They wanted to make sure it's an event.
“We didn't want to just throw it together, just say, 'OK, next weekend we're going to do it',” Brad Hursh said.
But next weekend, it's happening. For the first time since May 6, 2004, V Shape Mind will be playing together in front of the public. The band reunites Saturday, Oct. 13, at Bunkers in Illiopolis.
Believed to be the first Decatur band to sign to a major recording label, V Shape Mind released one album, “Cul-De-Sac,” in September 2003. Subsequent management issues led to the band's breakup eight months later.
But a reunion of the surviving three members of the band – singer/songwriter/guitar player Hursh, bass player Vic Zientara and guitar player Jeff McElyea – has long been a topic of discussion.
“We've been talking about it for 15 years,” McElyea said. “I think we all wanted to do it. We were just trying to come up with the right excuse.”
“We wanted it to be cool for us,” Hursh said, “and for the people who want to see it. I wanted to have a floor. I didn't want to have a bunch of seating we couldn't remove.
“As much as we love the Lincoln (Square) Theatre – we've played there a bunch of times (including that final 2004 show) – that was the only kind of drawback for us. There wasn't a way for the crowd to get close to us. The orchestra pit was in the way.”
In 2003, the Decatur quartet felt on top of the world.
“We went to Chicago to this rehearsal space,” McElyea recalled, “and a representative from Universal Records was there and we did a showcase for him. When we got done, he said, 'David Bottrill is the hottest producer going, and Universal is the biggest record company. Congratulations.' And we looked at each other and knew it was a done deal.”
Bottrill was a producer known for his successful work with metal acts. Before V Shape Mind, he produced efforts by Tool, Dream Theater, Tool and Mudvayne. Mudvayne singer Chad Grey and Hursh have been longtime friends, and Grey sang on “Cul-De-Sac.”
The group spent three months in Canada working on the album. But when the time came to support the recording on tour, things started to go awry.
“Our management,” Hursh said, “we were always a little …”
“Apprehensive,” Zientara said, completing the thought.
“We were apprehensive about that,” Hursh said. “We had concerns and issues.”
In addition, the band's album was release just as the music industry was beginning to downsize in the wake of falling sales during the era when digital piracy was just coming to the fore. The band's publicist was fired, and promises of a video and international release of the album were abandoned.
After a tour with Mudvayne and Powerman 5000, “we were trying to figure out what tour is going to be next,” Hursh said. “We were really hoping to get the Godsmack tour. They were playing pretty big places, and we thought they were a good match for us. We thought, 'Keep us out on the road. We've got to work this record.' And then we were hearing things about a second single, and a video. Management was saying, 'We don't think it's going to happen.' And we're not getting the full story.
“So we're getting pretty discouraged with the situation. Management calls and says, 'Think about writing some songs for a new record.' And I'm like, 'Why? Why would I do that?' This record hadn't even been out six months. I don't want to do that. And Universal wanted to extend us for a second record. I was like, 'No. I don't want to do that.' he said, 'They'll drop you if you don't do these things.' I said, 'Fine.'”
That decision essentially closed the book on V Shape Mind.
“Not that we wanted that,” Hursh said. “But what are we supposed to do? We really wanted to get out of our management contract. And even if we decided we wanted to do a second record, who's to say that it wouldn't have been shelved? You're in contractual limbo at that point.
“I remember telling Jeff, 'You know, I don't like this music industry (expletive).' It felt like a dance, and I don't want to dance for anybody. Jeff and I were on the same page. I know I was super jaded about the music industry at the time. So to feel like back at square one was not a good feeling, and Jeff felt the exact same way. We didn't want to break up – we just felt like we were kind of stuck.”
As the record company removed its tour support, finances were playing a key role as well.
“It got to the point,” Zientara said, “where we were paying to get a truck to go to Iowa, or to North Carolina, to do one show, and it cost a lot of money for us to do that.”
Drummer Scott Parjani died in 2010. For some time, the idea of replacing him in the lineup was difficult, and helped keep any potential reunion thoughts put aside.
“I think I probably always had the question of 'How do we do this without Scott?'” McElyea said. “He was a beautiful person, I became really close to him, and really loved the guy. He was a fantastic musician. He was one of those guys who just got it.
“But Brad and Vic have played in a lot of bands, and they knew drummers. When I met Tim (Montgomery) and played with him, I agreed they had the right guy.”
Montgomery won't be the only new face. Hursh's nephew, Torsten Hursh, will be playing keyboards and guitar, fleshing out the stage sound in a way impossible 15 years ago.
The band will play the entire “Cul-De-Sac” album at the show, but no new songs, and no encores.
“That's how I roll,” Hursh said. “Leave 'em wanting more. No encores. I never saw the significance of leaving the stage for five minutes then playing another song.”
Hursh said “as of now,” there are no additional plans for the quartet. “I think this is what's in front of us now, and we're approaching it that way.”
“There are a lot of people who have gotten into the music since we broke up,” McElyea said, “and a lot of them who didn't have the chance to see us.”
The reunion has allowed the bandmates to reminisce pleasantly.
“I'm not bitter about it,” McElyea said. “I really just remember the good parts.”
“I'm not bent,” Zientara said. “I look back at those days and say I'm very blessed to get to live my dream. It was just short-lived.”
“I love these guys,” McElya said. “These are my two brothers right here. We're a hometown band, and we're proud of everything around here.
“I'm looking forward to playing with these guys again. I love them so much, and it's such an honor.”