Circa Waves frontman Kieran Shudall explains how the band’s thumping new album What’s It Like Over There? – a determined effort to shed any indie-rock constraints – unfolded for the Liverpudlian four-piece.
Your opening track What’s It Like Over There is only 20 seconds long, and serves as a kind of narrative intro. Why did you want to set the album up in this way?
We wanted to make something that set the scene for the album. The record is about our obsession with other things in the world. I wanted to create a person walking away from a beautiful beach scene and locking themselves away.
Your single Times Won’t Change Me and also Passport are very piano-centric songs. Were they both written on piano? What do you find the structural differences are between songs you’ve written on the piano versus ones written on guitar?
Times Won’t Change Me is the first song I ever wrote without any instruments. I created it in my head and then sang everything into my voice memo on my phone (never to see the light of day). When I got to the studio it was finished in my head so we just needed to record it. It was a mad experience and something I hope happens again. The studio we recorded in had two great pianos, so it was something we were always messing with. I think of piano as just another texture. Passport was written on guitar but played on piano.
Drums are indeed a “leading instrument” rather than a “follower” on the album. What was the catalyst for that outcome – did Colin stand on his desk and plead the case for his instrument, or did you thrust his unwilling butt into the spotlight?
Colin is our showman. I sometimes find it hard to play a gig as I’d rather just watch him play. Drums is something we both love. I’ve played since I was young and think a loud kick drum through a PA system is just about one of the most exciting things in the world. Guitar music is nothing without drums so I wanted to bring them to the foreground.
Although the album boasts very neat pop production, we can still occasionally hear details like the scrape of the piano stool or that metallic twang when someone lifts their fingers off the guitar strings. Why did you leave those bits in?
I grew up listening the Beatles, and have always been one to put headphones on and listen intently to hear the chatter between takes or the movement in the room. It draws you in and makes you part of the band. There’s nothing cooler than that.
What’s It Like Over There? is out April 5 via Prolifica/PIAS.
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