The Collegian
Tuesday, August 11, 2020

An intimate portrait of Circa Survive

If you know me personally, you know that I live and breathe music. For the most part I listen to an eclectic mix of thrash, pop-punk, folk and alternative, or as most people would call it, emo. That aside, I was recently given the opportunity to interview one of my favorite bands of all time.

If you have never heard of Circa Survive, they are a progressive indie-rock band hailing from Philadelphia headed by front man Anthony Green. Green was also a member of other bands in similar genres including Saosin and The Sound of Animals Fighting, and he recently released a solo album titled "Avalon." So upon hearing this news, I was ecstatic. I would be interviewing one of my idols directly before the concert at The National in downtown Richmond.

At 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 14, I arrived at The National with my good friend and photographer Bertrand Morin, eagerly awaiting a call from Circa Survive's manager. When the call finally came he told us to meet promptly at 6 p.m. in front of the tour buses and said we would only have 20 minutes to conduct the interview. He seemed serious.

After sketchily standing in the cold for 10 minutes, a burly looking man came out and whisked us inside. The mood immediately lightened because before we were even fully on the bus I was greeted by my longtime idol, Anthony Green, offering us pretzel rods and saying, "Everyone just needs some rod every once in a while." Since this was the first time I had ever interviewed anyone who had any sort of fame, I was nervous. We ended up going into the back room of the tour bus (which looked like a bachelor pad condensed into a janitor's closet) and chatted for a bit before the interview began. My nerves quickly went away and I realized that he was just like everyone else.

During the interview, we discussed many issues currently facing the band. For example, Green's wife recently gave birth to an eight-pound, five-ounce baby boy named James who was, at the time, only three months old. Green said that he "left to go on tour five days after he was born." You could feel the love that he felt for his son and how badly he felt about not being able to be there for his wife and newborn child. To cope, Green said that he just needed to go out there and play music. The show at The National was the first day of the tour and he said: "Once the first show is over, I'll feel better. It definitely makes it more difficult. Any time you are away from the people you care about, it's gonna be really hard on you."

Green had a troubled childhood. He was a dropout and has been in rehab. He was always the black sheep of his family and no one ever thought he could go anywhere with his life. He reminisced about sitting down as a child and watching Nirvana play on MTV as he thought to himself, "I can do this too." Although Green's path was long and not without its share of bumps, he dedicated himself to the craft and succeeded.

We also discussed Circa Survive's plans for the next few months. Although the tour with Anberlin was just kicking off, he was excited about beginning a short tour with My Chemical Romance. He said they would be doing a summer tour also. I asked for a comment on whether or not Circa Survive would be playing at the Vans Warped Tour and I received a vehement, "(expletive) no." Beyond that, Green said that the band planned to begin recording a new CD in early February even though both a CD and an EP had just been released no more than a few months ago.

I left the van and I felt changed. My nerves were gone and I had gained a greater respect for the band. Since it was still about an hour before the show began, Bertrand and I met up with our friends at Capital Ale House and had a few pints. We arrived back at The National just in time to catch the opening band, Foxy Shazam. Although I had seen Foxy Shazam before, every show with them is different. The best way to describe them is that they sound like Queen on crack. Their onstage antics are unparalleled. While they clearly have their share of overly enthusiastic fans, for the most part it seemed as though the crowd was confused. I couldn't really distinguish who was the front man and who was in the background. Even the drummer jumped around like an animal. The sometimes melodic, sometimes chaotic band had people tapping their feet furiously, even if they did not like the music.

The next band to come on stage was Circa Survive. I was in the fold getting beaten and battered and thrown into mosh pits (while thinking to myself that I was too old for this). Green put one foot against the barrier between the stage and the floor and met his fans face-to-face, singing directly in their faces as they stuck their hands up.

The first track played was "Get Out," a single off of their CD "Blue Sky Noise." There was no separation between artist and musician, it was all about the music and you could hear the emotion in the lyrics. The show went on this way until Circa Survive played their final song and departed the stage, leaving the entire venue impressed with the sheer stage presence and showmanship that they displayed. The first opener was done and next up was Anberlin.

This was the third time I had seen Anberlin and they were the most popular they had been since their tune, "Feel Good Drag," was getting a lot of radio play. Anberlin, as a band that has been around the block a few times, played a mix of old and new songs. You could tell they were musicians through and through and loved every minute of it, as did their energetic fans. Although their fans were probably greater in number, they were a bit more reserved than those of Circa Survive.

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Overall, the show was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone who went and it went down as one of the best I have ever seen.

Click here to see the full interview transcript.

Eric Skurka and Bertrand Morin are seniors at the University of Richmond.

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