Sunday, 23 September 2012

Interview with Russian Circles (22-09-12)

Last week Liveinphotos had an exclusive interview with ‘Russian Circles’: Juan J. Cruz, Editor, had a pretty interesting Q/A session with Brian Cook, bass player and former member of the Seattle post hardcore band ‘TheseArms are Snakes’. Read below to see what he has to say.

Russian Circles
Photo(c) Russian Circles.

Juan J. C. - What´s Russian Circles all about?

Brian C.-I don't know. I'm still trying to figure that out too.

JC.- When I did a Google search on your latest release ‘Empros’, the  first result was a Russian website. Tell us more about this album.

BC.- That's strange because Empros is a Greek word. It means "onward". Maybe Google took you to one of those Russian pirate mp3 sites that gives away our record for free.

JC.- For those who aren´t familiar with Russian Circles, could you cite  a few albums to listen before jumping straight into your sound?

BC.- Are you asking me to cite a few of our albums that would serve as a proper introduction to our sound, or albums by other bands people should listen to before listening to us? If any readers are hesitant about jumping straight into our sound, I’m not really sure what i can do to allay their trepidation. They should just toughen up and listen to Empros, since it's our newest album and therefore the most representative of where we are creatively at the moment. If you're asking what other bands people should listen to before listening to us, my answer would be "none of them."

JC.- How did joining Russian Circles after playing with These Arms are Snakes affect your playing style and what did you bring to your current band?

BC.- I had to learn a little restraint with Russian Circles. With Snakes, it was pretty much full-volume all the time. I had to learn how to scale things back, how to fill up the sonic space in a way that was more subtle. Also, a lot of the Snakes material was originally written around bass lines, so the bass tended to be more of a lead instrument, with a lot of the bass lines being on upper octaves. It worked well with Ryan's guitar playing, which typically occupied a lot of the upper octaves on the guitar. We were the opposite of a heavy band in some respects, because we played on the upper notes of the guitar more than chugging around on the bottom frets. With Circles, the material always starts with Mike's guitar parts, and so my job is to help fill things out in the mix instead of showboating around like some sort of third-rate Geddy Lee. In terms of what I brought to the band, that's hard to say. I feel like Colin, the original bass player, was really ambitious with his bass lines, playing all over the neck and setting loops, and a lot of times he resided in the same frequency range as Mike, so a lot of what he did kind of blended into the guitar. When I joined, I wanted the bass to always be distinctive. Even if the listener isn't always aware that what they're hearing is bass guitar, I want it to pop out from what Mike is doing. I was less concerned with things being complicated and busy and more interested in figuring out how I could find really basic note progressions that could carry through the whole song. our songs tend to be long and full of changes, so we've always felt it's important to have repeating themes in the song, so that there's some sort of cohesion to the material instead of just like "here's seven-and-a-half minutes worth of riffs we clumped together."

JC.- Russian Circles was born in Chicago and These Arms are Snakes was a Seattle band. How does this combination of cities translate into Russian Circles?

Mike and Dave are upbeat, outgoing Midwestern types. I'm the typical reserved, passive-aggressive Seattle stereotype. I just left a note on our neighbor's car last night telling them to fix their starter or alternator or whatever because I’m tired of waking up to him fiddling with his ignition and revving his engine for 15 minutes every morning right outside my window and having my whole apartment fill up with the smell of exhaust. Mike and Dave would probably roll out of bed and be all "hey man, everything alright with your car?". How does this translate into Russian Circles? I have no idea.

JC.- What should we expect of one of your live shows?

BC.- Three guys on stage. Amps and drums. Loud noises. People taking low-quality videos on their cellphones that they'll upload to YouTube instead of just living in the moment. People taking low-quality photos on their cellphones that they'll upload to Instagram with the Sierra filter and hashtag "showbrag" instead of just living in the moment. Dudes with beards. Dudes with tattoos. Dudes with girlfriends who look really bummed. Us doing our best to avoid eye contact with the crowd.

JC.- ‘Liveinphotos’ is a about documenting a part of Melbourne life. Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to doing in Melbs?

BC.- Drinking Coopers. Last time we played the Corner Hotel I ate kangaroo and I was surprised by how delicious it was, so hopefully I’ll do that again. #alcoholism #foodbrag

JC.- What´s the most critical situation you have ever had while on tour with Russian Circles?

BC.- We were in a pretty serious auto accident two years ago while we were on tour with Boris in the states. We were in Louisiana and some guy in a truck rear-ended us going about 50 miles per hour while we were at a dead stop. It totaled the trailer and the van and ruined a bunch of our gear. It pushed the van off the road and through about 100 feet of fencing. No one was hurt though, unless you count the gnarly rashes that broke out on our legs after we all accidentally stepped in a giant fire ant hill as we were leaving the accident site.

JC.- If you had to pick a band to go on a road tour with, that would be…


JC.- Any Australian band that you would recommend to a fan in America?

BC.- Hack. Particularly their "Rotten World Around Us" LP. Or Mournful Congregation. Or Drowning Horse. Or Scull Hazzards. Or anything Charles Tolnay played guitar on.

JC.- Thanks Brian, and good luck on Friday!

Russian circles will be playing at the Corner Hotel on Friday 28th September.

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