SXSW 2014 Interview: Bent Shapes
One of our favorite acts from 2013 aims to kill it again in 2014. Boston’s Bent Shapes play energetic rock n’ roll, making their album Feels Weird (Father Daughter Records) an exceptionally rewarding listen. We haven’t been able to catch them on tour yet, so we’re excited that they’re making it all the way down to Austin this year. Catch up with the band by reading our interview below with Ben.
ATH: There was a lot of hubbub last year concerning corporate sponsors and pay to play and what not at SXSW. As a band, what’s your reason for coming to pay at the festival? What do you hope to get out of it?
Ben: Whoa, Freudian slip in that first question, huh? I didn’t catch a lot about the controversy, since we didn’t end up going last year. We’re headed down this year because it was the first time we’ve been officially accepted by the festival, and I think we’re just interested to see how that experience differs. Personally, I hope to go see some bands I like and get sick on food truck offerings.
ATH: For most SXSW sets, you get 30 minutes to leave a lasting impression. What’s your plan of attack? You have a set list mapped out yet?
Ben: We’re flying, so we’re going to need some recommendations for pyrotechnics distributors in the Dallas or Austin area. The airline says I can check my t-shirt cannon, though, so we’re all set there.
ATH: The festival caters to music fans, but food and booze are an important aspect of the fans and the bands. What’s your band’s food and beverage of choice?
Ben: I’m getting kimchi fries ASAP. Beverage-wise, I tend to stick to seltzer in warmer weather.
ATH: There are tons of bands coming into town. Who would you ideally like to play with of the 1000s of bands gracing our city? Make your own optimal line-up.
Ben: We went to see Kevin Morby with Cate Le Bon recently, and it made me want to play with both of them. I want to play with Potty Mouth again, too, and playing together in Austin would be fun. That’s maybe a weird lineup, but I’d go see it.
ATH: We are partial to SXSW obviously, but what festival do you feel is the best around?
Ben: I haven’t been to any other festivals, actually. Festivals combine a lot of things that I have difficulty dealing with: crowds, seemingly endless lineups, equally-desirable-yet-mutually-exclusive-events, lack of comfortable public bathroom facilities, etc.
ATH: Let’s say your band has been booked an official showcase at a pop up venue somewhere in the middle of 6th street. The lineup features thrash metal, hip-hop, spoken word, and you. The sound is horrible, the lineup is not your style, and the crowd seems angry at the world. How would your band deal with such a situation?
Ben: I guess we’d just play a mix of our best thrash metal, hip-hop, and spoken word pieces (unplugged, even a capella, if need be) to mollify the crowd. This is, of course, a prime example of a moment in which the t-shirt cannon really comes in handy, too.
ATH: What’s your favorite album to come out in the last year? What’s playing in the tour bus?
Ben: I think my favorite was Cate Le Bon’s “Mug Museum”. I also really liked Deerhunter’s “Monomania,” La Femme’s “Psycho Tropical Berlin,” John Vanderslice’s “Dagger Beach,” and Pretty & Nice’s “Golden Rules for Golden People”
ATH: The digital age is upon us, like it or not. What are your band’s thoughts on streaming services like spotify, pandora, etc.? Blow em all up? Or embrace the future?
Ben: I embrace it out of necessity: I use Spotify because I don’t always have the money to buy new records. But it’s not as if I don’t see the downside, as a musician. Maybe I’ll embrace it until such time as I’m in a position to disassociate with or even criticize it. Like Thom Yorke or whoever.
ATH: Day parties have replaced showcases for music discovery? Is the conference really completely upside-down?
Ben: Honestly, I don’t really understand SXSW. It made a bit more sense to me when the general rule seemed to be that bands went and tried to play anywhere they could at any time they could. Now there’s a lot of mildly threatening talk about unofficial shows being subject to review by The Festival. It seems like “Official SXSW Showcase Artist” is a good thing to put on your band’s proverbial resume, but expecting smaller bands to drive or fly in to Austin to play one show over the course of a week is pretty ludicrous.
ATH: Flatstock is a crowd favorite. Have you ever been to browse? Find a print to buy? Find a print from one of your shows you didn’t know existing?
Ben: I’ve never checked Flatstock out, but maybe this is the year. Posters and flyers seem like they’ve received less and less attention with the advent of the Facebook invite, but I guess that just makes it all the more exciting when someone puts the extra time into designing a winner.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/01-Behead-Yrself-Pt.-2.mp3]
Download: Bent Shapes – Behead Yrself, Pt. 2 [MP3]