Hailing from Metro-Detroit, Shapes & Colors are looking to conquer the airwaves and cyberwaves with their genre-bending style and anthemic choruses. Made up of 4/5 of the now defunct Aria Aesthetic, Shapes & Colors started working on their debut album, Hold Your Breath, back in mid-2011 with a new energy and outlook on music. The album, due for release on May 19th, will be accompanied by a dual release show at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, Michigan alongside Rival Summers.
We liked what we heard on the album, so we got ahold of the guys and asked them if they might want to give an explanation of each track to us and our readers. They agreed, and we are quite happy to present to you a track-by-track telling of Hold Your Breath as told by vocalist Travis Bobier.
This song was the first song I wrote lyrics to for the album. It came at a time when a lot was changing in my life, and also a time when I was very disoriented and confused. The lyrics are thus very dark and grim, reflecting the ambiguous nature of my thoughts and feelings at that time.
“…and it grew and it grew until everything I knew was covered in black and white, I couldn’t see it right.”
However, The Reckoning is also a song about not giving in to your own personal darkness, and as I fought back depression during those early months of writing, the lyrics of this song started to take a more positive turn.
“…but we can’t, we can’t lose ourselves to it, no we can’t go on like this.”
This song started an ongoing theme for this album: overcoming the darkness within in order to see that all is not lost; there still is light to be found.
I Find My Lack of Faith Disturbing
There are themes that I tend to stay away from writing about in order to not step on peoples’ toes. One of those is religion. My parents have always given me the freedom to believe and follow whatever theistic views I choose to, and thus my opinions of religion have changed as I meet new people and hear their differing ideals and beliefs.
I want to make this clear, this song is by no stretch an anti-God song. I am not an atheist, but I would rather not label myself as belonging to one religion. This song came out of frustrations I have long had with people who are manipulated into believing a certain viewpoint to the degree where they no longer have their own beliefs or opinions on God.
“…save us from our broken selves and all we try to hide.”
I have always struggled with my faith, and this song echoes that internal struggle that I know many people out there deal with. Faith is a very powerful thing, and I don’t think that it should be imposed or pushed on to anyone that is weary of believing. Let the believers believe what they want to believe.
“…I hold the key to a place I don’t believe in.”
Vessels was inspired by the turmoil and chaos that revolved around the upbringing of Shapes & Colors, and the end of the previous incarnation of the band, Aria Aesthetic. A lot of the lyrics revolve around a sinking ship and its despairing crew, with the ship being a metaphor for the band.
“…hold on our vessel is sinking, we may never see the shore.”
I had a self-realization during these early months of writing that I was becoming very apathetic toward decisions I needed to make in my life. This realization set me on a pathway to bringing myself out of this chaotic slump.
“…what has become of me?”
Curtain Call serves as a continuation of the semi-concept lyrical content of Vessels. The beginning of the song picks up after the ship has been wrecked (symbolizing the end of Aria Aesthetic), and following the account of one of the crew losing his mind and recalling better days in crazed visions.
“…we are castaways left for dead at the shore, and we don’t know who we are anymore.”
The lyrics continue to follow the theme of overcoming the darkness, this time through trying to understand who you really are, and what you stand/stood for, but being afraid of making discoveries about yourself, as I was at the time.
“…I’m afraid of letting go, of knowing who I really am.”
Making Yourself a Name
Making Yourself a Name is an ode to starving musicians everywhere. It’s an anthem that basically says “stick to your guns, never lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish, never lose sight of your dreams”.
In an industry where so much talent is overlooked, and so much garbage is elevated to mainstream status, it’s really difficult to say that I believe in what the music industry stands for today. I am by no means trying to bitch and moan where this band stands in the spectrum of the musical universe, but as a local musician, I have watched so many that have pushed and pulled and sweat and bled for what they believe in and are passionate about and then were subsequently chewed up and spit out, leaving them with no morale and means to go on. It sucks.
“…pack it up call it a day instead of putting a tarnish on all of your names, there’s no escaping this place without giving away a little piece of your dignity, your sanity. Don’t give it away.”
This song calls out to anyone out there thinking about throwing in the towel. No matter how hard the future may seem, you are better than whatever it throws at you, and if you keep a level head and clear sight of what you want to do, one way or another you will get there.
“…I guess that’s the price you pay for breaking away and making yourself a name.”
I’m always really hesitant on writing about things that touch base on things a little too close to the chest. In the case of this song, I wrote about some of the issues that have been hacking away at the core of my family for a while now. When you love someone and watch them slowly trudge down a path of self-destruction, it tears you apart.
“…I would tie your hands so they wouldn’t wander astray.”
In cases like that, it’s really hard to convey a message to that person without coming off like an insensitive asshole. Let’s not forget, you deeply care about this person no matter how much you disagree with the things they do, and you’re trying to get across to them that you wish they would care more about themselves too.
“…if I could keep you here, I would never let you go until you have learned what you’ve gotten yourself into.”
“…time fixes everything.”
There’s this old saying that’s along the lines of “time heals all wounds”, and to a degree I couldn’t disagree more. In the great scheme of things, you determine who YOU want to be, no one else can make your decisions for you. This song calls out those people who are apathetic about their lives, hoping that one day their break will come around and find them. The truth is YOU have to make that break for yourself, YOU have to be the master of your own destiny, YOU have to take the leap of faith and risk failure.
“…we all live through these moments and hide away, but we can’t hide away.”
Musically, this song was greatly inspired by Circa Survive and There For Tomorrow, we wanted a song that really grooved during the verses, had a lot of dynamic, and soared during the chorus, and this was the result.
Don’t Give Up, Kid
We’re all huge fans of bands like Muse and My Chemical Romance. I love grandiose punk-ridden choruses with angsty hooks and rough instrumentals as well as great melodic displays of musicianship. This was the song that we wanted to showcase what we all had to offer as a band, and bust through the doors with it. Being that this is now near the end of the album, the lyrics are a little bit more optimistic, but still a little weary on believing in your own potential.
“…raise up your voice little one, ’cause you’re only as loud as your heart will allow you to be.”
Hold Your Breath
The title track of the album is one big narration on my thoughts on writing this album. This was the last song I wrote lyrics to for the album, and so it serves as a really reflective piece. It deals with themes of self-identity,
“…have I lost my way in changing my name? Is there somewhere I should see? Is this who I’m meant to be?”
chasing your dreams and not looking back,
“…I can’t say I’m not afraid of where I will be in ten years from now but I’m not waiting to see this all fall to pieces, it’s not out of reach for us to find a place we can call our own.”
and finding your light.
“…I’m learning to breathe the darkness out of me.”
Change was written directly after The Reckoning. Zack and I composed this song after coming up with the idea of lyrically transitioning from a despairing tone at the start of the album to an optimistic hopeful one at the end. You should never be afraid to grow out of your insecurities, we all have them. At some point though, you have to realize that you are worth so much to this world, even if you can’t clearly see it, it’s just a matter of you branching out and discovering what your purpose is, what your calling is.
“…I’m not afraid of change, I’m just uncertain of what comes after.”
I also realize that I quoted the band’s name in the lyrics at the start and end of the song. I did this as a little nudge to ourselves saying, “hey guys, we did it, we became this. This is who we are, and we are ever-changing”.
I’m so incredibly proud of the work we’ve accomplished, and I hope that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can take something away from this album and either learn something from it or help you understand something about yourself. Music is my therapy, my heart, my soul, and it’s power to work miracles is a force worth fighting for.