Brooklyn rockers Walking Shapes have come a long way since their formation in late 2012. The band released their debut LP, Mixtape Vol. 1, last month (via No Shame Records), had a residency at Pianos in NYC, and garnered truckloads of critical support from across the US for their bass-heavy, atmospheric rock aesthetic and frenetic live shows. Drawing comparisons to Radiohead and Mercury Prize winners Alt-J, the band churns out brash anthemic rockers, steeped in hefty doses of melancholy sentiment and often complex world-weary narratives. But the band isn’t’ afraid to lighten up, and a few of their tracks could even be described as sunny, fuzz-filled rockers. Even these lighter songs, though, have an undercurrent of restlessness and uncertainty to them, as if the music itself wasn’t quite sure where it was heading. But far from feeling as though the band is just wandering aimlessly around the studio, the songs on Mixtape Vol. 1 pulse with a self-described “analog-meets-digital” heartbeat.
Recently, lead singer/guitarist Nathaniel Hoho spoke with Beats Per Minute about a few of the records which helped to shape the musical direction of Walking Shapes. From the pristine pop precision of Michael Jackson to the psychedelic influence of Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles – and including records by The Smashing Pumpkins and My Morning Jacket – Hoho takes us through his formative influences and allows us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the inner workings of Walking Shapes’ creative processes. Check out his full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.
Michael Jackson – Bad
Rewind to the beginning of my cognizance. “Annie, are you ok?” were some of my first words. Jamming to MJ in my room on my RCA boom box was a religious ritual for the first couple years of my life. Attempting to moon walk, coupled with spinning leg kicks whilst still learning to walk… Love MJ.
Thanks Mom… “Bernadette,” “I’ll be there,” “I Can’t Help Myself.”
I was first turned on to the Beatles when I heard “I am the Walrus” in some skateboard video at age 13. This developed into an obsession. The Beatles have been by far my most major influence in production and song.
Although I had already been playing guitar for years, I feel I learned to play (somewhat) by playing along to this record. My childhood friend Rob Fusco (drummer of Boston outfit Vary Lumar) and his family essentially adopted me for a summer while I spent all of my days and nights learning these songs in their basement. I can remember on several occasions walking over a mile, carrying both my guitar and amp just to fumble through Billy Corgan’s guitar solos for days on end. I would then be sent (or beckoned) home only to then return a few days later.
This record is a vehicle of screeching falsetto super vocals, epic jams, and patient, brilliant production. Z came to me at a time while I was smoking a lot of grass and it just clicked for me. I would sit back close my eyes and listen over and over. I fell in love…. I heard these guys tripped mushrooms and wrote naked in a room together for the album. I hope this is true.
One of the best albums I’ve heard in the last 5 years. It was a slow burn, but when it all sank in I was overwhelmed by the production, lyrical content, and mature songwriting. A+ record.
Walking Shapes’ latest record, Mixtape (Vol. 1), is out now.