Interviewer: Simon Russell-White
If you’re a fan of progressive metal music then it’s vital to know of Melbourne four piece Circles their latest album ‘The Last One’ has sent a ripple across this great southern land and beyond since its release in August 2018. In the lead up to Circles upcoming Australian/ New Zealand ‘The Winter Tour’, starting early July, I had the opportunity to chat with guitarist and backing vocalist Ted Furuhashi. Check out our in-depth conversation about all things Circles and much much more……
First off, since the release of Circles second album “The Last One” last August, how has the reception been?
“It’s been very good, when we were writing it and when we’d finished it even up to the point of the day before the release we were all quite nervous because it is a bit of a departure from our previous work and also obviously with a new singer, Ben’s a great vocalist, he’s been one of my favourites for a long time and to have him sing on music that I’ve written has always been a dream come true.
We’re all proud of it, we knew we liked it and at the end of the day that’s what was important to us, we were honest about it and we enjoyed listening to it. The album itself was actually completed, mastered and delivered almost a year before its release, like October 2017, we were sitting on the album for almost a year so we’d already digested it. I mixed, recorded and produced it all, I was very close to it so having that gap and then listening to it maybe 3 months out, re listening to it after about 7 months because I was well and truly done with it (laughs). Listening to it again just as a music listener, it’s so hard to do that as a producer or engineer after working so hard to put every element and sound in it, it’s hard to detach yourself and listen it as a whole so I had to give it a bit of time. Some of the other dudes we listening to it nonstop throughout the recording process but about 2 months out we all listen to it in our own space and our own time and we all came back together and were like you know what? This is actually pretty cool man! We’re happy with it, I’m ok for this to go out to the world!
The response, we were nervous because we weren’t sure how people were going to take it but at the same time we were proud of the product so it didn’t really matter how they took it.”
So with the not so new member now……now that you’ve eluded me to the timeframe, do you think it’s given you guys a bigger presence in the music scene now/ opened some more doors or will open more now with Ben at the front?
“I think so, there hasn’t been much backlash, there’s obviously always people that prefer the old stuff, you know there’s always dudes like that but in general the response has been great most people have been like “wow you guys made a great choice in Ben” “the music really suits his voice”. He’s just a great singer full stop it doesn’t matter if you like him or not a great singer is a great singer.
Trimming down to a four piece is a bit different especially in the whole progressive metal genre which is usually instruments and a soul vocalist, there hasn’t been a vocalist that also plays guitar as well. Even when you look on stage it’s more symmetrical now, it’s like a classic rock setup! (laughs), to have Ben Rechter in the middle, two instrumental guys (Drew Patton – Bass & Ted Furuhashi) on the sides and the drummer (David Hunter) holding it all together, it’s cool aesthetically and even the production guys have said it even looks cool for photos and (live) lighting is cool because they can do some cool s**t with it. It is a bit different as well because it kinder sets us apart from other bands in the genre, plus it saves on touring costs too (laughs).”
With such feel good yet in depth lyrical and musical content how has the latest album translated live?
“I think it’s translated quite well…… we’ve done our best, that’s all we can ask for, we were looking for that YOU GAVE IT A SHOT RIBBON! (Interview halted due to me laughing out loud), we just want one of those participation awards (laughing again). It comes off well, with the dynamics of Ben’s vocals in the live setting it’s a bit hard to get that really right, in the studio you can manipulate sounds and can change volumes as you go whereas live you have to actually hone into the intricate details to be able to play it the right way live. We’ve been focusing a lot on that in our rehearsals and have been tweaking the sounds on our guitar/ bass amps and even doing certain harmonies live and having certain things in the backing track and also trying to figure the best process to get the sound across the best way we can to get the messages and to get the emotion across live, it’s difficult but I think we’re getting there.”
That’s awesome, alright, let’s get down to the business at hand, “The Winter Tour” kicks off in Wellington, New Zealand July 4th, which includes 11 dates stretching all over New Zealand and Australia, how keen are you guys to get back on the road?
“Pretty keen we had a taste of it with Progfest this year, the end of last year was mental we did Tesseract then overseas then came back straight onto a tour with Dead Letter Circus, Christmas then year done, that last three months was like a blur to us, it felt like 2 days. So obviously the Progest turnout was great and was well received, it was just good vibes so we’re super keen to be able to perform live again and to be able to play our own show, it will be a bit more relaxed and we can play a longer set as well we haven’t played our own headlining set for a couple of years so we’re really excited to do that and actually hang out with the fans!. Usually when you’re in a support slot it hard because you’re always running around and you have to do your own merch and you have to pack up your own stuff before the main band gets on and all that kind of stuff. With the headlines we can be a bit more relaxed then after the show we can basically hang out until the venue kicks us out.”
So, City Of Souls from New Zealand and Ballarat, Victoria quintet Ebonivory are playing almost every show, from an outsider looking in it sounds like this is going to be a killer show for the fans! Any collaborations with the bands together? Or are you going to do your own thing or?
“Ummm… we actually haven’t, that’s a good idea we haven’t even thought of that we’re too far into our own s**t that we didn’t even think about it, obviously we still do a lot of our own leg work in terms of logistics and it’s all done by ourselves so we’re kind of scrambling to get it all done so once all that’s done we might open up a dialogue there, I’m sure we could do like a singer swap at some stage! I reckon that would be cool!
I’m just more stoked to watch them play and to see those 2 bands every night and just slay it. It’s gonna be fun but also it’s gonna be difficult because they’re both such killer bands like I saw Ebonivory for the first time the other day and I was like holy s**t these guys are cool and are all really nice dudes as well. City Of Souls is a class act, they’re a New Zealand super band so yeah we’ve got our work cut out for us, and we really need to step up our game and really bring it this time! It’s a great package, even if I wasn’t in one of the bands I would definitely go to the shows, not to sound egotistical or anything but even if it was another band or if it wasn’t even Circles playing or even if it was just those 2 bands it would be awesome to go to see them, so yeah it’s going to be a fun tour.”
Now a bit of sad news, I did note the last date of the tour is at the famous Karova Lounge in Ballarat and on that it’s been announced its closing, any thoughts?
“I saw that too, yesterday, I was like we’ve played there before, I’ve been there on a night out a few times, I’ve got a few friends in Ballarat and every now and then I’ll just go up there and party and have a good time, it was one of the places we went to, it’s a bit sad how a lot of venues are closing like that, I’m not too sure what the story is there but’s it’s still sad to see it go.
We’re also very honoured to be able to play one of their last ever shows there.”
Now I always like to throw this question at anyone I interview, you’ve been a musician for a fair while now, what is the one memory on stage/ or been a part of being in a band that sticks out as the coolest thing you’ve seen?
“The coolest thing to me is we played a show in Glasgow, Scotland and there was this lady who came up to us before we played and she had been listening to our music for a while and she had a brain tumour and she was going through a really tough time, she was telling us how our music had helped her through that really tough time. I was like…. this is insane and I just gave her a big hug and we both cried, it was a really special moment especially for us coming from the other side of the world to play a little venue in Glasgow and she came down to see us. It was a big moment for both of us and obviously that’s why we do it really and being on stage and she was just loving it, that was a really special moment for me, the show was small with only like 50 people there at the most but that was by far my favourite show.”
Wow what a story, thank you for sharing that with us that was amazing, I have goose bumps. Alright, lastly, what does the next 12 months have instore for Circles?
“A lot of album writing which has already started, we’ve got a lot of demos on the go, there will be more touring, we’re looking to go overseas later in the year and we’re looking at shooting a lot of content. As well as producing all of our stuff I’m looking at shooting a lot of video content of how we came to be in the beginning to the end product which I think is cool, I love band docos with them in the studio when they’re creating a song or an album and seeing that magic happen, that’s what really excites me and to be able to make that would be cool.”
Ohh wow that’s very cool, I’ve always kept my old music doco dvd’s man so I think you and I have a similar vibe there, that’s very cool, I look forward to that and I’m sure the fans will too, that’s very exciting to hear!
Thank you for your time tonight Ted, it’s really appreciated.
“Likewise man and thanks for chatting to me.”
Be sure to check out the Circles facebook event page or go to their website http://www.circles.band for all details and tickets for ‘The Winter Tour’.
THE ‘WINTER’ TOUR
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND TOUR 2019
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS CITY OF SOULS & EBONIVORY
Thursday July 4 – Valhalla, Wellington*^
Friday July 5 – Galatos, Auckland*^
Saturday July 6 – Club Tavern, Christchurch*^
Thursday July 11 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Friday July 12 – Jive, Adelaide
Saturday July 13 – Max Watts, Melbourne
Friday July 19 – The Zoo, Brisbane
Saturday July 20 – Badlands, Perth^
Friday July 26 – The Basement, Canberra**
Friday August 2 – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave**
Saturday August 3 – Karova Lounge, Ballarat**
*City Of Souls Headline **City Of Souls Not Appearing
^Ebonivory Not Appearing
TICKETS ON SALE NOW