Last year, four-piece Bent Shapes released one of our favorite local albums of 2016, Wolves of Want, but that shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The band has been whittling down sharp, poppy, indie rock with a punk bent ever since it formed in 2009. Singer-guitarist Ben Potrykus, drummer Andy Sadoway, bassist Jenny Mudarri, and guitarist Luke Reed even made the Allston dream a reality: evolving from basement band status to signing to a proper label, the California-rooted Father/Daughter Records. It’s been a fruitful run for the band, but now, they’ve decided to call it quits.
“The momentum of the band has always been perpetuated by the question ‘What’s next?’ and I think we realized that we kept forcing next steps, committing to obligations without having the same energy that we used to,” says Sadoway. “Rather than continuing the project, it feels better to be proud of what we created together in the past and say farewell. I think Ben and I care too much about Bent Shapes to do it in a way that doesn’t do it justice.”
Hold off on the handkerchief. All four members of Bent Shapes play in other projects in the Boston area—Sadoway plays in Chrome Bouquet, Jenny in Thrifty, Reed in Mini Dresses, and Potrykus in Young Familiar—and they plan on using Bent Shapes social pages to direct fans toward those. Plus, there’s the main event: a farewell show. This Saturday, Bent Shapes will headline Great Scott to blow a final kiss to the city that birthed them and the work they’ve created. Plus, Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion and Ian Doerr are set to open, which feels fitting given Evan Murphy from Beware and Doerr co-produced and engineered Feels Weird, the band’s 2013 album.
It doesn’t feel right letting Bent Shapes come to an end without one last spotlight. So to add to the confetti, we asked Potrykus and Sadoway to fill out an exit interview ahead of Bent Shapes’ final show.
When you originally formed the band, what were your goals?
POTRYKUS: When we formed the band, I just wanted to play loud guitar again. A couple months before Girlfriends started, my folk band was on its last tour, and when we played Cake Shop in NYC, I picked up a compilation they’d put together. It had all these bands like caUSE co-MOTION, the Beets, Sex Clark Five, My Teenage Stride, Crystal Stilts—these bands were playing largely lo-fi guitar rock inspired by a mix of ’60s pop and early post-punk—and it got me really excited about electric guitars again. We ended up playing with several of those groups in the first couple years, which was really fun.
What was the most memorable show you’ve ever played?
SADOWAY: One of the most memorable shows we played was in 2011 in Ottawa at a house with a band called the Girlfriends. We linked up with our Canadian cousins via the internet and thought it would be hilarious to play a show together. So the guy that was living at the house “venue” was getting evicted. In the spirit of an “eviction party” people were kicking holes through the drywall. The keg was in the kitchen, which was next to the room where the bands were playing, so in the name of convenience, someone decided to make a large hole in the wall connecting the two rooms. Also I remember there was a stack of TVs behind where the band was playing—at one point someone knocked one over.
Which of your songs are you most proud of?
POTRYKUS: There’s a couple on Wolves of Want that I’m particularly proud of, primarily because I’d finally figured out a way to write about something I’d wanted to put in a song for a long time. Writing pop songs about anarchism and anti-capitalism, mental illness, and your relationship with your siblings isn’t the most intuitive process. “Intransitive Verbs,” in particular, demanded a certain amount of vulnerability, which was hard to balance with my fondness for wordplay and upbeat melodies.
Who is an unsung hero involved in Bent Shapes’ history that you want to shout-out?
POTRYKUS: So many people have been so instrumental! Past members and part-time members deserve a shout-out first, lest anyone forget—Jen, Supriya, my sister Kate, Emeen, Casey, Elio. Freddy Hamel recorded half our first tape for free at his job. Jerry MacDonald recorded some of our first singles and put one of them out on his own dime. Andy’s mom let us record in her basement and scrapbooked any and all early press coverage. John Vanderslice took us on our first tour with a national act. Liz Pelly wrote about us early and often, giving us some great opportunities. Countless bookers took chances on us, including Carl Lavin at Great Scott. My wife, Athena, and Andy’s wife, Mary, helped with gear and artwork and driving and all kinds of things. Brian Butler, who is deservedly in demand, has always made time to do poster and shirt art for us. Also, Becca Smith has ceaselessly championed our band in really meaningful ways.
What’s your favorite idea another member in the band contributed?
POTRYKUS: Andy’s drumming on “Behead Yrself, Pt. 2” still blows my mind every time I hear it, and “Leave It Till You Need It” is a classic. I absolutely love Jenny’s harmonies on all of Wolves of Want, but especially “Third Coast.” As for Luke, when he improvised the “Samantha West” solo, we were literally jumping up and down in the control room of the studio.
What’s the final message you want to say to fans?
SADOWAY: I just hope it’s apparent that we were always 100 percent invested in what we were putting together for songs and albums. That’s pretty important to me. One thing that this band taught me is how hard it is to come to grips with the existence of “the game,” and the fact that there’s a big difference between playing music because you love the experience, or want to create something that expresses a feeling or an idea, and “playing to win.” Maybe some folks can balance the industry and hustle side of it with their art, but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do that. And letting go of the notion that our band is legitimized by one thing or another—a review on a particular website, opening for a big band, a spot on a fest, inclusion in a certain circle of popular musicians—has been a difficult, but freeing process. We experienced some or all of those at one point or another and, as Andy said during an interview earlier this week, we just sort of realized that those aren’t the things that bring us joy.
BENT SHAPES, BEWARE THE DANGERS OF A GHOST SCORPION, IAN DOERR. SAT 12.16. GREAT SCOTT, 1222 COMM. AVE., ALLSTON. 9PM/21+/$10. GREATSCOTTBOSTON.COM