Circa Survive’s Anthony Green: ‘The Amulet’ Album Is Like Therapy for Us [Interview]
Circa Survive continue to be one of the more prolific acts in rock, as they unleash their sixth studio album The Amulet today (Sept. 22). The disc is one of those you'll want to put on your headphones and get lost in, as the band takes you on a journey through loss of innocence and acceptance.
We recently had a chance to speak with vocalist Anthony Green about the band's latest album and he shared his passion for the music that the band is creating in the moment. The singer also offers insights on some of the album's key tracks, expresses his thoughts on delivering a full album experience and talks up the group's upcoming tour with Thrice. Check out the chat below.
This album has such a great feel to it and it's so tight and concise. Was there a clear plan on what you wanted to do going into this?
There's never really a plan because I feel like going into things the more you try to plan sometimes, the more it can be stifling. So, we like to go in and play the studio and use the studio and use each other and kind of ... we follow the leader in music and what the music kind of leads us to.
It seems like you're really passionate and thrilled about what you guys have done. What makes The Amulet such a special disc for you personally?
I am just waking up after a whole life of feeling very numb to things because I couldn't be in my own body, so being able to have a music career and put out music and write out songs that I feel terrified of or that I'm essentially seeing as poetry about things that I feel bad about and telling people that I don't like who I am and that I don't like the world around me, and reaching out to people like that, is incredible you know. And it's not that The Amulet is any more important than any other record, it's just that The Amulet represents us right now.
We're not writing songs about a character. This is like therapy for us. We're not casual music listeners, I'm a music connoisseur. I love that feeling. You said, 'Oh, that record gives me a great feeling,' that's everything to me. It's my favorite thing in the world. It's like a drug. And so, The Amulet for me, it's about things that are going on in my life right now. It's about my fear of the end of the world, it's about my fear of money, it's about intrigue with death and birth and it's about sex and it's about violence and everything that's going on in the world right now.
I can't say that there's something quantifying or special about it that's different from any other expression of alienation or loneliness, but this is what's happening right now, so that's why it's so special to me. Being a person who is in a perpetual state of creating, I'm only as excited about something that's right in front of me and I get that sudden jolt and rush of it and I want a new thing. So, I feel like if anything, The Amulet is the first album that we've ever put out that had a fully resolved feeling to it. It's almost like a, not a message of hope, but sort of a message of acceptance.
Listening to a lot of these songs I'm catching a lot of loss of innocence but also still being able to move forward. Was there any particular thing that sparked this or did you notice at any point where all the themes were starting to come together?
There are a bunch of things happening in my life over the last few years, things that have inspired songs on the record that, well, I can't discuss them openly because I feel like there is too many people involved and at some point, you can't put other people in the line of fire. And when there is stuff that I'm processing on our albums that are about other people in my life, it's one thing to go out and say, 'Hey this is about me getting clean from drugs or my depression or my whatever,' which it's all about, but there are other things involved there that it's just too personal.
Understood. The introduction for a lot of people on this record was "Lustration." What a great statement to start off the record. Where was that in the process of putting that album together and can you discuss how it came about?
Well, we may go into a video with some ideas and scraps and we'll put them together and "Lustration" I think was an idea that came from the band's playing together and all of us had been wanting to try new things. Steve was always pushing himself to play more complex drumbeats, Brendan and Colin are always pushing themselves to create a vibe, ya know. Nick is always working so close with Steve to help lock down the groove and I've been wanting to try to sing with more of my head voice and try to capture a live vibe on our records and just kind of train my voice to be a little more delicate at times to have that diversity going from screaming, yelling to like a beautiful ethereal, almost a falsetto thing.
So we just use our album as a means of practicing and getting better at our craft, practicing communicating with each other. We practice communicating with the muse and honing our inspiration, being in the moment and using what is happening in our day -- fear of my awful father or a terrible husband. Something is happening and making something out of it, truly processing it in that way, you cannot fail doing that.
It doesn't matter how much money you make or it doesn't matter if people like it or not, you are a successful musician if you're able to communicate those things. If you're able to say those things and feel those feelings, those chills you got from listening to the record, those chills are - they're available at all times. You can make those things. You can create something that gives you that feeling, and to me, that is what makes a song or a record or a moment worthwhile. That kind of lives outside of the record and outside of the recording. There's stages across the world. There are moments for you to see the thing you have been hearing and studying. That's what this band is about for me.
The record is an incredible blueprint of what we were going through and it's like a post-it note, but I'm telling you, come see us perform these songs. It's like the difference between getting a lyric sheet and have me sing you the lyrics. The record is awesome and incredible, but it's recorded. It's static, it's never changing.
But what I like about the songs is that it's ever changing and growing. Live music is being in the moment and it's what I cherish about what I do. I love the idea that people get stoked and get those chills from records because that's what always got me into wanting to go see a band live.
Let's talk about that. The live experience ... I've read in past interviews that you talk about feeling possessed by this new music. Are there certain songs on this album that you'll really expect to have an impact on you and how they're performed live?
We were playing "Lustration" on this recent tour with AFI and it was my favorite song to play. It just moves me. We've played the song "The Amulet" for our VIPs. I'll sit down and honestly nothing makes me feel better right now than playing those songs.
Also, you talk about the full album experience. I have to give you guys credit, it's a great listening experience, top to bottom. You just put it on and it feels like you're taken on a journey here.
That's what we [go for]. We go to records to go on a journey. I go to music for escapism, you know? So I'm not going to write a couple of songs and then put a bunch of filler songs on just to have a record. People don't buy records anymore, they don't give a s--t about that experience, except the crazy music connoisseurs. I feel like that is who we make music for, I feel comfortable with that.
I appreciate that. Changing gears, the "Rites of Investiture" video from earlier this year was one of the more fascinating clips I've seen this year. How cool is it to see your self way back at 12 now in a music video? [laughs]
It's pretty crazy. I had the idea of using the footage. I had this idea before we even knew about the song. Like, the song wasn't even written. I wanted to find the footage and make a video out of it. The song itself is sort of about the birth of my son Jack and just about bringing children into the world and giving birth. The act of labor. It's funny that a young version of myself is in there and I'm enormous.
Is there any piece of advice you'd give to the 12-year-old Anthony about what the future held in store for him and where to go with the music?
If I could go back to 12-year-old Anthony, I would tell him to never waste his time questioning his instincts and always follow his gut. It will never ever serve you wrong.
One of my favorite videos this year is "The Amulet" fireworks video you guys did. Is there a story about how that came together?
We were in Fargo, N.D. and we had a day off. Our videographer and I and our guitar tech Brad and our production assistant Haley were all looking for stuff to do in Fargo and they had a fireworks convention. All the fireworks companies from all over the country were there displaying all their new s--t. We went and we were like, ":et's bring this camera and see what happens" and I bought this tiny zoom box and we spent the whole time kind of guerrilla style shooting some s--t. It ended up looking so cool.
I'm the type of person that never wants to sing to the camera anymore. It just makes me feel weird to do that as an older man. But I was so into it! I had such a fun time. The song itself is very much about life and how you just burst in, burn bright and then you fade out and then you're gone. The song is sort of an anti-suicide song in a way and having it be a fireworks thing where like, we're so represented by these flashes of these glorious fleeting moments. I thought it was so purposely accidentally, very differently poetic. The universe just made it for us. It was this beautiful thing.
If anything, I would tell the 12-year-old me, stop worrying about how you look, don't worry about how you look. It doesn't matter if you're fat, doesn't matter if people think you're ugly. Don't worry about that, all that matters is if you're a good person and take care of people. That's what I would tell him ... and to follow your instincts. And to maybe not eat so much pizza all the time.
Yeah, but pizza's so good!
It's is. (laughs)
For you, favorite song or a personal song on this record. One that really kind of stands out as a favorite?
I really love "Tunnel Vision." I love "The Hex." Honestly there's not something that stands out. I literally love every song on this record. No joke. I cannot wait to play and say all of these things.
I thought the album art was quite striking as well. I wanted to give you a chance to credit who did that and if you want to discuss if there was any direction given?
Esao Andrews, he does all of our artwork and he is just phenomenal. He is just a visual counterpart to the band. He'll take the lyrics and the music and he'll put it into a visual concept for us.
He made it very much like a sign of acceptance and a beacon. Like hey, it's all going to be balanced out. It's not going to be fine, or great, but balanced out. Bad and good, up and down, left and right. Heartbeats on a monitor going up and down. And so if you don't forget that, and s--t is really bad, it's OK because it's gonna get better. Then when s--t is really good you gotta be like, wow I have to hold on tight.
It's kind of freeing that way, knowing this f--king s--t is going to happen! You just don't give a f--k and roll with it, one foot in front of the other and keep loving. It doesn't mean your life is going to be good or anything good is going to happen, or you're going to get what you want. But you have everything you need, once you quiet down and you stop searching you realize that.
Also wanted to ask about Circa Survive and Thrice playing this fall. Thoughts on Thrice and the past relationship you have with those guys? Anything you can share on the tour?
They've always been a huge influence on us. They brought us to Europe with them for our first time. We've toured with them a lot. They're great guys. They're also music connoisseurs. They are people who get a lot out of playing live music and putting themselves into it and, they're another band that -- they're not playing a role. They're playing songs about life, the devil, about God, about their anxiety, about that they're not alone. I just want to align myself with people like that, with bands like that, with artists that who are that passionate. We're so fortunate to have a relationship, so many great friends and people who are going to be on that tour. I've been wanting to do a tour with Thrice for a long time. It's really going to be cool. Plus we're all old and so it's gonna be mellow. [laughs]
I also wanted to get an update. Obviously Circa Survive is going to take up plenty of your time here, but have you already started thinking about the next solo record?
I have a solo record 99 percent done. I'm going to put that out early next year. I'm working on some Saosin songs. I'm working on Circa. Literally just today we decided we're going to try and write some new material and put it out as soon as we're ready to when this record cycle is up -- start releasing some songs here and there. I honestly, I never intend to stop making music until people get super sick of me and I can't do it anymore.
Prolific, just keep it rolling.
Our thanks to Circa Survive's Anthony Green for the interview. The band's new album 'The Amulet' arrives today (Sept. 22) and you can pick up a copy here. Be sure to catch Circa Survive on tour with Thrice later this fall. Dates can be found here.
Circa Survive, The Amulet Artwork
Circa Survive, "The Amulet"
Circa Survive, "Rites of Investiture"
Circa Survive, "Lustration"
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