The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. The greatest trick Shone ever pulled was instilling a faint, ever-growing hope that Shone was a long-awaited Brand New album, a Brand New side project, a Brand New single, a Brand New anything. And, like the suckers we all are, we (as a community) fell for it, and we fell for it hard.
We were asked to “Be Patient,” and we were. Look who was warning us to be patient: Vinnie Caruana. Kevin Devine. Manchester Orchestra. Balance & Composure. Thrice. We didn’t know what we were being patient for. Heck, all Shone gave us to ponder was a minute-long clip of a creaking windmill, Rorschach blotch monsters, and unintelligible whispers. But just look over the list of bands that stamped their approval on the project. We were hooked, even before rumors of involvement from the oft-dormant Brand New front.
The rumor mill started clanking away when we saw Brian Lane, longtime Brand New collaborator Mike Sapone, and guitar-slinger Vin Accardi’s kid brother, Andrew, remind us to “Be Patient.” The c-c-controversy hit a fever pitch; Shone sold out a February concert — a venue capped at 250 concertgoers — before a single band member was announced, and on the strength of a song and a half (clocking in at a hair over two minutes, “Defender 237” is an interlude and nothing else). So how did such a well-structured viral campaign flame out as quickly and spectacularly as Shone did? Why the heck did Heat Thing cool off so rapidly?
Flame out might be the wrong way to phrase it. The AbsolutePunk thread dedicated to unraveling Shone’s mystery is the site’s biggest news thread of all time, sprawling out over 18,000 comments (and counting). The campaign itself was planned down to a science — generate social media buzz, release a steady stream of videos, and divulge information slowly and deliberately from an off-kilter source: ghostly puppet-master Levi Gudmundson. And yes: word puzzle sleuths figured out pretty darn quickly that descrambling the name gives you both “Devil” and “God.” Raging Inside Me sold separately. Heck, an unknown vandal scrawled the name “Levi” in black spray paint under the band’s iconic graffiti on the brick wall of a Long Island bowling alley.
Rallying around Gudmundson, the part-time detectives, full-time Shone fanatics fostered a community dedicated to solving clues and piecing together the mystery. The campaign did brilliantly to involve its followers — fans on Shone’s mailing list received letters to follow coordinates and trek out on a scavenger hunt for flash drives loaded with the band’s first song. Shone did a heck of a lot of things right: Matthew Reid’s art design captivated, Gudmundson’s enigmatic tweets teased, and the band’s fans stayed patient. At least, most were patient before the campaign took a nosedive in a hurry.
So, where did the wheels start falling off? Well, for the longest time, no one knew who Shone was. The mystery died quickly when “Piano Wire Number 12” leaked its way onto virtually every file-sharing site. Before hearing the pseudo-single, fans were still saying rosaries that Shone was Brand New related. And why wouldn’t they? Innocent until proven guilty, Brand New until proven otherwise. Before the song dropped, expectations for the project’s music were tantamount: save for possibly The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, Part 2, not much would live up to them. Especially not a melodramatic romp laden with fuzzy, industrial guitar work, which, like it or not, was what fans got from “Piano Wire.” It sounded nothing like any of the bands that tweeted about Heat Thing, and even less like Brand New. Astute fans pinpointed the vocalist as Andrew Accardi, and all signs pointed to an already rumored Brian Lane/Andrew Accardi collaboration.