Shapes and Sizes get Pseudo-Personal Part II
By Shapes and Sizes
Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Who are your influences, musically/ artistically /visually / politically?
Deerhoof, Fiery Furnaces, Xiu Xiu, Leonard Cohen, Yoko Ono, Eno, Werner Herzog, Christo and Jean Claude, Jean Chretien (he’s a scrapper), paul nordoff, kashtin, le couple aveugle du mali, liars, Sebadoh, Nihilist Spazm Band (awesome Canadian noise band from the 60s/70s), Residents (recently)


What are your favorite records?
Weed Forestin, Bee thousand, velvet underground (S/T), modern dance (pereubu), black monk time, reveille, tell another joke at the chopping block, hounds of love, requiem (john fahey), songs about food and buildings, city of daughters (destroyer), best of elton and betty white, Blueberry Boat

What do you like about touring?
burritos, it’s hard, people open to being instant friends. The process that struggling to remain interested in your own music creates; we’re always talking about betterment and progress as a group and touring is definitely a catalyst for this. Being in new and often uncomfortable situations and conquering them.

What is the vision for your band?
To keep writing and recording music that’s interesting to us… travel around, drink coffee… to tap, drain and distill ourselves, and let it age.. maybe we’ll have a perfect record in about 14 years from now…and of course to successfully keep a tour cat.

What do you want to communicate through your music?
It changes song to song, person to person. But over all we write about personal things and try to express a feeling or a moment- a glimmer of something in its essence. The songs that speak to us in the most powerful way are ones that capture a fleeting or inexplicable moment or feeling and often we attempt that in our songs. It is a way to process all the ephemeral things that happen all the time and are constantly changing and marking us.
The songs I don’t write aren’t like this. I just hit the drums hard or soft.
I may differ from the band on that account. I’d rather process the songs like a scientific instrument than a human. I’m cold, but pragmatic. You can see it in my eyes if you look askance.

How do your various musical backgrounds interact?
We come from really different musical backgrounds. Nathan and Jon come from a more academic jazz/classical background. Caila and Rory were in an R&B band together and were influenced by pop music. Our different views and experiences with music really strengthen the songs. The whole is greater than our individual contributions. What joins us is an understanding of theimportance of destruction and growth in music and an appreciation for experimentation.

What is writing and recording process?
We all bring songs to the band at different levels of completion. Sometimes we tear them apart a bit, and then the band is more actively involved in the writing process, sometimes not. We’ve talked about trying to bring the songs in at a less complete stage.

Is this record about death? no.
What is your view of violence? Violence is bad.
What is your view of sex? Sex is naughty.
Is sex violent? Yes.
Is violence sexy? No.

Do you as Canadians feel like you provide a different insight?
Canadians often base their identity on being not American, which is stupid.
Canadians are cold, but polite.

What is the narrative of this record?
Boy meets girl. Boy girls boy. I’m not sure you could draw a specific narrative with multiple song writers.
However, we really works on making the sonic narrative fluid by working interludes in and stuff. A lot of that little-bit, interlude-y stuff is to me at least (I’m Caila) really funny. It is like we’re trying to make the
record less self-serious. I think Sebadoh does this really well and certainly it was an inspiration. That isn’t the only example, but a strong one.
The idea of making a really cohesive and united album was something we really pursued. We didn’t want it to be just one song after another; we wanted it to be as compelling in its entireity as each individual song was alone. So that’s a type of narrative, I suppose. Lyrically, though there isn’t a whole lot to go on.

jon’s taking over here:
Some themes we touch on briefly:
Triumph. Not just in lyrics but in song qualities. This is the optimistic side, that despite all the degradation and nastiness in the world, people hold it together pretty well. We’re thankful for all the good stuff.
Embarassment-being humbled by your own stupidity, being ashamed of how you behaved, especially when drunk. It would be easier to write about mythological things.

Protest-Victory is confounded because it has antiwar lyrics yet it also has some less serious overtones. Like that song off of Eureka. Violence.
Explocity – (a velocity/ explosion hybrid) which is over-looked by bands
nowadays.
Inferiority
Fear of loss
Anxieties
Hilarious Idiocy
Absurdity.
Obscenity. I like to write about absurd situations because it is fresh.
Piggy comes from a realisation that we take ourselves too seriously and that life is absurd, funny and depressing. Its not necessarily all represented in the song but that was the impetus.
Pain of relationships
We like the dirtier areas too. trying to convey the grey area between corrosion and dying. Nothing can last forever. Sorry for the reality, kid.

Are you singing about real or fictional people?
Real, I guess. I don’t want to give too much away. We’re often singing about archetypes. Some characteristics apply to me, some to others. It’s like a gentler form of egocentrism.

Is this a drama?
Not exclusively, but partly.

A tragedy?

Absolutely not.

A comedy?

Partly but not exclusively.
It’s a compudrama but don’t write that down.
Some friends have called our music cinematic but we are not sure what it
means or if they are really our friends. Is it soundtrack music? Maybe, like
cinema our music has takes many different directions like the quick movie
editing that is currently fashionable. Music for short attention spans. The
montage element, I guess. Duh!

also, describe the record..
We were working with more constructed, abstract sounds as opposed to representational ones. Lee was using broken glass but you wouldn’t know what it was.
This record we tried to use sounds that weren’t immediately recognizable to the listener. Sounds that we more obscure, constructed or abstracted in our arrangements. We approach the recording studio as a seperate process from our live show. We were not trying to reproduce our live show, but were
experimenting with aspects that are more effectively conveyed via stereo systems such as soft sounds.
We worked very hard at getting pristine sounds to begin with and spent a lot of time later degrading those sounds. We actually had the opportunity to rent these great preamps which intially gave us a pristine sound. We probably spent as much time and effort on degrading the sounds we got as many bands do on trying to make the sounds palatable.
Just more
Sonically, we wanted to have more ambiance and brashness (if that is a word)on the new record. We took more care with the sounds at the beginning of the process. Especially with the drums and bass we knew we wanted an over-driven sound.
Even though I think our sound is more cohesive on this album, we also had a lot of sonic variety-one day we be laying down heavy bed-tracks, the next we be recording lee playing soft textural stuff.

Also a big component of the record is the stuff we talked about in the narrative question. Much energy and thought was spent on making the record strong as a whole and of course we were constantly pushing ourselves to be experimental. There were times when we may have thought something was too crazy or bad or cheezy or whatever, but I think we really attempted to push our own boundaries and in retrospect, nothing seems crazy or out of control or weird… it was just our own unfounded fears that could have held us
back.

Filed under:

Comments are closed.