Russian Circles

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Russian Circles works in a relatively esoteric area – an instrumental trio that finds the sweet spot at the intersection of metal, hard rock, progressive and experimental music. Its five albums, culminating with last year’s elegiac “Memorial" (Sargent House), demonstrate just how expressive and dynamic a rock band without a lead vocalist can be. If an album can be both thrashy and poignant, “Memorial” is it.

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All Photos and words by Debi Del Grande

While most LA bands headed to SXSW, it was refreshing to have hard, pulsating bands from Winnipeg, Seattle and Chicago seize the El Rey for a night.

Russian Circles is a force that is capable of causing a powerful change in the air the second they hit the first chord. The instrumental trio has built a solid reputation and for good reason. Chelsea Wolfe was the only voice on this set as she sang “Memorial” from their latest album of the same title. Definitely not missing them the next time they come around.


Metal Assault Live Review: Russian Circles at EL Rey w / video of Chelsea Wolfe performing “Memorial”


March 10th 2014, The El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles CA: Chicago-based instrumental heavy rock trio Russian Circles have been going from strength to strength in recent years, and since the last time I saw them headline the Troubadour in December 2011, they’ve traveled quite a fair distance as a band, literally and figuratively. Their latest album ‘Memorial’ has gained widespread praise and as a consequence, they’ve been getting booked on plenty of tours both as headliners and opening act. Currently, they’re approaching the end of a headline US tour with support from Helms Alee and KEN Mode, and played at a Sold-Out El Rey Theater in Western Los Angeles last night.

Rock/metal shows here are few and far between, but it’s always great to visit this lovely venue and last night was no different in that regard…

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"309" by Russian Circles an Interview By Andy Downing

Instru-metal trio Russian Circles long has been a heavyweight presence in the local scene, releasing five albums, including last year’s monstrous “Memorial,” over the course of its decade together. Now that the band has both a burger and a beer to its name, though, it’s safe to say the guys have really made it.

Just this month the crew landed a burger on the menu at hard-rock haven Kuma’s Corner — a grilled patty topped with braised venison, fried beets and more — and DryHop Brewers released a Russian Imperial Stout named for Russian Circles’ 2006 song “Death Rides a Horse.”

It’s certainly not the group’s first brush with fame, however. Band members Mike Sullivan and Dave Turncrantz actually graced the RedEye cover just last year. For an article about an outdoor hockey league.

"There was no mention of the band whatsoever," said guitarist and Logan Square resident Sullivan, by phone. "It was just a picture of us two longhairs playing hockey outside and some [headline] like ‘Hockey’s back!’"

Are your Google Alerts going crazy with everything that’s happening in Russia?
That’s funny. Everything that’s going on in Russia I found out through our Facebook page. There’s all this Russian spam all over the site, so it’s like, “All right, here’s what’s going on.” I don’t think we’ll be going back to Russia anytime soon. That whole scene is dramatic and unfortunate. Hopefully it doesn’t get worse, but it’s not looking too good.

Have you played there often?
We played there on three different tours. We did St. Petersburg and Moscow last fall.

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Rock trio Russian Circles sold out Neumo’s Tuesday, and the entry line was accompanied by late-arriving fans, desperately trying to purchase second-hand tickets.

The band opened with a dose of feedback as they set up and settled in, then broke the calm with an onslaught of noise that rode peaks and valleys, but never really stopped. They put “309,” the twisted album opener from 2011′s “Empros,” on full display, and from their latest album, “Memorial,” the eloquent guitar-tapped interlude “Ethel” was used as a lead-in to a punishing wall of riffs.

It was an exceptionally well-thought-out set that flowed like a river through tranquil spots, then crashed like a waterfall over rocks. Not a word was spoken the entirety of the set, nor did one need to be.

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Russian Circles live photos from Denver, Colorado at the Gothic Theater on March 1, 2014 taken by Vinh Nguyen. Poster art by Ryan Mowry aka Pencil Plan


03/03 Boise, ID @ Neurolux #
03/04 Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s * - SOLD OUT
03/05 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom * - SOLD OUT
03/07 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall * - SOLD OUT
03/09 San Diego, CA @ The Casbah * - SOLD OUT
03/10 Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre * - SOLD OUT
03/12 Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom * also w/ This Will Destroy You
03/13 Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad *
03/14 Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory *
03/15 Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar *
03/16 Chicago, IL @ Metro *

# w/ KEN Mode, Inter Arma
* w/ Helms Alee, KEN Mode

Invisible Oranges Live Review, Full Set Video and Photos

Russian Circles

I’ve written about all three of these bands’ power in the live realm over the past year: Russian Circles here, KEN mode here, and Inter Arma both here and here. There’s not much more to say about them, beyond that all three seem to get better the more time they spend on the road. (Which is a lot.) If any of these bands comes to your town, go see them, especially if you haven’t seen them before. If you have seen them before, go again. If you live in the sticks and despair of the possibility, you can witness some of the magic via Unartig’s full-set videos of each band HERE.

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Bass Player Magazine - Feature on Brian Cook in the March Issue


imageBrian Cook is featured in the March issue of Bass Player Magazine on news stands now.

Russian Circles track “Mladek" is featured in this great new spot running on NBC Sports an excellent homage to athletes and to our mighty Chicago BlackHawks.. #gohawks

JAPAN 2014 - First two shows announced in July


Russian Circles will head to Japan for the first time ever this Summer starting in Tokyo on July 12th for the Leave Them All Behind Festival with Jesu, Mono and Cohol. Then on July 13th they will play in Osaka with Jesu. More shows in Japan will be announced soon - for information check in at Daymare Recordings HERE


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Russian Circles will return to Australia this Spring for 5 shows see all ticketing and show details via Life Is Noise.

Currently Russian Circles are on tour in the USA See all remaining dates HERE.


Russian Circles Announce Headline US Tour with KEN mode, Helms Alee and Inter Arma supporting

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Russian Circles will be headlining the first US tour in support of their newest album Memorial released this past October 29th, 2013. Joining them on all dates will be KEN mode with Inter Arma opening on the first portion of the tour. Starting in Seattle on March 4th new Sargent House label mates Helms Alee will join the bill through the end of the tour.

See All Russian Circles Show Details HERE - ticket links coming soon

02/04  Iowa City, IA @ Gabe’s Oasis #
02/05  St. Louis, MO @ The Firebird #
02/07  Austin, TX @ Red 7 #
02/08  Dallas, TX @ Club Dada #
02/09  Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Upstairs #
02/10  New Orleans, LA @ The Parish @ House of Blues #
02/11  Tallahassee, FL @ Rehab #
02/12  Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub #
02/13  Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum #
02/14  Birmingham, AL @ WorkPlay Theatre #
02/15  Atlanta, GA @ The Earl #
02/17  Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle #
02/18  Washington DC @ The Rock and Roll Hotel #
02/19  Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts #
02/20  New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom #
02/21  Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East Downstairs #
02/22  Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus # - SOLD OUT
02/23  Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar #
02/24  Cleveland Heights, OH @ Grog Shop #
02/25  Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig #
02/27  Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club #
02/28  Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room #
03/01  Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre #
03/02  Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge #
03/03  Boise, ID @ Neurolux #
03/04  Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s *
03/05  Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom *
03/07  San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall *
03/09  San Diego, CA @ The Casbah *
03/10  Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre *
03/12  Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom *
03/13  Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad *
03/14  Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory *
03/15  Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar *
03/16  Chicago, IL @ Metro *
# w/ KEN Mode, Inter Arma
* w/ Helms Alee, KEN Mode

VICE NOISEY names Mike Sullivan in its list of most underated but great guitar players you need to know

Alongside guys like Kerry McCoy and David Knudson (both of whom have toured with Russian Circles), RC guitarist Mike Sullivan is also redefining what being a guitar player in a heavy band means by figuring out a way to implement chugging hardcore riffs into an atmospheric arena and making both dynamics more powerful in the process. Sullivan can also two-handed tap and live loop like a champ, making him a triple threat onstage. To be honest we have no idea how he’ll be able to pull off some of the sonic textures on the band’s latest album Memorial—but we have no doubt he’ll find a way to do it in stunning fashion.

See Full List HERE by Jonah Bayer for Vice Noisey

Pre-Order a Russian Circles limited edition Dwarfcraft Devices “Eau Claire Thunder” Pedal


Wow, the pedals are all now SOLD OUT with a long waiting list - we did not realize how much you all would like these. Perhaps we will do another edition down the road.

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The first and final tracks on post-metal band Russian Circles’ new album show what the band could be it wanted to conform to more conventional expectations for popular music.

The Chicago-based three piece is deliberately without a vocalist and its new album “Memorial” commences with an instrumental. The band reprises the song at the end of the album, but Gothic folk singer Chelsea Wolfe provides a buried melody that gives a taste of what the band would be if it followed a more traditional path.

“Memorial” is a darker affair than 2011’s “Empros” but it is not bleak. Now, the drums are more in focus. Textural guitars work on a scale that suggests mountain landscapes and grey skies. The bass provides both counterpoint and drone, drenched in fuzz.

Russian Circles’ sounds come from guitarist Mike Sullivan, bassist Brian Cook and drummer Dave Turncrantz. On “Memorial,” they augment their sound with strings, piano and electronics.

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