Riffipedia - The Stoner Rock Wiki
Riffipedia - The Stoner Rock Wiki
Russian Circles
Russian Circles.jpg
Background information
Origin Chicago, Illinois, USA
Genres Post-Metal, Post-Rock, Math Rock, Experimental Rock
Years active 2004 - Present
Labels Flameshovel, Sargent House, Suicide Squeeze
Associated acts Botch, These Arms Are Snakes, Riddle of Steel, The Narrator, Roy, dakota/dakota, Mouth of The Architect, Sumac, Mammifer, Onalaska
Website Official Page
Current members Mike Sullivan
Dave Turncrantz
Brian Cook
Past members Colin DeKuiper

Russian Circles are an instrumental post-rock/post-metal band hailing from Chicago, Illinois. Formed initially by DeKuiper, Sullivan and Turncrantz in the wake of their previous bands respective dissolutions (dakota/dakota and Riddle of Steel) the group formed in late 2004 and gained quick buzz, eventually leading to critical acclaim with the likes of studio albums such as "Enter" and "Geneva" along with touring the world all over, employing a heavily dynamic and intense instrumental rock sound. Barring two songs in their discography ("Praise Be Man" on 2011's Empros and "Memorial" on 2013's Memorial) all of the band's music is instrumental.

The band's name stems from a drill exercise used in ice hockey, a sport Sullivan and Turncrantz grew up playing in their original hometown of St. Louis.


Enter Russian Circles (2004 - 2006)[]

Russian Circles formed in late 2004 by DeKuiper, Sullivan and Turncrantz after their respective bands broke up. Sullivan and DeKuiper were previously part of the eclectic instrumental rock group dakota/dakota while Turncrantz was previously part of emo/post-hardcore band Riddle of Steel. Quickly composing four songs for their initial EP Russian Circles the band began to create a buzz around the Illinois area and the midwest, quickly selling out 500 copies over the span of two pressings, with a third pressing of 500 CDs to follow. 2005 would see them performing a host of different shows in the Chicago area before the trio would sign to Flameshovel for their debut album. The next year saw the band doing a quick tour of the United States with Minus the Bear which included an appearance at SXSW, before following with a string of shows alongside Pelican and Mono in support of their first album Enter, released on 16 May 2006 to positive reviews with the band gaining praise on the live stage as well. The band quickly signed to Suicide Squeeze and followed with a 7" entitled Upper Ninety on 25 July 2006 before the band would close out the year with an extensive fall tour alongside P.O.S., The Velvet Teen and Minus The Bear.

DeKuiper's departure and Suicide Squeeze (2007 - 2010)[]

The band had guitar and drums tracks lined up at the time for their follow-up album to Enter, set for a 2008 release. On 26 October 2007 it would be announced that Russian Circles had officially signed with Suicide Squeeze and had also recruited Brian Cook (Botch, These Arms Are Snakes) as a temporary replacement after Colin DeKuiper departed from the group.[1] While Botchy Vasquez (Sweet Cobra) and Cook did serve as fill-in bassists, eventually Cook would take on the role as the band's full-time bassist.[2] In an interview via Metalsucks, Cook would describe the process of joining the group:

“Well, Dave [drums] and Mike [guitar] already had the recording session for “Station” lined up in Seattle with my friend Matt (Bayles). These Arms Are Snakes had played some shows with Russian Circles, so I knew the guys. They parted ways with their old bass player and wanted someone to handle the bass for recording. Since I was already in Seattle and knew the band and knew Matt, it just made sense to fill in. We did a few rehearsals and recorded the album. It was supposedly a temporary role, but they never managed to find a full-time replacement they were 100% satisfied with. I guess I convinced them to stick with me.”
— Brian Cook, Russian Circles Blog [3]

After two short USA tours with Dälek and Red Sparowes the band's second studio album Station would see release on 6 May 2008 to positive reviews and peaking at 36 on the US Heatseekers chart. A full North American tour would follow along with a tour of Europe with These Arms Are Snakes, to which bassist Brian Cook performed with both bands. A split LP of both bands was released in time for this tour via Sargent House Records. The band had their sights set on a third album and thus began work on it immediately after touring.

Recorded in May 2009 with Brandon Curtis of The Secret Machines and expanding further on the band's sound, Geneva was released on 20 October 2009 to further critical acclaim. A forty date North American tour would follow with a host of supporting acts, with further touring to follow into the next year. In an article via Metalsucks on Russian Circles' blog, bassist Brian Cook describes the contrasts between Geneva and Station:

“Station is pretty faithful to how the songs are performed live. There’s not a lot of elaboration or studio trickery. With Geneva, we wanted to take advantage of the infinite possibilities of the studio. Of course, now we have to figure out how to recreate all that stuff live, so the next record will probably be a reaction against what we’ve done this time around. It’ll probably be a minimalist drone folk record or something. Or maybe we’ll ditch instruments altogether and just do Tuvan throat singing.”
— Brian Cook, Russian Circles Blog [4]

Mike Sullivan would also add perspective on the ideas of expanding beyond the live-in-the-studio sound established by earlier efforts in an interview with Music Radar:

“The strings were something we had planned out long in advance. We made sure we got together with the cellist and violinist, arranged the parts and had that all worked out.

"The brass came about because Greg [Norman engineer] plays trumpet and trombone. Late at night when we were done tracking he'd be kind of messing around after we'd had a few beers. He's try some stuff out and it started off as a joke but then we'd go away for an hour and he'd worked something out and we thought, these horns sound pretty good - let's do it. It was kind of a last minute thing.

(About recreating the album in a live format) At this point, this being our third album, we felt a little more freedom to add elements. If we hear more things that could go into a song - let's throw them in there. A nylon string guitar or a different drum that can add percussion over what is already there… if we can hear something let's try it and if it works cool, if it doesn't let's not push it. But at the root of it we are a three-piece band and we keep that in mind when we're in the studio and adding stuff. A lot of the songs would sound different live without the strings but I don't think they'd lose too much by that.”

— Mike Sullivan, Russian Circles Blog [5]

Sargent House, Empros and Memorial (2011 - 2015)[]

Russian Circles would begin work on their fourth album in January 2011. Having previously worked with Sargent House for vinyl editions of their albums, the band had announced on 1 April 2011 that they were now signed to Sargent House for exclusive worldwide distribution by the Spring with their fourth album being the first release on the label, working again with Brandon Curtis as producer.[6]

Empros was released on 25 October 2011. Stripping down the expanded elements of the last record but still maintaining an intricate, complex sound (Or in Sullivan's words: "intentionally made this album something that just us three, we can reproduce live, more or less.")[7] and even featuring a song with vocals, Empros was heavily praised by critics at the time. The band would tour worldwide in support through the remainder of 2011 into 2012 alongside Deafheaven. With two short tours to follow the band began work on a follow-up set for a 2013 release.

Memorial saw release on 29 October 2013 to further critical acclaim. The title track would be the second song in the band's history to feature a vocalist, this time one Chelsea Wolfe (Who would even perform the song with the band on the following European tour together). The band toured heavily in support of Memorial over the next three years, including appearances in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore along with regular United States, Canada and European dates.

Guidance and Blood Year (2016 - Present)[]

In 2015 the trio would work with Kurt Ballou and GodCity Studios for their sixth studio album after a three-year gap. On 23 May 2016 the band would unveil their first single "Vorel" off the forthcoming sixth album[8], with two more singles ("Mota" and "Afrika") revealed to follow along with a tour of Europe leading up to the album's release.[9][10]

Guidance saw it's release on 5 August 2016 to substantial critical acclaim and peaking at 3 on the US Heatseekers chart. The band's evolution deviated into darker, punchier sounds. With the longest gap in the band's touring cycle to compose the record and a long period of waiting between the recording and release, drummer Dave Turncrantz explained the making of Guidance in an interview with Reverb:

“We took some time off to write, but Mike [Sullivan, guitarist] and I both live in Chicago while Brian [Cook, bassist] lives in Brooklyn. The way it usually goes is Mike and I will collaborate and get all the riffs that Mike has down; he usually has like 200 riffs, and maybe 13 of them will be something we can use. The other ones can be too low or not the right style, but Mike’s super creative with coming up with a ton of different riffs.

We go about it in a way that Mike and I kind of make a skeleton of the song, and then Brian will give it more form. So it’s usually me and Mike at the beginning of the process and Brian comes in to shape it up.

[On points of reference] I feel like the new one’s definitely in the same vein as Memorial, maybe a little heavier. Obviously with Kurt Ballou it’s going to be heavy. I love Electrical Audio [recording studio for Memorial], but when it comes down to grit and distortion, Kurt Ballou’s kind of the king of picking that up, all that good fun stuff.

Last year was definitely a weird time for us because it was the longest period of time we had spent not touring. Writing and the record was actually coming together really fast, but it was just the waiting process from the recording to the record coming out was really long as well. We needed guidance all through last year, so it definitely made sense [to name the album Guidance].”

— Dave Turncrantz, Reverb [11]

2016 would see the band tour extensively in support of Guidance with headlining tours of the United States and Europe, followed by spending a year on the road supporting Mastodon in support of their most recent record "Emperor of Sand". While the band had self-released live records in the past, Sargent House would release the band's first official live album Live at Dunk!Fest on 7 April 2017. Following a string of further touring in support of Guidance, Russian Circles would work on their seventh studio album in the Spring of 2019. On 21 May 2019 the band would premiere a new song in "Arluck" and announce their seventh studio album Blood Year, set for release on 2 August via Sargent House. A string of European dates along with a North American tour would be announced.[12] Blood Year would notably peak at #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Charts.[13]


Studio Albums[]

  • Enter (2006, Friction Records, Flameshovel)
  • Station (2008, Suicide Squeeze)
  • Geneva (2009, Suicide Squeeze)
  • Empros (2011, Sargent House)
  • Memorial (2013, Sargent House)
  • Guidance (2016, Sargent House)
  • Blood Year (2019, Sargent House)
  • TBA (2022, Sargent House)

Misc. Releases[]

  • Russian Circles (EP) (2004, Self-Released)
  • Live At Schubas 05/27/2005 (Live Album) (2005, Re: Live)
  • Upper Ninety (EP) (2006, Suicide Squeeze)
  • These Arms Are Snakes / Russian Circles (Split with These Arms Are Snakes) (2008, Sargent House)
  • Live At Park Ave CDs (Live Album) (2008, Self-Released)
  • Live at Dunk!Fest 2016 (Live Album) (2017, Sargent House)


  • Mike Sullivan - Guitar (2004 - Present)
  • Dave Turncrantz - Drums (2004 - Present)
  • Botchy Vasquez - Live Bass (2008 East Coast Tour)
  • Brian Cook - Bass (2007 - Present)
  • Colin DeKuiper - Bass (2004 - 2007)


  • Enter North American Tour (With Minus The Bear, Chin Up Chin Up) (2006)[14]
  • Pelican / MONO Tour (With Pelican, Mono) (2006)[15]
  • Fall 2006 North American Tour (With Minus The Bear, P.O.S., The Velvet Teen) (2006)[16]
  • 2007 Spring North American Tour (With Pelican, Young Widows) (2007)[17]
  • Death Is This Communion UK / Europe Tour (With High on Fire) (2007)[18]
  • 2008 Spring East Coast North American Tour (With Dälek) (2008)[19]
  • 2008 Spring West Coast North American Tour (With Red Sparowes) (2008)[20]
  • Station North American Tour (With Daughters) (2008)[21]
  • Station European Tour (With These Arms Are Snakes) (2008)[22]
  • 2008 Winter North American Tour (With Clutch, Viking Skull) (2008)[23]
  • 2009 Spring North American Tour (With Lichens, Sweet Cobra) (2009)[24]
  • 2009 June North American Tour (With Coliseum) (2009)[25]
  • Geneva North American Tour (With Coliseum, Young Widows, Helms Alee, Git Some, The Phantom Family Halo) [26]
  • Geneva European Tour (2010)[27]
  • Boris 2010 North American Tour (With Boris; some dates canceled)[28][29]
  • 2010 Fall North American Tour (With Keelhaul, Call Me Lightning) [30]
  • Hope 2011 World Tour (With Boris, Saade) (2011)[31]
  • 2011 Australasia Tour (2011)[32]
  • Russian Circles / Deafheaven Tour (USA) (With Deafheaven) (2011)[33]
  • Russian Circles / Deafheaven Tour (Europe) (With Deafheaven) (2012)[34]
  • 2012 West Coast North American Tour (With And So I Watch You From Afar) (2012)[35]
  • 2012 East Coast North American Tour (With Chelsea Wolfe) (2012)[36]
  • 2013 North American Tour (With Between The Buried and Me, Coheed and Cambria) (2013)[37]
  • Memorial European Tour (With Chelsea Wolfe) (2013)[38]
  • Memorial North American Tour (With KEN Mode, Inter Arma, Helms Alee) (2014)[39]
  • Memorial Australian Tour (2014)
  • Memorial Japan / Singapore / Hong Kong Tour (2014)[40]
  • Memorial Canadian Tour (With Atlas Moth) (2014)[41]
  • Russian Circles / Mutoid Man Mini-Tour (With Mutoid Man) (2014)[42]
  • 2015 West Coast North American Tour (With Mammifer) (2015)[43]
  • 2015 European Tour (With Helms Alee) (2015)[44]
  • 2015 European Mini-Tour (2015)
  • 2015 North American Mini-Tour (With Cloakroom) (2015)[45]
  • 2016 European Tour (2016)[46]
  • Guidance North American Tour (With Helms Alee, Cloakroom) (2016)[47]
  • Guidance European Tour (With Helen Money) (2016)[48]
  • Guidance 2017 European Tour (With Cloakroom) (2017)[49]
  • 2017 Spring North American Tour (With Mastodon, Eagles of Death Metal) (2017)[50]
  • 2017 Fall North American Tour (With Mastodon, Eagles of Death Metal) [51]
  • 2017 Fall European Tour (With Mastodon, Red Fang) (2017)[52]
  • 2018 North American Tour (With King Woman) (2018)[53]
  • 2018 European Tour (With Brutus) (2018)[54]
  • 2018 Texas Mini-Tour (2018)[55]
  • 2019 North American Tour (With Gouge Away) (2019)[56]
  • 2019 Australian Tour (With We Lost The Sea & Tangled Thoughts of Leaving) (2019)[57]
  • Blood Year European Tour (2019)[58]
  • Blood Year North American Tour (With Facs, Windhand) (2019)[59]
  • Blood Year Japan Tour (With Heaven In Her Arms) (2020)[60]
  • Blood Year European Tour 2020 (With Torche; Postponed) (2020)[61]
  • 2021 Summer Shows (With System of a Down, Korn, Helmet) (2021)

External Links[]

Official Links[]

Archival / Interview Links[]


  1. LambgoatAccessed 4 January 2018
  2. MetalsucksAccessed 4 January 2018
  3. MetalSucks via Russian Circles RUSSIAN CIRCLES // THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES Bassist Brian Cook: THE METALSUCKS Interview, accessed 4th January 2018
  4. MetalSucks via Russian Circles RUSSIAN CIRCLES // THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES Bassist Brian Cook: THE METALSUCKS Interview, accessed 4th January 2018
  5. MusicRadar Russian Circles interview with Mike Sullivan, accessed 4th January 2018
  6. LambgoatAccessed 4 January 2018
  7. Guitar WorldAccessed 5 January 2018
  8. LambgoatAccessed 5 January 2018
  9. Lambgoat
  10. Lambgoat
  11. Reverb Reverb Interview: Russian Circles' Dave Turncrantz on Their New Album, "Guidance", accessed 5th January 2018
  12. Russian Circles Facebook
  13. Russian Circles Facebook
  14. Russian Circles MySpace
  15. PunkNewsAccessed 31 December 2017
  16. Lambgoat
  17. Lambgoat
  18. BlabbermouthAccessed 31 December 2017
  19. LambgoatAccessed 2 January 2018
  20. Lambgoat
  21. LambgoatAccessed 2 January 2018
  22. Lambgoat
  23. Lambgoat
  24. Lambgoat
  25. Lambgoat
  26. Lambgoat
  27. Lambgoat
  28. Lambgoat
  29. Lambgoat
  30. Lambgoat
  31. Last.fm
  32. Last.fm
  33. Lambgoat
  34. Lambgoat
  35. Lambgoat
  36. Lambgoat
  37. Lambgoat
  38. Last.fm
  39. Lambgoat
  40. Last.fm
  41. Lambgoat
  42. Lambgoat
  43. Last.fm
  44. Lambgoat
  45. Lambgoat
  46. Lambgoat
  47. Lambgoat
  48. Lambgoat
  49. Lambgoat
  50. Lambgoat
  51. Lambgoat
  52. Lambgoat
  53. Russian Circles Facebook
  54. Russian Circles Facebook
  55. Russian Circles Facebook
  56. Russian Circles Facebook
  57. Russian Circles Facebook
  58. Russian Circles Facebook
  59. Russian Circles Facebook
  60. Russian Circles Facebook
  61. Russian Circles Facebook