Hailing from Maidenhead in Berkshire, Circus 66 release their debut album 'Follow The Black Crow' on July 9th - another top album from the NWOCR movement currently 'rocking the UK' - which contains ten tracks of fiery guitar playing, powerhouse bass and drums, and vocals of range and power which will delight mainstream rock fans. Bass player Luke answered some questions for BBMATB on the making of the album, gigs past and present and the joys of making videos! Check the Q&A out below.
Circus 66 are Annabelle Zaychenko (Vocals), Matt Pierce (Guitar), Luke Ward (Bass) and Leigh Holley (Drums)
'Follow The Black Crow' is out on July 9th and will be available on all the major digital sites. You can also pre-order a CD from their Big Cartel shop www.circus66.bigcartel.com/product/follow-the-black-crow-album-pre-order
Singles 'A Thousand Miles From Home', 'Jekyll Or Hyde' and 'Monster' can also be picked up from the digital sites.
Hi Guys, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for
those readers who might not be familiar with Circus 66, could you give a short history
of the band?
It all started back in 2013, as a pet project of Matt (guitarist) and his university
buddies. Since then the band has been through a bit of an evolution, both in terms of
line up and sound, and the Circus 66 you hear today forming in 2018.
Since then, we’ve released three singles – “A Thousand Miles from Home”,
“Monster” and “Jekyll or Hyde”, and we are about to release our debut album “Follow
the Black Crow”.
And who would you say were the main influences on Circus 66?
There's a huge array of influences from each of us – all of us come from different
walks of life, different backgrounds and have different tastes in music, but I think
that’s what makes us sound unique. Its an eclectic mix of things, Leigh (drummer)
likes metal and really heavy rock, Matt likes Ritchie Kotzen, Bon Jovi, Queen and
what not, Luke (Bass) comes from a funk & rock background with the likes of the
Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Marcus Miller, Clutch, Extreme and the likes influencing him.
Annabelle seems to like everything from The Pretty Reckless to Slayer and
everything in between…. Even pop!
Your debut album 'Follow The Black Crow' is out on the 9th July - how was it
recording and putting it together in these somewhat straightened times?
We were quite lucky in that we can record at home – most of it was written by the
time we were told to stay indoors, and we just used the time to crack on with
recording our tracks and getting the finishing touches on everything.
It was a little weird meeting up in the studio for the first drum tracking sessions
though – masks and separate rooms are not cool but we managed to get it down!
And where did you record the album? Somewhere you've recorded before?
Drums where done at Denmark Studios in Maidenhead, then we went home and
recorded the rest. Once we got everything nicely down on record, we sent the lot to
our good mate Tim Johnson over at Cinematic Mixing for the mastering process to
begin – that bit took some time to get right but its turned out to be a massive
sounding record, we couldn’t be happier!
Do you have any favourite tracks off the album and if so why? And any tunes that
didn't make the cut which we might hear later on?
We had to cut about 3 or 4 tracks from the album, mostly because they didn’t quite
sit right for us with the sound of the other tracks. I think you always want to put out
your best work, and for us we felt a couple of the tracks we wrote needed more time
spent on them, so we cut them – more material for us to work with later though!
As for favourite track on the album – I think that goes to the last track “When the
Black Crow Flies” – its really quite special to all of us.
What is the writing process in Circus 66? Do band members come with songs
already pretty much finished or are the songs born out of a more 'jam' based
process? Is Annabelle solely responsible for all the lyrics as vocalist?
Its highly collaborative – we usually start with an idea, a riff – sometimes it comes
from the guitars, sometimes the bass, and we go from there. Most of the music gets
worked on first, before Annabelle figures out her lyrics, but it's really a joint effort
across the board in all fairness.
There are moments when lyrics will pop into your mind, or a riff idea comes to you –
I think one of the riffs on the album came to Matt in the middle of a DIY store!
The thing is, we don’t try and force it – luckily we’re a creative bunch, so there's
plenty of ideas flowing and loads of things we work together on.
You've made videos for your first three singles - 'Monster' 'Jekyll Or Hyde' and 'A
Thousand Miles From Home'. Is making videos something you enjoy or is it
something you feel you need to do for promotional purposes only?
I think you have to release a video nowadays, otherwise it's so hard to stand out.
Music alone is not enough anymore, which is really a shame but we have a lot of fun
and laughs making the videos, plus it gives us another way to get creative with the
And do you have a sense of how those singles did out in the 'big wide world' in
terms of streams, radio airplay etc?
We were all quite nervous about putting ourselves out there, but it's been received
really well so far. 'A Thousand Miles From Home' picked up about 7 thousand plays
online in the first month, 'Monster' gets played on Planet Rock a lot and overall we
seem to be building quite the following in Australia and New Zealand, I think we’ve
been on 24 different radio shows out there!
You have some choice gigs coming up - 'The Black Heart' in London with Gallows
Circus (Nov 28), 'The Crauford Arms' in Milton Keynes with Matt Long & The
Revenant Ones (Dec 4), the 'Hot From The Forge Festival' in Blackpool (October 2)
and a tour with Stevie R Pearce and The Hooligans in September - anything you're
particularly looking forward to doing?
If this whole pandemic thing has taught us anything, its never to take live music for
granted! I think we’re just happy to be out on the road, playing to folks and
connecting with people through music again. Its like water and food, people need
music to feed the soul.
Very much looking forward to playing with Stevie R Pearce, he’s such a cool guy and
we were stoked when he asked us to come on tour with him, and looking forward to
seeing our label mates in Gallows Circus and the Outlaw Orchestra too.
And do you have any gigs that standout that you've played so far?
Loverocks Festival 2019 was pretty special, as was Crazy Cowboy Festival 3 that
same year. We did a show at the Big Red in London waaaay back in March 2019
too, that was an absolutely fantastic gig!
Since maybe January 2020 we’ve not played a single show…. but we’ve got our first
show at “Smoke on the Water” festival in the Lake District on June 26th , looking
forward to that one.
There's a big upsurge of interest in UK rock music at the moment with the whole
NWOCR movement - is that a scene you feel part of? And any favourite bands at the
moment from the NWOCR - or anywhere else - for that matter?
It's amazing to see the amount of homegrown and grassroots rock bands coming
through, and so much cool new music coming out – and the guys behind NWOCR
have been super supportive of us, they are a very welcoming bunch!
I think Hollowstar are killer, really great band right there, and our mates in The Hot
Damn are set for big things (we rehearse in the same studio….shhhh).
And finally, for us old rock fans (!) - Zeppelin, Purple or Sabbath?
Zeppelin, hands down.