Band Interview: Soul Circus

Soul Circus Album Artwork

*Answered by Billy Pringle: Guitar/Vocals

So first of, how did you all meet?

I met Paul (White – bass player) in 1993. It was the first year of high school. Paul had decided he had to meet me as his friends had told him about the guy who couldn’t tie his tie.  We both quickly discovered we had the same taste in music (Guns n Roses, Nirvana, Metallica) and immediately decided we were going to grow our hair long and start a band. Along with another school pal, Paul and I started a ‘garage band.. .’  I can’t remember if we ever had a name but it consisted of Paul on ‘drums,’ (the bit of the lawn mower used to catch grass and 3 tins of paint being hit by 2 cricket stumps), and myself singing into a Karaoke machine whilst our friend played guitar.  Our repertoire consisted of 3 or 4 tunes from ‘Nevermind’ and Black Sabbath’s paranoid. This venture was rather short-lived.

I met Stephen McLeary (lead guitar) in 1995 when we were both partaking in the favourite teenage past-time of drinking outside a primary school. On this very night, we decided we would start a band and begin our quest for world domination.
Despite this pact, Stephen and I would not play a gig together for nearly another decade.

Soul Circus as we know it began to take shape in 2003. I was living with Paul at this time in Glasgow but he was too busy with his new real-life job to join the story yet. By coincidence, Stephen had also moved to Glasgow and we decided to finally give it a go.

We recruited Kevin Crompton on bass (who worked with me in a bar) and he brought with him Donald McMaster (Kevin’s college classmate) to hit the kit.

After taking 6 months or so to hone our act, we hit the Glasgow scene full force in 2004 where we played all over the city up to 4 times a week for the first 2 or three years.

Kevin left in 2006. For nearly the rest of this year we struggled to find a new replacement with several faces coming and going.

Around the end of this year, we approached Paul to play bass for us. It was the common sense choice as we had been using most of his equipment to play gigs since the beginning (usually without his permission). The band has kept this line up since then.

Where are you all from?

Stephen, Paul and myself are all from Carluke. Donald is from Paisley.

How long have you been playing your respective instruments?

Since our early teenage years. As we are now all the wrong side of 30 now it’s safe to say, we’ve got a few years experience.

What genre of music do you consider your work to be?

Dirty, retro Rock N Roll.

What are your influences?

Too many to mention them all. I’d say from our sound, bands such as Led Zep, the Stones, the Who, Hendrix, The Doors and Deep Purple might be the most prominent. Essentially, we have been together so long now that we mostly influence ourselves.

Do you do covers and if so what’s your go to?

Not really. We used to play Jumpin Jack Flash as a finale’. It was always fun to play and went down well. However, we have 15 years worth of back-catalogue and as most gigs lasting 30 mins or so, we stick to our own stuff. We can never agree on a cover to play anyway.

What if anything does your name mean/why are you called that?

I stole the Circus part from the Rolling Stone’s ‘Rock n Roll’ Circus album and put Soul in front of it because I thought it sounded good. These days it’s just a name (like Barry or Kevin).

Do you have a process for writing your songs? /Which of you writes the songs?

We just bring ideas to the rehearsals then beat it about until it resembles a song.
Once we have played a song a few times we usually have little or no recollection of how we were able to do it.

What are your rehearsals generally like?

We enjoy rehearsing as much as we enjoy gigging. We are all very comfortable with each other so we can disagree with things without any pettiness getting in the way.

Do you have any interesting/funny stories about gigging or touring?

Loads. We have played all over the UK and shared bills with some pretty big acts; Glasvegas, the Airborne Toxic Event, Ipanema, Peter Hook and Bret Anderson to name but a few.

As far as funny is goes there are a few contenders but for me the winner is this one.
The first time we showed up to play the Cavern in Liverpool. We arrived at the venue after a mini-bus journey of drinking; to find out we were going to be playing last. This meant by the time we got on stage we hardly knew where we were. Stephen couldn’t hear himself through the monitor and decided the best way to deal with this was not to ask the sound guy to adjust anything but to smash his guitar on stage. There is no doubt that this was positively received by everyone in the crowd. As we had no spare guitars Stephen spent the rest of the set on tambourine.

What song do you remember most from your childhood?

‘Welcome to the Jungle’ by Guns n Roses is the song that is ultimately responsible for the band existing. It made me choose a way of life which resulted in becoming pals with Paul and Stephen.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

It’s not a challenge. If you think being in a rock n roll band with your friends is a challenge, you’ve not had enough problems.

How can fans-to-be gain access to your music?

Have you released anything yet/if you have how has it gone down and are you planning anything for the near future?

We’ve released plenty.  See above. We are hoping to have a few more releases by the end of 2018.

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?

In Glasgow, we have played nearly everywhere; King Tuts, The Arches, Barrowlands, ABC, Stereo (old and new), 13th Note, Nice n Sleazys, The Garage, box and basically everywhere else.We have played all over Scotland and the odd gig in England. We played the Cavern in Liverpool a couple of times and a few London gigs, including Notting Hill Arts Centre (Death Disco) at the personal invite of Alan McGhee (what a night).

My favourite venue is Box in Glasgow. They provide a full-backline and always have someone good on sound. They do free entry and cheap white Russians so what’s not to like?

What do you think about downloading music online?

Brilliant. The more people who can access your music the better.

What’s your outlook on the record industry today?

I don’t care about the record industry. They exist to market things and make money. We exist to make rock n roll.

And let’s end with something a little different…Which famous person, alive or dead, would you have dinner with and why?

Simon Cowell. So I could poison him.


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