It’s no secret that the members of CIRCLES have been around the Chicago music block a few times. Featuring members of THE PONYS, FOOTBALL, RADAR EYES, THE HOLY GHOSTS, and and even one of our own talent buyers, the band just released their first LP, Shadowgraph, out on the band’s own label, Diminished Arc. The group has all but perfected that careless, jangly power-pop sound. With upbeat anthems about dead friends, sweet lullabies to newborns, and a report on Marcus Gravey, Shadowgraph takes the listener on a roller coaster ride through self-aware ironies and tender moments, threading them with foot tappin’, hip shakin’ guitar and organ-driven pop, complete with vocal harmonies. Tomorrow CIRCLES will be celebrating their release that was three years in the making, alongside BARE MUTANTS and OUTER MINDS.
Earlier this week, as I sat and listened to Shadowgraph in it’s entirety for the third and fourth times, I talked with Sirini and Melissa about their start at Playboy, how having a baby changes your game, and the harsh reality of long distance relationships.
All I have to say about it is this: Sirini, I haven’t met you but your sass and aura are radiating from the west coast, through my computer screen, blasting me right in the face. If your charisma and wit are even half as pungent IRL as they are via e-mail, then we are all in for a treat when CIRCLES grace our stage Friday night.
ASHLEIGH DYE: CIRCLES has been around for the better part of 3 years, but this is your first full length LP. What was the hold up? How does it feel to have Shadowgraph out now?
SIRINI: RADHAKRISHNA: Hold up??!? It took 11 years for one of my old bands, THE GUILTY PLEASURES, to have our record released, so 3 years doesn’t really seem that long. Maybe it’s a generational thing? I’m going to assume you’re much younger and accustomed to instant gratification? But yes, it does feel good to have something tangible to show for the minutes that went into making it.
AD: What’s the recipe for pop music for educated, upper-middle class, pretentious white people?
SR: It’s simple. Put in very little effort, haphazardly place shit together, and call it “art.”
AD: What was the best part about recording with Mike Lust? What was the worst part about recording with Mike Lust? Did “The Glove” make an appearance?
SR: Wait, is “the glove” a thing or did you read about that incident in another interview? If it’s the latter, you already know the answer. Mike Lust? Never heard of him. Is he a porn star? Am I supposed to know that because I worked at Playboy 14 years ago? Oh wait, I do remember him. Good actor.
AD: What did you all do at Playboy? How is it essential to the CIRCLES history?
SR: I worked in Rights & Permissions, which was as boring as it sounds. Ken was a web designer, and Melissa worked in magazine’s photo department. We knew each other beforehand, but that’s where we really bonded over our appreciation for the 20 year old, redneck, NASCAR fan’s vision of beauty.
AD: In the words of Tyra Banks, how do you all “make it work” living across the country?
SR: It won’t. Long distance relationships seldom work, so I replaced them with BAY ARYANS. It will probably be a bit more pysch-pop sounding now. Jon Dwyer is already on board to produce the next record.
AD: Melissa, how has having a baby altered your role in the band? Has it changed the way you create music?
MELISSA ELLIAS: It was originally Srini, Ken and I as a 3-piece. I was playing bass, keyboards and vocals. I knew I wouldn’t want to play as much after being a mom, so they replaced me with AJ on bass and Christen on keyboards. Srini asked me to be a part of the new recordings and saved a song for me to take lead vocals on. This record release show is the only time I will have played live with the new line up. It should be fun. The only thing that has changed is subject matter. I write about whatever is consuming me at the time. It used to be darker and now my head is in a different place.
AD: Can your baby play any instruments yet?
ME: My baby plays the drums, guitar and tambourine. All better than me.
AD: What grade would you give your report/song on Marcus Gravey? What other influential character would you write a song about?
SR: Marcus Garvey would probably get a B+ as a 5th grade book report. I’ve been tempted to write a song about Casey Kasem, but I may have to hold off for a bit because it’s “too soon.”
Get your tickets to the show here.
[Words & Interview by Ashleigh Dye; Cover photo by: John Sturdy]