“The first record was all about restraint, this album was about making things as big, grand and cinematic as possible” - hmv.com talks to Circa Waves
Scouse foursome Circa Waves enjoyed a pretty good run with their debut LP Young Chasers, a clean, breezy collection of jangly indie pop, but they’ve certainly stepped things up with their new album Different Creatures.
To help them move away from angular guitars and teenage nostalgia they enlisted Alan Moulder, the man who has helped make Foals, Nine Inch Nails and The Smashing Pumpkins sound colossal, and have come back with an album that towers over its predecessor.
As the album comes to CD shelves (you can preview and purchase it on the right-hand side of the page) we sat down with frontman Kieran Shudall and bassist Sam Rourke to find out all about how it came together.
How did making Different Creatures compare to making Young Chasers?
Kieran: “It was similar in how smoothly things went, but it was very different in our approach, we were unshackled this time and we really opened ourselves up to adding more layers. The first record was all about restraint, two guitars, bass, drums, this album was about making things as big, grand and cinematic as possible.”
Was that a choice you made or the way the songs just evolved?
Sam: “It was quite a conscious decision. We were very set on sounding like a garage band for the first album and for these new songs everyone really wanted to step it up.”
Kieran: “As soon as we knew that Alan Moulder was onboard, our ambitions really grew. I had these big rock demos that craved bigger stages, but once we knew he’d be working on the album I knew we could go even bigger."
If you want to go big, there aren’t many producers who can do it better than Alan Moulder, how did you reach out to him?
Sam: “I know Cesar, who’s his engineer, and he knew that we were looking for someone and we started exchanging emails. It all ended up being a bit last minute, but as soon as we got it locked in we were set.”
Kieran: “We ended up panicking because we had everything ready to go and no producer. The guy we were going to go with decided to go and do Take That’s record, so it’s probably a good thing he ended up not doing it! Working with Alan was a dream, he’s a great guy.”
Working with someone like Alan Moulder you must have walked in the studio with some preconceptions, how did he compare to what you’d thought he would be?
Sam: “When you know he’s worked with Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails you have this idea of some larger than life rock personality, but we just chatted a lot about football.”
Kieran: “He’s a very normal bloke, but he’s got this incredible studio, everything sounded amazing. He’s done so many records that we were away to work super fast. I’m quite referential so I’ll ask for specific sounds and he’ll just know how to get there straight away. We had the guy who’d created all our favourite songs.”
What kind of album do you think it is lyrically?
Kieran: “I think it’s quite present. It’s what’s happening now rather than looking back on my glory days. There are songs about my friends dealing with anxiety and depression, there’s a song about the Syrian refugee crisis, missing home, missing Liverpool, it’s an album in the now, more like a diary.”
How did you pick the album title?
Sam: “We bounced around a bunch of ideas and when Different Creatures came up it just felt right. We are trying to step into the new territory of this album and the title really fits that ambition, what we’re trying to change and achieve.”
Kieran: “As soon as we had it I could picture the cover, the amalgamation of two creatures and the whole campaign just came together after we had that title.”
You’ve said you’re trying to step into new territory, what does that mean? Bigger crowds? More countries?
Sam: “We achieved a lot on the first album, but it’s a platform. We want to make this band as big as we can be, tour to more people and in more countries. Our ambitions have really grown over the last year.”
Kieran: “Before this band, we’d all been in different bands without much success and to see what we’ve done in not a lot of time, we know we can much bigger and work to become one of the biggest bands in Britain.”
Are there any bands you look to for inspiration in how to do that? Bands, whose decisions you like?
Kieran: “Foals are a great one. The way Arctic Monkeys have developed has been inspiring to watch, how they’ve challenged themselves with every record.”
Sam: “Bands like Foals, who move and challenge what you think they are with every album when you listen to their albums next to each other and see how they’ve pushed. We don’t want to stick a sound.”
How’s your live schedule looking? Any summer shows you’re particularly looking forward to?
Sam: “The diary is pretty full up and getting fuller.”
Kieran: “We’ve got Reading and Leeds on the Main Stage, we’re really excited about that, just for festival season in general, it’s big crowds every weekend, you can’t go wrong.”
How are the new songs gelling alongside the older tracks in your live set?
Sam: “We’ve been playing the old songs like the new songs. We’ve dragged them up and we play them on all this new gear, it makes the old songs much bigger and more muscular. Everything’s going to sound massive now.”
Kieran: “It’s been working well. The new tracks are getting a great reaction and playing them next to the older tunes doesn’t feel that weird. The older tracks are just pop songs so they benefit from a bit of extra oomph.”