Melbourne Prog Metallers Circles Have Woken From Their Slumber With New Music Ahead Of A Tour

It’s been four years since Melbourne band Circles released their last studio album (‘The Last One’), which was the group’s debut with frontman Ben Rechter.

Today marks a new stage in the prog metallers career as they release the single ‘Sleepwalking’, a track born during Melbourne’s extended lockdowns and is the first step towards releasing more new material.

“Essentially, it’s a song of fear and regret, of feeling like so much time has been wasted while you’ve unconsciously gone through the motions to arrive at your current situation,” Rechter says.

“But you’re struggling to push yourself into the unfamiliar territory that holds the potential to provide you with what you’re searching for. It’s so easy to live and die in a comfort zone, even when all you want is out of it.”

The new single was produced by Circles’ own Ted Furuhashi (guitarist), the music video was directed by the band’s drummer David Hunter, with the track mastered by Luke Cincotta (Karnivool).

The band also have a run of shows taking in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra from mid August and they’re bringing The Omnific, Future Static and Heartline along for the ride.

Hunter sits down for a chat about what the band have been up to during the pandemic and hitting the road again.

It’s been four years since the band last released new material (2018’s ‘The Last One’ album); a lot has happened globally since then; what has been Circles story during these unprecedented and turbulent times?
A lot of Zoom and a lot of writing.

Our last show was December 2019 with Opeth, then basically full shutdown. We made a conscious effort to knuckle down and write as much as we could given we weren’t able to tour.

Did the pandemic actively affect the group recording new music or had the plan always been to have some extended downtime after the release of ‘The Last One’?
We were always going to start writing again at the beginning of 2020.

Obviously as we couldn’t be in the same room together we had to approach it differently. Everything was done remotely over Zoom which was fairly challenging at first, but we got the hang of it. The dynamic in the band has been very strong in the last couple of years, so when we know there’s something to do, we support each other as best we can to do it.

Given the unusual circumstances that life has thrown everyone these past 2.5 years, how has the ‘new normal’ shaped the approach Circles has to music making as well as engaging with your supporter base?
To be honest, we suck at social media when we’re in writing mode, haha!

We’re not the sort of band to do a ‘throwback Tuesday’ [post] just to fill a void when we don’t have anything new. So we tend to go pretty quiet during these times. We love our fans and respect them enough not to feed them ‘fillers’ just so we can get a few likes on Insta.

During the lockdown period we actually sent selected fans all over the world personal messages to have a Zoom chat and hear the new stuff we were working on. These messages went out to people who we see being very active and interested on our socials.

This connection was not advertised and not part of some ‘pay to chat’ scheme. It was just an organic connection that was special to us and whoever was on the other end. We didn’t want to gain anything other than to brighten a fan’s day in sh.tty times.

How much did Melbourne’s extended lockdowns direct the creative direction of the group’s new single ‘Sleepwalking’, channelling all the different energies and emotions each band member was processing?
‘Sleepwalking’, along with other new material in the works, is quite dark.

We’re not sure if this is due to the times or if we were just due for something darker and heavier. Probably a bit of both. Every release for the band is different, and ‘Sleepwalking’ is no exception. You wouldn’t hear this song on any Circles release as it belongs in this new chapter.

Signed to Wild Things Records; how has that relationship fostered the band’s creative drive and how does the label bring out the best version of the group?
We’ve got a great team around us that are very supportive and invested in the band. They work hard which makes us work harder.

You have the same management team as Northlane, The Butterfly Effect (Open Door); the trust you have in them guiding the band down the correct path – is that built off the personal connections each side has fostered?
We’ve known our manager Roy for more years than he’s been our manager.

We met when our bands toured together many years ago and have been friends ever since. Roy has gone from strength to strength in his management career and it’s a beautiful thing that we can be best mates as well as have a professional relationship that works. We all see him as another member of Circles.

The upcoming national tour; even having live shows to look forward to given everything you lads must be super pumped to return to the road?
We’re extremely pumped to be touring again especially with new material. Nothing really beats playing live and having that direct connection with fans.

Will you need a couple of practice runs first to get the body used to the constant travel, smelly tour vans, lack of sleep and eating bad servo food?
Probably not. . . that was basically lockdown for most of us. Bad food, smelly clothes, lack of sleep from too much Netflix. We’ve been in training for two years!

The supports you’ve got along for the ride make it a tasty quartet of bands for fans to sink their teeth in to; almost a mini festival. Is that important to the band to offer your fans such an immersive experience live while also supporting the local scene giving other bands more opportunities to travel the country?

The whole tour package is pretty important to us so that we can give our fans an awesome night as a whole. The bands we’ve chosen are bloody awesome and everyone’s in for a treat.

The band have been regular overseas travellers; is an international tour in the works?
Although things are getting better for touring, there are still some challenging factors for an Aussie band heading overseas. It’s on our radar and we most likely will in the future.

Given the band is from Melbourne and finals footy is only six weeks away (can you smell spring yet?), who you lads backing for the AFL flag in 2022?
You most definitely asked the wrong person this question; but I’d have to say Carlton or my wife would kill me.

Circles 2022 Tour Dates

Fri 19 Aug – Stay Gold (Melbourne)
Fri 26 Aug – Lion Arts Factory (Adelaide)
Fri Sep 2 – The Zoo (Brisbane)
Sat Sep 3 – Crowbar (Sydney)
Sun Sep 4 – The Basement (Canberra)
**with special guests The Omnific, Future Static and Heartline

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