Backstage interview with Anthony Green of Circa Survive

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Pre-Show Treat

My friend, Marissa, and I were amongst the growing mass of fans that showed up early to hang outside of the Center Stage venue in downtown Atlanta to see the sold-out Circa Survive show (she and I were probably a little more giddy than the rest, because we were waiting for a one-on-one interview with Anthony Green himself). Everyone’s eagerness paid off- all of a sudden, on the front steps of the venue, there appeared all of the guys from Circa to play a mini acoustic set for a website called NervousEnergies.com.  Some reward.  They played “Sharp Practice” and “Suitcase” from their new album, Violent Waves, and everyone, including me, was taking videos and snapping pictures like mad.  Shortly after this, their tour manager, Jeffery, called us in, and we waited to interview Anthony in a small room in the basement.  More on that later.

The Show

The first to kick off the show was Balance and Composure, and they immediately got into it.  The lead singer even got a little “over-animated” and knocked over a couple of the drummers’ symbols.  If you haven’t listened to them before, you need to, and you need to see them live (side note: they remind me a lot of Brand New).

Next up was Touché Amoré, and they threw down a little harder than B&C. The lead singer was all over the place getting the crowd hyped up.  For those who are unfamiliar with them, they sound a great deal like La Dispute (which might explain why they have a split record with them).

Bottom line: these bands are touring with Circa, so you know they have to be legit.

And finally, what everyone had been waiting for- Circa Survive.  Anthony Green walked on stage.  Everyone (including the men) started screaming like little schoolgirls. I was super lucky to have a photo pass, so I got to be right in the photo pit.  The place was packed.  Frantically crowd surfing, everyone hoping to get close enough for a handshake from Anthony, who was working the crowd as hard as he could (including some seductive gestures and comments that sent everyone into a frenzy).

 

Their set was beautifully lit with tall, rectangular boxes of light and mirrors backlighting the band. They played new material from Violent Waves, such as “Suitcase”, “Birth of the Economic Hit Man”, and “The Lottery”, as well as a few older favorites like “The Glorious Nosebleed”, “Strange Terrain”, “Stop the F*ckin’ Car””, and “The Great Golden Baby”.  Right before Anthony got down, I raised my fist and got a fist bump from him (as if the interview wasn’t enough).  They encored with “Get Out” and “Lazarus”, to the delight of the entire crowd.

The Interview

VM: Why did you choose to write the album [so quickly], then self produce it?

AG:  It was written over a couple months, but it was definitely the fastest-written album that Circa’s ever done, and the self producing thing…whenever we write songs we just demo them ourselves, and it got to the point that the demos were sounding really, really good…so we just decided [to] try to find a studio in the area, and we have buddies of ours that work in this great studio…called Studio 4…all these legends have recorded there, and they let us get some really cheap time and we went in… they managed to do the record in like two and a half weeks. So it was like the best thing ever.

VM:  I bet it was kind of hell trying to do that all [so quickly] though.

AG:  I mean, it wasn’t that hard…We worked really long hours, just because of all of our attention spans.  I felt like we had to do that. We enjoy it- it wasn’t like, hellish.  Not doing this with a producer sort of gave us the freedom to try a bunch of different things, and we were on our own dime, so if we stayed real late, or if we needed to we didn’t feel reluctant to keep going.

VM:  I’ve noticed that you guys are definitely trying to hone in on more of the raw sound, like how you would sound live versus studio-produced. Has there been any kind of fan reaction that you guys have noticed?

AG: Nobody’s really said anything about the quality of the record being bad.  I’ve heard a lot of people just say that it sounds more like us than most of the other records.  The other records were glossier.  I feel a producer does a record, and they are almost more concerned about how it’s going to sound to their producer buddies than it’s going to sound to the artists’ fans. I think our fans are used to coming to the show, and they hear the vocals a little flat or a little sharp at times, because of whatever reason…that’s what makes it feel good, you know…that’s what makes it feel warm. It’s the same reason why people listen to vinyl, because it’s not a perfect sound.

VM: How do you feel about the sound on this album compared to your others?

AG: It’s hard to say, because I feel like every album is a different, newer chapter in your life, so you go back to the thing you were writing about when you were 22 or 23, and you were like…. ‘Yeah, I was 22 or 23. I love everything.’  There’s not one song that we’ve written that I can’t sing that I feel is not cool. Obviously this album feels closer because it’s dealing with stuff that’s going on right now. But then in a year’s time the songs will all take on a different meaning, and that’s just how it grows.  It grows, and it changes.

VM: I know you alluded to it, but what was your motivation and inspiration for the album?

AG:  So many things…my dad got real sick- that’s kinda what “The Lottery” is about… I kinda hate it when people are like ‘what inspires you?’, because there are so many things.  It’s such a hard question to answer, because there are so many things that inspire me- like my relationships with the guys in the band, with my family, just with you guys, the people that come to the shows and stuff- that’s all what this record is really about.

VM: That’s awesome. I guess we will take it back a little bit- what kind of music did you grow up with?

AG: Bands like Touché [Amoré] and Balance [& Composure]- listening to music like that.

VM: Can you list a few?

AG: Aw man… Quicksand, Handsome, Burning Airlines, At the Drive In, Cave In… Cave In was a huge band… Braid, The Get Up Kids, Falling Forward, Code 7, This Day Forward. I loved Nirvana…loved Nirvana. The first album I actually got was a Metallica album. The second album I ever got was Nevermind. I was 15 when I got Nevermind; it was a music thrift shop, like a used CD was 15 bucks… so much money.

VM:  So how did you become involved with music?  Was it just through those bands/did you have any family members that were musically inclined?

AG: I was just hanging out in places as a kid. We would just go places to hang out, and I found this skate park near my house that bands would play out of every weekend, and we started going there…wherever there would be a show- a local show or local bands- I was there. And then [I] just tried starting a band. I met some people and put a band together and made, like, a grindcore band, where we just made noise. We wrote stuff- there were songs!

VM: What was it called?

AG: It was called Audience of One. Then that band started and sort of became like a grindcore, hardcore band until it had songs and singing and stuff. I don’t know how it shifted. It was never one thing.  It was just like…we started out with this one drummer, and he was a crazy metal drummer.  He couldn’t be in the band anymore, because he couldn’t go out like past 11.  So we had this other guy come in that liked more of the music we liked- like indie rock and stuff, and we just started jamming. It was awesome.

VM: So from there, how did you transfer into Circa?

AG: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I just played music all the time with people I knew…Somebody in California had heard some of my stuff- the guys in Saosin had heard my stuff that I had done at home, and some buddies of mine that were out there were like, ‘Yo, you should come out and try out for our band.’   So I went out there and tried out, and then within the next four days recorded that EP that I did with them. Then, moved out there a couple months later to start touring.  I was like, ‘this is great.  These guys wanna start a band and go on tour, and there’s record labels, and there’s California and stardust.’ I just wanted to go out there and be a vagabond, and my parents were like, ‘the f*ck’s the matter with you? You can’t sing. You can’t do any of this.  You don’t know what you’re doing.’ And I was like, ‘yeah, I know, but I’m gonna do it anyway…if you guys are really supportive, then I’m gonna go do this.  You have to trust me.’… I was 20. And I moved out there, and ever since then I’ve been doing music.

VM: That’s awesome. [Marissa: That reminds me of us, just always going to local shows].

AG: Yeah, that’s the best. You just go…and… have you guys ever read The Celestine Prophecy?

VM: No, but we probably should.

AG: You ought to just follow your heart; follow your instincts that lead you down good paths of beautiful things and light and all the stuff you want.  You’ll get it.

VM: It’s true.  So what made you want to come outside and play a mini acoustic set for us? I know most bands don’t do that.

AG: Ryan [Russell] has a website where he has this thing called Nervous Energies…he films bands playing, and he asked where we wanted to do it, and we were like, ‘let’s just go outside and play for the kids.’ He was like, ‘no one’s ever done that on the site before,’ and I was like, ‘then we are definitely doing it now.’

VM: I think that is really awesome, because that breaks the barrier that some bands have with their fans. It’s kind of like ‘we are too good, too untouchable’. You guys playing outside made it personal.

AG: It’s weird. I think if there’s anything that we as a band have to people is that we are just working class dudes that are able to continue to play music for you…There’s not some difference between you and your favorite band… But they worked really hard and sacrificed whatever they had to get to where they are…you’re going to have to cut comforts or whatever. I know I slept on so many floors with so many weirdos and crashed in people’s houses and was such a pain in the ass to deal with…but it was worth it.

VM:  So true. What do you enjoy besides music?

AG: My kids… I hear guys with kids say, ‘oh, once you get married and have children, life’s over…you won’t have a life anymore.  It’s all about their life,’ and I couldn’t disagree with them more.  I feel like I never really had a life until them.  I just love them so much.  I miss them so much…When I’m here I don’t have to worry…about anyone but myself, and I’m pretty low maintenance.  I’m smelly; I might not be clean for a couple days. I don’t have to clean anyone’s diaper or anything like that…. And I would rather be cleaning people’s diapers.

VM:  I imagine you’re kinda tugged both ways.  Like when you are touring, you miss them, but when you are home, do you miss traveling and playing shows?

AG:  I love playing. It’s my favorite thing in the world.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever really loved like that before I had the children.  It gives you this insane high that I still haven’t found anywhere else. It’s way harder than any drug I’ve ever done, and I’ve done a LOT of drugs.  I love it, and I feel no pain when I’m doing it…It’s awesome…I still get that adrenaline rush from it. I still feel incredible about it. Right now, today, I’m having a little bit of a rough time being away. My perspective on it is a little bit skewed, because I feel things with an intensity with a manic type of feel…You just have to not be a f*cking weirdo about it, and I’ve just been being a weirdo about it today. When I hear people complain about being on tour or missing people or whatever, my normal reaction has just been, ‘f*ck you. You can get out of the way and let like the thousands of millions of other people that wanna do it and have that commitment- you can let them do it’.  I’m sure there’s a bunch of people that would leave their kids alone for six weeks to go out and do this.

VM:  Well we are really stoked to see you play!

AG: I can’t wait. I f*cking can’t wait. I can’t believe I have to wait until 10 o’clock…

 

Beautiful man

 


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