The Shapes hailed from the centre of the known universe, otherwise known as Royal Leamington Spa. A small Midland town, it is distinguished only by the hazy memory of a brief visit by Queen Victoria to its stuccoed-nowhereness, for the extremely unpleasant Spa water and lastly for a rather miserable poem written by the late poet laureate Sir John Betjeman.
The core of The Shapes was made up of non-too-serious effluvia that was discharged from certain local public school.
The band was active between the years 1977 to 1981, during which they released two singles, the first being the Part of the Furniture EP on their own Sofa Records label in early 1979, featuring perhaps the band’s most memorable songs, namely Wot’s for Lunch, Mum? (Not Beans Again) and (I saw) Batman (In the Launderette). “Batman” sold in excess of 10,000 copies and was given extensive airplay on the radio, earning the band a John Peel session on Radio One.
Some critics credit The Shapes as having founded a sub-genre of punk known as “punkpathetique” and it is certainly true that they deliberately steered a course away from the proselytizing and semi-politics of the punk bands that had preceded them.
In his lyrics, Seymour Bybuss wrote about the general silliness of life. In his febrile imagination, the world was one big comic cartoon, to which he added a supporting cast of freaks, aliens and superheroes.
In 1980, The Shapes finally released their follow-up single – a double B-side featuring Airline Disaster b/w Blast Off! – on the infamous Belfast-based Good Vibrations Records. History relates that this release did not do quite as well as the band had hoped, despite their loyal fanbase.
Sadly, the scene has moved on, and thus their story came grinding to a halt.