We have been a big fan of The Black Circles since we first saw them back in 2013. This friday we see the release of their Album, ‘Hold On’, which follows last summers self titled debut EP (read our review here).
Mixing Blues and Rock & Roll, the band are set for great year. With the launch show fast approaching, we get in touch with Sam Bratley (Vocals & Guitar) to talk about the band, completed by Martin Saunders (Bass) & Josh Winter (Drums).
[WAM]: So, since The Black Circles played for [WAM] in November , what has the band been up to?
Sam: Writing, recording, gigging, recording a music video, a lot really. Obviously the last couple of months we have been mainly focused on getting our debut album ‘Hold On’ ready for release.
[WAM]: If you met someone who has never heard The Black Circles, how would you describe the band to them in one sentence?
Sam: Dirty Blues full of attitude with a healthy shot of good, honest rock for good measure. Big riffs, power-house bass lines and a solid back beat.
[WAM]: Friday is your debut album launch show, what can you tell us about the album?
Sam: We’re all really happy with the way it turned out. There’s quite an eclectic mix of songs on there, ranging from old school rock tracks with thunderous riffs, to more mellow numbers which build nicely into a powerful climax. We tried to be as broad as possible, without letting it sound like a load of different songs just thrown together, it still flows nicely.
We’ve still put a strong emphasis on our blues roots, and the songs show that, but we also experimented with tracks which sound almost “industrial” and slightly sinister. A few songs are also old ones that we’ve revisited. They were good songs in their own right and we didn’t want them to be relegated to the scrap heap.
[WAM]: Do you have a favourite song from the album?
Sam: It’s hard to choose just one, each one could be considered a ‘Stand Alone’ track. Oddly enough, we were all happily surprised with how ‘Come Together’, the only cover on the album, turned out.
[WAM]: Where was the album recorded and how did you approach it compared to the debut EP?
Sam: It was actually recorded in the same studio as the EP, Frog studios in Warrington. It just made sense to do it there. We worked with Mark Walker on the EP first time round and he did a great job, easy to work with as well as making it fun, so we didn’t really have to think twice as to where to record the album. The main difference to the EP was were able to delegate much more time to recording and layering up the tracks as well spending more time on the mixing process.
[WAM]: You played at the Warrington Music Festival last year on the main stage, putting in what many thought to be one of the highlight sets. How important was the festival in getting the band noticed?
Sam: It was very beneficial we felt, not only on a personal satisfaction level as a band, but it enabled us to perform in front of a large number of people that otherwise wouldn’t have known we existed. The festival not only allowed us to appeal to a new audience but also helped us in terms of gaining new contacts and getting to know the other bands in the local music scene, leading to future gig opportunities.
[WAM]: A self-titled EP followed in the August after your festival performance, mastered by Jesse Davey of ‘The Hoax’, what was it like having his input into your sound?
Sam: We’ve been fortunate enough to develop a very good relationship with Jesse, and the rest of the guys from ‘The Hoax’ for that matter. We really can’t speak highly of him enough. He’s been extremely helpful to us in many ways, from mastering our EP, performing on our new album to conducting photo shoots and filming our latest music video, and, again, providing valuable contacts. He’s a great guy with masses of experience and knows how to get the most from any band situation.
[WAM]: It’s fair to say the likes of Hendrix etc are an inspiration behind the music you play, what sort of reaction do you get from people from younger audiences who may not have that connection?
Sam: The reaction has always been positive, from both younger and older audiences, everybody seems to appreciate and take different things from it. Obviously people are aware of our influences through our music and see our “tip of the hat” to guys such as Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan but we try to add a modern twist and freshness to our sound and not be “pigeon-holed” into one particular genre or style.
[WAM]: Sam, you place alot of value in collaborating with others,which included recently playing with Laurence Jones on his recent UK tour at the beginning of May, who would you like to work with in the future?
Sam: That was a great night! Laurence is such a great guy and a storming player. There are lots of great artists out there in the blues/rock scene at the moment. We recently supported Virgil and The Accelerators on part of their UK tour, again, a great bunch of guys and an amazing band. I feel it’s important to network with different artists/bands, we’ve been lucky to work with and build relationships with these guys.
[WAM]: What are your plans for 2014? Any plans yet to play further afield than you have in the first 12 months?
Sam: We aim to keep doing what we’re doing and grow from here. As far broadening our area we’re always looking to branch out and see where it takes us.
Interview by Lee Harman
‘Hold On’ will be available from iTunes, Amazon from Friday 23rd May