We first met Circa Waves in 2014 – it was a sweaty Sydney afternoon when the Liverpudlian rockers stopped by our offices for a chat around their debut Australian appearances for Splendour in the Grass. Already, the band had generated the type of hype and momentum that helped launch bands like Catfish and The Bottlemen to popular status in Australia and with their debut album Young Chasers, the young group firmly solidified their presence as a band to watch.
Fast forward to 2017 and the band has gained much territory since that last meeting of ours. They’ve become festival favourites across the UK, Europe and the US, while their status as a headliner has also continued to strengthen. Their new album Different Creatures, released in March, signalled a decidedly heavier tone that coloured Circa Waves’ new jaunt forward and as it has proven – it’s a change in sound that has resonated well with fans.
Speaking with frontman Kieron Shuddall, he acknowledges the huge ambition that drove Different Creatures and how embracing it affected Circa Waves’ dynamic.
“I’d already demoed the album pretty intensively over the first four, five months of 2016,” he remembers. “I had every track sounding quite big and bold and in your face. Then, the first few days working with Alan Moulder was the moment when I realised that it had gone to the next level. It had gone to that point where it was becoming a record that could be something that comes around once in a generation, in terms of rock and roll records. I wanted to hear the sounds Alan Moulder was getting and the belief that it put inside of me and inside of all our band was incredible. It set our ambition from being happy with the record to going, ‘This could be the biggest rock record in Britain for a long time’.”
“The record suits the way we are as a live band as well.” Shuddall adds. “We always give everything we’ve got at every gig; we’re not a band who stands still. We move around and we play every gig like it’s our last. I think this record really matches that as well. We really want people to watch our gigs and to go away and for kids to start bands when they see our gigs. We want to affect people’s lives with our shows, because it’s doable. It happened to me when I was a kid when I saw Arctic Monkeys for the first time. I started a band straight away. I want that to happen with us.”
The confidence with which Shuddall speaks of the band’s latest efforts is commendable; it’s not often I’ll hear a musician speak so openly about the levels their records have the potential to reach. Perhaps it’s that intrinsic cynicism that belies a quiet confidence in achievement that Australians share with the British, but talking with Shuddall about Different Creatures, there is none of this. The album, in his eyes, is a game changer for Circa Waves, and it’s one the fans feel too.
“It feels like the reaction has been so much more accepting and stronger than I had even imagined it could be, really.” he admits. “It is such a change in pace [for us], a heavier sound. People have welcomed it with open arms and the reaction has been a lot stronger than with a lot of the first record stuff. It was really cool and I do think that it’s the record that could get us to the point where we are playing to a crowd of 10,000 people, if we want to. I’m happy with it.”
“We haven’t done that many [shows],” Shuddall says, as the band is in the early days of their new tour cycle. “But the Alexandra Palace ones were amazing. Those sorts of venues are what we want to be headlining. I think we just pretended it was our headline show, to be honest. We took on the crowd as if it was our own. Plenty of people have said that at times, it felt like it was our headline show and one day I think we will get to that level and maybe push even higher than that. It was a good confidence builder for us.”
Turning attention to Circa Waves’ place within the fabric of British rock music continuing to weave and find itself surging forward again, Shuddall comments on how the genre is developing and how their band fits in among it all.
“I don’t feel like that there is anyone who is doing rock in such a musical way that we are, in terms of having that intensity and heaviness, but also having those tunes to back it up.” he says. ” I know there are groups doing it, but I don’t know if there’s anyone who has released a record with 11 tracks, where every one is distinctive – where there’s a song that will mean something massive to someone.”
“I mean, albums have maybe four or five good tunes and then five or six average tunes – I think this is where our album is going to stand out from the rest of the pack. It’s so consistent all the way through, the level never drops in terms of how powerful the songs are, I think. I think there are good bands; there are bands like Royal Blood and Catfish and the Bottlemen, who are waving the flag for rock, but I don’t think anyone has created a rock record as strong as ours.”
With a huge run of shows on home turf and abroad in the US still to play out, Shuddall has remained enthusiastic about how this new material stands to roll out live.
“The difference in playing the old album to the new album is like night and day.” he explains. “The passion that comes out of people from this new stuff is incredible; I can’t wait to see how it evolves over festival season and how it evolves over our tour. The great thing about the first record we put out was that it was a summery sort of record, it was almost euphoria inducing. You could feel the crowd clearly smiling. With this record, when we play the songs it’s like a release. This powerful release; you see kids just losing their minds. I feel like it can blow away any bad feeling that you’ve felt that week or whatever. It’s incredible. I’m so looking forward to being able to do that more.”
Different Creatures is out now.