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It was a slow burn for London-based progressive metallers Deadly Circus Fire, but things soon heated up with the arrival of their long-awaited singer. meets the foursome for a drink in Camden

Deadly Circus Fire co-founder Save Addario took one look at the boyish, Oliver Twist type character who was about to try out as his singer and thought he had another bad audition on his hands. The guitarist, drummer Paul Igoe and bassist Mike Enort had already been through a relentless search for someone to front their alternative metal band and things weren’t looking up. “There had been this ginger guy, who came with a cowboy hat, acoustic guitar and boots,” recalls Addario. “Another guy was a rapper who came with a dog.” Igoe adds: “A lot of people were coming down thinking they were awesome singers in the shower. ‘I can sing Deftones, I can sing Tool’.” And these were the ones who showed up. Addario says: “After all the bad experiences, I saw this little guy coming and I thought: ‘Oh no, not another one!’”

However, recruiting Adam Grant turned out to be one of “the best moments of my life”, says Addario as it meant the band could start evolving at last. Grant, cut from theatrical cloth – his parents were West End stars and his dad was one of the Honey Monsters in the Sugar Puffs ads – had been looking for full-time band duties. He dreamt about being on the stage so placed an ad in Kerrang! After a three-month wait, he was pleased to get the call but thought he was in over his head when called to audition on London’s Tottenham Court Road. “I thought it would be a big fancy studio,” he says, but there wasn’t even a microphone. “They played full on and I sung as hard as I could,” Grant remembers. “I think afterwards there was not an awkward silence but a silence of like letting the air thin out. We were happy but we didn’t know what to think. It was different.” Igoe agrees: “When we were playing, we would all be looking at each other. We knew it just worked.”

With the line-up sorted, the four-piece started writing before they’d even come up with a solid band name. Known as Rust in their infancy because they sounded “rusty”, they eventually settled on Deadly Circus Fire, which Grant plucked out of ‘The Pessimist’s Guide to History’. This helped progress the way the band played and, significantly, honed their look. Addario says: “We thought the music was fine, but we wanted to give something to the people who came to see us. When you’re unsigned and there are so many bands around, you can be the best band in the world but no one’s going to pay attention. We had a macabre sound, so why don’t we dress like crazy or evil clowns?”

Grant adds: “At the beginning we thought we wouldn’t have a gimmick because it’s tacky. Everyone has done it – Slipknot, KISS, Immortal – and they’ve all excelled in it. But to do it, it looks like you’re being copycats and you’re trying because you’re not very good at music. You’re trying to look good rather than sound it.” Experimenting for a photoshoot they went for an unsettling, provocative look, using black and white make-up, and these alter egos have stuck. Addario says: “We wanted to catch more people’s attention. Every time we go on stage it’s more like a show than just a gig. People come to listen but also to watch a show.”

Laying the live foundations last year, including slots at Hammerfest and Bloodstock, everything is now poised for assault. Notably, debut album ‘The King and the Bishop’, the follow-up to their self-titled EP, is set and ready for release. Grant says it’s much more dynamic than its predecessor and proves how much the band have grown; Addario thinks you can hear something different in each song while the tracks remain connected. Ultimately, the band are fulfilling their aim to be accessible but different. But is that truly possible? Grant thinks so.“Our music is very prog rock metal, very aggressive. It’s a real mix of emotions, a real mix of feeling and sound,” he says. “The accessible sense is because it’s a journey and a story. People get pulled in and they want to know more. Some have gone out of their way to say: ‘It’s not my kind of thing but I really like this song. I don’t like metal or rock but I like what you guys play.’ It's weird!”

Deadly Circus Fire EP available to download – name your price
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