Interview: Circa Waves

In preparation for the group’s upcoming show at the Institute, Circa WavesJoe Falconer took time out of the band’s gruelling schedule to chat to David Vincent about his favourite t-shirt, SXSW and teenage memories of Island Bar.

It’s fair to say that Circa Waves had a pretty good 2014. Kickstarting the year with a slot on the NME Tour alongside Interpol, Royal Blood and Temples, the ensuing months saw the quartet head to the US, secure well-received appearances at various major festivals and conclude with their own dates.

But looking back at the highlights, guitarist Joe Falconer reckons their headline tour was the real highpoint.

“We’d just finished playing quite a few support slots, so it was nice to be in front of our own crowd again and it was amazing to have so many people come along who were familiar with the songs,” he recalls. “A lot of those shows sold out and ended in stage invasions. At our homecoming gig in Liverpool we couldn’t even finish the set because someone from the crowd fell on the drum kit.”

He also cites dates with seminal indie legends The Libertines as another standout memory.

“We all grew up listening to The Libertines when we were younger. They were really good to us. Watching them from the side of stage every night was an honour and they definitely know how to put on a good show.”

And 2015 has already got off to a strong start for the quartet, thanks to a string of Australian dates with The 1975.

“They were a lot of fun. Their audience is a little bit insane, they’re kind of like The Beatles or something over there. We just used it as an excuse to pick up some new fans, grab some winter sun and drink cocktails,” says Joe, who is chatting to Brum Notes from Austin, Texas, nearly 5,000 miles away, where they’re mixing it with the industry movers and shakers at SXSW.

“The schedule’s been gruelling, but it’s an amazing place to be. Walking round the streets it kind of feels like the last days of Rome or something. We played three shows on the first day we were here and combined with the jetlag it almost broke us, but all the bands here are in the same boat [and] it’s insane just how many venues there are here. Every small business decides to have a stage regardless of whether they’re a doughnut shop or a liquor store.”

The gruelling schedule is set to continue as Circa Waves release their debut album, Young Chasers. A bristling, jaunty, hook-laden guitar pop collection, it’s been grabbing top marks and seen them compared to such acts as The Pigeon Detectives, The Kooks, The View (back when they were all good), The Shins and The Strokes.

The 13-track LP includes recent singles Fossils, So Long and the summery anthem-in-waiting T-Shirt Weather.

“[T-Shirt Weather is] about having a false nostalgia for memories, how you always look back at the past with rose-tinted spectacles. That and our love of the Met Office,” Joe quips, who confesses his own fave t-shirt features some oddly political imagery. “I have a t-shirt that I found in a second hand shop in London when I was 17. It’s got a picture of an old prime minister of Canada – Wilfred Laurier – wearing a pair of sunglasses. I have no idea why anyone made it, but I’m glad it’s in my life.”

Joe, Kieran Shudall (vocals, guitar), Sam Rourke (bass) and Colin Jones (drums) came together after meeting at Liverpool Sound City in 2013, releasing the Get Away / Good For Me double-A via Transgressive at the end of the year. Frontman Kieran has stated that he believes their strength and appeal comes from their close friendship, that “gang” feeling.

“I think that all the bands that we grew up listening to made you feel like you want to be part of their gang,” Joe says on the subject. “I think there’s something tribal about guitar music, it’s about the energy and attitude you can create with the bare bones of music and I think there’s a lot of people attracted to that.”

As soon as they’re back from SXSW, the quartet head out on a nine-date UK tour with their Birmingham show at The Institute surprisingly something of a homecoming for Joe.

“I’m actually from Redditch originally, so I spent a lot of my teenage years playing in venues in Birmingham,” he says. “I remember going to see Sunset Cinema Club at Tropical Hotdog in the Island Bar. My old band played it once and drank so many cocktails that a couple of members couldn’t remember the show. I was the designated driver that night and it was possibly the worst 30 minutes I’ve ever spent on stage. They had fun though.”

Interview by David Vincent

Circa Waves are live at The Library at The Institute, Birmingham, on April 14 and their debut album Young Chasers is out now via Virgin.


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