Circus Maximus

It may have taken them 5 whole years… and probably some of theirs fans were disappointed by their long absence… but hey, it was totally worth waiting. They came back with a bloody dynamite. They “forced” me to out my first 9 in 2012! No more talking dudes. Circus Maximus did it with their third studio album. The bassist of the band, “The Glen” talked about everything in this captivating interview below…
Circus Maximus band

Hi Glen… Congrats on “Nine”… I can say this is your best and most mature work so far… We’ve chosen it as the best Album of June on Grande Rock…
G: Hey Thanos! Thanks for the kind words, and the nomination for best album on your website cheeky
Firstly, tell us… why was there that 5 year gap between “Nine” & “Isolate”?
G: Well, as we all experience, timelines and “plans” don’t always go according to plan. Combine a little too long hiatus after the Symphony X tour, injuries, band members having kids, songwriting, side projects and hard drive crashes and everyday day to day challenges with work and family lives, makes time fly by way too fast. BUT I can assure you, we will definitely be more “on the ball” regarding time between “Nine” and the next album...
Weren’t you afraid that this long absence would have caused any kind of issues to your fan base at some point?
G: Actually, we were pretty confident of our fans still being there, even after such a long hiatus... we’ve always tapped into the social medias, and we’ve felt the “still living buzz” throughout this whole period after stepping of the “Isolate tour”. And we were right hehe... the fans have embraced this new album with open arms, and we’re seeing a trend of a lot of new fans coming out and checking out the music for the first time. The Circus is still alive hehe (i.n.: Alive & kickin’ if I may say so…)
I’d like to say that the third release of a band is vital for the future and shows the capabilities of the group as well. Can you say that “Nine” is the album that combines all those elements… and shows a brighter future for the band?
G: Definitely. We’ve grown in many aspects… as humans, songwriters, experience in the “biz”, and in many ways I think gotten more clarity in where we are as a band, and where we want to go. I think this new turn came at the right moment, and I think this “break” we’ve had was meant to be… for the greater good of the band’s future…
How different is “Nine” from the two previous albums… and which are those new elements you’ve added to your music?
G: 2 huge elements in the new material are first and foremost the evolution of the songwriting and the accessibility of the music. When you combine that with a new sound and production, you have a pretty different outcome from what we did on “Isolate”. Don’t get me wrong… we have been and always will be super proud of what we accomplished with the previous albums, but I think we’ve taken it to the next level with the new stuff... (i.n.: I totally agree with you…)
When did you start composing songs for ‘Nine”… and what did you have in mind for this album?
G: Material for this record has, in some parts, been around for a long time. A constant adding of new ideas throughout the whole writing process right up until recording time, made the preproduction, majority written by our guitarist Mats, blend between very old ideas, continuously evolving ideas and spur of the moment last minute changes. Lyrically, we wrote throughout the whole process.
What does the number “Nine” imply? Why did you choose to make the artwork so minimalistic?
G: Well, we had a “common theme” occurring in the lyrics throughout the whole album... a type of you make your own luck type of feel… the number 9 symbolizes that in many ways, and having 9 songs we wanted to put on the album, it kinda fit too good to pass overJ
As for the artwork, we wanted to go a completely new way from previous covers, and really let the music speak for itself. Giving the album title more space to “breath” as well, kinda gives it a more powerful statement…

Please give us a hint about each one of the songs…
G: “Forging”: This was originally a part of “Architect...” but by splitting it up, the listener themselves can decide if they want to sit through the intro every time they want to hear the song...
“Architect of Fortune”: One of the songs on the album with all of the elements of Circus... if you don’t get hooked on anything throughout this song, the potential of you becoming a full pledged CM fan is probably not there hehe
“Namaste” (it’s like a Greek word that’s written in English…it means something like: “here we are…”): Namaste is actually a type of greeting in Indian. This song gets right in your face from the get go, and really doesn’t let up for more than a tiny breather till it’s finished. Great live-song as well...
“Game of Life”: Super melodic, hooks throughout, and a lot of dynamics. Super catchy song, and a really fun song to play live.
“Reach Within”: This is our first single of the new album. Very accessible lyrically and melody, and probably the most pop-oriented song on the record.
“I Am”: Typical CM style song, poppy, combined with catchy melodies, a dash of “British” and a strong chorus.
“Used”: Adrenaline-rush song, with balls to the wall, pedal to the metal intensity.
“The One”: Our most straight forward rock-tune on the record, with some small twists to it wink
“Burn After Reading”: The most “technical” song on the record… has all the elements of what you would expect from Circus Maximus, and as well, some new elements both as playing goes, and heaviness... Probably the most heavy we’ve ever been...
“Last Goodbye”: A really emotional song lyrically, long and epic.
Where did the recordings take place and who produced the album? The final result is excellent in every part… great work indeed…
G: We did the drums at Oscean Sound Studios on the western coastline of Norway. Amazing studio, with great recording capabilities. As for guitar, bass, keys and vocals, recordings where done both at our own CM studio, and our respective “home” studios… Mats produced the album, and everything was mixed at Christer Cederbergs studio right here in Oslo. Chister is THE MASTER btw... I cannot praise him enough!
Which are those bonus tracks that are gonna be on the Japanese version of the album?
G: We’re adding two live tracks for the Japan release... both recorded at ProgPowerUSA last time we played there.
The first single of the album was “Reach Within”. How did you come up with this song? Did you believe it was the most representative of the album?
G: The song just turned out this way... there was never a plan to make a “type” of song. We’ve always been melodic, so that just came naturally. As for choosing this track for the single… We’re are all about reaching further this time around... expanding our horizon and presenting our music to new listeners. We felt that this song had the most potential commercially.
I’ve also read that a video for “Reach Within” is in the works. When will it be out? Are there any plans for a second video-shot as well?
G: We are working on getting the video out as soon as possible... hopefully within this summer... As for future videos, we are planning to do at least one or two more for this record. Time will tell which songs will make the cut…
Have you booked any live shows as yet?
G: Just finished out release-party gig in Oslo last Saturday (June 23rd). Memorable evening for sure... As for future shows, a Norwegian tour in September is in the works, and a European tour in October is in the planning stages... You’re gonna see a lot more touring this time around... We’re gonna play our ass off cheeky
The music approach on “Nine” may be more melodic and heavier at parts… but the prog elements are still there… especially in the songs arrangements. What would you say to those that say “Nine” is more straightforward than before?
G: I would say... give it another spin... (i.n.: you’ve heard the guy… just give it time…)
I’ve written: “…they know how to combine the fine moments of their previous works and blend them harmonically with the pop-rock, AOR, prog rock/metal and heavy/power influences… presenting something rather personal and intriguing in the end…”. What do you think of that?
G: I totally agree... I don’t think we’ve taken anything away from previous songs... just added a lot more to them… Adding more maturity to the tracks as well, gave it the lift it needed to take it a step further.
I’ve also added: “The third step of the band is the best & the most successful so far… and puts them back into the higher places of the prog metal map as they deserve to be…”. Do you agree with that?
G: Definitely. As well we’ve branched out even further than just containing ourselves within the prog genre and re-defining our sound.
Weren’t you afraid that Kamelot might have “stolen” your singer Michael Eriksen at some point? It was brave enough to turn down such an offer… on the other hand, I think that was the best thing he could have done… considering the fact that he has a long way to go with Circus Maximus. What’s your opinion on that?
G: Michael and the rest of the guys have always made CM our main priority. This is something we believe strongly in, and is what we want to do. Mike was happy to step in and help out the Kamelot guys, being friends of ours. Luckily now, the Kamelot guys have found a great singer in Tommy Karevik, to take them through the next level. I wish him all the best with the new gig smiley
I know that the press and fans’ reaction for the new album has been great so far. Have you expected it? What did you have in mind as soon as the album was over about the fans’ reactions?
G: We knew that we had a killer album, and was eager to give the fans some new music... June 1st didn’t come a day too soon cool
You can of course never be sure how fans will reach, but making music will never be done on promises other than our own, and you just have to hope that people who follow the Circus tend to feel the same way as we do about the music…

How do you see progressive metal music nowadays? What are the major issues it faces?
G: I actually think this genre has blossomed! New cool bands are emerging every day, taking productions and ideas to new levels... The future is looking brighter every day hehe...
Is the Internet a great promotion tool for every band out there or it causes severe problems eventually? Is it a curse or a blessing?
G: I think you just have to acknowledge the fact that it’s here to stay.... your record sales may go down, but music sharing will also have a way of expanding the horizon to new listeners who never would have bought the music right of the shelves in the first place. People who bitch about it... STOP IT, and use it in a positive way for what it’s worth.
Circus Maximus band

What’s your opinion for the people who download Mp3s (that they do not have a good sound quality in the end) and have turned their back to CDs or vinyl? Will the CDs and LPs be left only for the romantics in the end? We are on a terminal point here. What the future will bring though?
G: I think the trend of buying music will come back around... Maybe not as the typical CD, but electronically at least. People in our music genre is more faithful towards the artists they like anyway, so I am more worried for the Britney Spears lovers… (i.n.: yeah… I’m sure you do so wink…)
As for vinyl, we are actually planning on getting the albums available. Probably in limited editions though… we’ll see…
And some weird Questions now!! Why did you choose the name Circus Maximus in the first place?
G: Hehe, that name actually popped up in a computer game, starring Christopher Walken, way back in the 90’s... The game was called “The Ripper” if I am not mistaken, and Truls I believe it was, stumbled across this name as a password inside the game... We thought the name sounded cool, and stuck with it… So kids, play computer games! You never know what you’re gonna find hehe…
How did you experience all those incidents in the early 90s… in the Norwegian black metal scene? Do you think they have caused any kind of problems or helped the scene to become more known all over the world?
G: I think the black metal scene really put Norwegian music on the map… the mystic around all the negative actions happening around the music really intrigued people, and got them into the genre... As for the music, I’ve never really had a strong urge to get into that genre...
What are those bands that stigmatized the progressive rock/metal movement?
G: I think bands like Queensryche, Rush, Yes set the trend pretty early, and of course later DT on took it to a new, heavier, and more approachable level.
If you could put together the best prog rock band in the world who would participate and why?
G: Easy... Mats, Truls, Lasse, Mike and “The Glen” cheeky hehehe… No but jokes aside, there are sooo many cool musicians out there… I really like what Dennis Chambers is doing, amazing drummer, guitar wise I would have to go with Freak Kitchens Mattias Eklundh or Paul Gilbert… due to the fact that they are freaky guitarists with very recognizable tone… Bass; funky bass from Tim Commerford and or bass`n keys Geddy Lee... If you put Mike Patton on vocals... then you got a freaky mix that’s never seen the light of day...
Is fiction part of reality… or reality is fiction’s flaw?
G: For me, I think adding a little bit of fiction to your daily life goes along way... It’s part of what makes people reach for dreams and goals… If you go with the alternative, you’ll just end up waking up a 40 year old virgin, still living in your mom’s basement, BUT with sky-high trackscores in world of warcraft of course! hehe I prefer reality...
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
G: Without a doubt Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.... then I’d been doing this interview sitting on my yacht in the Caribbean right now, sippin’ mohito’s and earning 20% while planning Circus Maximus’ world takeover.... hehehe (i.n.: this ain’t just an album… it’s a moneymaker!)
What would you do if you were not afraid to fail?
G: Hmm... I think I would be just where I am right now actually... “givin’ you the old college try speech hehe... “I’ve always “lived strong” and pushed for the goals I have set for myself, treating the task at hand with respect, but never actually been afraid of the possibility of failing... so when or if I did fail, I’d just go at it again till I got it.. cheezy as it sounds… now let’s go out there, and give em’ hell!!!!! hahaha
How can computers affect and help music? Will there be humans playing musical instruments in the next decades?
G: In time, you can probably get different softwares to mimic let’s say drums, bass, keys etc... but taking the “human” part of the music out of the equation... people over computers any day of the week... music should be alive, NOT programmed... (i.n.: you’re damn right dude!)
What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
G: Fast food music... lyrics about bling, partying in da club, chicks and cars... soulless crap with one purpose, being just making something that “fits” whatever the vibe of the day would be... sounding like an old bitter man now hehe...
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music evolution, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
G: Have you seen Independents Day? Knowing this, I’d burn a cd with 50 Cent’s “greatest hits”, and send Chuck Norris to deliver the message... if roundhouse kicks and bad music don’t bring an extraterrestrial species down, nothing will... we come in peace... my ass devil(i.n.: well I think that 50 Cent’s “music” can do the job just fine… you do not need Chuck to finish it later… show some mercy!)
What do you think of the economic crisis that’s threatening people’s lives over the profit of some rich men? Do we need a revolution again?
G: I think that situation levels itself out one way or another... there will always be someone taking advantage of other peoples unfortunates, sucks, but that’s life… Keep your money in your mattress, that’s what I say! Or invest it in CM stock... hahaha
You are standing in front of two transparent doors. Door number 1 leads to a huge garden full of naked models running, playing and kissing around while Door number 2 takes you to the Isles of the Blessed where you can interact with some great ancient philosophers and learn the deepest secrets of life, death and universe. Which one would you cross and why?
G: Hands down door number 1...  Why? Hey, I’m a dude! cool
Who is your favorite philosopher and why?
G:  I don’t have any I am afraid... I only follow “The Book of Glen”... cheeky
You’re standing between God and Lucifer… the situation is weird and you must say something in order to save humanity… What would you say?
G: So… Being a pussy ain’t easy hey?! The lawn always needs mowing, it’s always wet, the guests are stiff, and your neighbor’s an asshole! No? Didn’t do it for ya?
Thx for this very tasteful interview Glen… Thx for the music... Please leave a note to Grande Rock readers… Take care!
G: Pleasure was mine… Just want to thank all the fans following us through Grande Rock for all your support in the past, and hope you continue following the Circus in years to come. Definitely exciting times to come laugh Metal forever!