Discover more from Volatile Weekly
Interview: Circus Wolves
[gallery type="slideshow" link="none" size="full" ids="120072,120073"]
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
We all got into music in different ways really. Some of us are from really musical families and some of us just fell in love with the tunes that we heard growing up. It’s cool because everyone’s background bring a different way of thinking about writing music and there’s always new music to listen to.
What would we be doing today... we all still have day jobs so day-to-day probably not much different.
But we wouldn’t have met, so things would be very different in that sense. Jack joined the band through an ad on Gumtree and Ben joined through something similar, JoinMyBand I think.
What do you like to do when you’re not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
We’ve all got loads of different hobbies outside of Circus Wolves. There are some big football fans within the band, so that would certainly be up there. A few of us a keen record collectors too, which really gets the creative juices flowing when it comes to new music. Jim’s into Ju-Jitsu, Ben’s into cycling, Jack’s into design and animation, Guys into Man City and Cam knows his way around a kitchen.
How long has your band been around?
We’ve been around as Circus Wolves since we formed in 2013. Before then, Guy, Cam and Jack performed in another band called Plastic Rabbits whilst at Uni in Leeds.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re a Manchester band through and through. The Manchester scene has a well-deserved reputation as home to some of the best acts going. The music scene is just as amazing as it always has been. There are so many great artists basing themselves within this city. You’re really spoilt for choice! Bands like Kashmere, Deja Vega, Ist Ist and Saytr Play are definitely ones to watch! Manchester also obviously has a rich cultral and musical heritage that has helped shape our sound. A few have noticed elements of Joy Division and The Smiths in what we do, which doesn’t come as a big surprise considering how big a part the bands that came from this city have played in our musical upbringings. There’s also some great venues in Manchester where you can really get caught up in the scene. Night & Day Café, Jimmy’s Bar (RIP - can’t wait for the new one to open) and Deaf Institute are all favourites of ours.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
During the Leeds days, we would frequently host practice sessions at the Leeds rehearsal studio, Rock n Roll Circus. It is within Rock n Roll Circus that our first songs were crafted, and where we learnt to play together. We had our first gig coming up and we still hadn’t settled on a new name after the Plastic Rabbits moniker was ditched. Then it occurred to us that the Circus part would be a nice little nod to the rehearsal space where we developed as a band and wolves just seemed to fit as we’re a pretty tightly knit pack.
We went through absolutely loads of different names to begin with, some of them are quite cringeworthy to even think of. When we finally came up with the name Circus Wolves, it just felt right.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
We once picked up a gig in Leeds at what was the know as the Library. I think it’s called Lending Rooms now. Everything was going fine until ‘ping’ Jim, our guitarist breaks a string. We always bring a backup guitar so after a quick change we were back in business. Two minutes later ‘ping’ he breaks a string on the spare. No to worry though because one of the other bands had kindly offered to lend us his guitar. Two minute in and…. ‘ping’ he breaks a string on the third guitar. Jim is now banned from borrowing other people’s instruments..
We’ve played some awesome shows alongside some great bands in some ace venues. Performing on the same bill as a then up-and-coming Slow Readers Club back in 2016 in Leeds was a highlight for us, as was one of our early gigs at The Deaf Institute - a great venue. A recent highlight for us was headlining a sold out Night & Day cafe just a couple years after playing a support slot to a fairly empty room there.
Tell me about your favourite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
There are so many amazing venues about, especially in our home town of Manchester. We all have a real soft spot for Night & Day Café though and we’ve played some really memorable gigs there. The crowd is always full of energy.
We’d love to hit up some of the Manchester venues we’ve still not had a chance to play at yet once COVID-19 is behind us. Band on the Wall is one we like the sound of...
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
I think it’s hard to narrow it down because of our eclectic taste, but I think that David Bowie, The Smiths and The Strokes would be a good start! We’d love to do a big Manchester homecoming gig with some of our favourite artists from the city - Johnny Marr, Ist Ist, Slow Readers and New Order sounds like fun. Although to be honest, who doesn’t dream of a slot on the Pyramid Stage!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Just enjoy it. Don’t stress about things and don’t fall out over stuff with other band members. Love what you’re doing.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Practice more! And write as much as you can because most of the early stuff will be pretty shoddy, best getting that out the way as early as possible.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
To be honest each song we craft has a special place in our hearts. It’s like asking which of your children you love more! This is a tough one... when we wrote Infamy it felt like we hit upon a sound that felt our own, which I think we’ve developed and pushed further since, especially on our new EP. Pulling Teeth is the closing track of the record and that took a while to come together, but when we got there with it it felt pretty special and like we’d arrived at something.
Which songs are your favourite to play and which get requested the most?
At the moment, we’re all really into the sound that’s coming out of our latest EP. There’s a real mix of melodies in there, but the raw energy that comes from all the tracks is really addictive, especially when playing the tracks live. There are certainly some fan favourites out there. Some of our earlier music is still quite popular with the regular fans - we have a really old song called Hardly Cupid which is the only track not on Spotify that still gets regular rotation in our setlist.
We always work hard to put tonnes of energy into our live shows, so tracks such as our latest single ‘Hunt You Down’ and our upcoming single ‘Clarity’ are real drivers for us on stage. The ending of Pulling Teeth when we ramp up to that big finale is something we also all look forward to in the set.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
We’re very much a band that writes together. It helps bring the energy to the tracks. Normally one of us will bring an idea to the rest of the group. This could be a riff, a chord progression or just a melody idea. Then things build up from there. There are times when we’ve had to give up on ideas, but that’s the nature of the beast. Some ideas often resurface in new ways much later as well. Hunt You Down came from a chorus chord progression that was kicking around for about 4 years before we worked out what best to do with it. Worth the wait though.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
In terms of messages we keep it fairly vague on purpose. We aren’t a massively political band, and we like the listener to hear the music as it applies to them individually. We’re not overly positive, we’re not overly negative. The music is what we feel at the time and how that translates when we all come together.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Our producer once called us “the most bickering band that he has ever worked with.”
There are some very strong personalities in the band and that leads to a lot of debates! There’s a lot of love though and we always work things out in the end!
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
Our latest EP, “This Is Something You Can’t Replace” has just been released. The response so far has been amazing and we’re super proud of it. It’s a shame we can’t perform it live for people at the moment, but the response has been so overwhelming that it’s just inspired us to prepare for when we can and make it the best show that we’ve ever done. In the meantime, I guess we’ll start work on the next batch of songs... watch this space!