Anthony Green Interview

Circa Survive has almost reached 10 years since the release of their EP The Inuit Sessions. Descensus, the band’s fifth full length, was released on November 24, and like their video for the track “Schema,” the gentlemen come out swinging… hard. Instrumentally, Circa Survive has progressed since 2005, but it is also within frontman Anthony Green’s voice where he bares his soul in both frustration and clarity. Descensus is Circa Survive’s most personal record to date, as the band had their own personal struggles since Violent Waves. These personal demons outpoured into every chord, every drum kick, soothing or abrasive vocals and it shows in their therapeutic precision when it comes to Descensus. We sat down with Anthony Green and discussed the writing process of the new record, along with their signing to Sumerian Records.
Cliché: The band went through battling a lot of personal moments during the writing of this record. Could the writing processing be compared to Hemingway’s “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places”?
Anthony Green: I think that there is nothing really interesting about being complacent. There are definitely a couple things you could say about being happy, but there are also a lot of things you could say about being frustrated or being lost. As an artist, I feel that we are way better at communicating when we feel lost and out of place.
Your music video for “Schema” was almost intimidating. It reminded me of a nightmare version of Guy Ritchie’s famous fight scene in Snatch when Brad Pitt’s character wouldn’t stay down.
Not all of it, but those fight scenes were definitely referenced when we were putting together the idea for the video!
This record was your first album that you have written sober since the beginning of Saosin. What made you want to write with clarity, so to speak?  
My whole life, I had struggled with drugs and alcohol. After a series of events and numerous wake up calls, I realized that this was the right time for me to do this. It was time for me to stop this journey now with being free of all of that. I have tried every drug and I smoked weed every day of my life for years. I’ve tried everything. There is nothing that I am curious about. I’m never wondering, ‘Oh man, but I’ve never done that, I’ve always wanted to try…’ I am still here and I want to be here.
You find out what you need to find out through stuff like that and you need to move on from there. I got stuck for a really long time. I was stuck in a way where I didn’t want to admit that I was stuck. Being free of all that was really huge for me and not just with writing this record, but in my personal life and everything changed within my relationships with people and also with myself. You can’t have both. As somebody who makes music, I refound this passion by doing this. It was numb and clouded and I was thinking that it was opening my mind or something. I thought,  ‘Oh yeah, I’ll be able to see things differently if I do this,’ but I was seeing it all the same way without realizing. In a week and four days, I will be nine months clean.
There was a vulnerability that happened to me while I was intoxicated and while I was using. It  fucked me up. It did. It fucked me up, but I still managed to put out a bunch of records that I love. It probably took a lot more time than it needed to, but I feel like now, I sat down and wrote a song today, just backstage trying not to be bored. I don’t want to be bored ever again for the rest of my life. When I am on tour and when my kids and my wife aren’t around and if I don’t have stuff going on constantly, I want to write music. I want to have so much music written that when I die, I want my kids to put out my records and for them to get a nickel and dime here and there if they can. I never want to be bored; I want to have a record to put out every year. I want to put out more music as humanly possible and I want you to be so sick of me that I almost have to hold it back.
Circa Survive 2You worked with Will Yip, who helped you all pull together this record with very little before thought. Working with Will, as well as Sumerian, both had welcomed your ambitious creative drive. How did this affect your writing for Descensus?
Well, we wrote the record with Will before we were even talking with Sumerian. We had the record done before we sat down with Sumerian and talked about a deal. That just in itself was a really relieving, freeing feeling. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, we just signed with a label, so now we need to write a record and get it all rolling!’ It was like, ‘Fuck, man. I can’t be at home anymore! I can’t, I need to work, I need to write, need to create and be with my friends.’ With Sumerian, when we started talking to them, we decided it that [signing with the label] would be the best thing to do for ourselves right now. When they heard the record, they were really happy. We made sweet and tender love with this record. They were happy, we were happy and we still are happy, and it is pretty sweet.
As far as I am concerned, what’s great about this situation with Sumerian is I’m done, man. I wrote the record and we [Will and Circa Survive] did our part. We wrote the best record ever. Now we have to go sell it and I don’t have to worry about it this time. Last time we were like, ‘AUGH! Now we have to get this out to people and everyone has to know!’ and now I don’t give a fuck, because it’s not my fucking job. My job is to write songs that I really like and songs that I am so excited about playing. I don’t think that we ever had a record where I was so excited about playing live. I am so stoked to play “Schema” live. It’s such a good song and such a good song to play in a live setting. I haven’t felt that way about songs in a long time. Sometimes you just get on stage and there is a bit of anxiety, because there are some songs that are written where it wasn’t meant for live. There are rituals of exorcism in all these songs that make for a really great live feeling.
Descensus is Latin for “descent.” This is also derived from Virgil’s “Aeneid” in reference to Lake Avernus; the gateway to the underworld, which gave to the term “it is easy to slip into moral ruin” or “the path to hell is easy.” Was this record about the band’s struggle against this moral ruin?
I think the record is really just about not going against yourself or falling out of place with yourself. When you go digging into this record, you are going to find some shit, but for now, I will say that this record is about not falling out of place with yourself.
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 Anthony Green Interview: Photographed by Heather Glock

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