By Rod Hunt
Unbelievably Bad Contributor
UB spoke to Paul Circle of Oz hardcore vets Vicious Circle about their new album, Born To Destroy…
The new album looks and sounds great – songwriting, performance, artwork and production wise. How are you feeling about it? How do you think it stacks up against your previous releases? Did having Goatsound/Gamla Grind Records involved help push things along?
We spent a bit of time writing the album; firstly Yeti (guitar) and I had writing sessions in my kitchen on weekends. After a bit of time we traversed that to the studio and had Jason [Fuller, from Goatsound studios and records] pick the songs apart. He also had a few songs and we worked towards cementing the sound so his help was important. You can’t be that precious if you’re working as a collective – it’s a shared experience. Personally it’s one of my favorite Vicious Circle albums but more crucial to me was that the other fellas had ownership over it. That they could say, “Hear that, it’s me” and be proud of it. With getting Ben Brown to do the illustrations for the cover that was a real bonus as l dig his work and Ben has drawn for Vicious Circle in the past and if you’re gonna go skulls Ben is the man; he’s stoked with the album. We also had Youngy from King Parrot do a guest vocal [on Knowledge Plague] and Mikey from HOODS do his thing as well [on I Know.]. I met Mikey in the States on one of our tours; everything just fell into place. Goatsound is kinda home for us as far as rehearsal and recording go. So it’s a no brainer that we put the album out via the label. We have so many LPs and Born To Destroy definitely stands on its own. We have material that is more punk, hardcore, metal, whatever. This one has some well written tunes, the goal was to be playing them live and that’s what we are doing and the response has been great.
The Vicious Circle Bandcamp page describes the album as “A throwback to their debut 1985 album Price of Progress...” Was that the intention when you went to record the album? What do you see as the threads that link the two albums?
With Jason, as he likes that first album a lot, he wanted to capture something reminiscent in regards to feel. I enjoyed that stripped-back approach, less-is-more attitude. Obviously it’s not ’85 but in terms of intention the songs had to meet a certain standard or be removed from the album. That doesn’t mean we had to all agree but if somethings not working from a creative standpoint you need to move on; cultivate what works lyrically and musically. The thread is organic; the mentality to express anger in a positive way both in words and music.
There are lyrical themes on Born To Destroy that aren’t too far removed from some of the issues you dealt with on the early releases of Vicious Circle. Does that reinforce to you how little things have changed in the world – politically, socially and environmentally – over the decades? Or do you view it differently, possibly more positively than that?
You hit the nail on the head mate, that’s it; you would think from a social, political, environmental aspect as a species we would have evolved more. In reality in some circumstances we have gone backwards. From an environmental, political point of view with people in positions of power such as corporates, industrialists or politicians, it’s better for them in the short term and that’s all some people are concerned with. From the perspective of social, environmental, bio diversity effects, humans as a whole impact every future generation and life as we know it will suffer to some degree; it’s a more incremental process on humanity and human rights. What good is a dead planet to anyone? Or the assumption that future generations will be enslaved so freely by technology and willingly give up freedoms we take for granted. Don’t get me wrong l think as a species we can change but it will take a change in the way we live our lives on a global scale. A lot of this boils down to greed and entrenched belief systems. For me there is always been the aspect of being honest with what l write lyrically, so it comes from a personal perspective; it’s not all doom and gloom. I write about situations going on around me and at heart I’m an optimist otherwise l think it would all be pointless. I find primarily l write about change and events that either anger or motivate me. That doesn’t mean I can’t take the piss; you need to maintain a good sense of humour.
What have been some of the highlights of being in Vicious Circle? And have there been any especially low points?
I think some high points are touring at home and overseas – Europe, America, Asia, New Zealand, all the friends made over the time we have been a band, being able to still release new albums and reissue old stuff. Being probably the first Australian hardcore band to tour overseas and have albums released by three of the most influential independent labels in Australia – Reactor, Waterfront and Resist. Low points are losing friends along the way, crew who are no longer with us. It’s not sentimental but some mates took the wrong path and paid for it.
The band released its first demo in 1984, making Vicious Circle arguably Australia’s longest-running hardcore punk band. What drives you to keep pushing forward? Beyond the album launch shows, what plans or hopes do you have for Vicious Circle?
Actually the formation of the band was ’83, l was going to be the drummer originally but it took a different course. I think it might be madness or stubbornness or more than likely a combination of both that’s kept me motivated .When you start a band you have no idea how long it will last or what you will do; it was just some kids smashing out punk. I didn’t know what lay ahead or had no clue it would last this long. Well, we have already written a few tunes for the next album and are looking at overseas. I’m keen to make our next album even better. I also am so damn enthused about crushing tracks off Born To Destroy live. My thing is simply do what brings you happiness, express that anger or joy or whatever sparks you up. People write, draw, paint, create music, do zines, radio shows, podcasts, release records, do labels, photograph; a lot of creativity still comes from punk and hardcore and l find it inspiring. I have a bro in the UK that I write to and trade records with; we have been doing this for 35 years. Now that’s punk as fuck.
Born To Destroy is out now on Goatsound/Gamla Grind Records:
Album launch dates:
November 25 – Frankie’s Pizza, Sydney, Australia
December 2 – Edinburgh Castle Hotel, Adelaide, Australia
December 15 – Valhalla Bar, Wellington, New Zealand
December 16 – Whammy Bar, Auckland, New Zealand