Ship Shape

Ship Shape

 Calgary, Alberta, CAN

Ship Shape is the monolithic alt-folk-rock band headed by ex-Summerlad, respected producer and generally awesome guy Arran Fisher. Huge slabs of dark folk dirge are interspersed with a catchy melodic feel to make what has been dubbed "Woodcore". Their shows are the stuff of legend.


The Ship Shape band was formed in 2011, but its roots stretch back to when Arran Fisher was learning to play guitar in the early 90's, or maybe even before then. In those days, he would play folk songs for hours on end, since the chords were easy and the lyrics ran deep. It wasn't long before he was writing his own iterations in the classic style.

Soon after that, however, the pull of rock and psychedelia took hold, and the craft of the song was set aside for the energy and flow of more instrumentally-driven music. Fisher was a core contributor and producer for Calgary psych stalwarts The Summerlad for 11 years, recording five albums and touring internationally.

When The Summerlad amicably ended, Fisher moved to Qatar for the better part of two years, bought a cheap acoustic guitar, and began writing songs again. He returned to where he began - to the words and the melody, to the enjoyment of playing and singing.

Now in Calgary, Ship Shape is the embodiment of the same ideal in the form of a band. Fisher selected this crew based not on their playing, but on their personality. No one in the band had seriously considered being a part of a folk-rock band before. Brent Crosson had never laid a steel guitar on his lap. Joel Tobman used to scoff at the 1 - 5 loping country basslines. Sean Grier, an old mate from The Summerlad, had never elicited such twang. And Scott Moffat still finds it unusual to play the same beat throughout an entire song.

This was strange territory, definitely, but unfamiliarity provided fertile ground for excitement and curiosity, a freshness to the approach, and the confident feel of the band was evident from the first rehearsal.

Before the band had learned a note, still in Qatar, Fisher had recorded demos for 40 songs, and once he got back to Calgary, he produced three EP's in quick succession. These low-run releases featured a few tracks with the band, but mostly contained songs where he played all the instruments, and they were given out at the first few Ship Shape shows for free. In 2012, Fisher was asked to provide music for an indie Vancouver film-maker, and another EP was released of the Qatar demos which appeared in the film. Meanwhile, the Ship Shape band was gaining momentum, playing shows and learning the songs that would appear on the first full-length album.

The debut Ship Shape full-length was recorded in the same room where the band rehearses, at Fisher's Acoustikitty recording studio. The first session for the album, tracking the Japanese-Western suicide lament "The Ballad of Rikyu and Hideyoshi," was set up as a surprise to the rest of the band. By the end of the evening, the song was finished. Almost all the songs on the album were recorded live to 8-track analog tape, including lead vocal and harmonica, with minimal overdubs done after the fact. The recording process was amazingly smooth - usually the version we hear on the album was captured within the first three takes. The sound breaks at the edges and pulls at the seams of what an album is supposed to feel like. You can hear the snare drum rattling from the guitar amps and Fisher singing out of breath after a harmonica bit. This album is the sound of friends making art together, not some kind of audio simulation.

Lyrically, the songs on Please Ask Before Stealing deliver insights and ruminations on the inevitability of death, the profundity of love, insurgency, laziness, heartbreak and mystery. Weighty stuff, for sure, but a sense of humour and a deft lyrical touch pervade throughout the album, making the trip easy.

This is a band who are in it for the love and the spirit of the moment. For Ship Shape, the point of playing is to play, to make a song happen. Maybe this is old-fashioned, but Ship Shape doesn't make music for those who need to be cool.


Drum at My Door

Written By: Arran Fisher

There’s a way to reclaim
Structure in this world
I just hope you don’t get hurt
More than you deserve
At least that’s what we’ve learned

When you said you were born
In an age of pain
I feared that you were born again
In this age we’re in
‘cause nothing seems to change

Marching tunes are all we’ll be writing real soon
In the heat of the sun we will bury every one
You know me I make every attempt to agree
But the drum at my door’s getting harder to ignore

I admire your desire
To get back on track
But I’m scared we’ve lost the map
And there’s no turning back
Is it too late for attack?

The Ballad of Rikyu and Hideyoshi

Written By: Arran Fisher

So you’ve gone
And made your mark
You’ve had your fun
Scratched the bark
Of every tree of opportunity
That spread a canopy

You had no fear
I watched you leave
A whisper in your ear could save
A thousand souls but I believed
A dream is all you need

I raise the sword
This sword of mine
You won’t find any
Fault in how I draw the line
On my belly

Come and kneel
Inside my hut
Or the tea
Will drink you up
There’s no room here for those apart
From he who craves an open heart

I’ve seen in you
The sacred spark
Shared by those who know their part
Among all things but like all kings
You’re free to chose nothing

You should try to
I wish I could play in
your band

In this grove
I planted so
You could stroll
For repose
I hoped that you would find a place
Where war makes peace with art and grace

But I’m willing
To admit
I miscalculated it
Was never my intention to
Oppose your will to rule

Eyes Blinking

Written By: Arran Fisher

I wish I’d known
We’d be left alone
I would have worn cologne
Now we’re here
And I’ve got your ear
Just under my jawbone

Caught in your embrace
Given up the chase
I have everything
I’d been wondering
And then some
Eyes blinking

When I got up
I was mighty struck
By the facets of the world
Give me a tool
So I can carve out a jewel
From the good heart of this girl

Softening my gaze
I was just amazed
I have everything
I’d been wondering
And then some

And then some
And then some
And then some
Eyes blinking

Basking in your sun
I was overcome
I have everything
I’d been wondering
And then some
Eyes blinking


Gravediggers EP, 2011
1. Half a Mind
2. A Cold Wind Down in the Valley
3. Gravediggers

Drum at My Door EP, 2011
1. Drum at My Door
2. The Ballad of Rikyu & Hideyoshi
3. Giza

Whisky & Blankets EP, 2011
!. Whisky & Blankets
2. A Rock That's Yet to Burn
3. Blue Christmas (Elvis Cover)

Music from One Night In Seattle EP, 2012
1. We Can Live in the Open Air (Qatar version)
2. Cannibal Heart
3. Eyes Blinking (Qatar version)
4. We Believe We Can Never Fail
5. Bowery (Golden Gulls)
6. Sara and Lucas
7. Sara Slips Away

Please Ask Before Stealing LP COMING 2013
1. The Sun's My Heart
2. Let's Fall into the Roles We Play
3. Stir Our Stormy Hearts
4. The Ballad of Rikyu & Hideyoshi
5. Eyes Blinking
6. Whisky & Blankets
7. Drum at My Door
8. The Lightness in the Choice I Made
9. We Can Live in the Open Air