Leah Hamer

‘I’ve spent a lot of time with my cat. She’s called Lily. I’m a dog man really but I’m into cats now. So I do that a lot. I Instagram her a lot. I cook food a lot. Then I write songs for the rest of the day. It’s pretty intense…’  

That was how the lead singer of indie-rock band Circa Waves, Kieran Shudall, responded to the question- what have you been up to? 

Far from sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

In a sticky dressing room in Keele University’s Student Union, ahead of their gig at Woodstoke, Kieran greeted me with a warm hug and charming scouse accent. He laughed as he recalled how his me-time had been spent in the past few weeks that Circa Waves had been taking time off to enjoy a well-deserved break from band life. With his busy schedule being taken up with his cat and eating food, Kieran has been apart from his fellow band mates Sam Rourke, Colin Jones and Joe Falconer who have all become Southern traitors of late. 

‘They’ve all fucked off to London and I still live in Liverpool. I think they’ve seen each other but I stick to my Northern roots. Represent. Stick to the scousers.’ He says with a sly smile. ‘But to be fair after being on tour for so long, time apart is much needed.’ Especially for what the band has in store for the rest of the year, which is hectic to say the least. 

‘We’ve got an American tour for a few weeks, then it will be festival season- so we’ve got Glastonbury- which will be amazing, Reading and Leeds, some more European festivals. Then we’re in Japan, South Korea, Mexico, then back to America. It’s non-stop. But that’s the way we like it.’ 

After forming back in 2013, if the members of Circa Waves didn’t like to be busy- they’d be in a lot of trouble by now. After the success of their debut album, Young Chasers, the band became over-night stars and their success has led to the recent release of the newest album, Different Creatures, just a few short months ago. Yet Kieran is already thinking of new music. 
‘I’m always writing to be honest. I’ve probably written another record. But I want to figure out what is all about and not rush it too much. Hopefully we’ll release something by the end of the year or early next year.’ 

As the core writer, Kieran spends most of his time capturing melodies on his iPhone the second he gets an idea. ‘I’ve got about a billion terrible ideas on my phone.’ Yet he is always searching for those special tracks. ‘I like the big songs. I’m really into pop writing and anything that can make a huge collection of people sing along. I get a big kick off that, opposed to the quieter album tracks which are great but I’m about the reaction. I like to see how a song goes from being played in your living room to having 30,000 people singing it. I look for those songs. But they don’t come that often.’ 

On this sweltering summers evening, Circa Waves are always identified as being a summers band due to their hit track, T-Shirt Weather, so this makes tonight an entirely suitable gig for them. ‘The first album always goes down well at a gig like this. But the second album is a lot darker, somehow though they intertwine quite strangely and it works.’ 

Although they have been moving away from the happy, cheeky business of Young Chasers, towards a darker feel in Different Creatures, the transition has not been deliberate. ‘We are naturally steering away from the pop stuff but if I write song like Fossils or T-Shirt Weather again I’m not going to discount it. It’s just what I’m writing at the time. Now I’m writing an in-between of the two albums- a happy medium so it will be interesting to see what comes out. It’s not happy or sad…it’s aggressively euphoric.’ 

Throughout his time as a songwriter Kieran has loved to write pop music in an unobvious way, ‘I don’t go out to please fans but I love bands like The Beatles, The Killers and Kings of Leon who write pop songs in a rock way. The best songs are always genuine and have heart to them because people can tell when it’s false. So I try to keep it real…God, I sound old telling you to keep it real.’ He laughs. 

And with that old school advice, Kieran left to prepare for the Keele Ballroom stage, where a crowd of greasy fans awaited their performance at Woodstoke.