January 05, 2006
Tapes 'n Tapes: Interview: Josh Grier
Tapes 'n Tapes have recently been popping up a fair bit online and with good reason... they released a strong little album called The Loon this past summer and it apparently took a few months for it to find the right ears. Boasting great tracks like "Insistor", "Cowbell", and "Just Drums" (you can stream these tracks on the bands myspace page), the Minneapolis band possesses a sound that at times marries the paranoid danceability of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah to the driving rhythms of The Violent Femmes; and at other times recalls the atmosphere of The Walkmen especially in the song "Manitoba", with it's chiming guitar and xylophone. Tapes 'n Tapes are deserving of much more attention and are that rare bird, one that is actually worthy of more hype. Like the loon (the bird), The Loon makes a startling and distinctive sound, one that could be pegged a touch crazy, but if you listen more closely and you'll realize it's just a touch different... and good, yes... good.
I recently contacted the band and Josh Grier (who I believe is Tapes #1) was good enough to answer these questions, even while upon the cusp of a tour that will take the band to the east coast and back beginning today (tour dates below).
MP3s from The Loon
(you'll find more on their home page)
*Sixeyes:: With the guys in the band having the same name, or names, tapes and 'n... do you guys get compared much to Kings of Leon? Who are also related, or inbred, or some such thing?
Josh Grier:: Not so much. We (tapes, 'n, and tapes) are brothers, but we are not biological brothers (a la Kings of Leon), but rather we are musical brothers. There is a fine distinction between the two, which is not noted
in most medical publications.
*S:: When you guys are on the road... who does the driving, or who in the band is trusted enough to do the driving while the others sleep?
JG:: It depends on who you ask. tapes is a great driver, but the other tapes...not so much. 'n and 'n are generally trust worthy, but if Jay-Z is being played at loud volumes in the van, 'n can get pretty "involved". Then it's just like Hova says, "we got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one".
*S:: How long did you spend making the new record, The Loon? Was it self-produced? Have you always produced your own tracks?
JG:: We spent about a week recording and then 2 days mixing The Loon. The album was actually produced (and recorded/engineered/mixed) by our friend Erik Appelwick. We had self-produced/recorded our first EP in the winter time at a cabin in the Wisonsin woods with no running water. It was a lot fun to do it on our own and get a little crazy, but it was also frustrating since we didn't really know entirely what we were doing (...none of us had done much more than recording demos on a 4-track, prior to making the EP...so there was a rather steep learning curve). Having Erik around to keep us focused and make the recording sound good made a real difference on The Loon.
*S:: I have to say that The Loon is a very solid album with *sixeyes favourites like "Cowbell", "Omaha", "Insistor", "Just Drums" and "The Illiad"..... You said you spent around a week and a half in total recording and mixing, when was this? Has any thought or work been done on your next album?
JG:: We recorded/mixed The Loon in mid-June of 2005. As for the next record, there a few songs/ideas that we've been floating around lately, but as of right now we haven't made any firm plans for our next record.
*S:: How long has the band been together, you're from Minnesota, is that right?
JG:: The band formed in spring of 2003. The history of how the band got to its current line-up is a little long, but here it goes....back in 2003 the band formed with me (Josh) playing guitar/singing, a friend of mine from college (Steve Nelson) playing guitar, 'n version 1.0 (Matt Kretzmann, who is currently our keyboardist/multi-instramentalist) playing bass, and a CD player with pre-programmed drum beats. After a few shows at local colleges and a grand big falling out between Steve and the cd-player, both Steve and the CD-player quit the band. 'n and I then met the other tapes (Karl Schweitz), and he became our drummer. That line-up recorded an EP in the winter of 2004. That summer 'n got a job in Seattle and left the band, at which point 'N version 2.0 (Shawn Neary) joined the band. Then in winter of 2005, Tapes (Karl) found love in Madison, WI, and he departed the band. We were then joined by Tapes version 3.0 (Jeremy Hanson) on drums. Tapes, 'n verion 2.0, and tapes version 3.0 recorded The Loon in June of 2005. Then just in time for the record's release, 'n version 1.0 (Matt) returned to Minneapolis. So that's how we got here. Despite the numerous line-up changes, the band has always been in Minneapolis.
*S:: With all these line-up disruptions how has the band's sound evolved? And is it still evolving do you think?
JG:: I think/hope that our sound has evolved throughout the line-upchanges. But at the same time, I think that all of us who have been in the band, share a similar mind set about music/the band, so that has allowed for some relative cohesion. Since the current line-up has only been together for a few months, it's been really interesting to see how things progressed even since we've recorded The Loon.
*S:: Are you guys looking forward to this tour, you'll be doing a lot of travelling in a short time. What do you think would happen if the band went on a six week tour... who would descend into madness, who would stop talking to the others, who would develop a rash from not changing their clothes?
JG:: In 'n's word's, "we're totally P-U-M-P-E-D" for tour. The rest of us are a little more restrained, but we're definitely excited to get out and play some shows out of town, especially since it seems like there are some people who are excited to see us play some shows out of town. If we were to go on the road for 6 weeks, I would probably be the first to take a long walk off a short pier. Bruno (our van) would definitely be the first to stop talking to the rest of us. As far as the rashes are concerned, in tapes 'n tapes we hold our hygiene in the highest regard, we frown upon rashes and dirty clothes. If any member (tapes, i'm talking to you), were to develop even the slightest odor, they would be shown to the nearest Greyhound station, and would be ridin' the stink bus all the way back to the Twin Cities (seriously, tapes).
*S:: And finally... What do you foresee for the band in 2006?Are there any plans set at this point, you know, recording, videos, tours?
JG:: Things are pretty up in the air right now, there will most likely be some sort of tour planned around our show in Dallas on March 10th. when we know more, we'll definitely keep you posted. We're definitely big fans, of recording and videoing, so here's hoping for a bountiful 2006.
Hey, here are the tour dates, if the band is in your area, get some tickets and go...
Tapes 'n Tapes: January Tour
1/4 madison, wi * @ the king club * w/lorenzo's music, fire falls
1/5 pittsburgh, pa * @ quiet storm * w/peelander-z
1/7 new york, ny * @ the delancey * w/mancino
1/8 new york, ny * @ piano's * w/detachment kit
1/9 new york, ny * @ mercury lounge * w/finian mckean (ex-push kings), the soft explosions, the twenty-twos
1/10 philadelphia, pa * @ the fire
1/11 baltimore, md * @ the talking head club * w/yukon, pink spiders, kakelak
1/12 new york, ny * @ rothko * product shop NYC party w/group sounds, noah chernin (of sam champion)
1/14 chicago, il * @ schuba's * tomorrow never knows fest w/chin up chin up, pit er pat, lake holiday
(more info at the band site linked above)
at 4:01 PM