Spectrum Culture Interview with Brian Cook of Russian Circles

“I look at young people in bands and I can’t help but wince.”

With the recent release of Guidance Russian Circles is now six albums deep in a career staked on instrumental post-metal that can be both bleak and beautiful. Few other bands can shift between darkness and light with such aplomb, especially without the aid of a vocalist. We touched base with bassist Brian Cook to discuss the new album, getting older in the music industry, the highs and lows of 10-plus years of touring and whether they’d ever consider recording a full-length collaboration with a vocalist like Chelsea Wolfe.

The cover to your new album, Guidance, depicts a military scene of a stoic man being led to his execution. I understand this was a photo that, along with others, was received with very little context from a war veteran. To what extent did these photos serve as inspiration for the music on this latest album?

Truthfully? None whatsoever. I know a lot of artists work with a muse of some kind. And I know a lot of artists like to have a concept before they start their work. We don’t work that way. We just compose a bunch of music, find the bits and pieces that resonate most with us, and then try to find some sort of subconscious impulse behind all of it. I think it’s more interesting to allow gut instinct to guide music and then try to decipher what it all means rather than trying to impose some abstract idea into sound waves.

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Russian Circles “Guidance” Full Album Stream via Noisey

Photo: Nicholas Sayers

Russian Circles is a band you can watch and think only one thing: How do three people make so much fucking noise? The Chicago-based instrumental three-piece is on their sixth album now, with the release of Guidance, and seem intent on digging a new layer of depth into their sound on each one. In the vein of Pelican or Mono, Russian Circles have risen to become one of America’s preeminent loud-as-hell bands, decadent in texture and volume.

On Guidance, Russian Circles drag the listener down an emotionally draining hole that’s at times cathartic and triumphant and at others crushing and melancholic. Lose yourself in the album below and find out what it feels like to come out on the other side.

Guidance is out on August 5 via Sargent House, and Russian Circles have a massive tour in support of it coming up. Dates below.

Listen to the full album stream HERE.

For all show and ticket details click HERE. Dates Below.

Russian Circles’ Dave Turncrantz Talks to Istanbul About New Record ‘Guidance’

This month we got a chance to catch up with Russian Circles drummer and Istanbul Agop artist Dave Turncrantz. Russian Circles are hitting the road this summer and fall, if they stop near you, check them out, you won’t regret it. Their new record Guidance drops August 5th, 2016, you can check out a preview here. Dave is an incredible drummer, and a great guy; we’re happy he’s part of the Agop family.  

A: Does being an instrumental band influence the way you write drum parts?

DT: I think being an instrumental band makes everything more exposed and it makes me try to do things a little more musically. There are only three of us in the band so everyone needs to pull their weight to make things interesting live and in the studio. I think the hardest part of being an instrumental band is filling out the empty spaces a singer would normally fill up or another guitar player. Luckily for me, I play with two amazing musicians that have a good ear and are great at layering to fill everything out.

A: What was the process like working on Guidance?

DT: The process we use for writing every Russian Circles record has always started with just drums and guitar. Our guitarist Mike Sullivan and I will go through a number of guitar riffs he’s been working on and once we both agree on something will start from there. Once we get a structure we both are happy with, Brian comes in and we start to form the riffs into a song. Its been a process that has worked on the last five records and its nice to get a different view of the song once Brian comes in with the Bass.