interview by tom maxwell
The Forms are a three-piece addition to the plagued scene and their debut album “Icarus” was recorded with the help of music industry legends John Golden and Steve Albini. The Forms album is best described as minimalistic crunching guitars accompanied by jovial screaming vocals placing it somewhere in the realm of early emo, but definitely has a space pop “music by numbers” quality. The album is certainly highly recommended and will certainly be remembered in the years to come. Here’s a conversation I had with Ecco Teres lead singer of The Forms:
What’s up man, how’s the band doing? Did you have a good first national tour?
Things are good. The tour went really well, aside from the van breaking down in the middle of nowhere a few times. I have to say it was nice being isolated from the rest of the world for a while, getting a break from the weapons inspectors, plagues, and whatever else the media were terrorizing people with.
Did you meet any cool bands?
The most memorable band *name* from the tour had to be Meathawk and the Meathawks. We did play with some cool bands: Rescue, The Ancient Greeks, Anathallo, Denovo, Miranda Sound, Flin Flon…I know I’m forgetting a few. We also played a show with Longwave and Ok Go. Their roadies are probably still taking their gear off the stage from that show.
On your debut album “Icarus” I couldn’t help but notice the meticulous use of math and numbers throughout. To what do we owe the pleasure?
[haha…I hear you are an accountant by day.] It’s cool when people point things out about the record that we weren’t consciously aware of. I think it makes sense…math and numbers (and words, though they’re more vague) are what people use to try to understand their surroundings which are vastly complex and beyond comprehension. In some sense, the record is about feeling lost in a much larger scheme, and just giving into it.
My friends think you have a Sunny Day Real Estate quality, but I think it’s more of a Cap’n Jazz type sound. Can you draw the line for us?
Those are both good bands, and I do think we share certain qualities with them. The vocals at times resemble the cap n jazz vocals, and I think there is a solemn feel to Icarus that is a bit like Sunny Day Real Estate’s LP2. At the same time though, I think those comparisons don’t explain all that much. The thing that defines the album to me really is the way the rhythm works. Those bands pretty much do everything in straight-forward 4/4 or 3/4 time. And it’s not so much that the timings on Icarus are weird, which they may be. It’s more that when you listen to it, it just kind of washes over you and you don’t really notice. You just kind of go with it, which was exactly the way it was written.
I really liked the art on the disk and in the sleeve. Whose idea was that and can we expect more of the same in the future?
We do things mostly on instinct, which has its own sense of reason anyway. So there are a lot of things about the album that I couldn’t explain to you that you just have to feel. It’s the case with the artwork too. A lot of the places photographed just evoked the same feelings that the music did, so it made sense that it should all be one package, since they were expressing essentially the same idea. I don’t really know what to expect from us in the future, though it will probably be rather different from Icarus. Still, I think we will always use packaging and CD enhancing to expand on what the music is expressing.
What’s your favorite type of shape? I mean do you think of yourselves as artists to the full use of the word (architects, musicians, poets, etc.)?
I think an artist is just someone who expresses themselves. I wouldn’t say Britney Spears is an artist so much as whoever manufactured her. Britney Spears is just some random person they found to play the [bizarre and twisted] role that they created. I think we try to do that be expressive, and if we didn’t feel that was the case, we probably wouldn’t release anything. These days it seems as if more and more people – architects, musicians, poets like you say – aren’t expressing themselves but are just doing whatever they think is going to make money or become popular, largely because now that’s all that labels want to invest in. There isn’t much music I truly like anymore and I think that’s why, and it really sucks because music used to give me such joy.
How important were John Golden and Steve Albini to this record?
John Golden was important mostly to us…in getting all the little things right that no one else would care about. Steve was important to us as well, but also more to everyone else. Many fundamental things about the record, like how the drums sound and how certain sections recorded separately were tied together to sound like one song, he really helped us with.
Man, those guys aren’t cheap, where are you getting the funds to pay these guys being as you are on a very small label?
Really dumb millionaires who dumped all their cash into ridiculous ideas like “web-sitcoms” and the Y2K bug. At the time they hired a lot of people to work on all that stuff, and most of them got paid a pretty penny while doing it. Basically, that money enabled Threespheres to get started. Hopefully somebody will come up with a grand scheme to trick everyone again sometime soon. Steve Albini and John Golden aren’t very expensive anyway. They charge about as much (if not less) than your typical studio hack in Manhattan. Steve in particular deliberately charges less so that he can work with interesting bands, who in many cases don’t have a big record label financing them.
So no Scarface stories?
Scarface as in Pacino, or Scarface the rapper? If the latter, yeah, me and scarface used to chill on the streets of Bucktown, with Meathawk. If the former, I don’t do [that many] drugs.
Any plans for the near future? When can we expect more straight from the gut cooing?
We are doing a tour in June that hits the West Coast, and then we will be playing some East Coast dates in July with The Life and Times, which is the new band with Allen Epley, the singer of Shiner. Hopefully, we’ll be able to tour again in August for a few weeks as well. All the dates and venues are posted on our website, theforms.org. As for the next Forms album, I don’t even want to think about it yet. We did actually make a “secret” album of 6 new songs that we gave only to friends and fans. It was also recorded with Steve Albini about a year after Icarus. There is a track from it on our site, and it has midway through the best 10 seconds of music we’ve ever done. Lots of cooing in that one actually. A couple of us are also involved in a band called The Desert Fathers that has an album coming out on Threespheres in the fall, also recorded with Steve Albini. I think the album is absolutely great, and it will definitely tide people over that like Icarus for a while.
Alright Ecco, nice talking to you. See you next time around
Hope so. Thanks!