English group Circa Waves third album 'What's It Like Over There?' is out today. They take us through the five things they learnt from switching things up for their latest work.
When it was time to record our third album What's It Like Over There? we knew that we wanted to push ourselves to create something that challenged perceptions of the band; ours as well as the audiences. We knew the best way to do this would be to change the way we saw the process of making a record and start again from scratch. In trying to take a different approach we learnt a lot along the way about songwriting, collaboration and the band's identity. Here's some of the most important things that we took away from the sessions.
The song is king
On our first two albums we each stuck to our defined roles as band members, arranging and playing those songs to fit within the 'rock band' structure. This record brought the philosophy that each song should lead the way in our approach to enable it to be the best possible version of itself. We became less rigid with our roles in the band, swapping instruments and pushing ones we haven't traditionally used to the front as and when each song called for it. We stretched ourselves as musicians and the result was more diverse, cinematic sound but still with all of the hallmarks of the band established over the first two albums.
All ideas should be entertained but not all ideas are sacred
We entered into album sessions with more loose ends than we ever had before. On Young Chasers and Different Creatures we arrived in the studio with the songs completely rehearsed as a four-piece but this time around it was different, we knew that we'd be making a lot more important decisions in the studio. There were lots of ideas flying around and always a lot of debate about the best way forward. Recording can be a bit like a 'choose your own adventure book' with thousands of pages and you have to find your way through it. We found that it's always best to try every idea because you never really know if it works until you hear it but by the same merit if your idea doesn't work, it needs to be let go just as swiftly.
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Sometimes it takes several false starts to figure out what's best for a song
When you open the doors to all possibilities it's difficult to sometimes find the right path. There were a couple of songs on the record that took a few versions before we realised what exactly it was they needed. Passport started life with an arrangement that sounded much more like a traditional guitar band before it slowly began to morph into the current album version. We actually completed two whole arrangements before Sam [Rourke, bass player] sat on the piano to break it down to its core parts and almost as a joke gave it that jaunty rhythm. It caught all of our attention enough to see where it went, and after a couple of days of struggling everything just fell into place.
Being uncomfortable is good
We found ourselves pushing towards areas that were uncharted territory for us and it was only natural for us to question whether we were making the right choices but as David Bowie said "If you feel safe in the area you're working in, then you're not working in the right area." On this album we have some of our most 'pop' moments which previously we might have shied away, but have ambitions to put out great songs and have longevity so we explored those ideas. We are adamant that we don't want to repeat ourselves as a band and being comfortable is one of the easiest ways to fall into that trap.
The possibilities are endless
We grew more as a band in the month we spent recording WILOT? than I ever expected we would. We were able to test the boundaries of the identity of the band and produce a record we're all immensely proud of; this album reaches new territory but with all the hallmarks of a Circa Waves record. It's like a blueprint for future records, showing us that as a band we're not restricted to being a boys with guitars but instead we're a band that makes great songs. We're excited to take this new philosophy onto future albums and seeing where it takes us; the future of Circa Waves is unknown and that's for the best.