2006 was a year dedicated to “tightening the sound, playing better and more shows, and working on getting some press and radio airplay,” said Mark, vocalist and guitarist for Brooklyn-based band, the Shapes. Well, they did just that. After playing various gigs- from parties in NY to NXNE in Toronto and everywhere in between- the band found themselves a part of the 2006 CMJ Music Festival. It was announced soon after that they were the winners of the 2006 Zig-Zag Live Contest. I talked to Mark about the CMJ Festival, playing all-ages shows.. and what exactly is the Zig Zag Live Contest.
The band is compsed of Mark, Tonia (vocals, guitar), Brent (guitar), Dmitry (bass) and Grant (drums)
How did the band meet?
Mark: I met Tonia back in 2003. We were collaborating for a year in a band called the Daisy Chain with various musicians in the band. We had songs and a set list; we played parties in Brooklyn. In 2004, we met our guitarist, Brett, who Tonia is dating. Dmitry and Grant– we found them on Craigslist.com about two years ago.
From that initial moment when the band got together two years ago, how has the band changed?
Mark: The first year was a growing period, where we were formulating our sound. In 2006, we were tightening the sound, playing better and more shows, and working on getting some press and radio airplay.
You played the 2006 CMJ festival. How did you get involved in that and how was it?
Mark: This summer we met Tai Morita of Ace Fu Records’ Family Business– a new record label who wanted to do a showcase. They asked us to play, though we did apply properly as well. We were in twice (laughs). We really wanted to go into the showcase.
As for the experience, there were a lot of people. It was an amazing experience with the college radio and getting to see all the shows and networking with everyone. It was one of the best. We decided to play early in the showcase by choice. We wanted to play before the big shows– like Tapes N’ Tapes and The Knives– so we could catch their shows.
You’ve played shows from the CMJ Music Festival to NXNE to the Philadelphia City Paper Playoffs… what’s that like to be a part of so many different festivals? Any favorites?
Mark: Every show is different. NEMO in Boston– that was an excellent gig. We played with bands that we’re great friends with– it’s healthy for bands’ environment, you know? At NXNE in Toronto– that was community. They’re there for the music, not as industry based and people forgetting about the music. It was an amazing experience.
Congratulations are in order… you were named the winners of the Zig-Zag Live Contest… What exactly is the Zig-Zag Live Contest? How did you get involved and what did you win?
Mark: (laughs) I don’t really know what it is about either. A friend of the band signed us up… The fans voted on it so it was awesome that we won!
As for the prize, we get two ads in the CMJ New Music Review and a song on their On Air compilation, which is cool. The reason we got involved with CMJ and college music stuff is to get out music out to younger audiences to they could have a chance to check out the music. With what’s out there today– we don’t really sounds like anyone. A lot of our live shows don’t sound like the MP3s. Our new stuff is dance-y and dirty (the lyrics are a bit racy). It’s that boy/girl combo that we have and play on that.
Your song “Behind the Blue” is the theme song for a show on A & E– how did you get involved in that project?
Mark: That was a lot of work– we worked on it for two months and dedicated that time to working on the song. We put our blood, sweat and tears into that. All 35 seconds of the song. (laughs) Seriously, it was a great experience. It put us on another level of professionalism– like having to work on deadline and stuff.
So what are the Shapes up to at the current moment after winding down from the CMJ Festival?
Mark: We’re meeting with the guy who produced Sonic Youth’s last record and the Dinosaur, Jr. record. We’re hoping to have the new album out sometime in 2007. In February and March, we’ll probably be in the studio– until then, we’ll be working on pre-production. It’s going to be badass. We’re also planning to tour again. There will be a serious amount of touring in 2007.
Have you guys ever played here in Philly?
Mark: We’ve played there about three or four times, but we got screwed twice. We wish there were more all-ages shows there and no restrictions.
Yea, we have a serious lack of venues that allow underage fans to experience their favorite bands.
Mark: There are a lot of them here in Brooklyn, too.
If you could ask every single one of your fans one question– but only one– what would you ask?
Mark: (ponders) I guess I’d ask them what do they like about music– something more general, you know. We don’t want to ask about our music. We want to know what the fans enjoy– we don’t ask why. When we meet people, we meet them on a personal level. We’re very critical of ourselves. We got it covered. (laughs).