Circle Takes the Square's Drew Speziale: Our process is not formulaic at all

Categories: Q&A
Danin Drahos

Circle Takes the Square has long been steeped in mystery. The band emerged from Savannah, Georgia, in 2001, revolutionizing the screamo genre and providing a starting point for a generation of emotional post-hardcore musicians. Yet after the release of their acclaimed first full length As the Roots Undo in 2004, CTTS disappeared from the public eye for eight years, leaving fans to wonder.

Then in late 2012, the band reemerged suddenly from obscurity with their second full length, Decompositions. The album is a testament to the unique roots that CTTS planted in the screamo genre so many years ago. A generation of kids who survived adolescence listening to CTTS, now adults, could finally stop guessing.

Now, the band is embarking on their first tour in years. Monday at the Triple Rock will mark their first ever Minneapolis performance. Gimme Noise chatted with guitarist/vocalist/artist Drew Speziale about punk, their long hiatus, and the much anticipated Decompositions as CTTS prepares to hit the road.

Gimme Noise: Do you have a connection with Minneapolis music scene?

I grew up on a lot of music that was from out there, but I guess it was just a slight understanding of what was current. It was weird. We would dig through catalogues, like Profane Existence. In the late '90s, that was the shit that my friends and I were all doing mail order from, getting our records, and just freaking out.

How did you find that?

From bands that came through. We would go to shows in D.C. and Richmond, and once in a while there would be touring bands, and we were just so into it... We'd just dig through the ads in various 'zines and be like, oh I like the font of whatever, that record looks crusty, let's get that. It was this really weird, stab in the dark hoping that you'd find something cool, but really not having a sense of what it was or who these people were that were making the music, or anything really.

The music completely spoke for itself, and it had a really strong impact on us. That's my connection to Minneapolis, is always thinking about that as like, the crust capital.

Do you remember any of those bands in particular?

Oh man. There's a seven-inch by this band Civil Disobedience that blew my mind when I was a kid. That band was rad. State of Fear, that was a great band that I liked a lot too.

How did you get into playing music yourself?

Way, way back, I had an interest in playing guitar, but not in any particular context. I didn't have a musical preference. I think I just wanted to play guitar before I actually got into music. Eventually in high school I started listening to punk rock, and it was a good thing to get into, because there was such a prevalent outlet for punk music. You don't necessarily have to have talent, and you can like, instantly form a band and play wherever, to kids your age that are also in equally terrible bands. It's very supportive and encouraging.

How did CTTS begin?

We started in Savannah, Georgia. I moved there from Virginia to go to college and met our original drummer there, and met Kathy, who is our bass player, through mutual friends. By default we ended up jamming together, because we all had some gear with us. We at least shared an interest in heavy music in general, but not any specific genre. We weren't all into the same bands. It was like, oh, we've all got instruments, let's go for it. So, we got together and wrote a few songs, and that was kind of the impetus of CTTS.

I think it got more focused after we figured out a context for ourselves. We had ties to the hardcore punk rock scene, I guess, from our own personal experiences in that growing up. That scene, the DIY music scene at that time, was very welcoming.

Reid Haithcock
Drew Speziale of Circle Takes the Square

What is the concept behind the name Circle Takes the Square?

That is top secret. It's a perfectly valid question... I will say that it's taken on more significant meaning to me in my life as time has gone on. I think the original meaning and the meaning now have definitely evolved. At the same time, I'm sorry to say, I can't tell you any more about it. It's more interesting as a non-definitive thing, I think, so we'll leave it at that.

How does it feel for you to know that you influenced such a broad audience?

I feel pretty grateful to have had that connection with some people, but I'm only aware of it when people tell me that. It's not something that I think about even when we're making music really. So, when it happens, it's awesome, but it's not our motivation.

Why did you decide to put CTTS on hold for a while?

That's another thing where from an objective point of view it might seem like a huge thing, but honestly it just happened naturally. We just kind of knew, okay, it's time to stop pursuing this right now. There were lots of things that were indicating that that was the case. Things were happening in our lives. It pulled us all in other directions.

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