Last year I have the supreme pleasure of seeing the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise tour in Lexington. Now, just under one year later the Circulatory System have released their long-awaited second LP and are going on tour again. This Saturday, they’ll be stopping in Lexington again along with Nesey Gallons and Pipes You See, Pipes You Don’t. Will was nice enough to have a quick chat with me over the phone in advance of the new album and tour.
An Interview with Will C Hart of the Circulatory System
Picasso: So congratulations on a really, really good new album! I don’t know if you read anything on the E6 forum, but everyone is kind flipping. So, were you surprised that after 10 years how strong your fan base is?
Will: Yes. Indeed. Actually it’s really cool.
Picasso: Has that been a source of pressure for you or is it inspiring usually?
Will: It’s inspiring, yeah for me, personally. To know that somebody is listening in, it’s fun. Its fun and its totally real. ? ?Picasso: That’s really what’s surprising to me mostly that it had almost nothing to go on for over a decade now and it seems like it might be stronger than ever.
Will: Yes, that’s true. ?
?Picasso. So whenever I interviewed Eric (of Elf Power) he said that the Holiday Surprise Tour sorta gave them a deadline to finish the Major Organ movie. Did that sorta give you an energy to push through on Signal Morning?
Will: Yeah, I guess so. But mainly I guess because I asked for outside help for sequencing and what not, with me, Nesey Gallons and Charlie Johnston. So that made me up to make up new songs and not have to be bogged down too much because I trust their editing, sequencing or whatever.
Picasso: When did you talk to them?
Will: I don’t know actually.
Picasso: When did you realize that the album was going to be finished and when did you see the light at the end of the tunnel?
Will: Around that time, I suppose. I was getting there, but I thought It might be better to save the work and I was like “Holy shit, yeah it worked. Thanks!”
Picasso: And that was the first time that you had help with the sequencing and a little bit on production, right?
Will: Pretty much, yeah. And to meet John and it was kinda left up to me.
Picasso: Yeah, still your hand guiding everything.
Will: Yeah…”the iron hand” ha ha.
Picasso: You’re just the auteur! So what was that like, working with other people? You seemed to have spoken only highly of it in anything I’ve read. Was it pretty positive? You said it freed you up and everything.
Will: Yeah, having that happen it did. It was just cool to see. And I would have said “I don’t like it.” But I didn’t. Its so cool and when I did hear it, it was like “wow, thanks!” And its new to me, everytime. Well, not now, but still.
Continue reading after the break.
Picasso: Your albums always have—and all of the E6 community pretty much have really great flowing albums. What was that like putting together with three guys and half a dozen or more musicians? It always seems so effortless in the final product, but what was it like working that together this time around? Especially, I think some stuff is older than others, bits of songs and stuff.
Will: Oh yeah, totally. You know the first song I started in ’93.
Will: Yeah, and so I still have a few more from that period, on that same cassette tape where its two guitars, and drums. I just make up stuff, but not having made up stuff like “I’m feeling this right now, I’m singing this thing. Think of lyrics.” I just think. I always have these to go back to. I like to come back to the instrumental, maybe six years later. Suddenly, it’s clear what I’m supposed to sing. That happened with “Giant Day,” a single that Olivia did a long time ago.
Picasso: Was it hard getting Will from 1993 and Will from 2009 to seem like such a cohesive agreement on the record?
Will: No, because I let the guys thumb through my “bad box,” I had two boxes of things and pulled that out and was like “Wow, great!” It started with this and be like nobody would expect it. “Holy shit! Cool. I love it! Done. So it’s a note! I guess it wasn’t because we all have the same sense of like energy and energies—the two editors and myself, Nesey and Charlie. So it’s like adjusting.
Picasso: So for you has the songwriting process changed at all since then or is it still, “hit record and let it flow?”
Will: Since ’93? Yeah, I try to do something everyday. Maybe not so much anymore, for a while but its getting better. But even if I don’t really feel something, deep emotional while playing chord sequence, its still a good chord sequence, should I need it.
Picasso: So there’s not real “Will Hart trash bin,” there’s only a giant recycling bin for song parts?
Will: Oh yeah, I think so. I’ll just kinda catalog something, I’ll write something on a tape that says, you know “The version” or something like that.
Picasso: So I wanted to talk a little bit about the multiple sclerosis. When were you diagnosed with that? When did you find out?
Will: I think probably in ’06. I had had it since ’98 or something.
Picasso: So, you found out just after Olivia’s reunion, I guess?
Will: Yeah. I started going blind in my right eye. Obviously a drag. So I immediately went to an eye doctor and then he said, “you have to be in the hospital tomorrow morning and I can try to save your eye.” So with steroids, I sat there for two days and they pumped this bag of steroids into my eye. They saved some of it. I thank him, so much. Really. Dr. Mitchell. That was really cool. Fucked up man, for anybody. It’s like doing facial art and stuff. I mean “hey, I’m going blind that’s pretty clear.” I mean, I’m laughing, but I don’t need to go any farther than that. That happened to me and everything make sense now, my body in fucking pain and all that stuff. It’s like, “What the fuck? Why have I been feeling like this?” It’s way beyond that. But when I did learn that, I was like “now, it all makes sense.” So I started doing the shots and injections every other day.
Picasso: Every other day? Has it been beneficial?
Will: Yes. Absolutely, yes.
Picasso: I didn’t know that until early this year and I think the fan community was a little shocked and worried at first but you seemed so positive about everything. It’s good to know that you’re doing better.
Will: Yeah, you know I was drinking heavily– obviously that makes sense. Starting to take the shots, my brain chemistry just changed. None of the music or anything like that changed but how much I can smile or not, see what I mean? I’m just more positive now. A better world view. Just more positive in general People are happy and cool and want to see the shows. It fucking excites the shit out of me, actually.
Will: My part of it, we’re trying to put together the best show we can. And get across all of the stuff that’s on Signal Morning. We can’t play “Blasting through,” but its been a great thing. We’re trying to put together something.
Picasso: Who have you got coming on tour?
Will: Nesey Gallons and Pipes You see, Pipes you Don’t, will be opening and…
Picasso: Sorry, I mean who’s playing with you? ? ?Will: Oh, well those two. Charlie, Suzanne, Derek, Heather and John. Six or seven people. It’s against the face of all logic to have that many people, but that’s what I wanted. You can’t represent it with just four people. So, there you go. It’s really cool. Trying to put together the coolest show. Visual? I dunno. I have a couple of ideas. I don’t know what to do about a visual show. I just need it. A couple of props or something. I think we’re gonna rock you.
Picasso: I dunno that people are really expecting that. Anything’s a bonus. Just seeing you guys again is the real treat.
Will: Its not just expected, you know, people expected us to have upped the ante with all this crazy shit. The crazy shit will be that we’re gonna rock you. That sounded silly, but you know what I mean.
Picasso: Yeah. No, that’s great though. Really the crazy thing is that you guys are back and it sounds better than ever.
Will: Thank you. Yeah, we’ve had a couple of great shows recently and people have said “that’s truly your best shows that I’ve seen you do.” And that’s good. I’m glad that wasn’t two years ago, or six years ago for that matter.
Picasso: A couple of miscellaneous questions. First of all, you’ve got a book of paintings coming out. What can you tell me about that? ? ?
Will: Well, I put a book out before—a limited thing. So its going to contain all of that, plus everything since then if possible. At least another sections of drawings and stuff. You know you can do this independent book places that press and actually make books don’t make 100 or six, so we’re gonna do it like that—order one at a time if there’s enough money to front. So we’re gonna do that. Kelly’s helping me with that.
Picasso: When do you think that will be out? I haven’t missed a pre-order or anything.
Will: Within the next six months or three months even. Kelly and I—we’re on top of it. We just got other stuff to do. Get record covers done—like 1,300 pounds of record jacket—just the jackets.
Picasso: For the LPs?
Will: Yeah. Its like “Can we get an eighteen wheeler back in here?” Fed Ex was like, “Hey yeah, maybe?” Wow!
Picasso: The dark downside of running a record label.
Will: When we get the vinyl done, we ship here too. And pack them, you know. We’ve had the inserts here for like two weeks.
Picasso: I wanted to ask you about the Olivia Tremor Control. Obviously everybody got really excited anytime somebody mentioned you guys were playing together in your spare time. Is that still going on?
Will: Yeah, every Sunday we get together. We bring things in, dub it to Bill’s computer and for four tracks or something, whoever might bring something. Me, John, all of us. We have a couple of finished, cool things actually.
Picasso: Very nice. Good to know.
Will: Yeah, something for sequences Bill started. Changes and stuff. I make lyrics on it one day and we add tons of other lyrics and backing vocals and I’m really happy with it. And we play it for friends and yeah—its you guys. It’s still public. I guess who cares. We like it, then its done.
Picasso: Yeah, you guys are having fun. That’s great. I guess you guys haven’t planned any farther than “anytime we’re free on Sundays, get together.” Is it still just really early, everyone’s enjoying it?
Will: Yeah a lot of the other days we get together and do stuff on other days. Not everyone’s there at once. We just get people working and stuff.
Picasso: So I don’t think I remember really, how did all that start? How did you guys start getting back together and play and everything?
Will: Well, it was my drinking. Bill was like “Man you gotta stop.” And I could keep drinking a couple of bottles of scotch a day. And you know, that’s beyond soothing yourself. I was on a downward. He was like “you gotta start taking the shots, man. Everyone feels the same way. Let’s start getting together again.” We just kinda fell off. So I said, “we’ll do it.” It was kinda an enticement actually. In a sweet way, it was like a “look into each other’s eye” and “I love you friend. Fucking come on,” in a good way. We nudged each other. And so it was beautiful. We’re best friends. And when I started taking the shots in ’96…my brain changed and is fucked up. It really is fucked up. But that’s what spurred it on.
Picasso: That’s awesome. Got so much good accomplished.
Will: Yeah, it is awesome. He comes by almost everyday after work, picks up a guitar one day and says, “let’s go upstairs and record right now.” You know, “bam!” That kind of thing.
Picasso: Does it feel like it’s the mid-nineties again?
Will: In a way. I want it to be like that. Yes, but in essence bad. I live in the real world now. But it does make me happy that I have my friends who called me out on that. And I’m really happy that the people still want to hear the music. It’s exciting, it really is.
Picasso: One last one for you. This is kind of a fun one and Robert Schneider loved to talk on this one. But what do think if you took your newest album or generally what you’ve done back to young Will as a child who’s just getting into music and enjoying music, what do you think he would have to say about it? Would he enjoy it?
Will: Like Olivia or Circulatory System? He would love it. Yeah, he be like “Wow. It’s really creative. It sounds a lot like you.”
Picasso: Good. I think that’s what people are feeling all over the world right now. Thanks a lot for that.
Will: Wow, you make it so heavy. I don’t know if I feel that. But obviously people will buy it. I mean we’re getting 1,500 pounds of record covers.