V Shape Mind Biography
Remember the old adage "opportunity only knocks once"? Brad Hursh--songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist for the group V Shape Mind--sure does, though he couldn't be blamed for being a bit wary when that knock finally arrived. That's because the first time someone appeared at the band's door, it wasn't fame, fortune or fate standing in the entrance way. It was a pair of angry cops.
"A few years ago, we were in the middle of practice and there was a knock at the door," he recalls. "It was the police, and they had come to see Scott, our drummer. I don't recall exactly whether it was for failing to appear in court for a traffic ticket or some other violation, but they ended up taking Scott away that night."
Fortunately, the incident caused only a brief disruption in the group's development, and soon thereafter opportunity truly did knock at their door. That's when world-famous producer David Bottrill (TOOL, King Crimson, Silverchair) signed V Shape Mind--which, besides Hursh and Scott Parjani, also includes guitarist Jeff McElyea and bass player Vic Zientara--as the premiere act on his new Mainstation label.
"I was really attracted to the character of Brad's voice, plus the tightness of the band and the way they played," explains Bottrill. "The texture of Brad's voice is especially amazing. It's just like treacle: it runs all over you. It was inspiring for me to be able to work with such a great instrument." Bottrill also helped the young quartet, which formed in Decatur, Illinois in 1999, to realize their full potential. "We really needed David to take our music to the next level," says Hursh. "He took the songs that we had and really brought them to life. We're extremely happy with the record we made with him."
That album, titled CUL-DE-SAC, spotlights the band's self-proclaimed "heavy mellow" sound. "It's definitely a rock record, where there are heavy guitars and big parts, but at the same time there's a very melodic sense to it," reveals Hursh, who wrote all 12 tunes on the CD. "I love so many styles of music, from the Beatles and Prince to Pantera and Mudvayne. It's absolutely those two worlds--heavy and melodic--put together."
The first single, "Monsters," is a perfect example of that delicate melding of heaviness and harmony. The tune blends dynamic drums and grinding guitars with poignant lyrics and Hursh's unforgettable voice. "It's a pretty driving rock song that, once again, combines heavy and melodic aspects, especially within the choruses," notes the multitalented musician. "It's also a rather provocative piece dealing with demons, either the strictly psychological ones or the types of external demons that you encounter on an everyday basis."
Still, for casual listeners, the subject matter may not appear so obvious. In fact, whether experiencing "Monsters," the bittersweet "The Taste of Vinegar" or "Glitches," which highlights booming bass and relentless percussion, nothing about CUL-DE-SAC is clear-cut. "I write in a very metaphoric manner, so everything is rather ambiguous," says Hursh. "Anyone can interpret what I write in any way they want. That's because I really like people to kind of grasp what they want out of something, as opposed to making things so black and white that they aren't necessarily relatable to everyone. If something is ambiguous, two different people may have different interpretations of the same song, and they'll both be correct."
That same uncertainty is intentionally reflected in the band's name. "I wanted something that could be interpreted in many ways," declares Hursh, adding that he is constantly amused by the varied definitions he has heard for V Shape Mind. "Ultimately, I wanted the name to symbolize balance and structure, and I liked the idea of transcending and using our minds more than what we tend to do." Regardless of how folks decipher the group's lyrical content or moniker, the charismatic lead singer promises a contemplative, constructive and, perhaps most important, consequential listening experience. "My goal was to have a non-filler record," asserts Hursh. "Every song had to count. That's very difficult to do, but it was important to me that we have a recording full of tunes where none of them seem or sound like filler."
The four band-mates may have been flustered by the initial knock at their studio door, but with the forthcoming release of CUL-DE-SAC, the members of V Shape Mind can rest assured that opportunity--in the form of producer David Bottrill and his Mainstation imprint--truly has arrived. For that, Hursh, and legions of prospective fans soon to be introduced to his "heavy mellow" music, can be quite thankful.