In the close-to-two-years that have passed since the release of Circa Waves’ second album ‘Different Creatures’, it’s safe to say the Liverpool four-piece have been busy. As part of their relentless touring schedule, they ticked off their childhood dream of playing high-up sets at Reading & Leeds and Glastonbury, toured the UK and the US several times over and are continuing to play ever-bigger stages from here on out.
But despite their momentum, when frontman Kieran Shudall started to work on what would eventually become third album ‘What’s It Like Over There?’ following the band’s late 2017 US tour, things didn’t immediately go as planned.
“I started writing and I wasn’t having that much luck to be honest,” he explains. “Then I went to get a guitar from our lock-up and found this book from the American tour and it had all these short stories and lyrics and things about America that I didn’t really remember writing. It was kind of like a treasure chest of songs written by somebody else.”
Re-inspired and with an entire new notebook of lyrics and observations in hand, the band reconvened with ‘Different Creatures’ producer Alan Moulder, transporting themselves from sunnier climates to a studio in not-so-sunny West Hampstead in early 2018, while the UK was in the midst of heavy snow and some of the worst weather it had seen for a decade.
“It was quite a juxtaposition,” Kieran laughs. “All these sun-kissed LA sort of ideas but all being formed in this really freezing cold, snowy studio.”
"It was kind of like a treasure chest of songs written by somebody else."
— Kieran Shudall
The influence of the band’s time Stateside is all over ‘What’s It Like Over There?’ - a record that boasts widescreen ambition and sunny pop hooks. Early fans will no doubt recognise the signature Circa Waves jangly guitar line in latest single ‘Movies’, but there’s plenty of evidence that the band are keen to broaden their scope on album three, from the R&B-tinge of ‘Me, Myself & Hollywood’ to the massive, stadium-baiting chorus of opener ‘Sorry I’m Yours’.
Importantly, this time around the band didn’t let themselves be defined by their set roles, swapping instruments throughout the record, with bassist Sam Rourke learning the piano in order to add new sounds to their repertoire. Switching from a major to an independent label for the release also allowed them "more control", Kieran explains.
"It’s a very ambitious record I think in that we’ve not shied away from the pop element of it," he adds. "It really gave us the freedom to make this album whatever we wanted, which is strange that by going onto an independent label it’s probably our most poppy sounding record yet."
'What's It Like Over There?' is out 5th April via PIAS / Prolifica Inc.
As featured in the December 2018 / January 2019 issue of DIY, out now.