In the late 80's there was no band higher on the list for me than Breaking Circus. Like almost all of the great Mid-Western post-HC bands of that decade, they brought a toughness and attitude with them that bore the unmistakable residue of hardcore-- exactly what it took to catch the ear of a stupid ex-straight-edge kid like me-- while writing songs that were flat-out amazing, taking their cues from a whole variety of places: Oi!, metal, Brit-pop, hard rock, punk, you name it. Plus, I doubt you could find any three musicians who were more assured at their craft than Breaking Circus.
Steve Björklund was seriously one of the coolest guys I've ever met. As a frontman, his stage presence was like Marlon Brando and Keith Richards all rolled into one. His lyrics were wry as hell (listen to "The Imperial Clawmasters' Theme" from "The Very Long Fuse" and you'll die), and his musical tastes seemed impeccable. I saw Breaking Circus twice in Boston; once at The Rat, where I interviewed them, and once at a place in Cambridge called T.T. The Bear's. At the T.T. The Bear's show, Steve recognized me as I was walking up the sidewalk and put down the equipment he was unloading to talk for a while, which I thought was pretty cool. During Breaking Circus' set, I shouted out some Oi! song, either Cock Sparrer's "Running Riot" or "Bad Man" by the Cockney Rejects-- I don't remember exactly which one-- but Steve flashed a grin and instantly started playing the chords. I don't think the rest of the band knew the song, but Steve played it anyway.
I can still clearly remember the day I pulled "The Ice Machine" out of my P.O. box; somehow, I ended up on the Homestead promo list in 1987, meaning once a month I'd get a mailer with two new LPs in it, which seemed to be how Homestead's pressing schedule went. I didn't know I was on the list until a box showed up in the mail on the first week of January '87; inside was Squirrel Bait's "Skag Heaven" and "The Ice Machine" by Breaking Circus, two of the greatest indie rock LPs ever. Homestead was untouchable as a label back then, but even now I can't imagine any label being able to flop two records on the table to beat that pair.
Breaking Circus' previous record, "The Very Long Fuse", was more of a mellow, moody affair, so when I first put "The Ice Machine" on the turntable and "Song of The South" kicked in, it served notice that Breaking Circus were ready to rock at this time, thank you very much. And rock they did.
Breaking Circus -
"Took a Hammering"
"Song of The South"
"Caskets and Clocks"
"Laid So Low"
"Evil Last Night"
(these files are now listen-only)