The PV Q&A: Anthony Green on Addiction — “I never was one that subscribed to the idea that I needed to be high to come up with cool shit, but I’d always get high while I was writing”

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Photo by Chad Sengstock for PureVolume

By Daniel Kohn

In the years since self-releasing their last album in 2012, Circa Survive has endured things that would have sunk lesser bands, most notably singer Anthony Green struggling a heroin addiction that he hid from his bandmates and landed him in rehab. Yet, despite odds and internal conflicts that immersed the band, they managed to write, record and release Descenus, one of their most lauded and aggressive albums to date. Writing the album sober gave Green a new perspective and reaffirmed his confidence as a songwriter. “I’ll be making music till 10 years after I’m dead,” the singer vows. “I hope for a long future for Circa Survive and it’s never a situation that I will give up on.” We caught up with Green who talked to us about writing the album clean, how the band was able to channel their problems into their music and his reaction to how fans have received the album.

PureVolume: How did the strife surrounding the band parlay itself into this record?
Anthony Green: I think that the collaboration of the record was tied in a way to where everybody who worked on it needed to be focusing on music. We needed it in a therapeutic way to deal with the stuff that was going on. It was one of those where we weren’t signed to Sumerian, we weren’t on a record label and we didn’t know if we had the capabilities to put another record out ourselves because there’s so much involved in it. Everyone was splintered personally and creatively. We rallied together and decided to give it a shot and let it take its own form and see how it looked. We weren’t sure whether we were going to go in and record two or three songs or whether we’d come out of there with an album. In that way, we ended up following the album’s lead and everything fell into place really quick. Everybody got inspired from the very beginning and it was an incredible therapeutic experience on a personal level. The music helped heal a lot of the personal situations that were going on and being there for one another was something that was lost over the past couple of years because of moving away and different things changing in people’s lives, and it was a rejuvenation of how we first wrote with each other.
PV: What was it like writing this album clean?
AG: It was awesome! I was a little nervous and I tried to go into it really positively. I never was one that subscribed to the idea that I needed to be high to come up with cool shit, but I’d always get high while I was writing. I would also have a lot of troubles with doubt and it would trip me up, but I’d blame it on other things. At one point when I was still getting fucked up, I thought that maybe I’m just getting old and don’t write cool shit anymore or that’s inspiring to me anymore. When I was writing this record, it came really effortlessly and felt right. It felt like it did when I was younger and didn’t overthink things. I wasn’t looking around the room for anyone’s approval and it was awesome. After doing the past couple of Circa records, I was at the point where I could write a solo song easily, but I didn’t know how to write a Circa Survive song anymore. I wasn’t anchored in the truth and honesty. This time I was thinking clear, and I have ADD so I was coming up with things faster and sifting through ideas and editing my own thoughts in a way where I didn’t feel insecure about it.

PV: That must have been a relief.
AG: There’s a feeling you get as a writer when you come up with something and realize it was great. For a little while, I was having less and less of those moments. When I started writing when I got out of rehab, it was finally happening again. Maybe it wouldn’t happen right away, but the more I worked, the more I really opened up. It was the inspiration of the moment and the reflection of the people around me coming through. That’s what happens when you sit down and focus yourself on what you’re meant to do. It was the best feeling.
PV: Did your reinvigorated focus inspire your bandmates in making this record?
AG: I wouldn’t want to put someone in a situation creatively that doesn’t work for them. I think a couple of the dudes were really on their way out with it, not just with working with me but working in an environment that was getting so disjointed. When the attention was there, the vibe was different and I think everyone got on the same page really quick. When it’s positive and you have someone high-fiving you, you get excited and you want to put in the work.
PV: Have you been surprised at the reception of the album as compared to the last few?
AG: Yeah. I don’t feel like we ever put out a record where we’ve turned away a massive amount of people or turned on a massive amount of people. We’ve been slowly growing the band. We’ve put out stuff that people haven’t liked, but we haven’t had this tidal wave experience with any of our albums where theres a mass influx or mass exodus. After a band has been around as long as we have, a lot of our brother and sister bands that have been around as long as us there’s always one record they can’t seem to get past. We’ve never really had that. It’s been sweet to be in that position to do what we want and not feel like climbing from inside the mountain. I really liked the record, but that’s just me saying that as the guy in the band. I hear people who have been supporting the band for 10 years tell us that its their favorite record, I think it’s a little overwhelming hearing that. You expect people to say it’s not as cool as your first shit and its what they always say. I never expect people to receive anything new with the same nostalgic representation from something they heard from when they’re 16 or 17. Hearing 33 or 34 year old men and women saying it’s their favorite album, it blows my mind.


Photo by Chad Sengstock for PureVolume

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