In sharing new music, you can sometimes get excited and share a track that wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Turns out that I did just that a couple of weeks ago with a new track from the band, Sound & Shape, because at that time the CD, Hourglass, hadn’t been released. That’s how I met lead vocalist and guitarist, Ryan Caudle, and we shared emails about the band’s sound. Then I learned from a fellow Nashville fan about Ryan’s previous outfit, Oliver’s Army, and its indie/math rock styling. So I wanted to begin my questions with Ryan about that time following Oliver’s Army and learn how the sounds progressed between Sound & Shape projects. Ryan also talks about his favorite live equipment, life on the road (an average of 200 shows annually), and the inspiration of a hero who is very close to his heart.
JW: Ryan, a little back story if you will. Take me to the the part of the story when Oliver’s Army ends and Sound & Shape begins. What was your original vision for the new group? How has that vision changed, if at all?
RC: My original vision was just to make the best music I could, and to always be progressing. That vision has stayed the same for the most part, but the paradigm has shifted for sure. It used to be about ‘ok, how can we make this part impressive to all the other musicians in the room’, where as now it’s ALL about the song. I’ve always considered myself a songwriter first and foremost, but listening back to our older records I can see where I got lost. I’ve always been able to see the point on the horizon that I want to get to, but I’ve definitely taken a few accidental detours. I feel like I’m heading in the right direction now though.
JW: Four projects later, Hourglass is released and the project is dedicated to Elizabeth Weiss. Who is/was she?
RC: Elizabeth Weiss was/is my grandmother. Unfortunately she passed on 2 days before we left to go on this last west coast tour. Out of everyone I’ve ever met, out of all of my musical idols, she is my biggest hero. She was braver, stronger, sweeter, wiser, kinder and tougher than anyone I’ve ever known. She was 18 when the Nazi’s took her and the rest of my family from their apartment in Budapest, Hungary and she survived all of that to live until the age of 86. She has always been the most supportive person in my family as far as music goes, and I miss her tremendously and always will.
JW: You mentioned in a previous interview that “Everybody Leaves” and “Wheels of Babylon” were two favorites to play live. What the story behind those songs?
RC: “Everybody Leaves” was written after I overheard part of a conversation in a coffee shop. It was two women that looked to be in their mid-30’s or so discussing one of their relationships and how she stays in it even though she doesn’t want to. I just thought how absurd that is. “Wheels To Babylon” is just a sweet little escapist fantasy I wrote with my girlfriend in mind. It’s one of those ‘let’s just run away together and everything will be ok’ kind of songs. A little pop story and one that fits in perfectly at the end of the record. It doesn’t appear in the live show THAT much anymore, but always gets a good reaction when it does. My favorites to play live now are actually “Signals” and the title track, “Hourglass.”
JW: Looks as if you guys spend quite a bit of time on the road. Any particular disciplines shared by the guys to keep the sound tight while traveling? Also, any of you guys in relationships or partnered/married?
RC: We have spent a bit of time on the road, and it’s going to increase from here now that the record is out. Allen (drummer) and I are both in long term, committed, serious relationships. Gaines is here to party, haha. There aren’t really any tricks to keeping it together. We do quite a bit of rehearsing so we’re good and tight when the tour starts usually. As far as the band goes, we all get along really well. We have very similar senses of humor and we are all very easy going. I honestly can’t remember having a single argument with this new line up, and that’s saying quite a bit seeing as how the last week of the last tour was nothing but 8+ hour drives so we were forced to be together in a small space all day. In regards to our relationships with our significant others, it involves a lot of understanding on both sides and good communication. For me, my girlfriend and I are very close and like to keep up with each other so we try to talk as much as we can and when we’re not talking we’re texting. She’ll send me pictures of our cats (who are like our children haha) and I’ll send her pictures of whatever scenery is around us. Just being available to each other, and having an exceptionally cool girlfriend, are really the best things to keeping it all together.
JW: Speaking of the live sound, is there a specific guitar brand that you gravitate to because of its performance? Does that vary for studio versus for live performances?
RC: For live performance, I mainly use my custom First Acts, and occasionally a Fender Tele. In the studio I used my First Acts, a couple different Telecasters, a Strat and our producer’s Gibson ES335 which is an absolutely GORGEOUS instrument. To be honest though I am more of an amp guy than a guitar guy. I was lucky enough to just get hooked up with Fryette Amplification. I’m using their Sig-X head with 2 Deliverance 2×12 cabinets. I can not say enough good things about these amps. They are so versatile it’s almost unfair to other guitar amps.
JW: In what way has social media particularly helped spread interest in Sound & Shape?
RC: In our case, we started before the Facebook boom so we were a little late to the party. We’re attacking it a bit more now in an attempt to catch up, but it seems to me like the social media connection comes after people see us live for the most part. We’re hoping to make it more 50/50 so we can grow both together and exponentially.
Their new CD, Hourglass, is available for sale at iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp.com and you can connect with them more at Facebook to find where they are playing next. As always you can follow Groove Loves Melody at Facebook and/or our Twitter.