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Local Stage Prowress: Circle Pit

As a whirlwind of hype continues to sweep up anything with long hair, skin-tight denim and fashion accessibility, Circle Pit boast no stifling pretensions or studied ideals. Instead they have carved a troublesome and often glorious niche in their own corner of the music scene, serving as a reminder that times certainly are changing for the better.

Since first entering our collective musical consciousness, Angela Bermuda and Jack Mannix have been just as notorious for their considerable on stage prowess as they have been for their blistering shameless rock and roll attitude and staggering work ethic. Originally both members of the now defunct Kiosk, it was the formation of Circle Pit that marked the true beginning of Angela and Jack’s creative partnership. “We always wanted to make music together and even though we’ve done a lot of stuff before, it was never really what we wanted to do,” says Jack.

“In our other bands there were always other collaborators,” explains Angela. “Circle Pit has been around for a couple of years now so I suppose it’s been a progression of us moving closer together. It’s the first thing we’ve done that has been run by us.”

Their resulting effort is the epic soon-to-be-released album, Bruise Constellation which they recorded in two days alongside current band members Harriet Hudson, Jeffery Lewis and Al Haddock. “When we were recording, I don’t think we really realised we were recording an album. We were just demo-ing songs for an album and then they ended up being good enough to release,” says Jack. “The songs came together as an album not really all that consciously,” adds Angela.

Set for release on American label Siltbreeze, Bruise Constellation blisters with energy and attitude – a self-awareness that isn’t the easiest to find. Consistent from end to end, the drums are razor sharp and the guitar loose and jangly, both of which complement the ease and flow of Angela and Jack’s vocals throughout the album’s forty-minute span. Opening track ‘Wave Machine’ surges ferocious guitar that shifts between serene and volatile, whereas crowd favourite ‘Another Trick’ creeps into the listener’s consciousness, striking the right balance between lo-fi melodies and vocal harmonics.

Contrasting notably with the rest of the album, ‘Infinity’ reveals a richer and more resonant direction for a group who has made a name out of fun and frivolous live shows. Behind twangy guitars and a down tempo drum beat, Jack’s voice, alone and aching, is one of the record’s quietest moments – and one of its most powerful.

Fans needn’t fear their beloved Circle Pit are getting too soft though. On ‘Bruise Constellation’, not only is the band’s playing more experimental and varied, but it’s also louder and faster, and lyrically far more developed than expected from any twenty-something year old duo. “We tend to use recurring themes in our lyrics and by repeating words and imagery and metaphors, we try to create our own language that people can identify as being Circle Pit,” says Jack. “The lyrics can be quite abstract but they’re always very personal and come directly from our experiences together and separately.”

Despite those sentiments, in the past Circle Pit have gained a reputation as a bar and warehouse band, albeit one with brains and one that plays bigger and better bars and warehouses. They’re also a band not afraid to take on a support slot. In January they could be found in various venues opening for the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and in the past have also undertaken touring at the bequest of No Age, St Helens and Love Of Diagrams. For Circle Pit, those supports merely reinforce their love of playing music and while YYY’s audiences may have been left slightly confused, it was an experience the band will never forget.

“The YYY’s are such a different band to us,” says Jack. “Their crowd, in general, doesn’t necessarily have the same values or tastes as we do, so it was fun to play to people we knew were coming into the show with either an absolute lack of knowledge about the band or an idea that they were not going to like us. It was fun playing to huge crowds, but because they weren’t actually our crowds there was no pressure. ”

While they are growing increasingly popular in the local scene, Circle Pit are now chipping away at wider audiences overseas. Tying in with the release of ‘Bruise Constellation’, the band are headed to America in June to tour with Pink Reason (who have already proudly proclaimed Circle Pit ‘the coolest band in Australia’). “Hopefully if anyone in America likes us it will help expand our fan base,” laughs Jack. “We want to play to as many people as we can.”

Before heading off overseas, Circle Pit have a few local shows lined up, starting this Thursday at the Annandale Hotel alongside Wooden Shjips and Naked On The Vague. Tickets are $33 and available online or at the venue.
If you miss out this week, you can catch the unmistakable raw energy of their live show on March 25th for free at Oxford Art Factory with Royal Headache.

words: Jacinda Fermanis


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