Nashville’s Sound & Shape plays the energetic and melodic rock ’n’ roll that you love to blast on your car stereo while flying down the highway, yet the lyrics are thought-provoking enough to keep you company at home while contemplating mortality during an evening thunderstorm.
Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Ryan Caudle, second guitarist Chris Hurt, bassist Gaines Cooper, and drummer Grant Bramlett, the group is looking to finish 2016 with a recently released video for “The Laughing Lovers” from their 2014 release Bad Actors as well as time in the studio for their newest batch of songs.
Recently, Caudle spoke about the band’s history, overly ambitious concept records, and his thoughts on the current Nashville landscape.
Weld: Just to supply some background, how’d you guys get started?
Ryan Caudle: It’s hard to say in a nutshell because we’ve been around so long. Me and some other guys were in another band, did a bunch of touring, and then it dissolved. Some of us from that group decided to keep touring and playing, so we started Sound & Shape at the tail end of 2005. We just immediately hit the road and toured like madmen for a number of years. We went through a few different bass players and the drummer ended up leaving, so I ended up putting a whole new band together and sticking with the name. Our current bass player and drummer are actually from Birmingham. We put out three full-lengths, a few EPs and are starting on a new record. We added a second guitar player for the first time about a few months ago, which has been different.
Weld: Adding a second guitarist could make things a little more textured and layered. Has this played into the writing of the new record?
Caudle: Not particularly. I think two-guitar bands sometimes fall into a trap. Not everyone can be Thin Lizzy, and it can get old real fast. I think Mastodon is a great example of a two-guitar band. Most of the material we’re writing for the new record, I wrote over the last year, so a lot of it was written before Chris joined. Being the only guitar player in the band for so long, I developed a style where I was covering as much ground as I possibly could. At first, it proved difficult to find room for another guitar player, but I feel we’ve gotten into the groove now. There’s definitely room for guitar harmonies and flashier twin guitar leads, but my writing over the last year hasn’t really lent itself to that.
Weld: Do you guys have a working title or anything like that finalized?
Caudle: We just went into the studio for a couple of days and did a bunch of demos. Threw them down really quick and dirty. I’ve been wanting to call the record Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us for quite some time, but I’ve recently changed it and don’t want to say it just yet. The original title came from an essay about singularity and how humans are quickly becoming a drain on the earth. I had come up with this crazy concept record that wasn’t going to be a double album.
At the time, everything was up in the air, so I decided I was going to be as ambitious as I possibly could and put it out for free on the internet if we had to. I wrote a few songs around that concept, but the more I thought about it, my writing style had morphed and I decided not to pursue it. Some of the business stuff for the band fell into place, so now there’s a clearer path forward. It’s hard to be an unknown band and expect your team to be okay with overly long, complicated records, especially when you don’t know most of what you’re saying.
Weld: So you guys are mainly based in Nashville?
Caudle: Up until about three months ago, we were all based in Nashville. I moved about 20 miles west. I’ve got a child who’s starting school next year. We just wanted to get him into something more suburban; I know it’s not the punk rock thing to do.
Weld: How have you seen Nashville change in the last ten years since you started the band?
Caudle: The musical landscape is way different than it was in 2005. I’m not in the thick of it now as much as I used to be. It’s kind of been to our own detriment. We as a band didn’t do anything to endear ourselves to Nashville. We looked at Nashville as where we were from as opposed to a place to play. We’ve never been put into any of the — and I hate to use this term — “cliques” that are happening. You’ve got your alt-country thing, your garage rock thing and we always had trouble fitting into any of those fully. We never played at home, but we just toured all over the country. Geographically, it exploded in terms of population. There’s condos on every corner. It’s definitely a city that’s grown faster than people expected it to.
Sound & Shape will play the Syndicate Lounge on Friday, December 2, with Baak Gwai opening. Doors for the 18-and-up show open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10. For more info, visit facebook.com/thesyndicateloungebham.