|Circle Pit's Jack Mannix & Angela Bermuda|
WDS - Thanks so much for chatting with me from the other side of the world. I think I got a handle on how this project came together from reading other interviews. I’m a bit more curious about the shift in sound from the songs on 2010’s The Bruise Constellation and your recent 7” release “Slave/Honey” on Hardly Art. It really threw me – in a really good way – could you talk about the shift in songwriting?
Circle Pit - For us, the only major difference in song-writing for this 7" was the fact that we came to each-other with an almost-finished song each, “Slave” was mostly written by Jack, and “Honey” by Angie, although we collaborated on lyrics and wrote/played guitar solos for each others' songs, whereas for the most part on Bruise Constellation the songs were written collaboratively. We didn't really feel that the songs themselves were so different to the slower material on the LP, more so that the instrumentation and production was more lush, glamorous and polished. We approached the recording of this single differently to previous releases. We've always dreamed of the luxury afforded by having a nice studio and time at our disposal, but previously this hasn't been possible, and so most of our recordings up until this point were done live with a band, with few overdubs and re-takes. This time, however, it was just the two of us, and Harriet, and we had 2 days in a nice space, with amazing instruments to focus on just 2 songs, whereas we had the same amount of time, in a smaller studio, to do the entire first LP.
WDS - So many reviews use words like “Brutal”, “Gutter”, and “Savage” to describe your sound but while that may be a component, I always heard some hints at this recent recording. Do you think this represents a “sea change” or transition away from the more bare bones attack of your earlier material?
Circle Pit - We constantly drift between sounds and aesthetics, while still remaining true to ourselves and what we want to express. Previously we've explored more immediate, “savage” recording styles and sounds, and while this is something we still enjoy, and want to explore further, for now we're more interested in exploring the possibilities of clean, “hi-fi” production, because in some ways it makes the song more vulnerable - unable to hide behind the haze and grit of a “lo-fi” recording. We'd like to think that our songs can stand alone, that they don't inherently owe their impact to the way in which they're recorded.
|This is what a band should look like.|
Circle Pit - We were entirely conscious of what we were doing, and how it would differ from previous releases. We went into the recording process knowing that this would be the most widely distributed release so far, and our first with Hardly Art, Sub Pop's new-ish more 'experimental' imprint. We've always wanted to do a more polished recording, so we took this almost as a challenge to ourselves, to see what we are capable of when we work with a producer, in a fancy studio. Previously, not much focus has been placed on the vocals in our recordings, which was always a result of the conditions under which we were recording, and not a conscious decision - the vocals and lyrics have always been one of the most important elements of our songs, so this time we made sure that we were able to do them justice and spend more time getting that aspect of things “right”.
WDS - A lot gets mentioned of the “drug haze” that contributed to the making of The Bruise Constellataion, you could say that this recording almost sounds like the result of a binge on different kinds of drugs. What or who were some of the inspirations for the songs “Slave” and “Honey”?
|Their songs are Duvet's drug of choice.|
WDS - There are harmonies that were maybe hinted at before but in a sense avoided on earlier songs. You must have known that you two could sing beautifully together. Were you ever worried that these types of songs might alienate certain fans from what they had come to expect as “Circle Pit”?
Circle Pit - To be honest, I wouldn't go so far as to say that we “knew” we could sing together beautifully, but having recorded this single its safe to say that we're more confident in our singing and interested in exploring that further. We don't worry about things like alienating fans of our previous work, we celebrate that notion - we want to continually challenge people's perceptions of us, and what “Circle Pit” can mean, and sound like.
WDS - What inspires or informs your approach to songwriting across all your releases?
Circle Pit - Instict, Honesty, Beauty, Chance, Accidents, Freedom, Friendship, Love and Hell.
WDS - I know you were in the US for some shows, how important is it to “make it here”? Or, is America not as big as it used to be in terms of a barometer of “having success”?
Circle Pit - We honestly don't think much about “making it” anywhere. We do what we do because we love it, and while we're not afraid or turned-off by the idea of success, it isn't what motivates us to make music together. We don't plan things very far ahead, things seem to just happen to us, and so we roll with the punches. The reason we came to America for our first international tour was because that was where the most interest seemed to come from, in terms of labels and fan base, but we want to travel the entire world together, playing shows or not, so it was just the first of many overseas trips.
WDS - Australia legendarily has one of the toughest club circuits (perhaps the toughest) anywhere in the world), could you talk a little bit about what it’s like making an name for yourself there?
Circle Pit - I wouldn't say that we have a “tough club circuit” per se, but it is a hard place to tour in the sense that the next major city is at least a 12-hour drive away from wherever you might be. The Australian music scene/industry is a strange beast in that, unlike in Europe or the USA, there's no mid-level infrastructure for independent bands - you're either completely underground or DIY, or you're on a sucky major label. So there's a huge gap in that sense, but it means that bands like us, and our friends, are all very supportive of each-other and its almost like a huge, broken family stretching across our wide brown land. Having said that, there's this phenomenon in Australia, that I'm sure exists everywhere but seems more prevalent here, known as “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, where people seem to want to cut you down at the first sign of what they deem success. This doesn't really exist amongst the family that we mentioned, but seems to come more from the group of people who remain unsigned, but dream of instant mainstream popularity, and when they see a band that is typically considered 'underground' gaining recognition from other parts of the world, or 'big' independent labels, they feel jealous or something. This is so evident on the internet especially, and for some strange reason we seem to have been targeted more so than other bands of our ilk in similar places.
|The sky is the limit for Aussie duo...|
Circle Pit - Naked On The Vague, Blank Realm, Fabulous Diamonds, Holy Balm, St. Helens, Lost Animal, The Garbage And The Flowers, Kitchen's Floor.
WDS - You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you listen to a lot of Classic Rock and that it has had an influence on you guys. How do you view the current state of Rock music? Are there still bands out there that capture what it is that you loved about that genre, besides Circle Pit, of course?
|Come and say, "Good day!"...we dare you.|
WDS - When I listen to the Bruise Constellation I hear an Iggy and the Stooges sensibility and danger to the music. I guess there is also that Seeds or 13th Floor Elevators garage-psych thread in their as well. Could you talk a bit about how you approach your guitar sound? To me it’s a perfect example of how guitar, distortion pedal, and amp with very little effects, playing a great riff is still exhilarating.
Circle Pit - We don't have many pedals because we can't afford them, and to be honest we don't really put much thought into guitar sounds and tone. On the album, we had Jai Morris-Smith on rhythm guitar, and I guess he was more interested in that stuff than the two of us - and he did a great job of it, but we've always just worked with what we have and while we know to an extent how we want things to sound (dirty, clean, trebly, whatever..) they don't always turn out exactly how we intend them to. We love wah pedals though, that's safe to say.
WDS - Lastly, what would you like to see happen with Circle Pit in the course of the next year or so?
Circle Pit - We've recently decided to take a break from playing live for the time-being, and after such a grueling year of touring last year we're excited to be hanging out as the two of us again, and getting back to where we were when we started. Things have come full-circle in a way, and at present we're just playing around in each other's bedrooms - writing, drawing, talking, and working towards future releases. We find more satisfaction in releasing an album than anything else, and so we'd like to release a few of those in the coming couple of years I guess. Maybe see some more of this insane world.
Ridiculous But Necessary Questions
What is your favorite cheese?
Jack - Haloumi
Angie - Tilba (a small NSw town) - particularly Ol' Bitey
Surfing or Football?
Angie - Surfing (hot boys)
Jack - That's really tough - but I guess I'll go with Football, but only Gridiron.
INXS or The Hard Ons?
Angie - Tiger-Lily
Jack - Paula
Moshing or Stagediving?
Angie - ON stage
Jack - Circle Pit
A month in the van with anyone (entirely open)?
Jack - Angie
Angie - Jack