Brian Cook, bassist of instrumental metal band Russian Circles discusses their sound and the benefits of not having a vocalist.

Tell us more about the name Russian Circles.
There's not much to tell; it’s the name of one of the band's earliest songs. Mike (Sullivan, guitarist) and Dave (Turncrantz, drummer) decided to run with it as our moniker.

How would you describe your style of music?
I tell people who aren't into our subculture of music that we're an instrumental rock band. If I'm talking to someone with a better frame of reference for underground music, I tell them we're a punk/progressive band. The post-rock/post-metal tag is used a lot by journalists and fans, but I feel like it’s kind of an empty buzzword.

How do instrumentals, particularly in the genres of rock and metal, capture an audience?
Popular music is vocal based, and that bleeds over into underground music. A lot of heavy music and even indie rock is very instrument-driven. The vocals in those realms of music are often the last piece in the puzzle; as if they're really only there out of an obligation to keep up with convention.

What are some of the things you can do that bands with a vocalist can’t?
Vocals occupy a weird sonic territory. It's far easier to dial in the sound at a concert without trying to fit vocals into the mix. To put vocals at the front of the mix, guitars have to be turned down so that mid-range frequencies aren't battling with the singer. It's infinitely easier not having to worry about that. Not having vocals also means we don't have a microphone on our stage. We don't have to bother with between-song banter; we just set up and play.

What was Russian Circles’ most hardcore on-stage moment?
At a show in Chicago before I joined the band, some guy in the front row was so drunk that he kept falling on the bass player's effects pedals, which was f*cking up his playing. Dave spit on the guy from behind the drum kit and threw a drum stick at him, but the guy kept f*cking up the bass player's gear. Dave got up from behind the kit and started choking the guy, then pushed him out of the front row so the band could continue playing.

What can your fans in Singapore expect?
I'm not sure what our Singaporean fans can expect; we don't even know what to expect. Hopefully it will be loud, dark, and dynamic.

Rock hard to Russian Circles on Sep 18, 8pm at Zouk, 17 Jiak Kim St., 6738-2988. $55 from Hell’s Labyrinth, Praise and www.kittywurecords.com or $65 at the door.