Circus Maximus talk Havoc.
The following interview took place on Saturday the 27th of August 2016 at the Holiday Inn Camden with Michael Eriksen (vocals) and Truls Haugen (drums) of Circus Maximus before their headline show at the Camden Underworld.
Rockgig How did Circus Maximus form?
CM We changed our name to Circus Maximus in 2002.Back then it was my brother (Truls on bass) and I and Mike,it has been a long while and a full band from 2005.
R Where did the name come from?
CM It comes from a video game called The Ripper.Nothing to do with Rome as it does now.My brother and I were playing this game and it needed a pass code and that pass code was Circus Maximus and we both thought it was a cool name.
See very deep.
R What were your earliest musical influences as a band?
CM Everything metal Metallica,Megadeth,Testament,Sepultura from Truls then Mike joins in with Europe,Mr Big,Dream Theater
R Who's decision was it to go down the progressive path?
CM (Truls) It was very inspiring to listen to like Dream Theater I hadn't really heard anything like that before it was like Rush had done but a bit more metal.
CM (Michael)I got into them a little later around Images And Words with the song Another Day the ballad.I had heard the debut album but thought that the drummer was awful as he couldn't keep up a beat.
R I won't mention it to Mike Portnoy(lots of laughing)
R 4 years since the last album Nine what have the band been up to in that time?
CM Touring all over the place. Promoting our last album Nine,touring with it for 2 years and then writing and recording the new album for 2 years.
R 4 albums into your career now how do you see that the band and it's sound has evolved in that time?
CM I think with our first album the sound was all over the place I mean the songs and the riffs were written when we were 13 or 14 so by the second album we had begun to play live and find our feet and I think by the third album it does take a while for you to decide what everything sounds like.
Listening to it back we might decide that song doesn't need guitar.
I really believe it is the right album at the right time for us and who knows what the next album may sound totally different.
R Havoc has a more modern feel to it.
CM We didn't think about it at the time that we wrote it.
R Was it intentional?
CM We just wrote it liked it and thought f**k it!!
R You released the song Havoc first and had a lot of mixed messages from your fan base.
CM I respect that and you can't win them all.It was a cool song for us to write and it's great to play live.
R Do you write together or apart or was it a modern album with files going back and forth on the internet?
CM Mats (guitarist) was in the driving seat for this one while I was in the back moaning.
Then myself and Mike did the lyrics and worked the melodies before we started recording.
R Do you demo the material before entering the studio?
CM We do I do the drums and some terrible vocals for Michael to follow sorry Mikey!!
R Havoc is a great title can you tell us where the title came form and any story behind it?
CM I (Truls) came up with it while I was writing the lyrics for it with it just being about going crazy and decided it was a cool name.
It wasn't the title of the album to start with it was going to be In Flames.
We had the logo that we used for the album and I know the guys from the band In Flames and I called them up and said I have this artwork and they had a look and we agreed it looked like that it looked like In Flames new album was called Circus Maximus so we decided to stick with the artwork but change the name.
R Any other song titles on the album you can share any stories about?What about our favourite song Loved Ones?
CM It is based on a book
R Do you have a favourite song?
CM It used to be After The Fire but after playing the song live it is now Chivalry.It was the last song written for the album and is amazing to play live.
R You did a European tour around the release of the album how many new songs did you play and how was the material received?
CM 5 or 6 new songs it can be difficult when the album isn't out to play too much but now when the album has been out for months it is better.
We have made the set list tonight more for the upcoming US tour with more older stuff from the earlier albums which the guys in South America would never have heard us play.
R How many new songs tonight?
CM 3 Havoc,Highest Bitter and Chivalry.
R No Loved Ones?
CM No and I can tell you why(again lots of laughter)If We play Loved Ones it needs a lot of stationary and we have been unable to bring that with us and Mats needs a 7 string guitar and that again hasn't come with us.
R After the success of your Live In Japan dvd online campaign you have recently done it again with your first live blu ray set can you tell us when it will be released and what can you tell us about the show that was recorded?
CM The new blu ray should be out in February or March of next year.
For the show Havoc was originally due out in February but something happened with the record company which was with this South American dude who was supposed to be mixing something but it was going to take to long to get the songs back so we ended up using the same guy who mixed Nine and he did a marvellous job.
So we booked this big venue in Oslo called The Rockefeller a prestigious venue.
We invested a lot of personal money in the show so lots of pyro and extra lighting.
Some of the pyro didn't work.Michael starts singing the chorus of Havoc and as the Hey is sung the pyro was due to go off and it didn't.
Lots of laughing as he sings it again and mimes the pyro not going off.
R The music business has changed so much in the last decade do you see these online campaigns and being in touch with the fans as the way forward?
CM Yes definitely if we have say only 5 songs ready then we can ask the fans in these campaigns do they want to hear them they will say yes pay the money and within 2 weeks we would have the money and we can then record the songs and get them out there.It is new music that they want.
Record companies are unable to provide for bands and the bands get no money back so it is a bad circle.the only way to do it is to get money direct from the fans.
We have managed to re release our first 2 albums on our own label in this way too.
R What do you see as success in 2016?Critical acclaim,cd and ticket sales or more on a personal level?
CM Playing a prestigious venue in Norway was very cool and being able to tour across Europe and the upcoming dates in South America for the first time soon and of course Prog Power in Atlanta.
R I read in a recent interview that you are looking at releasing 4 or 5 songs of older material as an ep any more news on that?
CM We started looking at that in the early Summer time and we have the songs recorded well the drums are so I am done.
We have several ideas of songs from over the years where we haven't finished them but now listening back to them might want to change a guitar riff or something.
They are new songs but old songs and so if you really like the first album then the fans can pay and get these songs that were never recorded at the time.
Do you want to hear some more first and second album songs?
Show us the money (again with lots of laughter)
There is one song nearly finished and about to be mixed.
R What does the rest of 2016 hold for Circus Maximus?
CM As soon as we get back from the upcoming South America tour there is the blu ray mixing and then writing more new songs with the hope to have a new cd or ep out some time next year.
It is the way forward not needing a whole album and when we are ready the let's go you don't have to write 10 new songs.If you have only 4 and they are fantastic then why not.
R Any last words for the fans?
CM Thanks for sticking it in there( lots more laughter) sorry being there!!
And from there with lots more laughter and innuendo it all stopped there with a big good night.
Huge thanks to Michael and Truls for taking the time to speak to us.After a 4 am alarm call,flight to the UK,soundcheck,issues getting into the hotel and then to be able to rock the Underworld like never before what a band.
Big thanks to Gary Levermore from Redsandpr for setting up the interview.
And to the guest interviewer Neal Martin.