Sound Advice: Circa Survive with RX Bandits and Citizen

Friday • Bogart’s

click to enlarge Circa Survive
Circa Survive

There is much wisdom that can be gleaned from the Toms. Tom Petty taught us long ago to listen to our hearts, because “it’s gonna tell (us) what to do. And Tom Cruise reminded us eloquently and succinctly, “Sometimes you’ve just gotta say, ‘What the fuck, make your move.’ ”

Eleven years ago, Anthony Green heeded those philosophical nuggets and momentously left his position as frontman of Post Hardcore outfit Saosin, which was on the verge of a major-label signing, and returned home to suburban Philadelphia. Upon arrival, Green contacted guitarist Colin Frangicetto, his friend and former drummer for This Day Forward, with which Green had briefly jammed during a visit home. The pair began recording and canvassing their circle of musician friends for people to round out the group, quickly adding ex-This Day Forward guitarist Brendan Ekstrom, ex-Taken bassist Nick Beard and drummer Steve Clifford. The original lineup of Circa Survive has remained intact since its 2004 formation.

Drawing on influences as varied as Prog, Art Rock, Pop and its Post Hardcore roots, as well as fascinating film and literary references, Circa Survive has unleashed a torrent of evocatively engaging releases over the past decade. Their 2005 debut, Juturna — named after the Roman goddess of fountains and springs to symbolize the renewal of the band’s members — revealed influences as diverse as King Crimson and Björk while taking inspiration from the novel House of Leaves, the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Edward Gorey short story, The Glorious Nosebleed. Circa Survive’s sophomore album, 2007’s On Letting Go, followed a similar sonic path and cracked Billboard’s Top 25 in album sales, which led to the band signing with Atlantic Records for its third album, the well-received and better-selling Blue Sky Noise. The 2010 album was also notable for Green’s candid and confessional lyrics about his struggle with mental illness.

After splitting with Atlantic, Circa Survive self-released 2012’s Violent Waves, an album that was at least somewhat defined by the band’s internal turmoil, including Green’s family tragedies, continuing mental instability and various substance issues. Just as Green decided to surrender to his addictions, Ekstrom convinced him to enter rehab, which turned Green’s life around completely. The recording of last year’s acclaimed Descensus, its Sumerian Records debut, began two months after Green’s rehab stint, as the rest of the band members were dealing with their own substance and personal problems. 

Defying logic and the odds, the experiences combined to unite the band, helping them make Descensus one of the cleanest, jazziest, heaviest, most psychedelic albums in its catalog. Want to know what makes Circa Survive tick? It’s right there in the last name.

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