Q&A: Shapes & Tapes

Don't judge Chicago's Shapers by their picture.

Few trends sweeping the indie-rockosphere are as insufferable as the masked-band movement. And in our quest to shame bands out of the practice, we've frustratingly discovered a number of gems, Chicago's Shapers among them. The quartet may have posed in masking tape and scribbles in their press photo, but the music they play is both original and refreshing.

Their debut LP, Little, Big, sounds more like a movie score than a rock record. In place of pop melodies tying together verses, the quartet melds harsh and mellow soundscapes on a record that takes as much mental commitment from a listener as watching a film does. And (somehow) Shapers pulls it off without being self-indulgent. Here, guitarist/bassist Steve Reidell tells us how:

SW: How are things going today?

Reidell: Pretty good. We're at Arby's.

Are you putting away 5 for $5?

The 5-for-$5 deal really isn't happening anymore. They sort of changed it to a combo-menu thing.

Are you wearing any masking tape on your face at the moment?

No, we don't do that when we're driving.

You don't poke holes in the tape?

We're not trying to get pulled over necessarily.

Do you wear the tape on stage?

No, we don't. Sorry to disappoint all the fans of masking tape and the masking-tape company's stockholders. That was kind of something we did for a photo, and a video we just put out, too.

The music you guys got down on tape is pretty outstanding, done with almost no melody at all, which is quite an accomplishment. Was that the plan for Little, Big all along?

We had played in this band prior to Shapers and we wanted to try something new. We had been fucking around, jamming at practice a whole lot, and we really felt that those were the best moments of our practices. The idea for Little, Big was to focus on that, record these entire practices and go back and listen to them and find the minutes or 30 seconds that we were like, "OK, wow, we really hit it right there. Let's try to take that and build a song outwards from that idea."

Are you excited to have Rahm Emanuel as your mayor?

Well, here's the interesting thing about that. He's missing part of a finger. And this is a fact, I'm not making this up: He cut it off working at an Arby's when he was a teenager.

It's gotta make you wonder how he feels about the 5-for-$5 situation.

I understand that part of his platform was to bring back the 5 for $5. Not even the 5 for $5.95, but the straight-up 5 for $5.



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