Once again, our intrepid and talented southern-UK reporter Sarah Stead has filed a report that delves into the grimy madness at the heart of a young rock band.
She spoke to The Circus Sands, a young, exhilarating rock group from the south-east about sweat, ceilings bowing from the weight of the moshpit and the vital importance of whether T-Rex was an influence (or not)…
The first time I interviewed The Circus Sands, front man Simon Corcoran was hungover, wearing a strip of material as a tie and there was an earring holding his shirt together.
This time, seven months later, things are looking a whole lot better.
The band – who hail from Reading and Newbury – have been gigging non-stop since then, including slots at a few summer festivals, and at the end of November they released their first EP, Dr Death.
“The EP has been around for a long time,” said Corky.
“We recorded it in September 2008 but it’s just taken this long to get the money together to get the CDs made.”
Playground magazine recently gave away 15,000 copies of the EP’s title track to accompany an interview and review, but there are only 200 copies of the EP itself, which are almost all sold out already.
It’s a foot-stomping four track introduction to the band, whose scuzzy, lip-biting rock and roll is reminiscent of a less explicit Louis XIV, or a less Swedish Hives. And sometimes it’s arty, but arty like Tracy Emin is arty.
“I don’t think anybody’s ever said they don’t like it…” said Corky.
The three-piece play raw, hip shaking, danceable rock but, by and large, are taking a break from performing at the moment.
“It’s been a busy year for us,” said bassist James Hallett. “We must have played at least 60 gigs, it felt right to stop for a while. We’ve been playing the same songs for a year so it was time to have a little break and write some new stuff which we’re hoping to record later this month so we can release two more EPs next year. You could say the band is pregnant at the moment!”
A few days later I learned that by ‘pregnant at the moment’ Hallett actually meant they were about to announce they’d grown a fourth member, Jake Ambridge, but weren’t going to tell me about it. Cheers mate.
Anyway, back at the interview and, as the empty Bulmers bottles stacked up, I asked Corky how the music has evolved since the Dr Death EP was recorded.
“Well, we’ve got a lot of new guitar pedals!” he said. “We’ve tried to get a bit more experimental, we’re aiming for nice melodies and songs you can sing to but keeping the dirty, sexy element to it.
“We’re trying to get away from the garage rock sound, though. We’d like to be a bit more ‘out there’ and a bit more weird sounding, but keeping the melodies.”
Chris said, “The thing is that we’ve stuck to our guns and we’re not just going for what’s cool now.
“We’re rock and roll. There’s a lot of nu rave stuff around but we keep doing what we’re doing. “So many bands think they’re the next big thing but don’t put the legwork in, like travelling back from a gig til 3am then getting up for work the next day.”
Despite a prestigious slot at Basingstoke Festival in July (“We were the act on before Chipmunk so technically we can say we supported him,” said Hallett), Corky said the highlight of the year was gigs in Taunton and Brighton on consecutive days.
The band are nothing if not hardworking. They have gigged all over the South and their live shows are always high-octane, energetic and sweaty.
Chris – who is without fail totally drenched in his own sweat after each gig – recalled with a proud grin, “At one place we played in Bristol it was so hot I passed out afterwards.
“At Birdcage in Portsmouth we had about 150 in this room upstairs, and the ceiling was bowing in the room below.That was a brilliant night!”
In between Chris and Hallett arguing about the band’s influences (“T Rex,” “We’re not influenced by T Rex at all,” “I am,” “But we’re not even slightly glam,” “I am.”), telling bad jokes, slagging off bands that ‘don’t work hard enough’ and debating how old Ian Curtis was when he died, we somehow got an interview done.
The Circus Sands are one of my favourite Reading bands to hang out with. Like their music they’re dirty and sexy and, as Corky said, they’re always up for the after parties. Bring it!
Download the Dr Death EP on iTunes and listen at www.myspace.com/thecircussands