Interview: Circa Waves on their love of Rick Astley, playing with Foo Fighters and advice for new bands
Circa Waves, quite deservedly, are beginning to establish themselves somewhat as a stalwart of the British festival season. Luckily enough for us, we caught up with Joe and Colin from the four-piece before they stormed the main stage at Y Not Festival to talk playing stadiums with the Foo Fighters in Japan and hanging out with Rick Astley, amongst other things.
The Liverpool-based group shared their second album Different Creatures last year which, a record that sees the band explore their darker side which is a stark contrast to their happy-go-lucky debut Young Chasers. Their new material has given Circa Waves’ live shows another element, reasserting them well into the picture festival booking agents like Y Not who are looking for potential headliners in the future.
This summer has been another hectic one for the band as they light up numerous main stage’s across Europe. The festival scene, it would appear, is exactly where this band thrive. A place where their music sounds like it was created purposefully for them. Guitarist Joe Falconer, with a beer in hand, reflected on the summer so far: “It’s been great, it’s been like riding a bike and getting back on it,” he said somewhat nonchalantly before adding: “This summer has been fucking ridiculous to be fair, a lot of very pink people in the crowd by the end of the set.”
Like many British bands, Glastonbury is the holy grail. When our conversation about festival’s meanders onto speaking about Worthy Farm, a location in which they made two appearances at last year’s event, their faces light up with clear excitement.
You’d assume that after a few years that they’d become used to it by now, the feeling of walking on stage in front of thousands of festival faces, but Circa Waves are still finding it a daunting anxiety-inducing experience, as Falconer explains: “I feel like Glastonbury, no matter how many times you do it, it’s always a thing. It’s always at the start of the festival season so you’re not used to playing to large crowds at that point so you’re kinda thrust into it so it’s always a bit nerve-wracking. I kinda wish it was at the end of summer, by August you’re such a pro but because Glastonbury is right at the beginning everyone’s shitting themselves a bit.”
It’s not just at Glastonbury where they have played to mammoth sized crowds, the band have played festivals worldwide which included their first-ever stadium show which was with no other than their childhood heroes, the Foo Fighters. I couldn’t help but ask drummer Colin Jones whether it’s true that Dave Grohl is the nicest guy in rock, hoping that he’d squash it as a myth but unfortunately it wasn’t to be the case: “[Dave’s] Not a very nice guy,” Jones said as he began laughing. “Nah, it’s too true and you hate it a little bit that he is.”
“It was a true pinch yourself moment,” Jones added still sounding buzzing from the experience.
While our conversation begins to take the path of namedropping famous personalities we’ve met (to which I added very little), guitarist Falconer begins to explain his how he has formed a somewhat unlikely friendship with Rick Astley which, safe to say, caught me off guard. The pair first met each other in Japan at a festival last year, Falconer did then insist that he’s deadly serious about his love for the 52-year-old.
That same night he first met Astley, also happened to be that infamous night where he joined the Foo Fighters on stage for what can only be described as an unforgettable rendition of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.
Falconer explains the story similarly to an excited child, wearing his blaring smile while he reminisces: “We were to the side of the stage for that, so it was really weird. I’d met Rick Astley because we had a dressing room next to him and we were both standing next to a fan trying to cool off and I was talking to him. I asked ‘are you going to watch the Foo Fighters later’.”
Falconer added: “He mentioned that they used one of his songs to protest the Westboro Baptist Church and then later on when we went to meet the Foos backstage, they had this jam room where they played before the show and we could hear them practising ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.”
The lads then got their best detective work to discover what the hell was going on but this then led to the alleged ‘nicest guy in rock’ duping them royally: “So when we met the Foo Fighters, I said to Dave Grohl so you were rehearsing ‘never Gonna Give You Up’, are you doing that because Rick Astley’s here? He was like ‘No, the reason is because we’re doing it for Live Lounge and we’re doing it in two weeks.”
Joe continued: “Then what happened was we were watching at the side of the stage and it wasn’t planned at all, but apparently because Rick Astley was watching as well so Dave Grohl just looked at him and then it sort of all just kind of aligned and Rick Astley. My God he looked so happy.”
The whole band was in awe of Astley and their respect of him was cemented when the ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ man’s first words as he arrived on stage was simply ‘Come On Then Fuckers’ which will stay with Jones for some time.
Since their second record Different Creatures was released last year they’ve had even more opportunities to see and play parts of the globe that they’d never have dreamed of. Falconer happily reeled off just some of the impressive places they’ve played: “Last year we did South Korea which was mad. We’ve done South East Asia a couple of times, we’ve done like Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore.”
“We turned up in Jakarta thinking there was gonna be two people there and it just turns out there was hundreds and hundreds of kids so it was just insane,” said Jones with a sense of disbelief.
“I think it always surprises you when you go somewhere which is for us quite far off the beaten track because it’s so difficult for bands to get there so when you do turn up just people really appreciate and those gigs are often the most memorable,” added an ardent Falconer.
If you’re in a band and one day would love to support your childhood heroes in a Japanese stadium or play to hundreds of kids in Jakarta then Falconer is on hand with his sincere advice for young bands: “I think it’s really hard now, it was hard when we started but I think just don’t be disheartened by anything. I think all you can do is try and write good songs and play.”
He added in a passionate tone and talking from experience: “You don’t just get good by talking about stuff, you have to go out and do it.”
Although Circa Waves have only been around for a few years, the music industry is already a different world to the one they joined following their emergence. That said, with their genre of music under threat, the boys are relaxed about the future of guitar music and the industry despite the flux it finds itself in: “It’s just the bigger labels are not really into investing into it but as time goes on there needed less and less,” Falconer confidently claimed.
He added: “A lot of bands are just going on and doing it by themselves and I think honestly labels are showing themselves to be less and less needed.”
Circa Waves are living their best life, performing their trademark indie anthems to masses around the world but the thing that sticks out to me the most about them is how appreciative the band are of the position they have worked to find themselves in. Circa Waves love what they get to do for a living, that much is plain to see.
Circa Waves play RiZe Festival alongside Liam Gallagher later this month and will be embarking on a UK Tour later this year that will be announced shortly.