Russian Circles Interview With Philthy Mag

Although they’ve apparently been trying to slow their touring, shortly after the August release of their seventh studio LP, Blood Year, Chicago post-metal instrumental trio Russian Circles quickly returned to the road.  The band spent the second half of September touring with support from their local peers in FACS, and they’re currently on a run of dates with support from doom metal outfit Windhand, which will have them at Union Transfer this Sunday, October 27th.  Blood Year, which was released on Sargent House, has the band attempting to replicate the energy of their live show – which has made its mark on the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection a number of times over the years – and has been largely regarded as their most aggressive record yet.  Yesterday I got a chance to chat with Russian Circles bassist Brian Cook about their latest sounds… among other things. 

Izzy Cihak: Since this is a Philadelphia-based publication, I’m curious about your thoughts on the city.  You’ve played here a bunch of times. 

Brian Cook: I’ve always found Philly to be interesting in that when I first started touring with hardcore bands back in the mid-‘90s it was one of the few cities where people actually lived in the city center, and one of the few cities where we’d actually play downtown. We’d never play LA; we’d play Orange County. We’d never play in Manhattan; we’d play in New Jersey or out on Long Island. And now as we’ve seen people re-populating city centers over the last two decades, we’ve watched all these major cities go through these dramatic makeovers, but Philly keeps its gritty character. I like that aspect of city… it seems immune to the whitewash of commercialism. 

Izzy: Your latest LP, Blood Year, has been out for a little while now.  Have you had any favorite responses to it, whether from fans, critics, or just friends? 

Brian: I avoid reading our own press or online comments. And I imagine our friends are polite enough to keep any negative criticisms to themselves. So, I don’t really have any feedback highlights. I’m not naïve enough to boast that we make our music in some sort of vacuum of outside influence, but as someone that’s done music writing and journalism for a number of outlets over the last 12 years and seen how that side of things works, I’ve come to be a bit skeptical towards critics, so I prefer to ignore writers’ assessments of our work. The press is under so much pressure to provide content that I don’t think there’s a lot of genuine attentive listening to new music. I think it’s a lot of cursory listens and snap judgments. I’m much more prone to reading personal blogs or trustworthy sources’ private social media feeds for music suggestions as I think the enthusiasm in those formats is more insightful.