09 December, 2014

An Interview with…Circa Waves



In a matter of hours, London’s, Heaven is going play host to one of this year's most enthralling and exciting live bands. A throng of stage invaders will persistently jump to and from the crowd, before the venue’s security even have a chance to react, and chaos will prevail throughout the quartet's set as Liverpool's latest indie-export, Circa Waves soundtrack the glorious scene of an abundance of sweaty, arm wielding teens causing havoc. 
 
So prior to all the inevitable madness, and on the eve of their massive home-coming show at, The Kazimer, I sat down with Circa Waves drummer, Sian Plummer to talk about cataclysmic band comparisons, their upcoming debut album, and those MASSIVE support gigs with The Libertines.
 
Hello Sian, it’s a pleasure to meet you. You played at The Haunt in Brighton last night – how was it?
 
Sian: Yeah it was a really cool show man. I think we had a bit more of a cooler crowd than we’ve had at some of the other shows we’ve done – but yeah man it was a really good gig.
 
Brilliant! Now I want to start from the beginning. I know that before Circa Waves materialised, Kieran (frontman) had been in a few other bands that didn’t really work out and he was on the brink of throwing in the towel and getting a normal job. He then decided, however, to have one last go at forming a successful band. What were you doing though before you joined and how did you end up getting involved?
 
Sian: Yeah I think Kieran’s last band just like dissolved, but then he started writing these tunes again and I think it was that ‘Young Chasers’ track that he uploaded to Soundcloud and that just literally out of nowhere blew up and everyone kind of shat themselves over it. And then because of that, it just left a big band-shaped hole that he had to feel. So, then he knew he had to get a band together. Before I joined though, I was just messing around in a few different projects. I was in a psych-band and just mucking about really – I was mainly just an unemployed writer. I did creative writing at University you see, so I was just like writing poetry and bits like that.
 
So, I believe you were only together six months before you all of sudden started to receive a lot of attention and like you say, after that single was released, the band truly kicked-off. Was it slightly daunting at first then to have to adapt to life within in a band that was very quickly becoming extremely popular and being played on Radio 1, after having very little to do and being unemployed beforehand?
 
Sian: I think it really was at first, yeah definitely. I believe because of the way we all approached it, it was quite a weird way around to do it because there was quite a lot of hype and expectancy around a band that didn’t even exist yet. But then yeah we all just got together and started to play together and literally locked ourselves away in a room for a few months. But even though we’d already been quite lucky to have that springboard before we’d even really started, we still wanted to come out and earn it, smash the gigs and ya know, just be a decent band – we had to have that attitude.
 
When someone like Zane Lowe plays your track on Radio 1 then, is that when you first think, ‘okay, maybe we need to start taking this even more seriously now’?
 
Sian: Well, at first that was really hard to process because for me personally, I’d never really had any dealings with the industry at all until that point with anything. So, everything for me was just like a bit of a shock, and I was like, ‘what’s going on here?’ But yeah having your track played on the radio for the first time and just being able to sit back and listen to it definitely set a marker for us as a band and made us realise where we could go with it.
 
Would you say that was the moment you truly felt like a proper band, so to speak?
 
Sian: I wouldn’t say having our song on the radio made us feel like a proper band, because I think that feeling came the moment we played our first gigs and we started to feel like we were gelling – that was definitely when we felt like a band.  
 
Do you think that having your very first single played on the radio adds a certain degree of pressure onto the quality of the next song you put out?
 
Sian: Yeah I think so, definitely. Mainly because at that point we still had to find our feet and find our identity as a band, whilst kind of in the limelight. So, for a certain period of time we were kind of just making it up as we went along because we had to figure out how we wanted to come across and what exactly we wanted to be. Now, however, I feel like we are very much at that point where we are really sure and certain of ourselves. Even down to things like our aesthetic and artwork, we were just so in the dark to begin with and I think that’s the reason why all our first videos are so different from each other.
 
So early on into your short time as a band, you started to be compared to a lot of successful bands. I believe you have been branded as the next Arctic Monkeys, Liverpool’s answer to The Vaccines, The Strokes and you’ve even been described as the revivalists of the Noughties indie-scene. Do you think such comparisons hinder you or help you?
 
Sian: Haha yeah well I remember actually when NME said how ‘Circa Waves are the next Arctic Monkeys’ – and of course that is incredibly flattering, but we’re are definitely not the next Arctic Monkeys, because they are boss and we’re just this new band and I just don’t think you can really make that comparison. So, I think back then we were very conscience to ignore that sort of stuff and just carry on as we were kind of thing. Now, however, we are very much listening to what people have to say about us, but I think at that time it’s very important to just carry on and not let stuff like that get to you because if you start taking that stuff seriously it’s going to affect your thinking.

Sian and I - post interview
Just out of curiosity, where and when did you first meet the rest of the band?

Sian: Well we all just kind of met at Soundcity in Liverpool. I think Keiran was stage manager for one of the stages and Joe was in one of the bands playing and then me and Sam had been house mates for a few years but we were just there because we go every year pretty much. I can't remember the exact circumstances though but we just started talking and chatting to Kieran and he was like I need to get a band together and yeah it was just one of those weird coincidences because NAME played bass, NAME played guitar and then I learnt the drums.

Oh, did you not initially play the drums then? 

Sian: Well yeah I did but I hadn't played in a while, so I was a bit rusty and just had to try and get back up to speed really but that was good motivation 

It seems like you've been on the road a lot. How does it differ from doing very little? 

Sian: Well I was gagging for it. I was on the doll so I basically felt like my whole life was just on hold so when this opportunity came along I was just like, 'yeah let's go!' I was totally ready for it.

What do you do in between shows to keep yourself occupied on your?

Sian: Mainly just music man - we literally just eat music all day, everyday. Although we do all like different stuff so we all just sit there each with our headphones on in the van. But, aside from that Arnie films are a big thing in the van now because we've just got a TV in the van, so we're kind of going through a load of crap action films - we watched The 6th Day the other day. 

So how has this particular tour been so far? Would you say it's differed from the previous ones you've done seeing as you've now gained a solid, dedicated fanbase -whereas before people were perhaps going to the shows purely because of the hype surrounding you?

Sian: Yeah this tour has definitely been different because before, we were just trying to win people over, but I'm now we have a proper following ya know and there is an audience there that want to see us so that's a big difference. Obviously a lot of the time before, we were on a support tour as opposed to stepping out every night to a crowd that's actually there to specifically see you - so that's a big difference and you get such a rush! 

Do you feel like you have to try that little bit harder when you are supporting a band and are trying to win over their audience? Because you've supported The Libertines, The 1975, Metronomy. 

Sian: Yeah man a bit, but I think regardless of the crowd that's out there our attitude towards it is that we just have to give it everything and that kind of comes from the fact that we just really wanted to earn it and although we just wanted to put out boss records, we really wanted to become renowned for being a live band that you actually want to go and see so yeah whoever the crowd is, it doesn't matter really.

Tomorrow night will be the first of two homecoming shows for you in Liverpool - the first being at The Kazimer and the second being a support slot with The Courteeners at the Echo Arena. How are you feeling about those shows? Specifically the one at the Kazimer? Anxious? Nervous? Or excited?

Sian: I am well excited mate for the Kaz show - that's like one of my favourite venues ever and it's definitely one of the best in Liverpool for sure but I've never played there - I've just seen so many sick gigs there. It's like a really cool and quirky space I think it's like in an old synagogue so it's like circular and the standing area at the bottom is all raised in different places so you can see everyone all the time. It's a really inclusive venue and it's really cost and lovely.

So you are more excited for it then than nervous seeing as it's a homecoming show? Because when I've spoke to a couple of bands before, they said how they hated playing homecoming shows because like all there family will be there and people they know etc so they can't mess us!

Sian: Not at all man - I'm well up for it and it's definitely going to go off! But then again I guess in that respect I do get a little bit more nervous than I do at the other shows because all your mates are there and they are all in bands and play around Liverpool so yeah I guess if you do have a bit of a shit gig, then you are kind of laid bare a little bit! 

You recently supported The Libertines and know Keiran was a big fan of The Libertines obviously long before you played with them. Was you a big Libs fan and what was it like to be asked to support them.

Sian: Well I kind of got I to them quite late actually, because I used to be a bit of a mosher back in the day haha. But man it was surreal because ya know, it's the Libertines! Regardless of what you are into when they are about - it's just a name that rings out with the notoriety. They are iconic! They just an iconic band with a great personality and the history of it is so well documented that it's a surreal thing almost to be involved and invited into that world and yeah it was really cool man. 

Was the whole thing a little more daunting as well considering the magnitude of the shows - in regards to the fact that they were like the Libertines' comeback shows?

Sian: Yeah but I think the most daunting thing was just being in the presence of them. 

How were Carl and Pete backstage then? Because obviously everyone says they are getting on great at the moment but when you are obviously actually there with them you can truly see for yourself.

Sian: Well, we were quite lucky actually because our tour manager, Gary, was the guitarist in The Bandits and used to gig a lot with The Libertines back in the day so being introduced to them was a little easier because we had that sort of, common ground in the form of Gary. Which was cool, because it meant that we weren't just these like starry-eyed kids shouting, 'OH MY GOD IT'S FUCKING PETE DOHERTY!'. But honestly, they were really so, so nice to us and they were really welcoming. They were just really nice and encouraging and they even watched our show. Then when we played a show in Amsterdam with them, after the show they invited us back into their dressing room and they were just there like, 'hey guys, do you want some food? Here have some champagne!' - they were just so fucking nice and that was really amazing for us. But, seeing the relationship between Carl and Pete in the flesh after having read so much that's been written about it and seeing how they interact was pretty cool and I didn't see anything that would suggest that they aren't getting on. But just with their closeness, you can feel the bond that they have got and there is a proper love between them and despite what has been written and sometimes twisted about it, you could just see that they really do have a special relationship which was really cool to see in the flesh. 

You also supported The 1975 at Alexandra Palace, the night after playing there with The Libertines. Which night would you say was better?

Sian: I'd say The Libertines, because it was our first shows with them and obviously we love the band - it was just sick to say that we're are playing with The Libertines. 

Okay, so in May you said that you were getting ready to record your debut album. Can you give us any update on that? Is it finished yet?

Sian: Yeah, the album is very close to being finished, but I guess yeah it's pretty much done. We recorded it in June, but we are going back into the studio at the end of this month after this run of shows to lay down a couple more tracks for it because since then, we have wrote a few more songs that we think are alright and are good enough to go on the album. So, yeah we are just kind of still mucking about with like the final few things, but we are hoping to release it early next year - February or March time. 

Finally, for people who have never been to a Circa Waves show, what can they expect if they find themselves at one?

Sian: That's always such a hard question that one! Erm, probably play some music and talk in-between songs? haha no no I'm joking. It's all energy man. We just try and project energy and make it as fucking lively and as exciting as possible. And it's really cool now because we are getting to that point where the energy is like being reciprocated from the crowd as well which is like, beautiful. For example, when we played our first sold-out show at The Gorilla in Manchester, walking onstage and hearing the sound of the crowd was amazing and it just sort of feeds you and it's getting more visceral as we go along. 

Listen to Circa Waves' latest single, Fossils, below:


Interview by George Henry King

@Georgehenryking
www.georgehenryking.com