Soaring hooks and crushing instrumentals make up the majority of the self-titled debut from Backwards Dancer. The Worcester, MA quartet produce anthems that ride emotionally riveting lyrics with an honest vocal approach from Zack Shaw. Surrounding Shaw’s vocal presence are piercing guitars that bolster quiet-loud dynamics with drums that pack a punch to give parts a large and distinctive sound. Opening songs “Airy” and “Breathe Life Into Beauty” are two of the best tunes to be released in the first quarter of 2017. There is plenty of emotional catharsis to be unleashed when listening to Backwards Dancer, and Zack Shaw was kind enough to open up about the entire record, helping the abrasive ideas about the human condition feel that much better to sing along to. The debut release was distributed via Rory Records, an imprint of Equal Vision Records, on March 3rd.

Purchase Backwards Dancer here.


1. Airy

This song was the first song we wrote for the album. Instrumentally we put it together over the course of a few months during practice and it was the first demo we had for the LP. Lyrically, it explores themes of escapism and fleeing inconsistent, condescending situations and the monotony of being stuck in one place. It felt like the right way to start this whole thing with.

2. Breathe Life into Beauty

“Breathe Life Into Beauty” was a song I wrote in an attempt to kind of make sense of my own vanity and self-indulgence. I feel like everyone has their own desire to be wanted and longed for, and this song is a representation of the acceptance I felt I was seeking at that point in time, having felt isolated for so long.

3. Artists as Characters

This song has Max (Bemis) on it and I love it. It’s pretty much a story of going out and indulging a bit too much and the mess / wonder it can create. Basically, just go where your heart tells you to go and follow the trajectory you find yourself in and don’t be a jerk.

4. I Saw Your Spirit

I had talked about this briefly when the video for this song was released but this song is basically about feeling detached from all of my old friends and trying to deal with feeling so distant. I’ve learned that sometimes in the process of coping with a void, the way you deal with it, and who you choose to surround yourself with, often can lead you out of that detachment. This is one of the only love songs on the record.

5. I Wish I Could Have

I wrote this song in the middle of writing this record and wasn’t sure of how to describe how I felt other than isolated, broke, and dependent. I suppose a majority of this record deals with those thought patterns and topics but this song in particular stood out to me as nailing the overarching theme on the head. Initially I wanted this to be the title track to the record.

6. The Radio

Kell wrote the riff for this song and he showed it to me and I really wanted to write over it. For me, this song acknowledges how we all long for the same basic needs and the support systems we build and nurture will lead to success and hopefully happiness if we are persistent and consistent in our beliefs.

7. Forever

This is a straight up love song.

8. Vanishing, Panicking

This song came out when I was working a ton and it felt soul crushingly monotonous. My partner and I were dealing with really tough emotions and I wanted to kind of have a song of hope for us and that someday the way we were expected to live our lives would change and there would be an alternative. I just want it to be hopeful for others.

9. While the World is Waiting

This was the last song to be put together on the record. I wrote the structure of it while we were tracking drums and came to the band with the full demo having had extra time to write in the studio. I was in a really tough spot in general and had a ton of expectations to fill certain roles I wasn’t comfortable with, in retrospect. This was the point where I was so emotionally exhausted I just kind of wanted to give up.

10. (Blank)

Another love song to everyone who has ever cared about what I do or how I feel.

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Recently Backwards Dancer went on tour with Eisley and Civilian. While on the road in California the band’s van and trailer were stolen. Link to everything that went missing.


This is a rock n' roll takeover.

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