Paradise Circus: Everything I’d learned to do with a guitar went out the window. New single – What A Way (Cheetah) out today

Paradise Circus should be huge by now. They have all the tools and a new single to show them off. We had words.

They’re cocky enough to tease us with the one song, What A Way (Cheetah). They’re confident that’s all required at the moment.

They’re not wrong. It’s taken all their energy to do this. The teaser video is down below.

It’s power and emotion. It’s a song about heartbreak and, yeah, cheaters. The band deserved a grilling. We’re up for the task. And so were they. Off to Zoom, as usual.

P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?

David: We’re recording music for an EP, which will hopefully be released at the start of 2022. The material’s been really, really good. We’ve had the chance to write loads during lockdown, especially me in the basement. I’ve actually got about 70 ideas down before I chose five, which was the hardest thing.

I think these songs are the best things we’ve done at the moment.

Callum: I didn’t realise this was an AA meeting. I’m so excited about this track because we all come from different genres, but this is the one where the band have come together and it fits together really nicely, it’s the best example of all our different influences. Plus I get to be in a band.

Nathan: I’m in sunny Brum at the moment and I’m studying for a jazz degree. So, I’m just chillin’ out. Staying in bed until 3pm, as you do.

I love this song. When Dave sent it to me he said it was “Automatic” and “Hydromatic”. It’s brilliant. We’re his little pink ladies!

Sam: I was thrown in the deep end for this song. I’m pretty much self taught and I thought the next step was to join a band. So, Dave asked me. We had a few takes on the bass, but there’s something about this song – it was so fun to work on. Having this alongside a full time job has been an escape from my room and working from home.

P3dro: Tell us a bit more about the band. How did you get together?

Callum: It started off with me and Dave in the same year at Uni. All through school, I’d wanted to be in a band, but I could never really find people to jam with or click with. And then I was just talking to some mates about it and Dave overheard me. He just said: “Do you wanna be in this band – I have loads of ideas for it”. I’ve never seen someone so organised, he comes out with plans for, like, the next five months, we wanna get a single done by this time. It’s a full on business plan.

Then we had a jam and the first single – ‘Fight It’ – that was the first thing we even jammed. And Dave was playing these chords. I asked what chords he was playing and he said “I don’t know, I’ve just re-tuned my guitar”.

Everything I’d learned to do with a guitar went out the window. And then I had to do it all by ear. I couldn’t rely on scales and the like.

We’d been jamming and writing stuff for a while. And then we saw Nathan drumming at a gig. And we’d never seen anything like it.

But it all fits together really nicely. Musically, we work really well and we all get on as best mates, which is an amazing bonus.

David: I think there are a lot of bands out there who struggle to connect with each other due to people liking different styles. But the four of us have the chemistry we need.

Nathan: Yeah, we’re like pre-breakup Abba.

Sam: Dave and I went to high school together and although we knew each other, we had completely different friend groups.

David: I’d seen Sam post a picture on his Instagram and there was a bass on the wall, so I messaged him and said for five years I’ve known you, you’ve never told anyone you play bass.

Sam: I picked it up because my dad played guitar and my uncle played guitar, so I thought it would be a hobby and go from there. But around the time Dave sent that message I was talking to my dad about it and he said he thought I should join a band. And it just so happened that Dave had asked, so I said “Yeah”.

David: I think that was good. And then Nathan came along, but everyone was scared to ask him because he’s way too good. So, I asked him at a gig where he was playing.

I remember the first recording session where Nathan came along and played half time. I wasn’t so fond of it at first and was thinking this is a bit slow. But then he picked it back up and there was the power of something so simple.

Callum: Ah, mate, the last thing I’d describe Nathan’s drums as is simple.

P3dro: We’ve touched on this already, but do you all have different influences that you can bring to the party?

Sam: My main music hero was always Damon Albarn, so I very much like Blur and Gorillaz. Through my dad, there’s The Beatles, but there’s anyone and everyone. So, there’s classical music and modern music I like, so it’s quite broad, but mostly it’s an indie rock vibe, really.

Callum: For me, it’s a bit like Sam, really. I’ve been brought up on everything. My mum is very musical. The other day she found some Mongolian throat music and was: “You need to come and listen to this”. But otherwise, it’s been Hendrix, The Stones, some disco stuff. But then as I got older I really got into the Arctic Monkeys. I like every indie band, ever. I also love metal – I’ve seen Iron Maiden three times.

But I think the main thing for me now is that kind of Queens of the Stone Age, garage sound, that’s the kind of thing I really love.

The thing with influences is that if your band says it wants to sound like, say, the Arctic Monkeys, then all you will ever become is the second best Arctic Monkeys. The fact we’re all so different brings everything together.

Nathan: I’m predominantly a modern jazz drummer so I look to artists like Ashley Henry, Reuben James. These modern UK jazz artists with a breakbeat style and a hip hop influence. I’m at the other end of the spectrum compared to everyone else [in the band].

If you pass Cal a few chords, you know you’re going to hear something like Gorillaz, if you pass it to Dave, it may be be U2. But if you pass it to me, then you’re going to hear J Dilla, Slum Village, or some weird ass tune that’s 10 minutes long and you’re thinking: “When will this end?”

My personal influences in terms of how I play the drums come from different individual players. I pick parts and take whatever I can. So when you hear me playing within the band, there’s an individuality we all bring, which is great. And that’s why we can produce a unique sound as a group because we can all shine through.

David: I’ve been told by the boys I can’t mention U2 or Coldplay, but I think I have to. I grew up on a lot of The Jam – my dad has every record they released. Also, The Police, I love Andy Summers‘ guitar and the effects he uses. But I love ‘X&Y’ by Coldplay, I’ve never got bored of it. But also ‘Boy’ by U2. The Edge has his sound and he uses those effects I really like as well.

Nathan: You’re lucky Dave’s camera isn’t the other way around – there’s a huge Bono poster on the wall!

David: I think all of our different styles and influences come out in ‘What A Way …’ It’s one of the first songs we wrote. There’s that QOTSA type guitars and some of Nathan’s fills are ridiculous.

P3dro: Tell us about the name – where does Paradise Circus come from?

Nathan: There’s a roundabout at the back of The Symphony Hall called Paradise Circus, so we thought the band should be called the same. It’s ironic now because the whole thing is getting knocked down. Nobody likes it. And that’s all because of us!

David: Actually, now there’s only one thing called Paradise Circus and that’s a multi storey car park.

P3dro: What was the thinking behind releasing just the one single now? Would you have preferred to have had an EP or an album?

David: When we were in lockdown #1 I was doing a lot of writing. But there was also the risk we could have released songs that we [later] regretted. It was all ready, but because of the restrictions we couldn’t release anything in bulk. But we need to release this song now, because if we don’t, then people are going to get bored. This is setting a mark for the year.

We need to back it up with something, though, and we do have something.

Callum: This will be part of our first EP.

P3dro: You’re teasing now with else might be on the EP? Are you gonna spill some beans?

David: Yeah, this song has to be on the EP.

Callum: I think the songs we have for the EP are all solid, but this one works well in its own right.

Nathan: I think what’s nice is we haven’t recorded anything else yet. That allows it to be a project and when it is released, it will be us in our then current state. Being able to record this stuff now will show people where we’re really at.

P3dro: So, is there any kind of timeline for the EP release?

Callum: Maybe the end of this year, or early next year. But it does depend on restrictions and what we can and can’t do.

David: And, also finances!

Callum: Yeah, we are trying to record in as high quality as possible.

David: I would rather wait and get the best thing out there as is possible instead of rushing.

Callum: There’s nothing worse than releasing a track when we know we could have done it better.

P3dro: How does the next year look like for gigs and the like?

David: Well, there have been some problems with one of the Birmingham promoters and we don’t want to be involved. We just want people to be safe at our gigs.

P3dro: Recommend a band or an album we should be listening to right now.

Nathan: Shit. Just one?

Sam: I’ll go first. It’s the first album by The Snuts. They’re Scottish based. The album is called ‘W.L.’ I saw them at Transmit Festival and I’ve been listening to this for a while.

Callum: I’ll go for this under-rated indie band called Queen! I think they could do quite well one day. On my playlist I’ve got a few tracks by Black Honey. I love their stuff. And there’s also a band from Brum called Cage Park. I went to one of their gigs and I can honestly say that’s one of the favourite gigs I’ve been to.

David: My choice is ‘Foolish Loving Spaces’, extended version, by Blossoms. I just like their 80s sounds. And Inhaler have just announced a new album for July.

Nathan: For mine, it’s a golden oldie from Detroit, Motor City. It has to be ‘Fantastic, Volume 2’ by Slum Village. It’s nuts. It’s a late 90s rap album. Dope beats. It’s a modern hip hop / jazz bible.

And then there’s one I discovered recently by a UK jazz artist called Alfa Mist called ‘Nocturne’.

Image credits: Ben Simonds-Bedford

Download / stream links are here.

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