Backwards Dancer on recording their first LP and touring with Eisley and Civilian!


Backwards Dancer (Credit: Natalie Bisignano)

Backwards Dancer are set to release their first, full-length record, Backwards Dancer, on March 3, following their 2015 EP, New Life in Old Shoes.

Since New Life, the band has signed to Equal Vision Records, booked a tour with Eisley and Civilian, and put out a new single, “Breathe Life Into Beauty.” The band hopes their debut LP will further distinguish their sound from formative influences like Say Anything, Brand New, and Saves the Day. Generously, frontman Zack Shaw agreed to answer some questions via Email about their upcoming record and ongoing tour, shedding light on their most recent steps in their music-motivated journey.

Cover art for Backwards Dancer’s upcoming self-titled record (Source: Equal Vision Records/Backwards Dancer)

1. What aspect of your upcoming record are you most excited about?

I’m really looking forward to letting the songs age and see how I feel about them in a year after touring on it. I hope that people can latch on to the messages and themes I placed throughout the record. I really enjoy its pace and movement, too. Hope it finds you well!

2. You guys really like Brand New, among many other artists, who are sometimes described as “emo.” What do you think of that music label? If you had to, how would you define it?

I personally don’t mind the emo tag; I think a lot of our influences show through our music because a lot of those bands (Say Anything, Saves the Day, Brand New, Elliott Smith, etc.) are what we grew up listening to and I love that music regardless of its title. On the contrary, it seems like a lot of artists get pigeonholed by the term and some people in the community might get turned off by it for whatever reason — I don’t really know. I’d say emo is melodic-feeling music that is usually in some narrative form.

3. What is your songwriting process like? Is it more individual or collaborative — do you write lyrics first then music or vice versa?

I usually come up with a melody and riff and take a poem or lyrics I had written and just mesh the two. As far as bringing it to the band, we all dissect the initial idea and just work on parts individually as well as when we practice. We kind of mix things up with the way we write, but it usually meshes all together in some way.

4. How do you hope to separate Backwards Dancer from heroes like Say Anything, Saves the Day, and Brand New?

We love those bands for sure but I think we just want to do our own thing and avoid expectations or pressure to sound like anyone in particular. I just love writing songs and I never really consciously aim for a song to sound like any certain band.

5. What are your gear preferences, instrument-wise?

I’m not much of a gear guy, I like the Fender Twin Reverb I’m using now — it cuts through the mix well — but I usually play a Fender Jazzmaster. Andy uses a super sick C&C kit that is huge-sounding. Kell uses a Fender Showman and an Orange 2x12 cab, usually with a Fender Telecaster. Bass setups usually vary.

6. What are you most excited about for your upcoming tour with Eisley?

I think we all agree we’re excited to have the opportunity to play for a much larger audience than we have before, as well as making new friends and, hopefully, fans. Also, getting to listen to great bands every night is a plus. I’ve been sitting in the van for like 8 hours as I’m writing this and I haven’t gotten irritable or uncomfortable yet, so getting to see America as a passerby is cool. We are incredibly humbled by the opportunity Eisley has given us to introduce ourselves to new audiences. Thanks EVR/Rory fam.

7. What song are you most proud of on your upcoming record?

I’m so proud to have had the experience of putting together a proper record with a team of people all working at different angles to make it happen. Also, I’m proud of the opportunity to get to travel all over the country and sing these songs we love every night. I was really proud to hand a physical copy to my Mom!

8. Musically, what inspired your new song, “Breathe Life Into Beauty” ?

I had structured the riff around a riff on our EP, and it just kind of fit. I wanted it to be musically like Pt. 2 of the song on the last record.

Music video for Backwards Dancer’s latest song “Breathe Life Into Beauty” (Source: Equal Vision Records on YouTube)

9. What was one thing you learned writing and recording your upcoming record?

I think this record taught me to be confident and just go for it. It has a really liberating feeling for me. The year the record was being produced was a really reflective and strange point in my life, and I feel like I grew as a person alongside the songs — I think we all did.

10. What do you most hope listeners take away from the new record?

I hope that listeners find a sense of comfort and take away some sense of solidarity. I hope it brings out an angsty smile.

Tour dates for Eisley with Civilian and Backwards Dancer

Feb 16 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall — Upstairs

Feb 17 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues — Cambridge Room

Feb 18 Waco, TX @ Common Grounds

Feb 20 Nashville, TN @ Exit/In

Feb 21 Atlanta, GA @ Vinyl

Feb 22 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle — Back Room

Feb 23 Vienna, VA @ Jammin Java

Feb 24 Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage

Feb 25 Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry

Feb 26 Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun — Wolf Den

Feb 27 New York, NY @ Webster Hall — Studio

Feb 28 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall

Mar 02 South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground

Mar 03 Ithaca, NY @ The Haunt

Mar 04 Buffalo, NY @ Waiting Room — Studio

Mar 05 Pittsburgh, PA @ The Club at Stage AE

Mar 06 Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry at The Fillmore

Mar 08 Columbus, OH @ The Basement

Mar 09 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop

Mar 10 Detroit, MI @ Shelter

Mar 11 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean

Mar 12 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry

Mar 13 Indianapolis, IN @ The HiFi

Mar 15 Austin, TX @ SXSW — Central Presbyterian Church

Mar 19 Greeley, CO @ Moxi Theater

Mar 20 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge

Mar 22 Portland, OR @ Star Theater

Mar 23 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey

Mar 25 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill

Mar 27 Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour

Mar 28 San Diego, CA @ House of Blues — Voodoo Room

Mar 29 Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues — The Parish

Mar 30 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar

Sorry if you didn’t like the article. Please keep your discourse civil in the comments.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Tommy E’s story.