|Performing:||Thursday July 7|
Whether intentional or not, Philadelphia’s Circa Survive have become experts on that critical second word of their band name. With six full-length records and three EPs behind them, the beloved alt-prog/post-hardcore giants are entering their 17th year together amid global upheaval and personal renaissance, creating together while navigating through one of the most unstable chapters in American history. It’s a necessarily existential period, where that one imperative rises to the top: survive.
In early 2020, the band was forced to reschedule the tenth anniversary tour for their groundbreaking 2010 LP Blue Sky Noise. Pushing off the tour—now slated for 2022—and delaying plans for a new record has ushered in a new chapter for Circa Survive.
“We instantly went into scramble mode to figure out how to survive, no pun intended,” says guitarist and backing vocalist Colin Frangicetto, who flew home to Oregon when the pandemic hit and has spent the majority of the pandemic isolated from his bandmates Anthony Green (vocals), Brendan Ekstrom (lead guitar), Nick Beard (bass, backing vocals), and Steve Clifford (drums, percussion). The band collectively shifted to creating and sharing original content on Patreon. When they returned to making music together, the pace was less rushed and more intentional, allowing for more experimentation and conviction in the band’s first new material since 2017’s The Amulet.
Over the past three years Green, still based near Philadelphia, faced his own wrestle with survival. While working on tracks for a new record, Green relapsed on heroin and overdosed. He entered rehab and after coming out, attended daily Narcotics Anonymous meetings. But the pandemic ripped that lifeline away, sending Green—perpetually married to a breakneck pace of creating—into an existential tailspin.
“When I was forced to be home, I didn’t get out of bed for months,” he says. The slow-down, while grueling, prompted Green to reassess his relationship to his records and challenge one of the industry’s oldest myths. “All these years, I’ve been looking at these records that I’ve been making as therapy, right? But they weren’t. They were distracting me. I thought I was working it all out in the song, but the song is just an echo chamber. There’s no response to it, so I wasn’t actually confronting my issues. I’ve really been hiding a lot in the records.”
For Green, this period forced a new balance between his existences as artist and individual, a balance that spilled across all of Circa Survive. That struggle for equilibrium has plagued nearly every rock band of the past 70 years—and taken more than a few lives. Circa Survive is determined to get it right. “To me, it’s a new phase for the band,” says Green.
“For 15 years, we’ve just been touring nonstop. Because of the pandemic, we’ve learned a little bit about what we need to address in our lives. As the band is growing, we need to tour a bit smarter. We need to take care of our mental health and our personal lives. If we’re gonna have a reason to keep playing music, we need to fucking take care of some of this shit.”
After nearly two decades of international tours and festival mainstages, Circa Survive has regrouped to protect one another and their work. They’re playing the long-game. “I want to make 100 more records,” laughs Green. But now, the goal isn’t to simply survive. It’s to thrive.