Mistakes Happen

Influential emo band, with a member living in Eugene, releases new EP after 16-year absence

The Beautiful Mistake, an early influential emo band, returns this month with You’re Not Broken. I am.

The five-song EP is the group’s first new studio material since 2004, when the demands of life as an up-and-coming young band began to divide the childhood friends, according to singer and guitarist Shawn Grover.

“It just wasn’t good,” Grover tells me over the phone from Eugene, where the musician now lives. “Our band was in a bad place. We were angry with each other. For a while there, a lot us weren’t even talking.”

The Beautiful Mistake is closely linked to rock’s emo movement, a millennial sound, equally influenced by Gen-X mainstays like Fugazi and The Cure, mingling elements of hardcore with emotional vulnerability — music made by young musicians screaming for attention at an older generation grown fat and complacent on the economic prosperity of the 1990s.

After deciding to reunite, at first just for a few shows down in Southern California, where the band originated, the old chemistry that once buoyed Grover’s band fell quickly back into place.

“It felt really right,” Grover continues. So much so, Grover wondered why the band let the pressure get in the way of what mattered most. “These guys, we shared everything with each other. We were all really close,” he says. It wasn’t long after the band started playing live again that new music began to materialize.

In its early iterations, emo didn’t seem to be the seismic shift in popular music that grunge or punk had been, and the movement was quickly diluted into the showy, mall-core style bands like My Chemical Romance. But the music has shown surprising relevance and longevity as new artists pick it up in their own work and as emo-themed nights crop up at venues like Old Nick’s in Eugene.

When Grover’s band got started, they weren’t aware they were part of any emerging genre, at least not on any conscious level. “There really wasn’t anybody doing that whole hardcore emo thing,” Grover says, “We just started playing stuff influenced by everything we liked at the time.”

Grover points to the minor hit “Collapse” by the emo band Thursday as a tipping point.

“It ended up becoming a sound that a lot of bands came upon. We were like, ‘This is something that’s going on, apparently’,” he says. But emo quickly evolved, Grover remembers, into some weird, different thing.

“The dudes with, like, black swoopy bangs,” he says. “It became that, and that’s not emo to me,”attributing the enduring appeal of true emo to a certain raw honesty intrinsic in the music. “You can relate to that,” he says. “There’s a bit of punk in it, there’s just a spirit to it. It became something else once it got into Hot Topic in the mall.”

The Beautiful Mistake’s You’re Not Broken. I am. is out March 27 on Wiretap Records wherever music is sold.