Circa Waves on Crunchy vs. Smooth Peanut Butter

The crowd at Great Scott waited in anticipation for Circa Waves to take the stage on November 14th, more so than at most concerts, as fans had been waiting since the show was rescheduled earlier this spring. The Liverpool indie rockers filled the dark, intimate space with their sunny electric guitar, infectious energy, and love for what they do. The band played through old favorites, like “T-Shirt Weather,” and new songs from their latest album, What’s It Like Over There?, released in April. 

Melisma Magazine got to chat with singer/guitarist Kieran Shudall and drummer Colin Jones before the band took the stage. Check it out below.

How has the tour been so far?

Colin: It’s been good. What is this, day number three?

Kieran: We’ve only done three shows.

C: Yeah, we’ve had a few days in between, driving and that.

K: Yeah, we’ve done a lot of driving. We’re coming straight off a European tour, as well.

C: We’ve done Washington, New York, and now we’re here in Boston.

K: Is that all we’ve done?

C: Yeah.

It seems like it’s a pretty short tour. Do you have a lot more dates after this? Not that many right?

K: Not many no.

C: San Fran, LA, and Mexico.

K: I think it’s we’ve traveled quite a lot and done a few radio shows, so I feel like I’ve done more work than just two shows. It’s been really good, though. There’s more people at every show than there has been on previous tours, so we’re doing something right at least.

So you said that you just had your European tour. Do you find that the crowds have been different at all between the U.S. and Europe?

C: I always find you have the gradual difference of the people at the front who always want to get into it everywhere you go, always love it. Then you’ve got people that kind of, as it goes back, just appreciate the music and just stand there and kind of… So it’s kind of similar.

K: I feel like Americans heckle more.

C: Yeah.

Heckle more?

K: Well, not like negative heckle. There’s a lot more like “Yeah buddy!” 

C: Yeah, they like to shout something about Liverpool.

K: Like “Liverpool, yeah!” Whereas Europeans are quite shy.

Is there anything you miss about home while you’re touring in the U.S.?

K: Well we’ve both got babies, so we miss our little kids.

C: This restaurant called King Do, I miss it.

K: It’s a Chinese restaurant.

C: Cantonese… That’s about it really.

K: Not the kids, just the Cantonese.

Do you have any pre-show traditions or rituals that you do before a show?

C: We always have a wireless speaker pumping some sort of playlist.

K: It’s recently been old school techno, 90s techno house vibes. Usually a bit of techno, maybe a gin and tonic, maybe a beer, combine them all and just go for it.

Do you have a favorite song to play live?

K: We play a song called “Savior,” which I’m enjoying a lot at the moment.

C: It’s one off the album that we probably wouldn’t usually play. It just feels good. It’s a big rock tune. I feel like “T-Shirt Weather” is one that’s always going to get a good reaction.

How do you guys pick your setlists?

C: With great difficulty.

K: Whatever the easiest chords are. Generally, what is most popular, I know that sounds obvious, but people want to see songs they know us for, so we do that and then with the new album, just the ones that we like the most. I feel like if people are paying to come see you, you should kind of give them the best show, and that tends to be the hits.

C: They usually see you in the corner going, “I don’t know what to pick, I don’t know what to pick.”

K: Well, we’ve got three albums now, so…

It’s a lot to fit into an hour, hour and fifteen minutes.

K: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. A lot of it is the arrangement of it, as well. We’re trying to fit in our early album, which is a bit more garage rock, and our new stuff, which is more poppy, and you want the flow to be good.

Not long ago, you released a few tracks and alternate versions of tracks that weren’t originally on the album. What was your thought process in releasing those, but not including them on the album?

K: It’s a good question. I think people consume music at such a fast rate these days, and you almost need to be putting out more music than you used to have to. So we had those songs lying about, and we were like, “Well, we’re not going to put them on the next record, but we should do something with them.” And b-sides don’t exist as much, do you know what I mean, so it was kind of just like, fuck it, let’s put them out on the internet and let them exist. Otherwise, they would just be sat on my computer, and that would be boring.

Are they things that you would be interested in playing live?

C: I’ve heard people requesting them on Twitter and stuff like that. They’re like, “Play ‘Something More,’” but what would we take out?

K: That’s it, it’s like we’re already cutting songs out. It’s hard, it’s really hard, but I’d like to maybe one day do it. I’d have to remind myself of the chords.

C: Plus, everyone loves an alternate version.

You mentioned that this most recent album is a little more poppy. What made you head in that direction and what has influenced the evolution of your sound?

K: Taylor Swift.

C: I’d just say the different music we’re listening to, especially Kieran, and the producing way of how Kieran looks and gets different ideas from different people. I think it’s just evolving from that, so when he’s writing, or when we’re all doing stuff, that’s in mind, so it kind of just comes from the stuff that we’re listening to.

K: I think a lot of the production on pop stuff and hip hop stuff is something that we want to bring into guitar music, so the drum sounds a lot of the time lead the way. It’s always cool to put a hip hop snare on a guitar song. When you make the production a bit more pop, then the song becomes more pop.

So it’s changed your songwriting a bit too?

K: Yeah, quite a lot. I started writing songs where I produce the track first and then write on top of it, so that automatically makes me write more poppy.

Since we’re nearing the end of the year, what are some of your goals for next year?

C: To come back to America within the next two years. It feels like we’ve been away for too long.

K: Be bigger.

C: Yeah, definitely be bigger.

K: Just in height, I want to grow taller.

C: If I get too tall, I’d trip over my own feet.

K: That’s true. You already do that now. I’d like to get better at cooking roast chicken. That’s one of my missions.

C: I’d like to actually cook.

K: You could cook a roast chicken. I could teach you.

C: Yeah, I’d be up for that. That could be good next year, by Christmas 2020, I’ll cook you and your son a roast dinner, and your wife.

K: I’ll be vegetarian by then, so I’m not interested.

One last question. If your music had a taste, what would it taste like?

C: It would be quite smooth.

K: Smooth taste? Mm, that tastes smooth.

C: Well, I was trying to think of…

K: Like peanut butter, like smooth peanut butter. I think it would be crunchy, like crunchy nut corn flakes.

C: Like Nutella.

K: No it’s not smooth, alright, it’s crunchy!

C: I think it’s smooth!

K: I love a good wrap, so maybe we’re a wrap, because there’s lots of ingredients, many flavors, changing all the time.

C: I’d probably say we’re just a plain bit of bread.

K: Stale bread.

C: Toasted, with the crusts cut off.

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