The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world








Photo by Chris Strong




Detroit instrumental three piece RUSSIAN CIRCLES are a band that has a huge sound. Their music takes you on a journey through layers of sound to an almost unexpected place. They can be heavy as hell or deliver music so delicate you think it would fracture. They are also just about to head Down-under for the second time: definitely a band worth checking out.



Mark: Thanks for talking to us today Brian. I must admit when the opportunity came up I was only actually familiar with the “Geneva” album, but over the last few days I’ve had a chance to bring myself up to speed. I only heard the new one yesterday, amazing! How would you describe the sound of your to someone who’s never heard them before?



Brian: I usually tell people that it’s heavy stuff; I steer away from a type of music categorization.



Mark: I like that stance, stay away from the whole genre thing that pigeon-holes so many bands. One of the things that fascinates me about your music is how very organic it sounds: are you a band that comes together and jams a lot.



Brian: Well it started out that way, originally each member of the band was based out of Chicago, and then the original bass player parted ways. So a song is constructed around what Mike, the guitar player, comes up with, then Dave writes and refines it, and then I come in a couple of weeks later and edit and refine even more.



Mark: So ideas are brought to the table, do you bring song ideas in yourself, as the bassist?



Brian: I do, but Dave and Mike knock out the bulk of the initial skeleton of the song, and then I’m the first person that hears it.



Mark: As a musician you have the sound that really seems to anchor those songs.



Brian: Yeah, the songs have so many layers and it’s important to have something that nails everything together. When I hear a new song for the first time it’s really important for me to figure out the key thing to try to drive home it’s not a matter of trying something flashy.







Mark: The music on all of your releases is thematic and in places very episodic, would you agree? There are passages in there that never seem to repeat, there’s always a different angle, a deft turn, or a shift to an unexpected place; and I think that’s where the prog element comes in. Or am I way off track?



Brian: No, I definitely think so. I think the challenge with a lot of song writing is that to make a song, build up a song, there needs to be a certain amount of repetition and a schematic element to it. What makes a lot of rock music boring is repetition and build up of an idea that’s been laid down. We keep the music alive and organic.



Mark: Have you ever considered maybe just for one song, getting a singer in or one of you guys laying down some vocals?



Brian: We’ve kind of talked about it, but I feel it’s something we would go in to, if we were writing a song, and we came to a point where we felt like there was something that was missing, that needed some kind of human presence to it.



Mark: To be honest, I don’t think the music needs it at all. With the new album, what are you setting out to achieve, and did it differ from the concept to the final execution?



Brian: I think we had a pretty set idea that we wanted to make a record that was different from ‘Geneva’ – ‘Geneva’ was an album that was very plotted out. We spent a lot of time on it and we did a lot of additional instrumentation. We wanted to make something that was going to be epic and layered. The drawback was that when it came to the tour nothing really felt quite as powerful as it did on the record, because we went so overboard on having strings and horns and stuff!



Mark: Yeah, some of the songs on there are amazing, I think my favourite is ‘Malko’; it’s a crazy, huge song.



Brian: That song is the closest song to what we actually sound like live. We wanted to make a record that was representative of the songs that the three of us do in a live setting. It’s much more stripped down, and a realistic record for us.



Mark: The big thing that we are hearing over here is that you have a hell of a live show!! How excited are you about coming back to Australia?



Brian: We are really excited! The last time we came out there the new record wasn’t out yet we had most of it recorded, but it just didn’t feel right, being in Australia and not really knowing how the tour was going to go. We did a lot of live shows and hit each city hard, so now it’s exciting to come back.



Mark: So, what are you expecting this time around? Anything different? Or something you wish you’d done, or seen when you were over last time?



Brian: We didn’t get much chance to see anything last time as we were so worried about the tour doing well we filled up our schedule, we were like were we really in Australia, I have no idea!! We had enough time to go and see the Opera House that was the extent of our touristy thing!!



Mark: You are then heading off to Asia after that, tell us a little bit about it.



Brian: Yes, we are doing Singapore and Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. We went to the first two a couple of years ago.



Mark: How did you go down there?



Brian: There’s a record label out there called Kitty Woo based out of Singapore, they do a lot of instrumental music and they were so excited about it.



Mark: It’s actually getting quite interesting out there, we are from Western Australia and so we are quite close to Singapore. There’s obviously a growing market for bands to tour Asia, and for this sort of music in particular, and I think a lot of promoters are getting on board now which is great for everyone.



Mark: What can you tell is about the bands you are touring with, Eagle twin and Drowning House?



Brian: Eagle Twin are from Salt Lake City, a two piece the guitar player used to be in a band called Iceberg, it’s sort of a weird avant guard jazz noise hardcore band, bits of Sabbath in there. Definitely at the heavy end, sludgy stuff but played by someone who really knows his way around a guitar, and really knows how to play intuitively.



Mark: Sounds like it’s going to be a great night. Heathen Skulls who are bringing you guys out, are really bringing some interesting shows to Australia, people who we’ve never seen before, people like John Baizley (from Baroness), who played an acoustic set, and all kinds of great stuff going on.



Brian: We are really excited to play with Drowning House, we played with them last time in Perth and they are a fucking awesome band!!



Mark: Yes, they are a great band. Looking at your web site and reading some of the reviews, I really love the way that you describe your music and particularly how you describe some of the songs and the feelings, and the themes behind them. What’s the best you’ve heard from a reviewer?



Brian: Oh, man! I’m not really sure! To be honest I try not to read too many reviews because, you read a bad review and you think I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about! The good reviews I think I’m glad he likes me!



Mark: Our final two questions, if you could have been involved in the creation of any piece of music at any point in time, what would it have been and why?



Brian: That’s hard – I’d have to say the beginning of the Nibelung by Wagner: with the cascading drumming almost like a model for what so many drum artist do today, it’ holds up at the end of the day not from an operatic point of view but more from an ambient drummers perspective.



If I had another pick I’d have to say: Neurosis – Enemy of the Sun - I think that’s one of the heaviest and most brutal sounding records ever recorded.



Mark: Yes that is pretty brutal, I’ll admit! And the last one is the easiest question! What is the meaning of life?



Brian: I have no clue!! Don’t die, that’s all I got!!



Mark: No worries! Well, thanks for taking the time to speak to us this morning, we are really looking forward to you guys coming out very soon, September 30th, I believe you are playing Perth. Good luck with the tour, have a great one!





Mark spoke to Brian Cook of Russian Circles September 2012



By Mark Diggins