“We’re going to have a durian fruit-eating competition”: Interview with Russian Circles

Why the name Russian Circles?

Mike and Dave first met each other as kids on rival hockey teams. Back then, Russia’s Olympic hockey team was a force to be reckoned with, and hockey coaches in the Midwest looked to their training regimen. One of their primary drills was a skating exercise that involved skating in figure eights around the face-off spots on the rink. These were dubbed “Russian circles”. There was something vaguely militaristic in that designation, and I guess it stuck in Mike and Dave’s heads.

Who or what are some of your musical inspirations?

We hold Fugazi as a major influence. Outside of that, it varies quite a bit. There’s the requisite classic rock, prog stuff, old metal, some of the newer caustic metal variety, the darker spectrum of indie rock, some ‘90s hardcore, hip-hop.

 Your music is very experimental. How do you know what will work and what won’t, or is it purely by instinct?

If it gives us goosebumps, it’s working. That’s pretty much the only real test. There aren’t any real boundaries or rules, though I think we all try to keep a reasonable grasp on what we can pull off in a live setting.

Tell us more about your fifth album, Memorial. How is it different from your previous releases?

Every album has a slightly different creative process. With Memorial, we wanted to go back to the fidelity quality of Geneva, but we also wanted to allow ourselves the breathing room to make broad creative decisions in the studio like we did with Empros. While the song structures were pretty much mapped out in advance of going into the studio, I would wager that over half of the bass lines for the record were reworked and changed in the studio.

What are some of your hobbies outside of music?

The funny thing about doing music full-time is that it means we’re doing our hobby full-time. So it’s weird to think of a hobby outside of our primary hobby. Mike and Dave are still big hockey fans. They both play on local teams and follow the NHL. I do a little bit of writing. Mainly stuff for music websites and record labels, but I’ve also been dabbling in some fiction. That’s mainly it. 

Are guys looking forward to your Asia tour?

We’re super excited. We’re going to have a durian fruit-eating competition. 

Catch Russian Circles on July 20, 8pm. at Zouk.