‘We just like making bangers’: Circa Waves talks new album, touring, vulnerability

Trisha Dasgupta, Senior Life&Arts Reporter

Earlier this year, indie rock band Circa Waves released their much-anticipated album, Never Going Under, their first project after the pandemic. Exploring themes of disillusionment and unhappiness, the album marks new song-writing territory for the Liverpool band, who say they’ve entered a new stage of their career that allows them to dig a little deeper. 

The Daily Texan sat down with the band before their South By Southwest showcase to discuss their new record, growing up and being back on tour. 

The Daily Texan: Can you talk about the emotions that come with putting out a new album?

Joe Falconer (guitarist): It’s really nice to be back because a lot of the record was made during lockdown. It’s one of those things where we’ve sat on it for quite a while, and now it’s finding its way out in the world. It feels great to be back.

DT: How has the album-making process changed for you guys throughout the years?

Sam Rourke (bassist): The biggest difference now is how much more involved Kieran (guitarist and lead vocals) is on the production side of things. Before we’d always go in, a producer was maybe more of a voice in the room, but in the last couple of albums, it’s been Kieran in the driving seat. 

Kieran Shudall: Just my voice now.

Colin Jones: It’s almost dictatorial. 

Rourke: It’s, like, a lot more focused. I think now (we’re) significantly more focused.

DT: There’s a juxtaposition between these heavier, sadder lyrics and the production, which is still quite upbeat and punchy. What made you want to go in that direction rather than a sad, alternative route?

Shudall: We’ve just always liked making bangers. I’ve always been a big fan of MGMT, they have ultimately really sad lyrics but you can still dance to it. It’s just a cool juxtaposition. I quite enjoy that feeling of sad euphoria. 

DT: There’s a lot of nostalgia and heavy themes, with songs like “Northern Town.” Would you say that this album process was more reflective than in the past?

Shudall: It’s certainly the most personal (record) in terms of lyrics. We’re talking more about our lives and, for me, being a dad. I think that’s just as you get older as a band as well. You want to talk more about stuff that means something to you. You are making music that is more reflective and personal.

DT: Is there any hesitation or doubt going to those vulnerable places and then putting it out?

Shudall: It’s always a bit nerve-racking, but with the support of (the band) it’s easier not to feel so scared.

Falconer: The song on the album, “Living in the Grey” was something Kieran had written about before, but we didn’t put it out. Now, it’s a time in our career when we can be a bit more vulnerable and release songs like that. The response has been really great. It’s those songs that I’ve noticed fans really relate to. 

DT: What songs from the new album are you most excited to play live?

Rourke: “Carry You Home.” It has this massive bassline which, for me, is rather fun. 

Jones: “Hell On Earth” is a lot of fun because of the tempo. There’s a sense in the room that everyone needs it because the song is about how during COVID, it really felt like hell on earth. You can see that significant sense of relief in the audience.