Come September, and following the release of their biting new record Different Creatures, beloved British indie rockers Circa Waves are headed to America for their first-ever full U.S. tour, supporting Two Door Cinema Club.
Alternative Press caught up with vocalist Kieran Shudall to talk more about how the rockers got their start, how they’re prepping for their forthcoming American run and what it was like collaborating with PVRIS’ Lynn Gunn.
Would you be able to explain a little more about how the band came to be?
That feels like a long time ago now. I’d been in different bands growing up and almost gave up on doing the whole music thing because it wasn’t working out. I was just recording songs at home, and I made a track called “Young Chasers,” which I sent to the BBC. Zane Lowe played it on his show, and as soon as that happened, they said I should probably get a band together. So then I got in touch with the lads through different friends, and it all came together pretty quickly. We started gigging as much as possible—we played a lot of gigs to nobody at the very start of the band.
What bands would you cite as your biggest influences?
There’s so much. I’ve always loved guitar music, like the Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Queens Of The Stone Age, stuff like that. But I’ve also always been into the British indie stuff like the Maccabees, Arctic Monkeys and that kind of stuff. But also classic American songwriters like Carole King, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor.
I’ve always just picked influences from great songwriters. For me, there is no rule of thumb for what’s wrong or right in terms of influence. I just listen to music that makes me excited and has energy and genuine passion.
Your first record, Young Chasers, has more of an indie rock-feel to it. What was your mindset putting together your first full-length release?
I just felt that it was a diary of the last 10 years of my life. I always wanted to write a coming-of-age record—like that first Arctic Monkeys record or that first Block Party record or that first Foals record. I felt like I had to get that first album out of my system and write about growing up and going to bars and meeting girls and all those kinds of things. So that record was very sort of nostalgic.
At what point did you realize, “Wow, people are really starting to listen to our music?”
It was like every show we booked, the next show we booked doubled in size, and that was how it went in London. I was surprised that anyone wanted to come and see my band in London, because I’m from Liverpool. That happened pretty much over a year-and-a-half. So that was a clear indication that something was connecting with people, which was pretty cool. We’d all been in bands for so many years, so to finally strike gold, it felt incredible. This validation was so amazing to all of us, really. It was a great start to what’s been pretty awesome ever since.
Your second album, Different Creatures, bites a little harder. It’s a little more rock, with more lyrical depth. What was your mindset, then, coming into this second record?
We toured on this record for a couple of years, and the songs just became heavier. We got more confident as a band and everything got bigger. It only felt natural for us to make a second record that was bigger like those live performances. It felt like a natural progression, really, and we’ve always loved that kind of music, so it was a no-brainer. It makes the live shows much more of a huge, cinematic thing, and I always wanted to put on the greatest live show possible. I always admired bands like the Foo Fighters who play these huge songs to hundreds of thousands of people—that’s my dream, really: to play these songs to so many people. And I just wanted songs that matched that ambition.
That’s what it’s all about really—spreading music as far and wide as possible.
PVRIS is a favorite for a lot of our AP readers, and you teamed up with Lynn Gunn for a reworked version of “Fire That Burns.” What was that like working with her?
It was really cool. It was kind of like a long-distance relationship thing. We hadn’t really seen each other, and we’ve still not met to this day. But her voice is incredible, and it’s that power thing again—that genuine emotion that she has in her voice that I thought on that track would be incredible. So when we did it, it was mega.
I think if bands can cross-pollinate, then we can be heard by PVRIS fans, and our fans can listen to PVRIS. That’s what it’s all about really—spreading music as far and wide as possible. I think that’s what rap does really well. Guitar music kind of falls down in that sense. There’s not many collaborations. We’re trying to shake up the game and do a little bit more of that.
If you could work with anyone in the industry, who would be your dream?
Anything unusual, really. I’d love to work with Tame Impala. I’d love to do a track with Arcade Fire. I’d even love the chance to work with rappers like Kendrick Lamar—he’s the biggest fucking rapper in the world. We would be magnetized toward that because it makes for a more interesting end result when you work with people who aren’t necessarily in your field.
You’re prepping to hit the road with Two Door Cinema Club. What are you most looking forward to on the U.S. tour?
We’ve known the Two Door [Cinema Club] guys for a little while now, and they’re the nicest dudes in the world. We were playing football—sorry, soccer—together at a festival, and we all decided to get soccer kicks made up. There’s a strong soccer rivalry brewing now. So I’m looking forward to that and just playing bigger venues to lots of people. I love seeing the look on people’s faces when they’ve never heard us before, and they look sort of euphoric—you know, when someone sort of loses their mind to music they’ve never heard before. It’s a magical thing.
We don’t really hold back in any way, shape or form. We sweat a lot and our fingers bleed.
What can people expect to see from a live show if they’ve never seen you before?
I think it’s four people on stage who play ’til they’re broken. We don’t really hold back in any way, shape or form. We sweat a lot and our fingers bleed. It’s kind of that punk ethic but in a rock ’n’ roll band. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we take our music really seriously. We just work every night, and we want basically to just do everything to have the greatest show we can possibly have. And if we’re supporting somebody, we try to warm that audience up as best as possible—and essentially steal some of their fans along the way, if possible. [Laughs.]
For someone just getting to know Circa Waves, what would be the best song to listen to?
I think “Fire That Burns.” You can either listen to the original or the one with PVRIS, but the whole two albums span so many different things. There’s quite a lot of genres. I’ve always loved bands that don’t really stick to one genre, like Fleetwood Mac or the Beatles. Every song doesn’t sound the same.
If you had to describe the band in one word, what would it be?
And why would you choose that one?
Because when people see us they just go “fuck”—in a good way. Like, “Fuck, that’s amazing.” At least that’s what I think.
The band will be headed out on tour with Two Door Cinema Club this September. Check out the full list of cities and dates below, and pick up your tickets here!
9/13: Portland, ME @ The State Theatre
9/14: Ithica, NY @ State Theatre
9/15-17: Queens, NY @ The Meadows Music & Arts Fest – Citi Field
9/18: New Orleans, LA @ Joy Theater
9/19: Austin, TX @ Live At The Moody Theater
9/20: El Paso, TX @ Tricky Falls
9/22: Las Vegas, NV @ Life Is Beautiful Festival
9/23: Anaheim, CA @ House Of Blues
9/25: Tulsa, OK @ Cains Ballroom
9/26: Saint Louis, MO @ The Pageant
9/27: Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe Live
9/29-30: Swissvale, PA @ Thrival Innovation & Music Fest
9/30: Philadelphia, PA @ Skyline Stage At The Mann
10/1: New Haven, CT @ College Street Music Hall
10/2: Richmond, VA @ The National