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Circa Waves on how ‘unprecedented times’ shaped the sound of their new album

Ahead of releasing 'Never Going Under', frontman Kieran Shudall tells Rolling Stone UK about the darker themes to their fifth album

By Nick Reilly

Circa Waves (Picture: Press(

As Circa Waves gear up to release their fifth album, the Liverpool group have spoken about how fatherhood and global threats influenced their latest record.

The indie group return tomorrow with Never Going Under, which contains some of their most contemplative material to date. While the group’s guitar-pop sound remains as recognisable as ever, tracks such as lead single Hell on Earth sees them take aim at corrupt and lying politicians.

Speaking to Rolling Stone UK, frontman Kieran Shudall explained how the magnitude of global events proved inescapable on their latest record.

“I enjoy making music that is going to be great live and I’ve always loved bands like MGMT, but their lyrics aren’t always happy all the time,” he explained.

“Every week it feels like there’s something new to be scared of, whether it’s the threat of global war or another pandemic. I don’t want it to be too sad but it’s hard to avoid that stuff. These times feel unprecedented in how mad they are, really. It was just hard not to write about that.”

Shudall went on to explain how the fears were exacerbated when he began to consider what the future could look like for his young son.

“All your emotions are heightened when you’ve got a kid,” he said. “I can see life through my eyes, but I can also the excitement he has for simple things like a Christmas tree, he’s just flipping out! It makes me love life more having a child, but it also makes me think about things such as social media and climate change. What are they going to be like in 15 years when my son is 18? Who the fuck knows what is going to happen? It must be so difficult to be a kid right now with social media.”

But when it comes to finding positivity amongst the darkness, Shudall explained that playing with Circa Waves constantly proves to be one of the biggest antidotes.

“Getting into a room and playing loud rock and roll music has to be one of the most cathartic things to do on the planet,” he said.

“We were all in unsuccessful bands for loads of years before this, so we’d be doing it regardless of this band being successful. It’s in our DNA now, we are just obsessed with playing music and hearing people sing the songs you write in your house is incredible. There’s nothing better.”

And while the album itself shouldn’t be described as a Covid album, according to Shudall, he admits that the desire to play live during lockdown means they’ve created an album tailor-made for their upcoming UK and European tour.

“I definitely think I manifested this record in lockdown,” he says.

“I was writing songs where I thought this is going to be fucking awesome when we play it in a big room. I wanted to push the production in a more bombastic way too. I wanted to loosen the shackles, so there’s a lot more guitars and that’s probably because of my desire to get out and play live. We just can’t wait to do it.”