An Interview With Anthony Green (w/ PHOTOS)
One of the most consistent alternative bands of the last half-decade, Circa Survive has always seemed to rise above the trends, standing apart from the likes of the heavy post-hardcore movement of recent years and the electro-explosion happening right now. So it makes sense that on a otherwise typical autumn weeknight you could find them tucked away in a “local” Long Island venue wow-ing fans as they wrap up just another in their long line of tours. Lead singer Anthony Green was kind enough to sit down with contributing writer Mike Ventimiglia to share his thoughts on the band’s music, their loyal followers, and more!
I know you guys all come from a background of musical endeavors and experiences; how were you able to sew the threads so to speak to create Circa Survive?
I think that everything in our pasts, collectively and as individuals, has really been what has really propelled us through the whole needle. We’ve learned so much from our experiences what you want and more what you don’t want, you know? I think that we all just had to go through, I wouldn’t say go through, but come out of the hardcore sort of suburban punk-rock background to really understand what the drive of making this music is about. It’s not about any type of notoriety for it. It’s about that moment that’s going to happen tonight. You’ll be there, you’ll see it you’ll feel it, at least I hope you do. I know I will, and that’s what is getting the needle through the thread. Not so much being on the cover of a magazine or being at the playing station in Hot Topic or having your name on some blog, or whatever. That shit is funny you know, but it’s not the point of it. But if it gets more people to hear your band, then great, but you cannot focus on it – it dilutes it, and dilutes the essence of the music. You have to focus on the music. That isn’t you making it because it’s not about you, or your band, or anything, its about what happens when you all come together, and the mistakes that are going on and the moments or seconds where the perfect thing happens and the second afterwards. By taking credit for that and pretending that you have anything to do with it other than your being there and allowing it to come through you, demeans it. I hope that answers your question.
It’s really great that you addressed the focus on the collective band in place of the individual. You guys have been around this scene for a while, which is really a feat considering how, at least from some points of view, the scene jumps from fad to fad. How do you guys deal with that?
I feel like it’s not a scene, it’s more a market that were all in. And it’s not happening, it’s staged. It’s staged to look D.I.Y., and it’s staged to look punk rock, and you know its like staged to looks like a thrift store t-shirt, but it’s not. It doesn’t represent anything. It just shows the natural decay of what this is, and it celebrates that decay. But you can beat it, you don’t have to give in to it, just don’t believe in it. Don’t give in to that whole “ oh well you like All Time Low? Well fuck you! You like blink-182, then fuck you! They suck, that sucks!” Don’t give in to that idea, that stuff doesn’t suck, that’s somebody else’s saving grace, it’s saving someone. Maybe you don’t relate to it, or it’s not your cup of tea, but sitting around and overtly talking about what’s wrong or bad in music is what is hurting music. You have to focus on what’s great in music, and if you don’t see it in something, then don’t fucking look there, just go somewhere else. If you don’t see it in yourself, you’re not going to find it music. That wont change because someone’s on a label or off a label or whatever, it’s just going to get more confusing you and it’ll fuck things up for you. You’re the one who makes the decision of what you like or what you don’t like, you choose to relate to something, it doesn’t just happen. Your song has never saved anyone’s life, people save their own lives through their choice.
You guys have been around for a while, and with that you’ve cultivated an extensive discography. How do you guys go about making a set list?
Oh, it’s so tough. You know we’ve never been the type of band to stick to one record, you know, even when we had only one record out. We really want to play as much as we can from every record. We really strive to make it very balanced. Luckily, I feel like there’s a group of people who listen to our band that don’t really commit themselves entirely to one sole album, where they only want to hear like “Act Appalled” or something. I think that there are enough people who like songs from every album so we can make a set that we love, and that well get people pumped, too. I mean I want to have fun, and if there’s a song I don’t like, then I don’t want to play it. Luckily there aren’t many songs that I don’t like. I love playing songs from our first record. I love playing new songs no one’s ever heard. That’s my favorite thing ever. You just look out at people and you get to tell them something new, and that they’ve never heard before. I mean there’s some shit in our new songs that we all feel are really important things to say. And it’s especially important to me for me to say it them. I mean in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but just it being such a self-indulgent job, I want to be able to say some things.
Does this ever make you feel any sort of pressure? You guys have such loyal following, and as you’ve grown so have they. It’s just progression now is kind of a dirty word, but you guys have never really shied away from it. You can see it in your works. I’m just wondering if you guys feel, acknowledge, or adhere to it, or just shake it off, you know? How does it play into your band?
I wish I could say that it doesn’t matter, but it does because I care deeply about the people who choose to listen and relate to our music. I just really hate the idea that something I could do that I really like would cause them to drudge up those same things that people use when they don’t like something; I’m real sensitive about that. I mean always feel pressure. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I don’t want to make our fans happy, it is a priority, its just not our highest priority as a band. Its more personal. If what makes me happy can make our fans happy, and that be paralleled, that is a great goal to have, but sometimes that cant happen. But whatever is supposed to happen will happen. I mean I found that with every Circa album, and with everything I’ve ever done, as long as I know I did the best that I could, I’m really happy with it, I can play it for someone, I can sing it, or whatever for anyone. I know that the people I need to get it will get it. Its always been like that. This is my fucking religion man; I have great faith in it. I have faith that if I do something that I really love the people I need to share it with will understand it and they’ll be there.
That being said of pressures, Circa Survive started on Equal Vision, an indie label, and moved to Atlantic Records, a very major label. What kinds of opportunities have presented themselves with that change?
It’s really strange because you know because a lot of the industry is on a sort of decline. That being said, you know it’s almost not that different, other than the fact that the majors are able and willing to spend gratuitous amounts of money on whoever it is they’re working with. And yeah, in some ways it’s pretty cool to have a company that’ll split the bill and support you to do some shit you could never be able to do otherwise. But on the other side of that, times are really changing. Nowadays it doesn’t cost as much to make a record, marketing is not the same marketing you would’ve used five years ago, just everything is changing and from certain perspectives declining. That said and in mind, moving up from labels is very strange.
Moving past the heavy questions, you guys have been all around the world, let alone this country. Do you have any favorite places, states, venues, cities, etc. to play?
There’s just so many you know. New York, California, Philadelphia – those shows are always great. There’s just an energy, it’s really awesome.
Lastly, what would you say your most influential record is?
Definitely In Utero by Nirvana. Those guys hit it just right. They were at such a huge place, so much success, and at that point they could have just made a pop record you know, or just made “Nevermind 2,” but they didn’t. They made this really strange and different record and it was just incredible. It was just such a pure self expression.
PHOTOS BY ERICA LIVOTI