"You can blame all of this on Jack Bauer..." - Circa Waves talk their new LP Sad Happy
Scouse foursome Circa Waves return this week with Sad Happy, their fourth full-length studio album.
Produced by frontman Kieran Shudall, the album is billed as an accompaniment to the two extreme halves of daily life, with one side being full of ‘happy’ songs and the other being seven tracks of pure sadness.
The album, which was released in two halves digitally, but has now been combined for the CD and vinyl release, arrives in hmv stores this week. You can purchase it here in hmv’s online store.
We spoke to Shudall about creating this epic project and why this album is their way of shaking things up...
How did the genesis of this album come about? Were you working to a concept or did the songs just come out like this?
“It was a couple of things really. We’d wanted to do something that would be unique to us and to bring a bit of ceremony back to the album and the physical nature of the album. The idea of splitting it up, putting the first half out there for a while, then completing it all. Weirdly the idea came from 24…”
The TV show?
“Yeah. We were watching it and we love how every episode used to end with a cliffhanger, so we kind of took it to extremes with the album and left people on one giant cliffhanger. You can blame all of this on Jack Bauer.”
Were there any songs that could have gone either way?
“We split them all up after the act of recording them. There were a few that were sad songs with hopeful endings that could have ended up on the happy side, but we decided to be quite strict and just use the overriding feeling and emotion of each song.”
How did recording compare? This is your first-time self-producing…
“I’ve co-produced our last two with Alan Moulder and this time I was on my own, just with an engineer. I feel like I’ve had such good teachers and I was ready to do it myself this time. I knew how I wanted this to sound. I had a really good engineer and I was able to say ‘I want this snare drum sound’, ‘I want that reverb’ and just felt experienced enough to be able to do it myself. We’re four albums in, we should be able to do this by ourselves.”
Was it an intense record?
“No, but we ended up doing it in chunks. It was all done during festival season. We’d play a festival or two, come back to London, record for a while, then go away again. That did make it a hard record to make, you had a lot of time to sit with the songs, but by the time the whole thing was done, we were so satisfied with the results.”
Was it always to be called Sad Happy? Did you kick around any other titles?
“It just seemed so natural to call it that. We’ve always been lucky with album titles, none of them have been a real pain. Names have been kicked around and one has stuck. It was the same this time.”
You’re booked in for a lot of shows already, how’s your live set looking? Will you structure things around the two halves of the album?
“No, it’ll be a mixture of things. When you’ve got four records you need to acknowledge all of them and not just go hard on the new record. We’ve been throwing in new songs for a while and they sound great alongside the old ones. It really works.”
Are you looking at a busy festival season?
“We’re everywhere and then we’re back out across Europe in the autumn and hopefully America. We’re really trying to build ourselves up outside of the UK on this album.”
This is your second album after leaving Virgin EMI, are you happy with life post-major label?
“It makes total sense for us. If I want to speak to the head of our label, it can happen within 20 seconds, you just don’t get that with a major. We’re over everything and involved in every decision. It suits us really well.”
Do you think if you’d pitched the idea of the split album to your old label they’d have gone for it?
“You don’t know. It would have been interesting. Bands are looking for ways to do things differently. You’ve got The 1975 doing two records basically back to back and you’re going to get bands trying new things to establish themselves. It feels a bit like we’re back in the 1950s, the single is king again, so bands like us who want to make albums need to work that bit harder to make themselves stand out…”