feel the singer still cherishes massively, particularly now three quarters of the band live down south in London.

"It's been like that for a while but with modern technology we speak every day still, so the modern band doesn't need to live in each each other's pockets any more. We can have a long distance relationship until we go on tour again then we'll be together in a van with each other for two years." 

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder so when we do see each other it is exciting and for any band having those two worlds of your home life and your band life is really important . If you just live this life of being on the road drinking every night you'd end up dead."

The last remark is the kind of chat you'd typically attribute to any indie rock band from the North, and in changing times and changing musical landscapes we ask what it means to be a band in 2019, and how best to stay relevant in a world where bands struggle to break the top 40, and it's the biggest rappers and popstars that are putting on mind blowing live shows with Spinal Tap esque staging and seemingly budget-less production values.

"It is hard. There are always conversations to try and break through the noise. You are competing with the huge pop of today and the piano ballad dude of the day, we have to be inventive and make guitar music that isn't run of the mill, meat and potatoes music. Some of the songs on this forthcoming album feel like guitar songs but they are heavy guitar songs. It's also about being interesting with your music videos."

He continues;

"At the end of the day we're not going to be able to compete with big pop stars so we have to write the best we can and stay in the moment."

"A lot of pop music is all very well and good but it's very throw away and it isn't going to last forever. There is a lot of a great alternative music out there that may not be as big as Post Malone is right now in ten years time there will still be people listening to Foals' 'Inhaler' but they might not be listening to one of Post Malone's fucking random tunes. Longevity for me is where bands will stand up against everyone else."

 

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It's interesting to hear about the Shudhall's first forays into the world of music and what triggered an undeniable thirst to drink from the fountain of rock and roll stardom, and unsurprisingly for the lead singer of a millennial indie band a certain Sheffield outfit had an awful lot to do with it:

"I went to the NME tour in 2006 I think, and it was Arctic Monkeys, Maximo Park , We Are Scientists and Mystery Jets and they were my four favourite bands at that time. I remember We Are Scientists were playing and they brought Alex Turner on and he sauntered onstage in double denim, and I was like 'this is the fucking coolest guy in the world', and I was completely hooked. I knew I had to get on that stage essentially and I would do anything to get there."

He continues "A few year's later we were on the NME tour ourselves and we were opening, it was a literal dream come true."

This brings us to lament the death of NME, and ultimately a reminder to Clark of why and how the publication was so important to bands like his:

"I loved it when it was purely alternative and what it identified as, and you could trust them that a band on their radar was a band you could get into. Obviously times got hard and they had to go more pop and put fucking Ed Sheeran on the front cover which was a shame. The line up we did was us, Royal Blood,  Temples and Interpol and each band now is headlining venues bigger than we played that night which is amazing really."

Talking more about Alex Turner and his influence, and place within music's greats, Kieron has nothing but the highest of praise:

"I just think he's the best lyricist out there. He's pretty untouchable apart from The National or Jarvis Cocker or Guy Garvey. Alex Turner mixes these incredible turns of phrases and colloquialisms with pure poetry and I admire that a lot."

"Obviously Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino isn't as poppy and immediate as the first album but the lyrics are so interesting that it just drew me in, I find him a really cool character and I'm glad I get to be in the lifetime he's living and get to hear his music."

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While they're world away from the gravity defying musical direction of Arctic Monkeys' new album, Circa Waves are no fools when it comes to changing things up to make themselves stand out more in a world where writing run of the mill indie tunes simply doesn't cut it any more, and with visuals becoming so much of what a band is nowadays, it's the vision behind the band's latest video for jangling ear worm 'Movies' that rounds off our conversation:

"I think we wanted to dress up as loads of characters and this director came up with the concept of it being in a car and moving round a car and that sort of thing. With music videos I'm at a point where I just want to have a fun day."

"They can be dead boring and you're stood round for 16 hours freezing your arse off and it's a dead serous video and all that so we're like 'let's have a good time and make it look boss'. I think making stuff that you buzz off, people feed off that too."

Find Circa Waves tickets below as the band come to Phase One Liverpool for an in store signing.

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