Tag Archive: “Russian Circles”

Chicago trio Russian Circles announced extensive U.S. headlining tour dates beginning in February 2014 in support of their recently released fifth album Memorial. Ken Mode support on all shows with Inter Arma on the first portion and recent Sargent House signing Helms Alee on the latter leg of tour. Please see complete dates below.

 

02/04  Iowa City, IA @ Gabe’s Oasis #

02/05  St. Louis, MO @ The Firebird #

02/07  Austin, TX @ Red 7 #

02/08  Dallas, TX @ Club Dada #

02/09  Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Upstairs #

02/10  New Orleans, LA @ The Parish @ House of Blues #

02/11  Tallahassee, FL @ Rehab #

02/12  Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub #

02/13  Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum #

02/14  Birmingham, AL @ WorkPlay Theatre #

02/15  Atlanta, GA @ The Earl #

02/17  Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle #

02/18  Washington DC @ The Rock and Roll Hotel #

02/19  Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts #

02/20  New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom #

02/21  Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East Downstairs #

02/22  Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus #

02/23  Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar #

02/24  Cleveland Heights, OH @ Grog Shop #

02/25  Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig #

02/27  Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club #

02/28  Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room #

03/01  Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre #

03/02  Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge #

03/03  Boise, ID @ Neurolux #

03/04  Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s *

03/05  Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom *

03/07  San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall *

03/09  San Diego, CA @ The Casbah *

03/10  Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre *

03/12  Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom *

03/13  Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad *

03/14  Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory *

03/15  Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar *

03/16  Chicago, IL @ Metro *

# w/ Ken Mode, Inter Arma

* w/ Helms Alee, Ken Mode

Russian Circles

Russian Circles

By Blake Garris

Chicago’s Russian Circles has been described as instrumental, metal and even post-rock but any characterization abandons the subtle nuances of their music between the loud and soft or the chaos and redemption.  The new album Memorial, their fifth full length in total, captures this ideal even more so than before where the beauty lies in transition.

Ghettoblaster recently spoke with Russian Circles’ Mike Sullivan about this new record, the music scene in Chicago and even how Step Brothers should have won an Oscar. This is what they said.

There seems to be a harder and more emotional edge on this album than previous Russian Circles works. Can you explain where your mindset was during the making of this record?

I don’t think there’s much to explain, really.  We don’t write records with a preconceived notion of what we’re going to create.  There are some minor variables that might be considered on the front end — in this instance I know there was some talk of emphasizing groove over technicality — but generally it’s just a matter of finding sounds that resonate with us at the time and I don’t think that’s something we can usually articulate.

There has been a resurgence in the popularity of instrumental music in the past decade or so between yourselves, Explosions In The Sky and even some of Mogwai’s work. First off, what do you think the catalyst for that was and secondly where do you see instrumental music headed?

There are a lot of decent math rock bands that are rendered pretty dull and monotonous by their vocalists.  And there are a lot of metal bands that come across as totally absurd because of their singers.  So much of that music is based around the instrumentation and the vocals are almost like an afterthought — a compulsory element.  I think folks just finally realized how unnecessary singers can be.  Not that I’m advocating for bands to forgo vocals, but I just think that they can sometimes ruin an otherwise great band.  And I’m saying this as a guy that rallies behind David Berman’s “all my favorite singers couldn’t sing” motto. Anyways, I have no idea what the future holds for instrumental music.  I imagine we’ll see a lot more of it though.

That being said, you do have a few tracks in your discography with vocals. What is the decision making process behind that?

Nothing is off the table for us. “Praise Be Man” was an old demo of mine that was never intended for Russian Circles, but I shared it with the guys and they wanted to use it.  “Memorial” was definitely written with the intention of having Chelsea Wolfe contribute a vocal melody. So our two forays into singing had very different creative processes involved.

It’s been said that the new album is more polarizing than ever, between heavy and quiet. To you, which sound is the most powerful?

I really enjoy writing and recording the quieter moments.  Hearing those moments come together in the studio is really satisfying. But in the live setting, I think we all gravitate towards the heavier material just because it’s so much more visceral.  But ultimately, I think their power is linked.  The quiet parts make the heavier parts seem that much more aggressive while the heavy parts make the quiet parts more serene.

You put on a really wonderful stage show. Can you explain to fans what they could expect from your upcoming tour?

Thanks.  No tricks live.  Just three people facing one direction and a couple hundred others facing the exact opposite direction.  We’ll be playing a mixture of old and new material.

You’re from Chicago. Can you describe what the music scene is like there?

The thing I love about Chicago is how diverse and supportive the scene is.  So many great venues and clubs that put on great shows week after week.  I’ve always enjoyed going to shows alone knowing I’ll bump into random friends or come across new bands.

In interviews, people always ask you if you consider yourself a metal band. So, to join the crowd, do you consider yourself a metal band yet?

I suppose we just consider ourselves a rock band.  We have metal moments but also many non-metal moments in our albums.  We’re more interested in the mood and the feel of each song rather than the genre.

What is your favorite place to play in your hometown and around the world?

My favorite place to play in Chicago is the Empty Bottle but admittedly it’s been ages since we’ve played there.  Great sounding room with really gratifying stage sound for the performer.  You can always expect familiar faces at shows.  As for international shows, we love playing all over.  Hard to pick a favorite.  Barcelona and Singapore are always a great experience.

After all these years, what has made you decide to stick it out with Sargent House as a record label?

Sargent House has been great to us.  Genuine people who love music and would do anything for their bands.  Cathy and her posse have done so much more than we would expect from a label.  Having management and label under one roof really makes the process much easier too.  I can’t thank Cathy, Caitlyn, Marc and Dave Clifford enough for there tireless work ethic.  Sargent House was formed on its love for independent bands with no regards to genres.  They’re not trying to be part of any scene; they just want to help the bands they love.

And finally, you’re known for your almost obsessive tinkering with effects in your music and live shows. Is there anything you obsess over outside of music like as a collector or tv/film fan?

Brian reads more books in a week than I’ve read my whole life.   Dave obsesses over making his vehicle the most high performance machine possible.  Music keeps me pretty occupied on a daily basis.   We all enjoy delicious beer and agree that the movie Step Brothers should’ve won an Oscar.

(For more from Russian Circles, visit their website here: http://russiancirclesband.com/.)

 

Chicago trio Russian Circles premiered the title track from their forthcoming fifth album, Memorial today via Rolling Stone. The song features guest vocals by label (and tour) mate Chelsea Wolfe. Listen to “Memorial” HERE.

Russian Circles previously debuted the first track from the album via Pitchfork. Listen to the song “Deficit” HERE. (Soundcloud link HERE.) Check out cover art and track listing below.

Russian Circles hit the road in the EU and UK with Chelsea Wolfe in October. Both bands will play full headlining sets. Russian Circles will tour the US in early 2014. Please see complete dates below. 

Memorial will be available on LP, CD and download via Sargent House on October 29th, 2013. 

RUSSIAN CIRCLES & CHELSEA WOLFE // EUROPE 2013 

Oct 12, 2013 – Prague, CZ @ Meet Factory
Oct 13, 2013 – Linz, AT @ Posthof 

Oct 14, 2013 – Bologna, IT @ Locomotiv Club 

Oct 15, 2013 – Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik 

Oct 16, 2013 – Fribourg, CH @ Fri-son 

Oct 18, 2013 – Barcelona, ES @ Apolo 

Oct 19, 2013 – Madrid, ES @ Shoko Live 

Oct 20, 2013 – Porto, PT @ Amplifest 

Oct 21, 2013 – Bilbao, ES @ Kafe Antzokia 

Oct 23, 2013 – Paris, FR @ Divan Du Monde 

Oct 24, 2013 – Brighton, UK @ The Haunt 

Oct 25, 2013 – Manchester, UK @ Gorilla 

Oct 26, 2013 – Glasgow, UK @ SWG3 

Oct 27, 2013 – Dublin, IRE @ Button Factory 

Oct 29, 2013 – London, UK @ Electric Ballroom 

Oct 30, 2013 – Gent, BE @ Vooruit 

Oct 31, 2013 – Karlsruhe, DE @ Jubez 

Nov 1, 2013 – Utrecht, NI @ Tivoli de Helling 

Nov 2, 2013 – Koln, DE @ Stollwerck 

Nov 3, 2013 – Hamburg, DE @ Club Logo 

Nov 6, 2013 – Helsinki, FIN @ Tavastia 

Nov 7, 2013 – Oslo, NO @ Bla 

Nov 8, 2013 – Gothenburg, SE @ Truckstop Alaska 

Nov 9, 2013 – Copenhagen, DK @ KB18 

Nov 10, 2013 – Berlin, DE @ C- Club

RUSSIAN CIRCLES // EUROPE 2013

Nov 11, 2013 – Dresden, DE @ Beatpol

Nov 13, 2013 – Vienna, AT @ Szene

Nov 14, 2013 – Budapest, HU @ Durer Kert

Nov 15, 2013 – Belgrade, SR @ Bozidarac

Nov 16, 2013 – Zagreb, HR @ Mochvara Club

Nov 17, 2013 – Munich, DE @ Feierwerk

Nov 19, 2013 – Moscow, RU @ B2

Nov 20, 2013 – St. Petersburg, RU @ Club Zal

Chicago trio Russian Circles premiere the first track off of the forthcoming fifth album, Memorial today via Pitchfork. Listen to the song “Deficit” HERE. (Soundcloud link HERE.)

Russian Circles hit the road in the EU and UK with Chelsea Wolfe (who also supplies guest vocals on the album’s title track) in October. Both bands will play full headlining sets. Russian Circles will tour the U.S. in early 2014. Please see complete dates below. 

Memorial was recorded at the illustrious Electrical Audio studio in Chicago with the band’s longtime producer Brandon Curtis of The Secret Machines and Interpol who also helmed the band’s two previous albums, Empros and Geneva

Memorial will be available on LP, CD and download via Sargent House on October 29. 

RUSSIAN CIRCLES & CHELSEA WOLFE // EUROPE 2013 

Oct 12, 2013 – Prague, CZ @ Meet Factory
Oct 13, 2013 – Linz, AT @ Posthof 

Oct 14, 2013 – Bologna, IT @ Locomotiv Club 

Oct 15, 2013 – Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik 

Oct 16, 2013 – Fribourg, CH @ Fri-son 

Oct 18, 2013 – Barcelona, ES @ Apolo 

Oct 19, 2013 – Madrid, ES @ Shoko Live 

Oct 20, 2013 – Porto, PT @ Amplifest 

Oct 21, 2013 – Bilbao, ES @ Kafe Antzokia 

Oct 23, 2013 – Paris, FR @ Divan Du Monde 

Oct 24, 2013 – Brighton, UK @ The Haunt 

Oct 25, 2013 – Manchester, UK @ Gorilla 

Oct 26, 2013 – Glasgow, UK @ SWG3 

Oct 27, 2013 – Dublin, IRE @ Button Factory 

Oct 29, 2013 – London, UK @ Electric Ballroom 

Oct 30, 2013 – Gent, BE @ Vooruit 

Oct 31, 2013 – Karlsruhe, DE @ Jubez 

Nov 1, 2013 – Utrecht, NI @ Tivoli de Helling 

Nov 2, 2013 – Koln, DE @ Stollwerck 

Nov 3, 2013 – Hamburg, DE @ Club Logo 

Nov 6, 2013 – Helsinki, FIN @ Tavastia 

Nov 7, 2013 – Oslo, NO @ Bla 

Nov 8, 2013 – Gothenburg, SE @ Truckstop Alaska 

Nov 9, 2013 – Copenhagen, DK @ KB18 

Nov 10, 2013 – Berlin, DE @ C- Club

RUSSIAN CIRCLES // EUROPE 2013

Nov 11, 2013 – Dresden, DE @ Beatpol

Nov 13, 2013 – Vienna, AT @ Szene

Nov 14, 2013 – Budapest, HU @ Durer Kert

Nov 15, 2013 – Belgrade, SR @ Bozidarac

Nov 16, 2013 – Zagreb, HR @ Mochvara Club

Nov 17, 2013 – Munich, DE @ Feierwerk

Nov 19, 2013 – Moscow, RU @ B2

Nov 20, 2013 – St. Petersburg, RU @ Club Zal

Mike Sullivan

Russian Circles released their most recent album, Empros, last October via Sargent House and it was a barn burner.  Empros picked up where the anthemic riffs and melodies of 2009’s Geneva left off and injected evermore slithering rhythms amid skull-crushing heft with all the visceral intensity of Godflesh, Swans and Neurosis. For all intents and purposes, it was a radical revision of both heavy and melody that is monolithic in its clarity and perfection.  Coupled with an unparalleled live show that is as masterful as the album it supports, Russian Circles have been road warriors in 2012 in support of the fantastic effort.  

Ghettoblaster asked guitarist Mike Sullivan what he’s been enjoying this year.  Here are his favorites:

Swans – The Seer

Chelsea Wolfe – Unknown Rooms

Beak – >>

God Seed – I begin

Black Breath – Sentenced to Life

Gaza – No Absolutes in Human Suffering

Beach House – Bloom

Tame Impala – Lonerism

Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II

Disappears – Pre-Language

 

Double Nickels on the Dime

Russian Circles released their most recent album, Empros, last October via Sargent House and it was a barn burner.  Empros picked up where the anthemic riffs and melodies of 2009?s Geneva left off and injected evermore slithering rhythms amid skull-crushing heft with all the visceral intensity of Godflesh, Swans and Neurosis. For all intents and purposes, it was a radical revision of both heavy and melody that is monolithic in its clarity and perfection.  Coupled with an unparalleled live show that was as masterful as the album it supports, Russian Circles have been road warriors in 2012 in support of the fantastic effort.  Ghettoblaster Magazine recently caught up with bassist Brian Cook (who is probably the nicest and most thoughtful band dude we’ve ever interviewed) to talk about his favorite record, Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime, as well as some of the albums he’s been instrumental in writing.

What is your favorite album?
Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime.
Do you remember when you received or purchased the album?
I don’t have a specific memory of buying the album. I already owned the first and third “Post-Mersh” collections and knew that Double Nickels was the definitive Minutemen album, but I lived in Hawaii at the time and it wasn’t always easy to track down punk stuff. I would’ve been 14 at the time I bought it, and if memory serves me correctly, I think I found the CD at Jelly’s, which was this record and comic book store in Honolulu.

What is your favorite song on the album?
That’s a tough one. I have a hard time picking up a guitar and not busting out the main riff to “#1 Hit Song”, but I think I have to go with “History Lesson Pt. II.”

What is it about the song that resonates with you?
It’s just a great song. Great melody, great interplay of instruments. D. Boon and Mike Watt had such distinctive tones. Boon was always super trebly; Watt had the warm low end bass. But on that song the two of them blended in a way that was really unusual for them. The fact that the song is basically about their childhood and being best-friends seems really fitting for the way they came together sonically on that song. The whole opening line—“our band could be your life”—is massively influential in its own right. And D. Boon’s tragic death just a couple of years later makes the song even more emotional and moving in today’s context.

Have you ever covered a song from the album?
My first band, Without Influence, covered “My Heart & the Real World”. We cut out the solo because we weren’t good enough to play it. I’m so glad the internet wasn’t available to us in 1992. I would hate for our recording of that to be out there in the digital world. Man, we were fucking terrible. Fortunately, we only made a dozen or so cassette copies of the demo, and they were all on Amway tapes that broke after
one or two listens.

What is it about the album that makes it stand out against the band’s other output?
It’s so epic. I mean, it’s 45 songs clocking in at 80 minutes. I bought it around 20 years ago, and I still hear new things every time I listen to it. Earlier this year I took a stab at learning all of the bass lines off the record. I got a bit sidetracked by touring, so I only got side A knocked out. But it gave me a whole new appreciation for how talented and unorthodox that band was. Some of those bass lines are just so bizarre. And hearing about all the different layers of meaning on that record makes it pretty fascinating as well. I read James Joyce’s “Ulysses” last year after hearing Watt mention that the book had a big impact on the creative process for Double Nickels. Joyce said “Ulysses” was a puzzle people would be solving for decades to come, and I feel the same way about Double Nickels. It’s the most sophisticated work in their catalog.

Have you ever given a copy of this record to anyone?  What were the circumstances?
I recommend it to people all the time, but I also know it’s not the most immediately accessible album. There were a handful of songs off of it that I liked immediately, but it took me a couple of years to really appreciate the bulk of it. I almost think it’s more of a record you have to approach on your own and spend some time with to really appreciate. You can’t force it on anyone.

Which of the records that you’ve performed on is your favorite?
That’s a hard one. I’m really proud of the last two Russian Circles albums. I feel like it’s the kind of music I wanted to make for a long time but just didn’t have the capability to do it. And I’ll always be proud of what Botch was a part of when we recorded We Are The Romans. My favorite bass lines are probably on that last These Arms Are Snakes album—“Woolen Heirs,” “Prince Squid,” and “Lead Beater” specifically. I also played in a pop band called Roy and we did an album called Killed John Train and I have to guiltily admit that I still listen to pretty regularly. Is it bad business to admit listening to your own records?

What is your favorite song on the album and why?
Well, I fucked myself on this one by listing off more than one record. With Russian Circles, I’m really proud of the song “Melee” off of Geneva. I really like the dimension the string section brings to the song. Unfortunately, it means that every time we’ve tried to play the song live, it just seems empty. I’m glad we went out on a limb and did a lot of extra instrumentation on that record, but we also learned to be careful that we can pull off the stuff we’ve recorded in a live setting.

 

(See Russian Circles on their current U.S. tour at one of the following dates:

6/28 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall *
6/29 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre %
7/2 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
7/3 Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
8/6 Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club !
8/7 St. Louis, MO  -  Firebird !
8/8 Louisville, KY – The Veron Club !
8/9 Birmingham, AL – Bottletree !
8/10 Tallahassee, FL – Retrofit !
8/11 Orlando, FL – Will’s Pub !
8/12 Tampa, FL – State !
8/13 Jacksonville, FL – Jackrabbits !
8/14 Atlanta, GA – The Earl !
8/15 Carraboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle !
8/16 Washington, DC – Rock n Roll Hotel !
8/17 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer !
8/18 New York, NY – Highline Ballroom !
8/19 Cambridge, MA – Middle East !
8/20 Montreal, QC – Il Motore !
8/21 Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace !
8/22 Grand Rapids, MI – Pyramid Scheme !
8/23 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall !
8/24 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock !

* with And So I Watch You From Afar, Deafheaven
% with Chelsea Wolfe, And So I Watch From Afar & Deafheaven
! with Chelsea Wolfe, Marriages)

Dates have begun to surface for Russian Circles‘ upcoming U.S. run with Chelsea Wolfe and Marriages. Here’s where the trek is expected to touch down:

08/06 Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club
08/07 St. Louis, MO – The Firebird
08/08 Louisville, KY – Vernon Club
08/09 Birmingham, AL – The Bottletree Cafe
08/14 Atlanta, GA – The Earl
08/16 Washington, DC – Rock N Roll Hotel
08/19 Cambridge, MA – The Middle East Downstairs

Belfast, Northern Ireland’s And So I Watch You From Afar announced extensive North American tour dates this summer paired up with several other Sargent House family bands. ASIWYFA kicks off the tour in Canada with Russian Circles and Indian Handcrafts (including Sled Island festival), then later joined by Deafheaven on the west coast, ending in Los Angeles at the El Rey at the big Sargent House/1656 Music show. In July, ASIWYFA pair up with Zechs Marquise for co-headlining dates throughout North America. Please see complete dates below.

ASIWYFA released their sophomore album, Gangs, last November via Sargent House. The complete album is available for streaming via Bandcamp HERE.

A pair of MP3s from Gangs are also available: opener, “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION” for download HERE and “Search:Party:Animal” can be intercepted HERE.

Jun 18 – Winnipeg, MB @ The Park Theatre  w/ Indian Handcrafts
Jun 19 – Saskatoon, SK @ Amigos Cantina w/ Indian Handcrafts
Jun 20 – Calgary, AB @ Dicken’s Pub – Sled Island Fest w/ Indian Handcrafts
Jun 22 – Vancouver, BC  @ Biltmore Cabaret
Jun 24 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
Jun 25 – Portland, OR  @ Doug Fir Lounge
Jun 27 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s w/ Deafheaven
Jun 28 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall w/ Deafheaven
Jun 29 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre w/ Chelsea Wolfe & Deafheaven

AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR & ZECHS MARQUISE – 2012

Jun 30 – Anaheim, CA  @ Chain Reaction
Jul 01 – San Diego, CA  @ The Casbah
Jul 02 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
Jul 04 – San Antonio, TX  @ The White Rabbit
Jul 05 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s
Jul 06 – Austin, TX @ Red 7
Jul 07 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
Jul 08 – Norman, OK @ The Opolis
Jul 10 – St Louis, MO @ The Firebird
Jul 11 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
Jul 12 – Lansing, MI @ Mac’s Bar
Jul 13 – Toledo, OH  @ Mickey Finns
Jul 14 – Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
Jul 16 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose
Jul 17 – Louisville, KY @ Headliner’s Music Hall
Jul 18 – Nashville, TN @ 12th & Porter
Jul 19 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
Jul 21 – St Petersburg, FL @ local 662
Jul 22 – Mobile, AL @ Alabama Music Box
Jul 24 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
Jul 25 – Baltimore, MD @ Sonar
Jul 26 – Cambridge, MA @ T.T. the Bears
Jul 27 – New York City, NY @ The Studio at Webster Hall
Jul 28 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie

Ghettoblaster Magazine Issue #30

Welcome to the 2011 Winter issue of Ghettoblaster Magazine! This time around we’ve got all sorts of goodness, including our cover piece on Ghettoblaster faves Guided by Voices, interviews with DJ Shadow, RJD2, Mastodon, Russian Circles, Wolves in the Throne Room and many more. And, of course, all the requisite album, book and movie reviews.

As usual, you can order Ghettoblaster #30 it by sending us an email. Or you can subscribe to our quarterly issues for a whole year to keep the good times rolling.