So many bands are chasing that proto-glam, party-addiction garage-rock vibe these days,
but none seem to wear the clothes as perfectly snug as Sydney’s Circle Pit. If Guns N’
Roses weren’t so virulently homophobic, and The Spaghetti Incident? pre-emptively featured
tracks by Royal Trux and Spacemen 3 instead of Nazareth and Fear, it might’ve sounded
something like Circle Pit’s Bruise Constellation, one of my favorite albums of 2010. The
project of close friends Angela Bermuda and Jack Mannix, Circle Pit can come as a duo,
sextet, or anything in between, but the vibe remains essentially the same – ragged, glitzy
punk rock (n’ roll) that makes me wish I had continued my anti-social teenage behavior well
into adulthood. I asked multi-instrumentalist and singer Bermuda about the band; just as
I hoped, she completely surprised me in various ways.

Is there a cooler-looking active band than Circle Pit?
I don’t really know how to answer this, sorry…

I just think, from the Bruise Constellation cover shot, and the recent single’s
art, you guys look cool as hell. I feel like a lot of other bands that might be in your
“scene” or whatever look a lot more boring or generic.

I guess that in relation to our album and single covers, we’re big fans of the artwork
associated with glam / shock-rock bands, and rock / biker iconography – of whom place
their own image more often than not at the forefront. The majority of unknown bands that
aren’t in the same predicament as famous musicians like Marc Bolan, Keith Richards, etc.,
would never place themselves on their own record covers, because it’s seen as egotistical –
but I think rather there’s something special about having a face on the cover. A lot of
people are humbled or like to remain seemingly mysterious and/or hidden behind the music –
but Circle Pit as a entity is so much about the two of us, our lives together and seperate –
so it just felt right in those few instances to put ourselves on the cover, as the music
reflects so much of us.

I feel like, in seeing the two of you on the cover, there’s way more mystery than if
you used a colorful collage or something, because I can see the two of you and actually
wonder about you. Some random picture won’t have that same effect. So how did the band get
started? Were you friends, or playing together in other bands before?

We’ve been friends for about 10 years now. It has been a really long time when I think about
it, and how we were just kids back then. The band started when Jack and I had been playing
in another band, Kiosk, for a few years. Over time we realised that we both wanted to start
a new musical project, and that we had similar intentions. We both wanted to write new kinds
of songs and lyrics, artwork and films, with different ideals and expressions than that of
those created previously. We wrote songs and generally hung out for a year or so before we
performed live. It was a really special time.

What were the new musical ideas and expressions that you wanted to do, but weren’t
doing at that time? And what was Kiosk like?

Kiosk was a more intuitive, aggressive project, where we would write songs all together (Jack,
myself and our friend Catherine) in a rehearsal situation. The style was factored largely by
the fact towards the end of the band, Jack was playing drums and I was playing guitar. Being
the only tonal instrument, in a situation where someone else is the ‘singer’, and Jack being
limited by percussion… we felt that we had a lot more to say than this situation allowed us.
Kiosk had an amazing energy to it – especially in a live environment – but as time weared on,
the music I wished to create was involving more thought-out guitar parts and lyrics.

Did Kiosk ever put out any records?
Kiosk put out a 7″ called Growing Pains, recorded in Adelaide with Kynan Lawlor. I actually
don’t own a copy, I’d love to get my hands on one. We also released a CD-EP/tape called Sixty Nine,
recorded with Matthew Hopkins in Sydney about a year later, and finally recorded a full-length
album in Olympia with Calvin Johnson that never got released.

The name “Circle Pit” evokes a few different things, from Pagan rituals to moshing
techniques… does it have any particular meaning to you?

The term has many layers, which drew us to it. Its pretty representative of modern pop culture,
with moshing being the most obvious reference, race-tracks, UFO iconography, etc. I guess to me
it evokes more simplistic ideas, of the nature of life and death and the eternal return of the
same, the spectacle, etc.

Your single on Hardly Art is pretty different from your other material. Is this another
side of Circle Pit that’s always been there, something new you plan on continuing, or a one-off
sort of deal?

Its hard to ‘compare’ these recordings, because we had an entirely different set-up. Our album
and most recent 7″ single was recorded with a live band, whereas this time we had just the
two of us and Harriet Hudson, our guitarist. It was a lot more relaxed than other sessions we
had done, and I think that definately shines through on the tracks. The choice of synths and
keyboards was more a choice of them being in the studio at that time. That said, I think that
the potential for different sounds is always out there, and it’s something we definately want
to explore. Our 12″ EP we recorded in Melbourne and Columbus, Ohio, late last year sounds
completely different entirely, taking some influence from our first 7″ on RIP Society. We have
a few tracks that sound similar to the Slave / Honey release, so I’m sure they’ll come out
sometime or another.

Do you perform songs like “Slave” and “Honey” live, or is that strictly a studio thing?
We just played a launch show last week in Sydney and played those two songs live for the first
time. It was strange, as we couldn’t get our hands on a keyboard, so we played them on guitar.
The songs allowed themselves to a guitar format pretty well, but it was difficult to hold it
all together just the two of us, as there are a lot of parts to those songs, but I think we did
okay considering.

What was it like recording in Ohio? I can imagine it might be kind of stressful, away
from home and presumably on a strict schedule.

Recording in Ohio was intense. Haha. It was Thanksgiving, and our first day off in a long time…
We spent the day partying with friends, drinking and dancing ensued… We started recording
around 10:00 pm, and went untill the next morning. Everyone started dropping off at the end,
and at around 7:00 am I remember Jack waking me up to do each take, I was so over. It made the
recording a bit better in the sense it was more free and less thought out. Matt from Psychedelic
Horseshit recorded us – he did the most amazing job of it onto this old tape machine – despite
the fact the tape kept falling off the reel. Him and Beth from Times New Viking were the
greatest hosts and we had a really amazing Thanksgiving experience, as there’s not really
anything like it here.

What’d you think of touring the United States?
Touring America was really fun, intense, awesome, stressfull – the whole deal. Even though
I’m sure we pissed each other off at some points, I can’t think of a group I’d rather spend
two months with. I slept in the car a lot, in the dead of BC winter. I had loads of strange
dreams in the cold.

If you had to move to an American city, which would you choose?
It would be hard to pick a city, it would depend on how much money I had… haha. I like
loads of places: Austin, LA, Portland, Philly, etc… New Orleans is awesome too.

Have you toured Australia?
We’ve ‘toured’ Australia in the sense we’ve played all the major cities, but Australia is
pretty small, so we usually just do a trip to Melbourne or Brisbane. Sometimes it’s an advantage,
as there is this definite community feeling throughout the country, but sometimes you feel
you’re stuck on the ass-end of the world. But you get that everywhere every once in a while,
I suppose. Also as the cities are so brutally far apart, there’s something awesome about
the time spent in the car, looking out the window, chatting and thinking with your friends,
listening to tunes and staring at mountains and farm animals.

Is there any particular show you’ve played at home that really stuck out as
something special?

There would be many of those. Playing shows on memorable occasions are always an extra good
time… A few times we’ve played shows on Jack’s birthday. Our first show with a live band
setup was on one of those, we blew balloons and made a silly banner. We called the show ‘Metal
Meltdown’ and it got shut down by the cops. A show on my birthday was in Melbourne with Jay
Reatard and the Dirtbombs, that was fun… We played at a house party on New Year’s Eve a few
years back in Redfern with a bunch of bands from Sydney; the next day we forgot that we had
played untill someone else reminded us. That was memorable in a different kind of way I suppose.
I still remember our first ever show so vividly, it was just the two of us and Chris Petro
on drums, at a regular event called ‘Plastic Bag’ in this really notable old linen-factory /
warehouse space in inner Sydney called Hibernian House. Actually Jack and I were living there
until just last week, but the show was put on by our dear friends The Garbage and the Flowers,
who live in the building. We played a few covers – Sonny and Cher, Spacedust… It was pretty
shambolic, but special, for sure. Even though a band is more often than not a public entity,
the most memorable moments for me would always be the more private moments like writing or recording.

What else do you do for fun? I’m trying to imagine what life is like for Circle Pit
when you aren’t playing shows or recording.

We both play in other bands, hang out with friends, hang out together, chatting and hanging
out. We hang out a lot more than working on songs together. Being friends comes before
everything else. Speaking for myself, I love reading, watching films, drinking beer, and
gambling. I’m addicted to the ‘Pokies’. My favourite machine is called Spring Carnival.

Pokies… are those like poker machines? Do you play regular poker at all?
Yeah, poker machines. I want to compose the music for them! Last night I was playing this
Australian themed machine called Big Red which is centred around a massive red kangaroo. I don’t
play poker, but I love hearts. It’s my favourite card game of all time.

Are there any particular artists or musicians that really helped you get a feel for
what you wanted Circle Pit to be like? Any specific inspirations for the band?

This is a hard question to answer – the bands I listen to most of the time don’t really sound
much like Circle Pit – I love Throbbing Gristle, Chrome, Blue Oyster Cult, etc. It was funny
the other week when I was in Melbourne, I was playing our Sewercide 7″ to Mark Nelson, who
recorded it, for the first time. I realised that because I don’t own a stereo, I’d never
listened to that 7″ or our album properly. Haha. It sounded so weird to me! Like Red Kross,
but heaps weirder. I felt so removed from something I had actually made. It’s funny when
something leaves your hands, it takes on a life of its own.
I think that the band that has ‘influenced’ Circle Pit the most would be The Rolling Stones.
We’re channeling classic rock bands in a way that I feel most bands active at current don’t
really do. A lot of current bands seem to be looking for some kind of ‘edge’ but the truth is –
you don’t really need it, because most of the time good music is that which is the simplest.

Agreed. But how is it that you don’t own a stereo?!
I used to own a stereo, but I’ve been moving around a lot over the last two years -in fact, I
don’t even own any furniture! No bookshelf, no bed! Haha. I’ll be getting these things soon
enough… I’m addicted to house sitting and subletting. It fools me into thinking I’m travelling
even when I’m not.