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Why Russian Circles would rather be called prog than post-rock

Adding more melody to their ferocious riffs and metallic sound, Russian Circles have evolved yet again on explosive sixth album Guidance, making themselves even harder to pigeonhole.

"I’d rather be called a prog band than a post-rock band, to be honest,” says Mike Sullivan, Russian Circles’ guitarist and principal songwriter. He’s on fine form as he describes his complex feelings about the trappings of genre tags. “It’s interesting to see that post-rock has so much traction these days. I just hope it’s not becoming too singular and defined, because it’s cooler when it could be anything, you know?”

As Sullivan cheerily recounts his discovery of instrumental post-rock, a glass chinks – he’s relaxing today, having been involved in a head-on car collision that resulted in the cancellation of a couple of tour dates.

“I remember we were on tour with Red Sparowes and I was talking to Cliff [Meyer], who’s been in [legendary post-metal band] Isis before Red Sparowes, and I was like, ‘Hey man, what is post-rock? I keep hearing about this shit,’ and he replied, ‘It’s this, man. Look around!’”

Russian Circles’ new album Guidance is a progressive powerhouse of post‑rock and post-metal atmospherics, riffs and soundscapes, and it sees the band – who are completed by bassist Brian Cook, formerly of Botch and These Arms Are Snakes, and drummer Dave Turncrantz – moving into slightly unusual territory, riding triumphant major key melodies as well as their trademark minor key catharsis.

“It felt weird sometimes that some of the songs were so major key melodic, with not as much melancholy to them,” admits Sullivan. “That kind of sketched me out. Then I was like, ‘Hey, we wrote this, this is happening…’ It’s part of what we are, being ourselves. If some of the songs aren’t as dark and brooding, that’s more honest.”

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