Circa Survive Biography
From an outside perspective, Anthony Green had it made in early 2004. He was fronting Saosin, a California-based band that was rapidly on the rise. He had felt strongly enough about the group to relocate from his native Philadelphia to the West Coast, and now major touring and a debut album were on the horizon. But something just wasn’t right. Even after a year on the other side of the country, the scenario didn’t click. “I constantly thought about what it would be like if I was in a band and I was in my hometown — and if I was making music that I had more control over,” recalls the singer. “I was wondering if there was a possibility that I’d be able to pull something together and have people that I’d really like to work with working with me.”
Things with Saosin were moving too quickly to stop, though. Or so it seemed. In need of space, Green flew back to Philadelphia for some conveniently timed oral surgery. “I scheduled getting my wisdom teeth out so that I would have to fly home and hang out for a little bit,” he admits. Also on the agenda was spending some quality time with his old friend Colin Frangicetto.
Frangicetto had been dealing with upheaval in his life, as well, following the split of his own band, This Day Forward — a popular Philly hardcore act that had been on the scene for seven years. He had been in the group since high school, meaning it was pretty much all he had known as an adult. “It was the first time in a while that I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen in my life,” he remembers. So, while weighing the options, he re-enrolled in school and set about making demos of his own material. “I was really never expecting to even put anything out with Anthony,” says the guitarist, thinking back on Green’s visit. “I was just enjoying hanging with my friend and didn’t want to get my hopes up, even though we were writing and jamming every day, regardless of my schoolwork. It was so exciting and inspiring to work with someone likeminded; he was just as driven as I was to just go and not stop.”
The reality check came soon enough, however, with Green expected back out West to get things rolling with Saosin. Despondently, he headed for the airport — and that’s when things kicked into big screen mode. “We had spoken seriously about him quitting and us doing a real band for the first time the day before,” remembers Frangicetto. “But it was almost in a wishful, fantasy type way. Then I was in class, and he left me a message saying that he didn’t want to leave, and that our story wasn’t over. I rushed to call him, and when I finally got him on the phone, he said, ‘I can’t talk right now, we’re gonna take off. I’ll call you on my layover in Arizona.’”
“I had a layover in Phoenix before I got to LA,” explains Green. “I was freaking out. It was such a weird turning point. I just felt like, if something’s going to happen, I’m going to have to do it. I hadn’t had to do anything really hard in the last year. I had just been in this band, and on tour. I was so nervous to make any kind of decision. So I actually was totally just going to go back to California and do those tours, and then try and do a side project with Colin.” But when the truth hit him, it hit hard. Green never even got on the next plane. At that moment, in that Arizona airport, everything changed. “I went to the lady at the front desk in Phoenix and was like, ‘I made a mistake. I need to go back,’” he reveals. “She must have thought I was a runaway or some messedup kid.”
Frangicetto, meanwhile, was experiencing what he can only describe as “utter shock and disbelief.” As he relates, “I definitely did not to expect to get a call that went something like, ‘I’m gonna need you to pick me up at Philly International around 6:00 a.m. I’m not going back. I just called and quit. I’m not even getting my clothes back.” Reunited that early morning, under the most surreal of circumstances, the pair drove back home as the sun came up over the city. The next day they commemorated the event by composing a track appropriately titled “Handshakes at Sunrise.”
Things fell into place relatively easily over the next few months. The two already had the support of Equal Vision Records, who were excited enough by their demo material to offer them the backing they needed to get everything well and truly moving. Guitarist Brendan Ekstrom was the next to sign up for the cause. An obvious choice to help expand the sound of what would soon become Circa Survive, Ekstrom had played with Frangicetto in This Day Forward since 2001, and the two both got on well and inspired each other musically. “I was blown away by Brendan’s presence and guitar playing from the start,” says Frangicetto. “I had always known that if I were to ever start another band I would need and want him with me.”
Working together to further define the sonic attributes of their rapidly gestating musical project, the three set about recruiting the rest of the group. A drummer search resulted in Steve Clifford taking a seat behind the kit, while bassist Nick Beard pulled a reverse of Green’s original stunt, relocating from California — where he played in Taken — to Philly to join the newly formed outfit. “Nick was the dude in Taken that had it all together and rocked like a madman. He definitely keeps our band sane and pleasant,” explains Frangicetto. “We met Steve through Vadim Taver of Marigold. He knew we were looking for a drummer and gave Steve my number. He jammed with us for a week and from there it was on. He’s the young funny guy of the band. He makes us laugh.”
With the lineup thusly solidified, the music really started to take shape, as well. What started out as a two-man collaboration quickly grew into something more. “It has become something organic,” Frangicetto explains. “Something completely co-owned. Before it was Anthony’s and my baby. When the other guys joined that all changed. All of the music represented a collective effort — no egos, no bullshit — not to mention some serious talent.”
To hone things down, the group rented a house in the area, moved in, and came up with the material that would make up their debut album, Juturna, due April 19th on Equal Vision. A mind-bending amalgamation of influences ranging from prog-rock to art-metal, it reflects both the diverse backgrounds and the common bonds of the five unique individuals who make up Circa Survive. Marked by intricate arrangements and the pristine production of Brian McTernan (Thrice, Bane, Cave In), the disc displays a band-wide chemistry that radiates from every track. It also boasts a stunning lead single in the epic “Act Appalled,” along with such emotionally weighty songs as “Holding Someone’s Hair Back” and “Stop the Fucking Car,” both of which match the visceral qualities of their titles with their content.
Clearly, fans of any of the members’ former bands will be surprised — in a very good way. “It’s definitely a lot more straight up rock and roll, less metal-y kind of stuff than Saosin,” offers Green. “I definitely sound different than I’ve ever sounded, but I don’t entirely know why that is. Maybe it’s because I’m a little bit older. It’s delicate music, but it’s not too passive. It’s got all this bulk to it. There’s a sick amount of groove.”
“We really just want to bring back that quality that was extremely present in the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s,” adds Frangicetto. “That urgency; the feeling that a note could change the world. That’s one extreme. Another is just simply to be an artist that isn’t contrived or a trend follower.” Based on the story so far, of course, it would be impossible to accuse this band of being anything other than purely heartfelt. And the same can be said for their music. So, yes, this is the kind of story usually reserved for the silver screen. But this is reality — and it should serve as an inspiration to us all.