Drawing inspiration from punk rock godfathers like The Clash and The Ramones, FORM RANK are still inspired by the same minimalistic approach to music. “It’s not about re-inventing the wheel; it’s about keeping it rolling,” says Matt. He adds, “When I hear a new band that employs this [uncomplicated approach to making music] and does it well, it stands out and inspires me more than the most technical songwriting imaginable.”
However, it wasn’t the same usual suspects of rock ‘n’ roll legends and guitar heroes who served as the catalyst for vocalist Ethan’s musical awakening.
“Until a group of my friends started putting [a band] together, the thought had never crossed my mind to even pick up an instrument,” Ethan explains. “As soon as I saw people my age trying to do something, I ran out and got my first drum set. I put together my own band with my closest friends, and I've been in a band ever since.”
Rounded out by their rhythm section in drummer Joaquin and bassist Steve, FORM RANK is made up of seasoned working musicians who have all toured extensively in different bands before coming together. Though they have yet to tour as this newly formed ensemble, they are finding the songwriting process easier than ever.
“With this band, Andrew usually brings in a song or a riff, and we go to work from there, rewriting, restructuring,” explains Ethan. “I've never had an easier time finding vocal melodies and guitar leads than with his songs.” He also adds that the process of retooling the songs is just as invigorating. “This band has been incredibly refreshing, especially when we got into the studio to record a few tunes and had the opportunity to really build these songs we'd been working on for months. I love the process of picking apart a song and it coming back together in a way you never previously imagined.”
Matt takes the step of rewriting even further, going to great lengths to ensure their riffs and melodies are original. “I like to sit down and listen to records that differ greatly from what I am ultimately trying to achieve in a song,” he says. “I do this for two reasons: (1) to gain influence from an unlikely source; and (2) I don’t want to subconsciously lift a riff or composition from the people or bands I greatly admire—although it does happen from time to time anyways.”
Though they are finding new ways to write and feed off of each other, the band still relies on some trusty pieces of gear to craft their sound. “Out of all the guitars I've bought and sold through the years, I always go back to my first guitar, an Ibanez Artcore semi-hollowbody,” Andrew exclaims. “It's so easy to play that I never want to put it down. For amps, I usually rely on my Egnater Rebel 30. It has the perfect mix of a Vox and Marshall type crunch.”
Like Andrew, Matt also has something he can’t help going back to, old records. “Listening to records I’ve heard a hundred times and still hearing little subtleties I’ve missed on previous listens is pretty special, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem,” Matt notes. Perhaps it’s the band’s affinity towards tried-and-true gear and familiar tunes that allows them to lovingly breathe new life into a genre filled with bands often too quick to rest on their laurels. Forging ahead, FORM RANK has recorded songs with Gabe VanBenschoten at Akira Audio, which they plan to release as two 7” singles. They are currently plotting a full-length album.