Upright Forms

Upright Forms - Blurred Wires


Skin Graft Records is one of those labels that more people should know about, for its integritry, artistic vision and excellence at roster building. I mean, hey, Fisher and Company had Melt-Banana, Shellac, Zeni Geva or US Maple but also great new bands like Squid Pisser (remember our interview with Tommy recorded on Super Bowl Sunday!), Cheer Accident, Lovely Little Girls or Cuntroaches. Next week, June 28th, Skin Graft is going full circle by releasing Blurred Wires, the raucous new record by Upright Forms, which is the newest outfit of Nick Sakes who was also part of the cult-underground 90s icons Dazzling Killmen, who - and here comes the full circle - released the very first record ever on Skin Graft. However, we try not to dwell on nostalgia too much, because it’s like fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, brushing over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. And Nick is surely not one to dwell too much on moments past - that surely shows in Upright Forms’ songs which are angular and “math-y” but at the same time also still pretty poppy as he still likes a good melody or hook. You see we have a lot to talk about and therefore this conversation with Nick is one of the nicest interview with an unsung hero of the past you might get your ears on! Furthermore, as if that interview wasn’t enough, we also give you a review of Blurred Wires to round off the whole package. So, enjoy our Record Special for the upcoming Upright Forms-record!

To characterize the sound of Upright Forms is pretty easy because it evokes many associations: The Residents, Hüsker Dü but also Cherubs, Shellac and Cherubs. One might also consider some of the early Math-Rock bands an analogy – acts like Helmet or, of course, the Jesus Lizard. Some of the more intense moments can be traced back to folks like Fugazi or Drive Like Jehu. Nick Sakes first major band, Dazzling Killmen, shared the stage with several of these bands and held their ground easily.

We might also talk about Upright Forms in a connection to time: Their sound is very late 80s to mid-90s, a time, when there was a certain form of music that was renamed every other year, even though the sound (more or less) remained the same. When certain artists were such staples of quality that you basically bought all of their releases – looking at the vast body of work by Nick, one must attest the same thing. Many records (most, somewhat) had a foot in the 80s/90s scene outside the bigger bang spots like Seattle or Los Angeles. This is more like Minneapolis or the Midwest.

Labels are also somewhat of a reference as well: SST, Dischord, Sub Pop, AmRep – labels whose fans normally bought all things that these “home for the homeless” published, they had a certain musical vision and they usually found bands and musicians that felt the same. Nick has always had a deep connection with Skin Graft and might be seen as one of the important musicians for the label vice versa. Here it is also important to note that Upright Forms is not a solo project which also implies that all musicians share a certain musical vision and that this complete package then again has to fit to the label’s direction.

Last but not least, one can of course describe the sound without these three ideas above (as helpful as they might be). The record holds ten songs which each complete the mosaic of three guys who like to write anthems and each track on this record is an anthem, if you ask me! There are the clean melodies in a track like ”Drive At Night” and as harmonious as they are, they are at the same time backed by some slightly dissonant riffs. There are many angular riffs, for example in ”Chopped Even” but one can also find some glorious, Indie-Rock epics like ”Long Shadow”. One can find a lot of warmth in these songs because that is what the guys like to give us, the listener: Songs to sing along to, to dance to, laugh with (and sometimes even because of).

One might say this record is a bit of an anachronism. I rather think of it as a very modern, very well-done homage to the sound, the time, the scene that Nick has its roots in. So he is doing what he has always been doing. Creating music from the heart for the heart. From a scene he loves on a label he loves with people he loves. The result is a record you can spin over and over again.

And as you have now come thus far, it is more than deserved that you also get to watch our interview Nick where we talk about a lot of different things past and present:

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