It is always a strange feeling to meet someone in person after having seen them perform. On stage, David Aquilina’s persona is fiery, intense, zealous – in person, he speaks slowly and calmly, and so softly that I keep nervously pushing my retro tape recorder closer towards him, and trying to stop myself from thinking too much about the blowing wind and the loud ambient noise.

“I have a theory. People can genuinely feel your joy on stage. If you’re having fun, they’re going to have fun. If you’re half-hearted about it, they’re just going to say, what’s up with this? If you pretend to enjoy it they’re going to know you’re a cheesy so-and-so. There are loads of gigs I went to abroad, for instance, and I enjoyed them. But there were also others when I went… ‘his heart wasn’t in this’.”

I had seen David’s theory put into practice the night before, at the band’s release of Falcon’s Flying Circus’ first album, which was held at Zion, Marsascala. The band is composed of Peter Gauci (bass), Spike Refalo (drums), Kurt Micallef (guitar) and David Aquilina (vocals).

The milieu was one of olive trees, oil drums and makeshift wooden furnishing, not to mention the jam-packed group of head banging rockers, who all seemed to dig the vibe provided by the band, blaring out from a stonehenge of speakers and lights stands.

There were the quizzical observers who stood in the outer circles, and there were the already initiated, who were the ones closest to the stage, yelling out the lyrics and fist-pumping in synch to the beat. The guitar and bass were intricate and complex, and the drums were powerful and held it all together.

All the members are confident on their instruments and charismatic on stage. There’s a lot to explore in the collection of songs on the album, and a lot of memorable riffs and hooks.

While the overall sound is familiar, the band provides a fresh take on the established conventions of rock music

The band’s music is strongly rooted within the genre of classic rock, but it’s not an anachronistic, stale repertoire of songs. While the overall sound is familiar, the band provides a fresh take on the established conventions of rock music. The wide-ranging and eclectic tastes of the members (which go beyond rock music) are reflected in the novel and varied sounds collected within the album.

“We grew up listening to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and to a lesser extent Zeppelin; Pink Floyd to a certain extent. Different members are into certain elements of progressive rock, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Camel, and then elements of blues, proper no nonsense type of blues, with all the different characters throughout the 20th century.

“So what influenced me was definitely the song-writing area of Ian Anderson, lyrically speaking, or Roger Waters. I don’t claim to be anywhere close to where those guys are, don’t get me wrong, I cannot measure up to anyone, I can only be myself, but they really inspired me to get into writing lyrics, that’s what I really love to do.”

David is always quick to point out that he cannot speak for the band, and that he is only one part of the unit. It is a unit which he describes as a “family”, or rather, “a family that plays music”. He describes how rock bands are different from other musical acts as the bond between the members is locked into the music.

Falcon’s Flying Circus has been in existence for a long time, and the self-titled album is the product of long years of musical exploration, with some songs on the album being as old as six years. I ask why the band took so long to get an album out.

“Band member changes, life, we always seem to have got the ball rolling and then something happens. It’s not like I’m saying that this is the product of 11 years of work. It’s more like I’m saying what a relief that it’s been done. But, obviously, a lot of practice and a lot of musical prep went into it on an individual and group level.”

The songs, and indeed the band itself, keep you guessing and the music can be appreciated on different levels. On one occasion at the gig, David explained that the next song was about a resistance figure named Sitting Bull.

I asked a guy who generally knows things who he was, and found myself being lectured to on Sitting Bull, who was apparently a native American leader who fought against the European settlers. We quickly agreed that it was an interesting subject, before immediately refocusing on the music and nodding our way through the song. It’s that sort of music.

During the launch performance, the band proceeded to roll out encore after encore until the crowd were satiated. As the band members took a bow and embraced, there was a strong feeling that this was no ordinary gig: it was a milestone, an important one.

“It was great, it was exhilarating, it was the best feeling ever. It felt like a sense of accomplishment after all these years. It led to this. We did it.”

And the future? David takes a long drag out of his cigarette. “We have a bunch of gigs lined up to play this material. And, to be honest, this kind of closes a chapter. We’ve been playing these songs for a while and I can’t wait to get cracking writing new stuff. We’ll see what happens.”

I snap the stop button on my tape recorder, wondering whether I’ll be able to make out anything of the interview when I get home. David is not one to raise his voice to be heard, and similarly, while the band are working hard on perfecting their art, they won’t be going out of their way to push their music down your throat.

Falcon’s Flying Circus are a quality act that every local music aficionado should seek out. You can delve into the meaning of the lyrics, analyse the complexity of the Hendrix-esque riffs, or simply lean back and enjoy. Whatever floats your boat – this is music best served chilled.

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