Circa Survive vocalist Anthony Green’s days buzz with the sorts of business decisions that are very much a part of life for any successful band. Each album is a complete team effort, too. So in order to find a more personal outlet, Green has unplugged, tapped his inner storyteller and found renewed energy in solo work. On Saturday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m., Green’s summer tour visits Funk ‘n Waffles, 727 S. Crouse Ave., with Arison Cain opening the sold-out show.
Following a brief stint as the singer for rock band Saosin from 2003 to 2004, Green moved on to form Circa Survive, known for its unbridled stage presence and wild-eyed members. With rollicking rhythms and Green’s soaring melodies, Circa Survive’s popularity grew through several albums and coinciding tours. With the group, Green stayed nose-to-nose with the seething crowds of multi-band concert tours such as Bamboozle and, once upon a time, the Vans Warped Tour.
As an individual, however, Green thrives in changing environments. “A lot of times, songs I write don’t make it to the Circa records and I need to get some of them out,” he says. This drew him to side projects and guest appearances with bands like The Receiving End of Sirens, Good Old War and The Spill Canvas. Few acts matched the magic he created with the elusive, mask-wearing The Sound of Animals Fighting, whose album was impossible to find and therefore priceless to its fans.
There is an element of mischief in everything Green touches, and his solo work is no exception. Scraping away at the schismatic throbbing of his band’s songs, Green’s own tunes have all the complex rhythms and lilting vocals of collaborative pieces, but are shaved down to earnest melodies and sparse instrumentation. While he delivers lyrics like a nighthawk with Circa Survive, on his own he comes across more like a snowy owl. He follows the same instincts, but with a different approach.
“Sometimes you just have to break everything down to a simple, small, manageable size and go out and do it for the fun of it,” the rogue troubadour says. “There’s so much business and so much work to do with Circa that sometimes it’s hard to realize, until you get on stage, why you’re doing all of that. But when I walk up with an acoustic guitar on a stage in front of a hundred people at a record store, I feel completely connected to the music I’m making.”
Green released his first solo album, Avalon, in 2008 on Photo Finish Records. It was the culmination of several years’ worth of solo experiments and stories, none of which had been put through the filter of his bandmates. For now, he’s playing it by ear with Circa Survive, writing and recording demos for an upcoming album, but he plans to pay more attention to solo work—not that he can imagine when that will happen.
“It would be nice to take a year to put out a couple records on my own,” he says, “but it feels like we always run out of time.” This feeling, he said, inspired some recent tracks with Circa Survive, while the idea of using music to tell a story shaped his latest independent work.
“In the past, the story wasn’t something I thought about too much,” he says.
“It was more about the emotion and I didn’t necessarily look at songs as literal things. Now I’ve been really interested in trying to capture feelings that match up musically and lyrically. There’s a different energy because I have a guitar around my neck now and I can lose myself and let muscle memory take over.”
The Funk ’n Waffles show will be just as much about Green’s stories as his musicianship. Alongside a backup quartet consisting of his childhood friends, Green hopes to create a laid-back atmosphere where people can relax, chug a lavender latte and chow down on a brownie waffle. The venue’s name was one of his favorite things about this stop on the tour, and he is eager to taste how their nibbles match up.
Green is a musician who trusts his gut, and that intuition has resulted in a long list of collaborative projects. When he brings his personal anthems to town, the audience will get a rare ear-full from the man who is the voice of some of the most prominent bands in progressive, industrial rock. “You feel the music in your bones. It’s right and it’s pure and there’s nothing contrived about it,” he says. “It doesn’t last very long, and that’s the point. It makes me feel happy. It’s that simple.”