A blank canvas is a difficult place to start. I’ve found that if I do not give myself specific parameters when starting a creative project that I’ll never begin. Post-punk, post-rock band, Bad Shapes, agrees. Today, they released their self-titled, full length album that was created to fulfill a specific purpose. They are so committed to this specific purpose, that they’ve actually made it their band mission statement: to make music that invites the listeners to share in what is often destructive feelings of cynicism and self-doubt that individuals often punish themselves with and help create a setting to feel more connected, supported, and kind to oneself and others.” How fucking cool is that?
Bad Shapes formed in 2017 and consists of Peter Force on drums, Wes Harmon on backing vocals, guitar and synth, Mark Quitevis on guitar and Ben Taylor on lead vocals and bass. They met like most people do in these modern times; on the internet. Wes, Mark and Ben each started out playing with different bands all over the country, but all came together in Philly after connecting on Reddit and Craigslist. They released an EP in 2018, which, “felt like a nice ‘turn-page’ and start to our next chapter,” according to Mark. When they met Peter in late 2018, they got to work on their latest LP. Mark tells us, “ I think we can genuinely say that we’ve tried everyone’s ideas in the writing process, some successful/some not, but always mindful to try and execute what someone had in mind for a part.” Writing and producing the album has solidified this group of musicians into the truest form of Bad Shapes as a band.
The idea to create a mission statement came from Ben, “It seems like common sense that the band gets on the same page as to why we’re all doing this, but it’s not a conversation I’ve had with bands in the past.” I think about this all the time. This is one question that I am consistently asking every musician I interview: why do you do what you do? I think it is really admirable for a band to intentionally decide why they exist. And it definitely doesn’t hurt that that music itself is excellent. I’ve listened to this album so many times, and don’t get me wrong, i’ve thoroughly enjoyed the music every time. But as I am writing this during such strange times, I found a new appreciation for it today. When I first corresponded with the band, Ben told me, “we want to say, ‘Hey, we’re all kind of fucked up, right? We’re in this together” and it just feels so damn relevant right now. Now more than ever. We’re all connected right now in a way that is uncomfortable, unjust and sometimes difficult to discuss. What I really love about Bad Shapes is that they didn’t need a global pandemic to start talking about our shared discomforts. Listening to them today, while I am stuck inside for the 4th consecutive day, their music made me feel like I was on a road trip. I liked that. I think you will, too.