Travelling inspires latest Circus album
IT was a reward and a reminder. As Dead Letter Circus frontman Kim Benzie raced to finish his band’s second record, The Catalyst Fire, he kept the album by good mates Karnivool far away from his ears.
Benzie didn’t want to succumb to the temptation of comparing their charttopping third album, Asymmetry, with his band’s work in progress.
So he decided he would keep it as a present for his aural pleasure when he completed The Catalyst Fire.
Now he has heard it – and loves it – he fervently wishes his band enjoys the same fate. If the trend for hard rock albums to land straight into the top spot continues, Brisbane band Dead Letter Circus has a good shot at the title.
‘‘It’s quite the opposite to competition,’’ Benzie says.
‘‘We’re texting each other all the time and if we lived in the same city, there’s no doubt we would be hanging out.
‘‘I did try not to listen to the new Karnivool record because we were a little bit worried we were doing ours at the same time,’’ he says.
‘‘I find it hard to listen to other bands because you are always trying to dissect what they are doing.
‘‘But I have now and I am quite pleased we have done quite different things. The thing I love about the Karnivool guys is they are so incredible I can’t figure out what they are doing.’’
Benzie had to work out a new songwriting modus operandi after fellow founding member Rob Maric quit.
‘‘We had a pretty intense couple of years, doing a lot of touring including three tours of America and then Rob left the band and it took us a while to rebuild after that,’’ Benzie says. ‘‘When he left, it encouraged everyone to dish out ideas and that was rewarding.’’
Like Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus hail from the melodic end of the hard rock spectrum where singing is singing, rather than screaming.
Benzie finds it impossible to match his scream brothers. ‘‘I can’t actually scream,’’ he says, laughing.
‘‘I tried in a couple of comedic moments, trying to recreate the scenario of me standing on the edge of a cliff.
‘‘But I don’t think I’ll ever hit the pterodactyl meter.’’
The songs of The Catalyst Fire draw inspiration from the band’s world travels, their environmental conscience – their last tour was called No Fracking Way – and the frontman’s experiences in South America.
He took part in Ayahuasca ceremonies in Peru and later collaborated with an artist he met there, Klara Soukalova, on the mesmerising mandala on the cover of The Catalyst Fire.
‘‘I guess we went from being five guys from Brisbane to citizens of the world during the last few years,’’ Benzie says.
‘‘When I went to Peru, you can see the oil companies raping the Amazon and it got me to thinking about what’s wrong with the mechanics of the world now.
‘‘One of the reasons the album is quite dark, particularly on songs like The Cure, is part of the realisation that I am inadvertently responsible for all the things I see happening on TV, making that connection between what is happening in the world and my apathy.
‘‘We’re not slamming anything down anyone’s throat.
The Catalyst Fire, tomorrow.
The Catalyst Fire is released tomorrow. Dead Letter Circus play The Hi-Fi, in Brisbane, on September 14. ‘‘It’s just . . . what we feel now.’’ While he blocked out their artistic influence, Benzie had no problem texting his Karnivool mates for advice on one of the rock world’s more pressing dilemmas: how many new songs should you play on tour?
‘‘I did text them asking how many they were playing,’’ he says, laughing.
‘‘We started streaming the album so fans can let us know their faves, too.’’
– KATHY McCABE
Brisbane melodic hard rockers Dead Letter Circus release their second album,