I think especially in the 06′s and 07′s too many bands came out trying to sound sentimental and pushing themselves to become the next Dashboard Confessional. This only resulted into a stream of whinny little emo bands across the nation, more so here in Florida where Dashboard was born.
Has it become so difficult to be a soft rock band that doesn’t incorporate moaning, screaming and prolonging vocals that feel like they had just woken up before recording.
It is refreshing to see guys like The Shape Of The Earth coming with sincere and intimate music that doesn’t come across pretentious. A balance between mellow melodies and genuine emotion, The Shape Of The Earth is able to warm your heart without getting under your skin while still leaving some ambiguity for your mind to ponder. Lyrics are generally positive and focus more on painting a picture than pouring emotions over a tune.
They have a wonderful EP out titled “What Goes on Inside Your Cells” that contain some of my favorite songs from: Epilogue and My Defects. They have just released their debut LP and I had the wonderful chance to ask lead singer/songwriter Gavin Bascom a couple of questions about their music.
Q: First I would like to know how you came up with the band’s name, really curious to know if it in some way or another describes the movement behind your music.
Gavin Bascom: Well originally “The Shape Of The Earth” was the name of a song I’d written. I’d thought about the phrase a lot, and eventually thought it would be a good name; the nice thing about it is that it’s a good metaphor for how reality and perception of reality are both relative and absolute. To me the shape of the earth is both flat and round and sometimes hilly, all at the same time, while not really being any of those things alone, and you can’t describe in just one or two words. I wanted this project to have a similar ambiguity- the individual songs of the project would be expressions of whatever my particular perception was at a certain time, but it goes without saying that that perception will always change and each snapshot will become outdated. The project would then be all the songs but not any of them individually. It’s a great metaphor for both the style and the meaning: we have a very eclectic style that changes a lot from song to song but all together it has an over-arching meaning and style that develops as you follow along with it. In the end it’s the same with life and experience- the only way to really describe the process of living and gaining experience is to understand the concept of an aging, changing life and accept that we are the summation of all our experiences and not any one individually. The Shape Of The Earth is a perfect title for the project because the phrase sort of connotes something static that we accept as not changing, but that actually does. And that’s exactly what I wanted the music to be, an attempt to simplify and describe the ever-changing process that is life.
Of course the guys didn’t like it at first but nothing else really worked out so it kinda took after a while and now we don’t really think about it haha.
Q: What music did you guys grew up with? What artists do you guys listen to now?
Bascom: I grew up listening to my brother’s Nirvana CD’s and my Dad’s Beatles and Doors albums. Later I discovered indie rock and sort of fell in love with Death Cab, Modest Mouse, and everything on Barsuk or Kill Rock Stars. Then I developed a major thing for really quiet lush folk and emotionally driven sorts of things like Sufjan Stevens, Damien Jurado or Pedro The Lion. Oh and somewhere in there I fell in love with The Format. Kevin I know listened to most of the same stuff as me, although he also had a big thing for some harder stuff, like Brand New and Thrice. Rich and Chris both have a long long history with punk rock, namely Bad Religion and then later some of the Pop Punk stuff, although I think Rich is also into Ryan Adams and the Wallflowers kind of sound. All in all we have a pretty wide range of influences I would say.
Q: In your debut album Do I dare disturb the universe you have songs you can rock out to and others that are much softer with slower melodies and powerful lyrics, did you try to maintain a balance in the album?
Bascom: Yes and No. The album wasn’t as planned out as I would have liked it to be, it was originally supposed to be an EP while we worked on a full length for 2010. When we actually started on the songs though, we kind of got talked into spending more time and money on them and then ended up doing an extra 4 or 5 songs, and it sort of just came together as a full length. As for the balance me and Andy (the producer) both sort of noted it was pretty well balanced and so we weren’t too worried about it. I tend to write about 1/2 slow songs and 1/2 fast songs so I guess it’s naturally balanced.
Q: You describe your music as intimate, to which we agree, do you draw your lyrics from personal experience? What usually comes first the melodies or the lyrics?
Bascom: All of the lyrics are from experiences, although not all mine directly. The songs I listen to tend to be narrative-ish and I embraced that writing style a long time ago. As for lyrics/melodies order, I usually have a list of things I want to write about and then when I get a good melody I try to start fitting things until something sticks. Although sometimes I write poems that later I’ll adapt for songs if I feel like it would work.
Q: Although you guys are not exactly in “minimalists” genre, many of the songs adhere to a ‘less is more’ approach, how would you describe your music and the way you go about creating a song.
Bascom: Kevin and I both were once upon a time very strict minimalists (check out “Automatic Weaponry Part I” for a good example) and then when Rich joined and we got Andy to help with production we started seeing the power of good arrangements, although we’ve definitely stuck to the less is more dogma. The focus for me as a singer/songwriter at heart is the melody, and the arrangement is like the garnish. With the right phrasing and emphasis a song can go from great to incredible. The problem is when rich kids don’t spend enough time on the craft of songwriting and figuring out what its all about that they get impatient and shell out tons of cash for somebody to apply a formula and make a crappy song a little less crappy and lots of flashy. And then for some reason they get on the radio. (go fig)
Q: If you became a Ninja that could hide in the shadows at will and sneak up on people, how would you use your new found abilities?
Bascom: I would use them for good or for awesome. No exceptions. Also I would have a laser gun for one arm and a guitar for the other. And I would be some kinda robot.