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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Favorite Shape Triangle's Pop With an Edge

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What started as a dynamic solo project for songwriter Aaron Ruffcorn has morphed into Favorite Shape Triangle, a quirky, polished four-man band gaining steam in Milwaukee's Bay View and East Side music scenes.

Favorite Shape Triangle (FST) plays pop with an edge—not too dark, yet laden with 21st-century angst. It's a succinct, energetic mix of mesmerizing vocals by Ruffcorn and hypnotizing rhythms from bassist Zach Butler, drummer Jacob Noble and guitarist Todd Ciske. FST's sound hangs around, envelops you, and then won't leave you alone.


Favorite Shape Triangle's lush cohesion reflects the chemistry of its members. Even the name captures that spirit. "We're kind of a playful, pointless band, and our name encapsulates that," Ruffcorn explains.


The band members' stories are diverse.


Ruffcorn studied film at the University of Iowa, putting together soundtracks and playing "old punk rock" in the bands Sidekick and The Vintage. He's been writing songs for more than a decade now, and in 2007 he released a 15-song CD as Favorite Shape Triangle.


Bass player Butler grew up in Huntsville, Ala., and studied at the University of Montevallo, Alabama's only public liberal arts college.

"Classically trained," is how Ruffcorn describes the bassist. "But I'm actually self-taught," Butler says. "I'm just a little OCD, having learned the music theory side of things. In college, I played with a couple indie-rock bands and an orchestra for theater productions."

"Jacob has really come into his own," Ruffcorn says of Noble, the band's drummer. "He has been with the band from its beginning and continues to grow."


Noble, who hails from Wyoming, says he taught himself percussion from the video game "Rock Band." Needless to say, he's achieved "Expert" status.


But Noble is about more than scoring points in a game. "I wanted a creative outlet," he says. "I just graduated from college and got the corporate job working for the man. I needed something more. I was either going to write poetry or pick up a musical instrument."


Ciske, who says he's "Wisconsin born and bred," is a seasoned musician who played with the band Looming Larger for 20 years. He is also known for his broadcasting skills as Commander Todd for Mukwonago's WFAQ-LP and Milwaukee's WMSE.


"Ciske has brought such enthusiasm, talent and energy," Ruffcorn says.


Currently, the band is combining new music with tunes from its live performances—music that has "tested well with the fans," Ruffcorn says—to record five numbers for an upcoming CD, FST EP.


Despite those disparate backgrounds, or perhaps because of them, expect the CD to demonstrate the band's unique, cohesive sound.


"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We are that," Ruffcorn says. "We become something greater, like Voltron."

Favorite Shape Triangle performs at Monkey Bar on Saturday, May 14.
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