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Russian Circles, Oct. 29, The Venue

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When we talked to Brian Cook, bassist for Chicago-based instrumental rock/metal trio Russian Circles, late last year, the band was touring behind their brand new third album, Geneva (Suicide Squeeze). The road was bumpy--an expensive guitar had been stolen (and hawked for a mere $200)--but Cook was optimistic about the rest of the tour. Things worked out. Fast forward a year and the trio is still on the road and working on new material, with an album slated for late 2011.

"There was only a little gap between Station and Geneva," Cook said. We would have liked to do that again, but we've been touring more on this record ... once we have time to sit down and focus on the writing, it will come pretty quick ... but we don't want to get in such a hurry that we compromise."

And besides a chance to hear dense, layered post-rock/metal, one cool thing about seeing Russian Circles live is that you never look like a jackass for trying to sing along but not knowing the words.

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