Circa Survive's Music is not intended for the radio. Their idea is that if they build an artful sound, the fans will come.
Since the advent of rock music more than half a century ago, there’s always been a divide between “artists” and “musicians.” And while there have been plenty of people who embody both of these titles, today’s increasingly commodified music world often seems to put more emphasis on branding than on breakthroughs. But there’s no debate about which side Circa Survive come down on.
For their fourth album, Violent Waves, released in August, the band decided to toss the life vest of a traditional label overboard to see if they would sink or swim in uncharted territory. It’s a risk most acts would be scared to take, but Circa Survive has never been like most bands. “If we wanted to make a lot of money we could have done a lot of different things with this record, but we really wanted to be in control of every aspect of Violent Waves,” frontman Anthony Green says. “Ultimately we would rather have a small number of fans who are devoted enough to the message of creative freedom and who understand what we’re trying to do and support us than try to put a net out to the masses and see how many dollars we can pull in.” It’s that spirit that inspired these progressive post-punk prodigies to eschew the major-label world after 2010’s Blue Sky Noise and get back to their DIY roots.
In order to succeed on their own, the band—Green, guitarists Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom, bassist Nick Beard, and drummer Steve Clifford—decided to produce the album themselves, with longtime friends Will Yip and Vincent Ratti providing additional production and “an incredible rate” that allowed them to record at Studio 4, near Philadelphia. Green knew that the band would have to create their best record to date in order for the self-release strategy to be a success.