Circa Waves’ Joe Falconer on rock and roll, touring and youthfulness: “I don’t really like sitting still”

Over the past two years, Circa Waves have enjoyed success at what seems like breakneck speed. Having released their debut album Young Chasers earlier this year, they’ve been playing the festival circuit, winning people over with high energy performances, championing a new wave of fun, energetic guitar music. Here for their second Splendour venture in as many years, the band are also playing a bunch of sideshows supporting fellow Liverpudlians The Wombats. This afternoon, had a chat to guitarist Joe Falconer about music, tour life and of course the beast that is Splendour In The Grass.

Hi, how you going?

I’m good, how are you?

I’m good, thanks. Where are you…are you in Queensland now?

Yeah, we’re in Brisbane, which is alright, you know. Not too bad.

You’ve got the first show of the tour later today, how are you feeling? Have you just arrived or have you had some time to adjust and settle in?

Yeah, we’ve got the Splendour warm up. We got here… probably like. Midnight on Tuesday. So we had all day yesterday to kind of try and recover, but my sleeping pattern isn’t quite back to normal. But I’m looking forward to playing, I don’t like sitting around in a hotel. I would much rather prefer to be playing music.

I guess it’s also a lot of waiting around to get here as well. To get to Australia.

Yeah, it takes like a full day. We intend to put the most into the gigs and make the most out of it.

You were here in January, back pretty soon really, not many people come back quite that often because it is so far.

We’ve been really lucky with that! It seems we’ve been very fortunate with the first couple of opportunities and people in Australia want us to come back and we keep getting invited – it’s fun.

So, the last two times you’ve come to Australia were before your album dropped. Do you have any new feelings or expectations for your shows here now that you’re back with an album under your belt?

Yeah, this is time number three!

Yeah, I think it’s always good. In Europe the difference between before and after the album has been quite big. It’s always nice to play and see a crowd sing along to the words. I think we still… Because it’s so far away…  like to win people over is by playing shows.  So I still think despite the album being out, we’re not sort of complacent to the reception that we’re going to get and we still wanna win people over and I think because we’re doing support slots and a festival date, that’s the best kind of shows to be doing that. You know? Playing shows for people who aren’t necessarily there to see you. I think if you’ve come this far that’s the best kind of people to play for at this stage in your career because it means you know, that you can win over more people so you can come back in the future.

I mean, personally I really do love the album, I thought it was really fun and really refreshing to listen to actually… and I’m going to be seeing you guys in Melbourne and I’m really looking forward to that. But… The whole Circa Waves existence: from formation to EP to LP and there’s been a whole lot of touring in between, has been kind of a whirlwind – do you ever get to stop?  Or do you want to ever?

Thank you!

I think you kind of crave it some times when it’s kind of at its most hectic. But for me personally, I don’t really like sitting still. Before festival season started we had a little bit of time off and I felt like I was just itching to get out.

There’s so many places I want to go to and play. But if I’m sat at home not doing that I feel like I’m wasting time. I think we’re quite used to the whole touring life now, I think you sort of get into a routine of getting dragged around from city to city and feeling kind of exhausted and its totally worth it – it’s the best job in the world. It’s completely rewarding to go somewhere completely from home and look out to a crowd and see people really digging what you’re doing.

Do you get much time to go and have a look around? Or do you just play shows and then you’re off again?

Um, it really depends on where we are. Weirdly we’ve had quite a lot of time in Australia the last few times we’ve been here. Last time in January we had four days off in Melbourne which is completely unheard of. But I find if I really wanna stay somewhere, that’s the place we don’t get to stay.

Where’s been one of the places that’s happened?

San Francisco – we were there for twelve hours. But the way I see it, I’m trying to think of places I think are cool that I want to go back to in my own time and do it properly… give each city the proper attention it deserves.

So, you’ve all been in bands before, it’s not like you just picked up and “let’s start a band” and then this all happened – without having been I bands before that is. What do you think it is about CW that people have been so connected to?

That’s a good questions, I think for us… It feels exciting. Its like you said, listening to the album is like a refreshing experience. I think a lot of music in the last 10 years has been really slowed down and become really electronic and the way that people make music… a lot of its good! But it keeps getting more complicated, there’s a lot more electronic stuff. I think that it shouldn’t feel like that much of a thing to be just four guys to be playing the standard rock and roll set up.

But there wasn’t too many people doing that when we started out two years ago. A lot of it is that Kieran’s a really good songwriter, I think his songs are unbelievably catchy, they’re very straight to the point. On the album the subject matter is instantly relatable and its about youth and doesn’t take itself overly seriously. Which for some people might be a criticism but I think you just… I don’t know, if you go to a show that we play and you see people having a good time that’s where it makes the most sense to me.

Yeah exactly. I think the whole point of going to a show, for me, is to have fun…

Yeah, exactly! There’s not been loads of that lately. We gets kids at 15 or 16 coming to our shows and like they weren’t around when The Strokes and The Libertines and those sort of bands were around and there was just a lot of rock and roll, so we’re like their first band that they’ve seen that are like that and that energy is the key to Circa Waves. That energy and youthfulness.

I’ve got to ask you a little about Splendour…You were here last year in 2014, what are you looking forward to about it this second time around a year later?

Well, a couple of things. We get more time there! We get to spend actually a couple of days at the festival. We’re on the Saturday at about 1 o’clock and I were going down to Byron Bay on Friday so I wanna go straight to the site and see some bands and when we’re done sort of by 1 on the Saturday. I think last year… I remember being completely disoriented because we flew in at some stupid time and I think we were all a mess and I walked around the festival site and thought it was just like a really cool place.

I always make a point of trying to walk around a festival I go to just to see what the crowds are like because they all differ so much. I remember thinking that Splendour had a really good vibe and I think of want to see that a bit more. And we were also quite daunted by the whole Australian festival crowd before but I think now I’m looking forward to seeing the difference from January that the album’s made.

Did you find that the Australian crowd was very different compared to other festivals you’ve played?

No, I was just surprised by how big it was and how enthusiastic they were. Obviously we’d never been before and it’s so far away it’s kind of impossible to gauge where you’re at with each place but it went over really well. So we’ve got high expectations this year.

People get really into it I think because we don’t get that many big festivals here. Like Splendour’s not very big compared to other festivals around the world, but it’s our big one.

Yeah – it’s really cool. The bands that they book… it’s a really good line up. Its takes a lot of commitment for an organiser to put down that sort of effort to get that many people in the country at the same time and to do all of the sideshows as well. Because it’s a long way for all of these people to come and I think that it’s a testament to Australia’s enthusiasm for music and the people who run Splendour’s commitment to giving it to the people.

What bands are you looking forward to seeing?

I know Ryan Adams is playing, I don’t know what day. Hopefully not Sunday because I need to go see him, that’s’ the most important thing. I don’t know. My favourite thing to do is to not really plan, just turn up, getting everything on the day and see what happens because otherwise I might be disappointed if I don’t get to see someone. I learnt my lesson at Glastonbury – it’s impossible! It’s insane, it takes like an hour to walk across the whole site. There’ not point in trying to meet anyone and see bands, you’ve just got to let it happen.

You said that last time you were able to walk around Splendour without being recognised, you think it’ll be the same deal this time?

Yeah… I’m just the guitarist, no one cares about me! No I don’t think we’re famous in Australia… or anywhere. If someone wants to come and say hi it’s cool, give me a drink of their goon sack or whatever it is Australian people drink.

So you’ve sampled goon before?

I have! And someone made me slap it afterwards? If that’s the thing that you have to do. I love that that’s a very Australian approach to drinking.

It’s got a lot of practical uses, because once it’s empty, you have a pillow. Cause you can blow it back up and sleep on it. You might seem them at Splendour.

Surely has anyone ever slept on it and it burst it just went everywhere?

You have to drink it first and then blow it up.

But how functional are your motor skills at that point to be able to go “right, now it’s time to blow up the thing?” Once you’ve drunk it. Because that’s quite a lot of booze.

I guess you share it, but then you might fight over who gets the pillow.

Whoever paid for it! That seems fair.

Well, thanks for chatting to me! I’m looking forward to seeing your set in Melbourne!

Cool! Catch you later. Bye!