We spoke to Aussie band Circles for the second time in twelve months a couple of weeks ago – but this time in person! Check out what they had to say.
While Aussie metal five-piece Circles were in the UK last month on their first ever European tour (live report here), we got to see them three times (one of those might have been a bleary-eyed visit to a pub), but the first of those I sat down to have a chat with vocalist Perry Kakridas and bassist Drew Patton
So I guess the place to start is with the last three weeks you’ve spent over here. How has Europe been for you?
Drew: Europe’s been really good.
Perry: The people are nice, we’ve been to a lot of beautiful places, but we can’t enjoy it as much as we’d like, because we have to pick up and leave straight away. But from what we’ve seen it’s been pretty good.
Drew: Yeah, that’s about it. Some places we literally rock up, sound check, eat, play, pack up, into bed and you’re up four or five hours later to do it again. So some countries we’ve only been in for, like, seventeen hours.
Perry: And then other countries you just drive through.
Drew: And then you get the question “What did you think of Croatia?” Well… um… it was dark…
It looked nice at sixty miles an hour.
Drew: Yeah – the people go nuts there, but that’s all we know.
So, have you noticed any differences between European crowds and Aussie crowds?
Perry: I think they’re a bit more appreciative.
Drew: I think the Australians take it for granted a little bit.
Perry: Especially in Melbourne. Melbourne’s the live music capital, so any night of the week you can go and see a gig. And so the crowds tend to sit there with their arms crossed..,
Drew: …yeah, with their arms crossed and just sort of nod. You’re wondering why nobody is into it, then later they’ll come up and say “Fuck, that was the best show in the world” and you’re saying to yourself “What’s wrong with you, then? Why aren’t you moving? Are you stapled to the floor?”
And you were with Dillinger Escape Plan? That must have been quite a treat.
Perry: Wow, yeah, that was the best bit. You know, we got to see them for free every night.
Drew: We saw them something like twelve times
Perry: Easily. The thing about Dillinger is they don’t have any off nights. Even their crappiest night is better than 90% of other bands.
Drew: Their shows are either fucked up, or extremely fucked up. You know, in a good way. How can you compete with that?
From what I’ve seen, Dillinger have got touring down pretty well. Do you think you’ve picked anything up from how they do things?
Perry: Definitely. We can understand what is behind the scheduling, and the way they travel. The way they do it is great. For a support band it’s a bit harder. For example, they sleep overnight in a big, you know…
Drew: Bon Jovi-mobile
Perry: (laughs)…yeah, whereas we don’t have the luxury of a driver, we have to drive ourselves. Which means we have to stay in accommodation in the place we’re playing in, then catch up travelling the next day. So that’s why we didn’t get to see much, but the way they do it is beautiful. Everything’s so organised, Jess is an amazing tour manager and she really looked after us. It was a really good learning experience, seeing how the pros do it.
Excellent. And then it was on to Euroblast. That seemed to me to be a real gathering of the tribes, so that must have been quite a thing to be a part of.
Perry: It was strange. A lot of people from Euroblast were staying at our hostel, fans and bands alike, as well as event organisers. I remember walking in for breakfast on the morning that we were going to play, with Ted, and it was like a high school cafeteria. Everyone was nudging each other, like “Is that them?” – that’s weird for us. I mean, we pull a decent crowd in Melbourne, but its not like people stop us in the street or anything.
Drew: Not often, you get noticed occasionally. But at Euroblast, people actually wanted to speak with us. After the show, you’d walk five or six metres and someone else wanted to speak to you, and you’d be there for another ten minutes. Which I’m not complaining about for one minute. But being in an environment like that, people just get it, you know? You don’t rock up and think “I hope they enjoy it, you rock up and think “they’re gonna enjoy it”. And they did enjoy it. And we loved it.
Perry: Yeah, we loved it. It was intense. It was great. It was weird just being on such a big stage, we almost didn’t know what to do with it. Drew did his best to fill it up, though – he jumps around, goes crazy. But it was just surreal, you know – big screens, with us on them.
Drew: I remember looking over at one point, and I didn’t even know there were screens either side of the stage, so I’m just doing my thing and I look over, and there’s a massive head… of Ted. It’s like “Whoa, how did that get there?” then you’d look again and it’s like “there’s Matty!” My biggest downfall was “I wonder who’s up there next” – not, like “I hope it’s me” but just to look over and think, this is like Big Day Out. You know about Big Day Out, yeah? That’s what it felt like to me. It was pretty special.
Perry: The best thing about it for me, as well as the fans, was meeting all these people that we’d been friends with for years on Facebook – people from bands, people who are around in the scene, people who work behind the scenes as well. You know, I could put names to faces straight away. Before I knew it, I was just continuing with these online friendships in real life. All these amazing musicians and all these amazing people. It was awesome.
Then it was straight from Euroblast over here to the UK.
Perry: Yeah, we didn’t even see the last day.
That was a shame.
Perry: Yeah, but we had to do it, this is our tour and we have to make the most of it, so that’s what we did.
And the first show was a free show in Southampton.
Drew: Yeah, that was a weird show, because we rocked up and they said “there’s the stage” and we were like “what, where the billiard table and the family seating is? Oh, OK”. They moved everything, and it was kind of like playing in someone’s living room. And I was like “how is this going to be a good show? Where are we?”
Perry: I was toying with the idea of having the sound guy flick the light switches, just so we could have some lighting.
Drew: But that show was insane.
Perry: It was awesome.
Drew: Perry was in the crowd toward the end, people were jumping all over him…
Perry: …There was a full-on mosh pit…
Drew: …Some guy got a bass… in the head. I found out later. I was like “sorry man but watch out” and he was like “don’t worry, it just made me rock harder”. So I thought “I’m not getting in a fight with you”. But that show was one of those little gems. And because its such a small room, there was no riser so it was just like us versus them.
Perry: It was like one of those dance-offs…
Drew:… but nobody won…No, everybody won!
Perry: It was really cool, really intimate. I could get in people’s faces. We told people to come forward, there was nowhere for them to come forward into, but they still came forward. And it was really tight, awesome vibe, awesome energy. The most memorable gig in a long time.
Drew: …and in the smallest of rooms, too.
And then you went up to Rock City…
Perry: Yeah, that was pretty sweet. We were in the basement part of it, and The Goo Goo Dolls were playing that night too. I was thinking about pulling a cheeky photo of their queue and bragging they were all there for us….
Drew: …Just another crowd….
Perry: ..but still, there was a good turnout and it was really good. There was a different energy, and after Southampton we just wanted to jump on the floor and start tearing it up again, but we kept it a bit lower profile. But there was water all over the stage….
Drew: That was kind of my fault, because I stood on a bottle. Well, I went to get down off the riser and then the bottle fell over – but it was a squirty bottle, so I’m just playing and I see this torpedo of water. And I thought “That’s going to cause problems.” And it did. It was slippy.
Perry: I didn’t notice any loss in traction, man. Maybe it’s these new boots that I’ve got.
And so, these UK dates coincided with the release of Infinitas. How do you think it’s been received?
Perry: Amazing. The fans are loving it. We’re getting new fans every day, I think. Everybody seems to be digging what we’re doing. We weren’t sure about the progression of it, that it wouldn’t be what people were expecting or hoping for. We like the album and we love the songs, but you always wonder if that’s what people are going to like. We just write songs for ourselves and if everyone likes them, that’s great. But, yeah, we’re just blown away by how its been received. And people seem to be digging the progression.
Drew: I reckon it’s a big progression, really. I didn’t think about it until I heard the actual finished CD in a car, but then I thought it was quite different. I mean, it’s not like Pablo Honey to Kid A or anything like that, but it’s grown up, isn’t it?
Perry: More mature, I guess.
So how long were you working on the songs for Infinitas? Did you start that process straight after The Compass?
Perry: Pretty much. We toured quite a bit back home, which was good because it raised our profile. But, at the same time, we were writing – just not as quickly as we would have liked to. And then when we started recording, we’d just get distracted by shows and whatnot. Ultimately, we were always doing it, but then we just realised that all this time had gone by. We ended up chucking out a whole heap of songs and basically starting again. We’re perfectionists. It had to take its time. If we’d done it straight away, it would have been a completely different CD.
Drew: Yeah, we didn’t want to just throw out something,just to get something out there in time. It’s a complete waste of time and money. And for your ears to be busted with shit music is not cool. But when we spoke to Barley at Basick, they gave us a deadline. They said that if we want to get to Europe for this time of year, then you need to have it finished by this sort of time. It was mostly done anyway, there were maybe three tracks that needed to be finished or recorded. And they said you need to have it finished by this time, we need to get artwork, mixed, mastered, everything in London by this date. And as soon as we got that we just went…. “shit”… this has to be done, otherwise we could miss the boat by, like, a year.
Perry: And there was already a year’s worth of work behind it, at least.
Drew: Yeah, well, there’s parts of the album that were written before The Compass.
And you recorded everything yourselves?
Drew: Yeah, everything’s in-house.
So I guess that made it a more elongated process? I mean, you didn’t have to book studio time and say, record all the bass tracks in three days.
Perry: Ted’s the brains behind most of the writing and production side, definitely. I suppose it’s a temptation having it there all the time, to change and fiddle with it.
I’ve listened to other self-recorded albums in the past where you can really tell it was the guitarist doing the recording, because the guitars sound fucking incredible, but everything else sounds like it was recorded in a barn, but that’s not the case with Infinitas.
Drew: That’s because Ted’s into everything – he’s an 80’s pop kid, more or less. And he realises that he can’t mix a progressive album to sound like pop. He’s just got a really good ear for that type of stuff. But, from what I can gather from spending time with Ted, everything has its place, so if you took something out of the mix, something would be noticeably missing. That’s why I reckon he’s so good at it – plus he writes most of it.
Perry: He’s a fan of music as well. I mean, you’ve got guitarist/producers who ‘produce’, but Ted’s a fan of the music. He’ll pay more attention to the vocals than anyone else. The guitars are almost last for him, because he knows he’s got it covered. Recording vocals is really hard for us, because Ted’s a perfectionist and I want him to be that way.
Drew: And Matty too. Matty’s anal as all hell. If there’s the slightest little something overhanging somewhere in the song he’s like “What’s that? I think I can hear a bird singing, like, three blocks away.”
Perry: Yeah, but that’s just what my epiglottis does, it clicks every once in a while, If you listen carefully. But, hey, it’s all better for it. We had a lot of takes where I would ask “Is this the one?” And Ted would say yeah, but I wasn’t sure, because I’m used to him busting my balls.
Drew: But it has to be that way for vocals, doesn’t it? You can’t just twist the knob and get the tuning right.
Perry: You can, but it’s not going to sound very good.
Drew: It’s called Eurovision, isn’t it?
On the subject of vocals and lyrics, how did the shared refrain in “As It Is Above” and “So It Is Below” come about?
Perry: There’s a lot of bands that I like, one example being The Mars Volta, who bring back these killer choruses time and time again. They might use it as a bridge in one song and a chorus in another. And I’ve always wanted to do something like that. Me and Ted were had a chat about what we wanted to do. It’s not exactly a concept album, but we did want to have some underlying structures, themes, things cruising in the background. It felt like a natural thing to do. There are a few little bits and pieces in there, a few lines that pop in that you might realise, on your 20th listen, there’s a couple of sentences that haven’t been repeated per se. But I’m basically saying the same thing. It’s just loose little conceptual thing.
I would like to talk a little bit about the Australian music scene in general, because from my perspective in the UK, it looks like its exploded recently. There are loads of great bands coming through, and in quick succession we’ve had Dead Letter Circus, Twelve Foot Ninja and you guys over here…
Perry: …and Karnivool. About a month behind us.
So does it feel like now is a good time to be an Australian metal band?
Perry: I guess, but there was a lot of work in the lead-up, you know? If a band wants to start in Melbourne now and do what we’re doing, they’re going to have to do at least three or four years work. Unless they’re really lucky. Everything’s led us to this point, and the same with the other guys too – Dead Letter Circus have been kicking around for years in one form or another, as have Twelve Foot Ninja. They’ve been around longer than us. Even Dawn Heist, they’re up and coming as well and they’re touring the same places we are. So even tonight, I saw their name up on the board and I’m like “Oh, we keep missing them.” They’re really, really good guys. But, I suppose, the Aussie thing might be the flavour of the month for the moment…
Drew: I reckon it’s because it’s been dead for so long. In my opinion, I reckon there’s been nothing for the last six years that’s been really outstanding that’s come out of Australia. It kind of makes sense, really, because eventually something has to good… Something has to good?
Drew: Something good has to happen, I mean. In English. But there are so many bands in Australia, there’s a guitarist on every corner. But the really good bands sometimes get washed away in the crowd.
It seems the practicalities of becoming a national band in Australia are much more difficult. A London band can get to Manchester in a van in a couple of hours, but for a a Melbourne band to play in Brisbane…
Perry:… Yeah, it’s either four or five hours in a plane, or two at least two days of solid, and I mean solid, driving.
Drew: The next place in Australia is, like 700 kilometers away, which is Adelaide. The first time I went was six, seven years ago in another band, with Dave, and it was just poo. There was nothing. But now you go there, and its rocking.
Perry: It’s the internet. It’s brought everyone together. Information is disseminated so much quicker now.
Do you think things like Soundwave have also helped?
Drew: Yeah, Soundwave has generally helped the Australian music scene. The Big Day Outs are brilliant, but the bands are more ‘rocky’ with only occasional bands like System Of A Down or Tool. But generally stuff you’d hear on mainstream radio. But Soundwave last year had Raised Fist, a Swedish hardcore band who you might not have been able to hear otherwise, and stuff like that.
Perry: They do bring all the bands to us. That is awesome.
So what’s next for Circles?
Perry: We’re going to play the rest of our tour. Then we’ve got a tour back home lined up. We’re going to all the capitals, and Perth and Bunbury for the first time. Which is amazing for us.
Drew: That will be awesome.
Perry: We’ve got a lot of fans there who’ve been killing us. They wanted us to play there and we couldn’t justify it, but you know, we’ve done this big Euro trip and we’ve kind of run out of excuses.
Drew: However, we could say that we can’t afford it. Because we’re kind of broke.
Perry: But we’re going to do it, it’s going to be awesome. Just push the album and hopefully speed up the writing cycle too. I think we’ve found what works and doesn’t work in our approach to writing, recording and touring as well. So once we’ve done the tour, we’ll do a few one-off shows, keep a low profile and write.
Drew: Because we don’t want it to be as long as this one. What was it? Three years or something?
Perry: May 2011 to October 2013.
Drew: It’s almost 2014. But yeah, it would be awesome to get another album out in a year and a half.
That’s great. Thanks for your time.
Circles latest album Infinitas is available now through Basick Records, and you can read my review of it here. The band are on tour in their native Australia, and if you’re able to head down for what is a thoroughly enjoyable show, you can see those dates here.