Melbourne’s prog-rock titans Circles have been riding high on the success of their sophomore release, The Last One and are about to head out and play a string of shows across Australia and New Zealand in support of the album. Ben had a chat with guitarist Ted Furuhashi about the writing of the album and the joys of touring.
The Last One has been out for the better part of a year now and also cracked over 1 million streams on Spotify alone. How does it feel to have such an amazing body of work under your belt and have achieved the successes that it has?
It constantly blows our minds that people listen and appreciate what we create. It's truly a blessing. There are so many great bands and artists out there that to have fans of our music is insane. Obviously when we wrote it we didn't know how people would receive it or react to the new line up etc.
What was different about the writing of this album compared to Infintas? Apart from the obvious change of vocalist of course…
As mentioned above, we didn't know how people will react so we made a conscious decision to write whatever we wanted as long as we liked it. We figured that if we write to please fans, we end up not being true to ourselves and being "behind". We wanted to create something honest and in the process, an organic expression of who we are at that point in our lives.
The Last One seems to be a much more personal album lyrically. Was that a conscious effort or did it just naturally come about through the writing process?
We all take part in the vocal process. The majority of the lyrics came from Ben (vocals/guitar) but entire songs were written by other members for example "Blueprints for a Great Escape" was written by Drew (bass). Lyrical themes also came from other members like "Dream Sequence" came from Dave (drums). The initial idea came from a personal work experience. The lyrical theme for the track "Arrival" came from myself which is an idea I had in the shower about aliens coming to Earth as an expedition from their home planet which is dying. They came here to ask us how to save their planet as it's on the brink of destruction and we don't have the answer as we are doing the same thing to ours. It's basically a reflection on our own humanity and our short sightedness of the preservation of life on our planet. I reckon I was cooking my brain on all that stuff at the time haha. But yeah, it was a natural process.
Speaking of the writing process, do you all contribute to things such as riffs, lyrics and beats/rhythms or does each member have a specific job when it comes to writing a song?
Up until Ben joined the band, I wrote all the music and production then Dave helped structure them. Drew stepped in and threw his flavour on it as the were getting closer to completion.
These days, I've made a conscious decision to open it up more to the other guys as I wanted more of a band feel rather than a riff montage with vocals over the top. I wanted to write SONGS and perform them as songs. We're a band so we should write as a band. Sure, have someone or a couple of dudes steering the ship but having multiple members injecting their influences into a song will make for a much more diverse and unique sound rather than a regurgitation of a narrow scope of influences.
How did Ben’s induction into the band come about? As in, where did you find him? Did he find you? How did he fit into the mould of what you already had going on?
I personally knew of him years ago I reckon 7 years or so. I saw him front a rad band called Glass Empire. They grabbed my attention with their song "Clarity" which to date is still one of my favourite songs. I saw him sing and obviously the man has pipes but what I noticed more was his guitar playing and knew instantly that he was a weapon and I needed him in my musical adventures so I attended countless Glass Empire shows and had chats about doing something with him. We already had time together and knew he wasn't a dick so when the opportunity came up, he was the first person I contacted about joining Circles and holy shit, I'm glad he said yes.
Whether nationally or internationally, you just have not stopped touring since the release of The Last One. Does this become grueling at some point or is that where you find the band at it’s best?
Touring is the best for me. I get to see first hand how people react to our music. To be able to see someone singing the lyrics back to you or air guitar/drum to something you’ve created from your brain in a bedroom is indescribable. Not many people get to do that so I count every show whether it’s to a packed 170 or a tiny, dingy metal venue, to be a blessing. It’s that mindset that makes every show an honour to play. This is why I never have a bad show haha. We seem to be a band that thrives on overcoming adversity so being on tour definitely solidifies our bond as bandmates and as friends.
How do the crowds differ overseas to here in Australia?
Essentially it’s the same. Passionate crowds everywhere. The difference with Europe is that the punters are there from doors and don’t leave until they get kicked out. It’s great if you’re a support band as you get a full room to showcase your music and have an opportunity to win fans over. They seem a lot more appreciative to have bands perform but that’s because to them, we are international artists. They have so many bands touring there all the time yet the come out and see what you’re about and wanna meet you after the show and show their appreciation for coming so far to play for them.
All that touring has certainly paid off too as is evident in your amazing live show. Are there any plans to expand any production elements or will you just keep it simple and about the music?
We’d love to and we’ve been talking about it but budgets only go so far. With all of the travelling costs, accommodation, merch, van hire, backline hire, FOH engineer and lighting, we don’t have enough to expand. We basically rely on ticket sales to fund these things as we don’t see any merch money until we sell it on tour. We basically pay upfront costs ourselves from our day jobs and invest in our art. We definitely don’t get paid from being in a band haha. We just paid off my 30k personal loan I took out for our first European tour with The Dillinger Escape Plan back in 2013. It only took us 6 years!
You have most certainly defied the sophomore slump curse with The Last One, do you have reservations about how you’ll match/top it with the next album?
Writing for the next album has commenced and we have a direction and like our previous release, we will be challenging ourselves artistically and emotionally to hopefully create another honest snapshot of who we are. I guess there aren’t any reservations as it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. Apologies to fans who are expecting The Last One part 2 haha. We’re just not like that unfortunately. We just wanna write songs we wanna play. Makes sense right?
And while on the subject of the next album, what is next for Circles?
We off on our headline tour in support of “The Last One” throughout July/August. We’ll have some more touring news as we confirm them! We can’t wait to get back out there and perform the new material!!
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Circles - Dream Sequence (official music video)