Vanyaland Premiere: Bent Shapes find new form on lathe cut picture plexi disc single ’86’d in ’03’

Last summer, Boston garage-pop trio Bent Shapes released their debut LP, a culmination of a series of singles, 7-inches, and other mini-releases that served to establish the band on a national level and pull together a sort-of mini-discography into one unified record. Released via San Francisco indie label Father/Daughter Records, Feels Weird was both a beginning and an end chapter to a band that seems to be in an endless cycle.

A stalwart of our DIY scene since their origin as Girlfriends in the late-2000s, at the core of that cycle remains guitarist/vocalist Ben Potrykus and multi-instrumentalist Andy Sadoway, who continue to generate excitement with each new release. With the help of some friends, Bent Shapes already offer up a new single, “86’d in ’03,” out today via vinyl label People In A Position To Know.

“86’d in ’03,” which you can stream digitally below via Soundcloud and purchase via Bandcamp, is another hooky stroke of whipped pop-rock, with guitars that wane and thrust and read-again lyrics such as opening lines: “It’s been years now/I’m calling off the search for myself/I think I’m comfortable with ‘uneasy’/Is there something that could teach me?”

The single’s b-side is a cover of lost Boston neurotic-pop group the 2×4’s “Bridgeport Lathe,” which finds the Bent Shapes in full-on Pavement-mode. They’ll probably hate that we just wrote that.

Both tracks are available digitally, and will also be available on limited lathe cut picture plexi-disc 7-inch in three different colors. Pre-orders will ship on August 1, but the record-release party is tonight at the Lilypad in Inman Square, where Bent Shapes will be joined on a Boston Hassle-presents bill by Dinoczar, Rosie & The Rosies, and South Carolina’s Southern Femisphere.

We caught up with Potrykus earlier in the week to chat about the band’s future, its new configurations, and hooking up with People In A Position To Know Records. Hit “play” on Bandcamp and read the interview after the jump.

Michael Marotta: Are these entirely new tracks or leftover compositions from the LP?

Ben Potrykus: These are entirely new tracks!

Is bassist Supriya Gunda still in the band? Lately I’ve been seeing promo pics of just you and drummer Andy Sadoway…

Supriya doesn’t play with Bent Shapes anymore, no. She plays in Lost Twin and just finished recording her first record under the name Digital Prisoners of War (a name she’s played solo shows under for awhile now).

Andy played bass and drums on these tracks and I played guitars and sang. Emeen Zarookian from Spirit Kid has been playing bass at shows since February, but he’s headed to Los Angeles at the end of the month. My sister, Kate, who played guitar on our November tour, is taking over bass duties for a show or two, and Luke Brandfon (also of Mini Dresses) has been playing second guitar for us. That’s the lineup for this release show, and we’re pretty stoked.

How would you describe the direction Bent Shapes is headed in?

It’s hard to describe what direction we’re headed in, as we’re sort of making it all up as we go. Obviously we’ve had a lot of different people playing with us in the last year, and I’m guessing that three to five years ago, I would have perceived that as indicative of instability, and been totally demoralized. But ultimately, it’s been really good. We’ve had to learn to play songs in new ways as we arrange pieces for various live lineups. Parts from the record have been rewritten (and, in my view, improved) and we’ve been able to work on new songs all the while.

Andy has put out some great solo recordings in the meantime, too, and I’ve set up a few shows where I play solo or in a duo with Kate just for fun. I think trying a bunch of different methods for working together is really important for a band’s longevity, otherwise things get stale. I’ve been really excited about all the different things we’ve been working on, both as a band and outside of the context of Bent Shapes.

Musically, a couple of the songs I’ve written for the next record are slightly more aggro in terms of tempo and playing style, but there’s also a very mid-tempo moper in which I deal with some dark shit in what’s perhaps a more tonally-appropriate way than we typically do.

It’s still irreverent; I don’t think you’re going to get lyrics on a Bent Shapes release that take themselves too seriously anytime soon. But there’ll always be a vulnerability to what we do. I’m not interested in music that doesn’t convey a certain sense of struggle.

How’d you hook up with the lathe cut guy?

Mike Dixon from People In A Position To Know saw us in Tuscon while we were on tour with John Vanderslice, and talked to us afterwards. I had been following his label since late high school (he put out some Wooden Wand and Viking Moses songs, and stuff by a few other bands I was into on oddly-shaped, ultra-limited vinyl singles), and Andy had actually played on one of his releases, so we had some stuff to chat about anyway. He told us to get in touch if we had recordings we were looking to release anytime soon, and after we did these two songs, I sent him an email and we took it from there.

He’s got a unique operation — it’s totally DIY, and he’s very laid back about the more business-oriented aspects of running a label, but he works incredibly hard and has this glut of insanely cool releases out each year that really highlight what’s special about analog formats (our record is in an edition of 75 cut onto plexiglass, but his website says he’s cut music onto shit as weird as 90% cacao chocolate bars).

At the same time, he doesn’t eschew digital formats or social media, and works to temper his involvement in that stuff by traveling all over the United States (and beyond) with his mobile record-cutting operation. I think we’ve been striving to hit on that balance between something special and personal, and something that’s very accessible and populist since we started putting out cassettes and emailing people mp3 versions of our early Girlfriends stuff.

Bent Shapes Lilypad