Shape Then Shift takes stage tonight at Red Raven
Group mashes local artists and wide range of sounds
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 13:04
“It’s a question I hear more often than not,” answered Michael Weiler, when asked what his music venture called Shape Then Shift is all about. “I can’t put my finger on it, but I don’t really want to. There are so many different styles I like, so why not play them all?”
Along with various genres, Weiler enjoys working with variety of artists from the area. The overall premise of a Shape show is that all the members are constantly moving in and out of the gig. While they typically start with everyone involved, Weiler explains that the pieces generally fall apart and drift in and out for the duration of a performance.
He and the rest of Shape -- which is currently eight additional members strong -- are set to put on a duo of release shows this weekend for “Sleeper,” the latest album Weiler has crafted under the moniker. His intent is to match an artist’s contribution to a similar sound in each song while also providing for some variety. He argues that when live music sounds identical to what is found on a CD, it’s a waste.
“It’s all over the map, but it’s fun,” Weiler said. For these shows, Shape is comprised Kris Adamson, Katy Gorden, Cody Hassler, Bill Kezar, John Mrozla, Morgan Ranstrom, Rosie Sauvageau and Hannah Westerholm. Most of the songs will be off the new album, a few are from the previous self-titled album and one song is new. Weiler says the group’s genre ranges from country-folk at times to heavy metal.
Weiler has been performing on-and-off in bands since he was about 16 years old, and a point came when he started doing his own solo work. He admits he doesn’t like recording alone as much as performing with a group, and decided once he wasn’t going to do it anymore. He hung up his guitar for 10 years before getting sucked back into it.
“I like solo performing to a point, but I get bored with it. And if I’m bored, it’s dead,” Weiler stated. If this boredom carries over onto the audience, he might quit after only four or five songs. A while back he did a solo performance in the Memorial Union basement and garnered little response. “I could have been playing songs about the Taco Bell they were eating and no one would have known,” he explained.
Weiler would much rather perform with other artists because it gives him the opportunity to bounce ideas off them. He’s always learning something from them and is willing to try things he wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. The group makes it easy and enjoyable, which he says is something he needs on stage.
“I think the best thing about working with a group, in my opinion, is that I always work with artists who are way better than me,” he said, describing himself as kind of a hack. He says Bob Dylan did it the smart way, in that he wrote three-chord songs and had some of the best artists around backing him up live. He says that he might be able to write some cool songs, but the other Shape members are much more musically talented.
Over the past three years using the Shape concept, Weiler claims his own songwriting has gotten much better too. He describes it a meticulous process and likens it to projects done by architecture students; it’s not uncommon for him to pour 40 or 50 hours into a song, recording random sounds and overdubbing tracks.
The Shape Then Shift shows will take place at 7 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at the Red Raven. Copies of “Sleeper” will be available, and the album is also being released through bandcamp.com.