Interview – Circa Survive

With their highly anticipated third record set to be released in a month’s time, Circa Survive have already started touring and performing new material live. Guitarist Brendan Ekstrom took the time to discuss the new album, recent career changes and what they have in store for fans in 2010.

How does it feel to be back on the road again?

It’s pretty amazing. It’s been about 2 years so it’s almost like we are re-learning things. The first couple of days are a bit crazy, but we’ve been having a lot of fun.
Your upcoming third disc Blue Sky Noise is set to be released in April. How did you guys come up with the title?

Every time we are getting ready to name an album we go through pages of names. Some are amazing, some are horrible. This title just hit us this time. Blue skies research refers to the unknown and that was very intriguing to me when I first heard about it. I actually named an old band I was in Blue Sky, so it has been a recurring term.

Blue Sky could refer to research into the unknown or us going in a different direction musically. We added the Noise to just refer to our music as rock, you know? It is what you let it be. We try to keep things open to interpretation for fans.
The first single you chose to release off the record was “Get Out”, which evidently has a different pace when compared to older material. Can the same be said for the other tracks?

The whole album is definitely not like “Get Out”. We explore a bunch of different angles. I think if anything, the production is a bit clearer which lends to it being a little more “in your face”. When we wrote this record, we wanted to give the music space to do its own thing. We didn’t want to be playing excessively. We have been playing a lot of rhythm though on this album which is new to us!
Circa Survive has had abstract album artwork created by American painter Esao Andrews since Juturna. What is it about his style of paintings that work with the equilibrium of the band?

I think from the very beginning after seeing what he initially made for us, we were all completely blown away. Colin, Anthony and Steve are all great artists and we all appreciate art so it is an integral part of our albums. We emailed Esao before Juturna’s release not thinking he’d be interested and asked if he’d make the cover for our new record.

After he accepted we gave him songs and just told him to paint what he saw and felt from those songs. I can’t say what it is about Esao, but it’s just one of those feelings you get and we love working with him. With this new record we wanted a bit of a progression artistically and we think he really accomplished that with the new album artwork.

How did you enjoy your time in Toronto?

I loved the city and I think we all had a great time. It was great to actually live in Toronto for three and a half months and take in the city. We walked up and down the main streets. It’s such an interesting atmosphere in Toronto. You can walk up to anyone on the street and have an amazing conversation. We were in a lot of different places for this record.

We wrote it in a house we rented and it had this sanctuary out back with a bunch of animals walking around all day, so I think some aspects of nature found their way on to the record. Then when we first went to Toronto, we were working with the producer for a while, going over the songs in pre-production in this area that was almost completely industrial. After that, we were in the studio so I felt like a lot of different places found their way into the record.
Why did you choose to record there with producer David Bottrill instead of with Brian McTernan who has been with you for the past two albums?

I think we all wanted to try something a little different. Every time you go into record with a producer you learn so many things. We’ve learned a ridiculous amount from Brian but for us it’s all just one big road and we want to have as many different experiences as possible. After meeting with a few producers we knew Bottrill was very passionate about the songs and wanted to work with us.
Keeping with “change” as the subject, how has the transition from Equal Vision to Atlantic Records been?

Honestly it has been as smooth a transition as we could have hoped for. Everyone at Atlantic has been treating us really well, going out of their way to talk to us as much as possible about the new stuff and upcoming plans.

We make it clear from the beginning with labels that this is who we are as a band and we have no intention of changing and Atlantic is really excited about the new record. For the first two albums, we didn’t have a lot of communication about our music with the label while recording. With Atlantic, they have taken trips into the studio and showed a lot interest in the new release.

Are there any guest appearances on the new album?

I’m like 99% sure that there aren’t any. I mean I may have walked out for a second or something! But no guest vocals as far as I know.
Mindy White sang with Circa Survive at one of your recent shows. How did that come about?

We met Mindy on tour with Lydia years ago. We kept in touch with her over time and after Anthony worked with her on that Christmas song we just thought it would be a lot of fun. She’s a great girl and I think she had a lot of fun.
Although you have upcoming tour plans with Coheed And Cambria soon, can fans expect a headlining tour in the near future?

Yeah we should have one soon, sometime after the Coheed tour. It’s in the works and hopefully we’ll be playing with some amazing bands out there on the roads with us. We want to do some crazy shit for the Atlantic tour. But I can’t tell you what we have planned!

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