Interview: Circle

We think that it’s the quantity that counts, not quality.

Back in 2011, I stumbled across as rock band from Finland called Circle. It was at a gig in Corsica Studios in Elephant and Castle, I had originally popped along to see Bad Guys and Teeth of the Sea without a clue who these mystery headliners were. Since then, my life hasn’t been the same. They pretty much blew every band I have ever seen off the stage, it was like my life was a festival and they were the headliners. If you get a chance to see Circle live, grab it with both fucking hands and never let go. I have no idea what makes this band so magical so I won’t even bother trying to explain it, they are just absolutely fucking awesome. They’ve got like a kabillion releases too and there is no finer way to spend your days than trying to explore every single one.

Anyway, their new album entitled Terminal is out now on Southern Lord Recordings (which is fucking UNBELIEVABLE) and I was lucky enough to ask bassist and singer Jussi Lehtisalo a few questions.

(((o))): Hi Circle, how the hell are you?

Jussi: We’re all enjoying summer holidays, taking it easy and gathering strength for the future. We are amazed by the massive attention our latest release has gotten, and we’re excited to spend our fifteen our minutes of fame. All the people in Finland are charging batteries in the midnight sun and dreading the transition back to the dark ages in the autumn.  

(((o))): You are probably the most prolific band I know, how the fuck do you make so many releases?

Jussi: We think that it’s the quantity that counts, not quality. We love a broad range of multidimensional arts where the good, the not so good and the bad are equally represented. We are all of that, the whole spectrum of life. We allow ourselves to do what we want. Making just good records would be synthetic and fake. Being bad sometimes adds inciting insecurity to our art, making it slightly more fragile and humane.  

(((o))): Do you have day jobs or are you full time musicians?

Jussi: We all have day jobs which makes us totally independent in our art.

(((o))): Terminal is an incredible achievement, probably your best. Did you feel that when you recording it? Is that why you went with a bigger label this time around?

Jussi: We made the record in the same way as all the seventy records before this one. We recorded the basic tracks live in a studio, instead of the summer cottage where we usually record, and we were as concentrated on playing as always. If we were athletes, we’d probably think our careers were over. But now, reading the reviews, I feel like we have achieved something special in our old age. We’ve always had unlimited self-confidence, and this will definitely not diminish it. What more can a man wish for? It was nice to make an album for Southern Lord, especially because they seem to appreciate our music. The promotion of the album has exceeded my expectations, and it has been great to see the world once more wake up to Circle’s dinner call.

(((o))): Is Terminal a concept record? What are the songs about, we obviously can’t understand a word of it.

Jussi: It’s a collection of noisy songs with no specific underlying theme. It’s an illustrating example of Circle’s way of making conventional rock and roll and paying homage to its traditions. We don’t even understand all the texts ourselves, because it was inspiration speaking through us, and we simply tried to write it down in shorthand as accurately as possible without aestheticising it.  

(((o))): Finland is a small country population-wise but so much interesting heavy rock music comes from there. Why do you think that is? Tell us more about life in Finland, the more I read about it, the more it sounds like an incredible place to live.

Jussi: For some reason, there’s a broad range of heavy metal music and its subgenres coming from Finland. Heavy metal has been very popular in Finland since the 80s, and there are hardly any families here that don’t have at least one Iron Maiden t-shirt in their wardrobe. Maybe there’s a similar regressive appeal in heavy metal and Finland: the world changes, but we won’t. People and artist here are inspired by the beauty of nature. I drove across Finland to Lapland with my family in the Midsummer, and it was beautiful. I wish that the culture and all the things we cherish were not be focused simply around the big cities, and that we would let the peripheral culture flourish as well.

(((o))): Who is the best band you have ever shared the stage with?

Jussi: It looks like we sharing the stage with Magma next autumn. So obviously it’s Magma.

(((o))): Name 3 bands who Circle think fucking rock…

Jussi: No Trend, Kaija Saariaho, and Cardiacs.

(((o))): If Circle was an animal, what would it be?

Jussi: A sloth.

(((o))): Apart from the new album, what are your plans for this year? Touring the UK by any chance?

Jussi: We’ll probably play a few gigs. We have no gigs scheduled in the UK yet.

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