Circle of Rage are one such band, unleashing their ‘Rage in D Minor’ album at the end of July. There’s a sound which meshes extreme styles, it’s punk, it’s hardcore, it’s metal….not easy to pigeonhole, but certainly easy to appreciate the incredible levels of intensity both musically and lyrically.
Inspired by this anarchic debut, Mudkiss fired a salvo of questions at vocalist Tommo.
ANDY: Can you give the Mudkiss readers some insight into Circle of Rage. Who makes up the band and where and when did you guys get together?
TOMMO: Sure thing Andy bro, first off, cheers for the interview and thanks to all your readers for, well, reading.
Save one member, we have pretty much grown up together, having all attended the same village primary school. We all fell somewhat naturally into our roles in our teens and have just continued to write and perform in earnest since 2007. Xander (drums) and me, are brothers and there are 3 other members in total (Veitch-lead guitar, Scott-rhythm guitar & Jackson-bass)
ANDY: There's quite a mesh of styles throughout the album. Does this reflect the differing taste in music of the band members and you trying to bring it all together?
TOMMO: Exactly that, we're so glad that people notice the mesh of styles and the disregard for typical song structures in our tunes. However, although we all enjoy a variety of musical styles, the heavy/alternative genre is a personal favourite of ours. Hell, when you have the word 'rage' in your name, it wouldn't really lend itself to 4/4 ballads, ha ha. After all, there's a lot of things to be genuinely angry about in the world today.
ANDY: Which bands have influenced the Circle of Rage sound?
TOMMO: The list would be too long man, but it would include artists/bands such as System of a Down, Refused, Bill Hicks, afi, The Kinks, Beatles, Anti-Flag, Pantera, Bumblefoot, Sick of It All, Death by Stereo, Megadeth, Michael Jackson, Nevermore, Winter in June, American Nightmare and so forth...............phew.
Music or art with a soulful message is the most influential to us.
ANDY: Why is your rage specific to D minor?
TOMMO: There's a few reasons for this that all nod to certain influences and likes of ours. The astute amongst you will recognise them, or at least a few of them. Also, it is actually the first chord on the album.
ANDY: Your music is very politically driven. Are the views of the members as important to COR as the music itself?
TOMMO: In a way yeah. There's always something to be angry about but our political leanings definitely come across in our music. We're all living through a time of great upheaval, change and war as the old systems are becoming apparently irrelevant. This change is penetrating all aspects of our society including the music industry. We like to think that we're a small part of that change. Also, corruption is there to be exposed. Our songs are like vehicles for our own little news reports but with guitars, drums and a newsreader that is really pissed off.
ANDY: If democracy is fascism what's your alternative?
TOMMO: Truth would be a good starting point (isn't idealism wonderful)?
-Test all people in positions of apparent power for psychopathy...?
-But failing that – anarchy....?
ANDY: Truth, yep, I’ll go with that. Countries not being ruled by psychopaths, that’s reasonable for sure, but playing Devil’s Advocate here, isn’t anarchy the driving factor behind Egypt for example…Have an uprising for democracy and once that’s achieved, have another uprising because you don’t like what the democratically elected party are doing? Surely there has to be some form of structure or chaos reigns?
TOMMO: I understand your analogy but in my opinion you cannot have anarchy in order to then install democracy. Anarchy is the dissolution of all major governance, literally translated as 'without rulers'. Over the years the meaning has become warped thanks to state funded media and the like, twisting its true meaning, from self-governance to chaos.
I'm dubious about the recent uprisings in the Middle East. There's a part of me that can't help thinking 'soft power' initiation. I wouldn't be surprised if we discover in the future that, even if the revolution began as a grass-roots movement, it was co-opted by western influence in some way.
We're led to believe that a world without government would be madness but to be honest I think the opposite could well be true. After all isn't this exactly what a government would tell a people in order to retain their so-called power over them? Furthermore, hasn't there been seemingly endless murder and chaos under this western 'democracy' for decades now?
To me, anarchy means responsibility. It is choosing freedom from a total state-control but also choosing to shoulder any obligations that come with that.
There's so much more to say on the subject though and it's by no means a magic solution, just an opinion. I suppose it depends, in some respects, on how much faith you have in your human brothers and sisters....?
ANDY: What's your view on the situation in Syria, with it looking a strong possibility the US are going to bomb yet another country?
TOMMO: Project for a new American century (PNAC) document. Everyone in the west needs to make themselves aware of that think-tank and the paper written in the late 90's. Syria is the next in line and has been targeted for democratisation!!! (and we all know how that will end).
Watch too, a video that you can find on YouTube, of General Wesley Clark discussing this document and pay attention to the list of countries that he describes. If we refuse to learn from our mistakes, we will be doomed to repeat them.
The UK has allied itself foolishly to a 'war on terror' which can never be won militarily. I honestly believe that the warmongering psychos in government etc. want the people to stop them as it is the only way to cease this madness, Passive non-compliance by the people who are tired of this illusion of structure. Imagine if the western military refused to attack this time – true power indeed.
ANDY: It seems almost frivolous to ask now, but assuming the world doesn’t dissolve in the near future under a blanket of chemical and nuclear weapons, what’s next for Circle of Rage, do you have plans to tour either the U.K or further afield later in the year?
TOMMO: Yes, very much so mate. We haven't toured for a couple of years now and we still need to get our asses to Europe and inject some rage into the mainland. Money is the thing really man, as much as it pains me to say it, but none of us have any. We had to sell our van recently in order to be able to afford to promote the new album. The wheels turn slow here, but they do turn. A couple of us have shitty jobs and college to contend with too, so creating and touring our musical fusion is not without its obstacles in this day and age.
However, we have been talking about sorting out some smaller, localised, long-weekend tours. We would hit the road for 3 or 4 days, say Thurs-Mon, play a bunch of places down south, then do the same up north shortly after. It works out a little more economical that way but we still get to take our stuff around the country and hopefully play to some folks.
We are hoping that we'll be able to tag along to Europe for a little jaunt at some point next year but nothing is organised yet.
ANDY: And are you working on any new songs, as mentioned above, a politically motivated band always has plenty of on-going anger to release? Will we soon see Rage in Major chords?
TOMMO: Andy, you're so right and yeah we're always kind of writing in the background. We are currently jamming a new tune about this 'age of war' we've been discussing which is sounding pretty nifty. It has elements of propagandhi to it but with a rage twist of course.
We finished writing a song a few weeks ago about the scourge of corporate advertising called 'The Rage Dollar', which we unveiled at our recent release show in Canterbury. Oh and another one about chemtrails too called 'Memorandum 200/the Open Skies Treaty'. But as you said mate, there no shortage of administrative corruption and undeniable greed to keep our rage from burning out quite yet.
Whether you agree with the views above, what’s undeniable is Circle of Rage aren’t just your average loud, shouty band with little substance. They meld cohesive arguments and ideas into a morass of extreme genres, demanding your attention. Ultimately we need the Circle of Rages of this world, if we don’t ask the questions, we’ll never have an inkling of the answers. Rage on guys………circleofrage.bandcamp.com
Interview by Andy Barnes