Recently an album, ‘The Great Leap Forward for Love’ from a Colchester band, This Circus Life, dropped through the Grapevine letter box asking whether I might give it a listen. There was enough about the CD to enjoy repeated listening, not least the superb musicianship and quality of production. As a result, I got in touch with Charlie Mear to ask a bit more about the band and the record.

CP:       Who is This Circus Life?

CM:      We were only formed in 2019, but have put out four albums since then, so some people think we have been about a lot longer.

Having been a bass player in other bands I reached a point where I wanted a platform for my own songs and music. Life had dealt me a few unlucky hands in recent years, so I had a lot of experiences and feelings that I felt the need to express creatively.

CP:       Where does the band name originate?

CM:      The band name alludes to how I see life. Good or bad, life can be a bit of a circus.

CP:       Bad luck and misfortune are not unknown muses for songwriters, so how did you deal with these dark mistresses?

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This Circus Life

CM:      Luckily life has given me plenty of material to draw on. I won’t go into explicit details, but family illness, bereavement, relationship break-up and financial difficulties with a business I ran, presented a lot of challenges. Music and songwriting have been part of my route out from some bleak places.

When I reached a point where I felt I had recorded an album’s worth, I set to putting a band together.

My friend, John Bennett, who has played with Sid Griffin and the Coal Porters, The High Llamas and Pavement, was the first to jump on board. Toby Bull of Fuzzface and Rev Simpkins, is a Colchester musical legend, who plays bass and trumpet. Then we have Joe Faulkner, (who has recently taken over on guitar from John), Jerome Cacace is the keyboard player. My son, Ben Mear is on drums.

CP:       The new album has some beautiful cello work supplementing the rich texture of the album. Who brings that to the party?

CM:      The cello is played by Rebecca Gillett. Rebecca is from Colchester and it is a great to have the benefit of her classical music training in the studio.

Dan Wilde, who enjoys success as folk musician in his own right plays the banjo and other guitars on the new album, which help give that rich texture you refer to. Dan has also acted as co-producer on all four albums.

CP:       How would you describe the music of This Circus Life?

CM:     We are happy with the label Pop-Rock. I try to write memorable tunes for the band to bring to life and make their own rather than all the focus being on the singer-songwriter.

CP:       The latest album, The Great Leap Forward for Love, seems to me, to be about developing self-awareness, and a mature reflection on relationships. Can you expand on the ideas behind this collection of beautifully played and arranged songs?

CM:     Yes, it’s quite a reflective record, but it’s much more positive and upbeat than previous albums. I think as time puts distance between me and those crazy years, I have been able to reflect my sharper clarity of perspective. The album still touches on some difficult experiences, but it is also about growing self-confidence and more recent, more positive life experiences.

CP:       Where can people get hold of your new album?

CM:      Everything is free on Spotify and all the other platforms and physical copies can be obtained from www.thiscircuslife.com or www.thiscircuslife.bandcamp.com

CP:       What gigs have you got coming up in Colchester, or East Anglia this summer?

This Circus Life will be playing at the Green Fair Music Club in Ilford on the 14th July, the Todd in the Hole festival on the 16th July and then at Buckfest on the 22nd July.

Closer to home we hope to be playing at the Three Wise Monkeys, Colchester in late August.

CP:       Charlie, thank you for your time.  Good luck with those gigs and the new album.