The Minneapolis group Tapes ‘n Tapes have been making quite a splash on the internet with their 2005 release, The Loon. Drawing upon the raw power of Pavement and the quirky songwriting of Wire, they found inspiration enough to complete and album that found its way onto the ‘best of’ lists of Gorilla vs Bear and myself. Not only that, but they’ve also guest blogged for yours truly. In this interview we discuss their future plans, rumors of their collaboration with Isaac Brock, and how their corporate coworkers have reacted to their success.
The following interview is primarily between myself and Josh of Tapes ‘n Tapes, though at other times Matt enters into the discussion. Assume that the dialogue is between me and Josh unless otherwise noted.
How did Tapes ‘n Tapes start?
It was kind of by happenstance. We were friends in college who just played around, and it was just two dudes playing guitar and our friend Matt knew trombone, which we figured was like bass…so we taught him that. For our first few shows, we had a CD player playing drums–which was a disaster. We quickly got rid of that.
Were any of the songs that eventually made it onto The Loon written during this time?
“Insistor” was from one of our first gigs, but others like “Just Drums” and “Crazy 8s” were written three weeks before we recorded them. All in all, I guess it was about a two-year span of songwriting.
Wow. That’s pretty impressive impressive that your songwriting managed to say that focused for two years. The Loon seems like such a solid album. Would you say that’s more because it was your style at the time of recording, or has your songwriting always been somewhat the same?
We’ve always been a cohesive unit as a band–even as we’ve gained or lost members. I guess we have a sound. *laughs* I dunno.
How have you guys been keeping busy lately?
We’re going to keep practicing, touring, and trying to write some new songs until our next album. …It’s been really busy the past couple months, so it’s good to be able to relax for a minute.
Yeah, you all kind of blew up in popularity there at the end of last year
All the opportunities have been insane. We’re doing a taping for MTV2 Europe–it might be acoustic.
Have you all ever done an acoustic show before?
That ought to be exciting, then *laughs*
For sure. Also, we’re going to be doing a VH1/Blender show with Echo and the Bunneymen.
Oh dang! I guess this is as good of a transition as I’m going to get
Well, there’s a rumor going around about you all and an independent music legend
Uh oh! *laughs*
Apparently someone who’s friends with Isaac Brock [of Modest Mouse] said that he has been courting you all
*laughs* None of that has ever been mentioned. He’s been at a couple of our shows in NYC. We had a beer with him and tried to keep cool. He said he liked us and wanted to check us out; but no, nothing planned with him right now.
Ah, that crazy internet. Always spreading those rumors!
Speaking of which, what’s your take on the internet’s role in your popularity?
It’s been essential. We haven’t really gotten any print press. It’s been all blogs like You Aint No Picasso, Music For Robots, and Gorilla vs. Bear.
[At this point, Matt of TnT starts talking as well]
Matt: The thing about the internet is, though, they always manage to get something wrong. There’s been seven different cities that we’ve been listed as having been from. NYC or Omaha…
Josh: Everywhere but Minneapolis!
Matt: Right. I read somewhere that we recorded in a bathroom.
Ouch. Have there been any funny stories that have arisen from your internet fame?
Matt: Just that sometimes we get treated like we aren’t normal people. At shows, sometimes people ask us if we have day jobs.
I take it that you all still do?
Matt and Josh: Yeah.
Without putting your jobs in jeopardy, could you share what the Tapes ‘n Tapes boys do when they’re aren’t touring America?
Josh: I work a corporate job.
Do your bosses known that you’re the Josh from Tapes ‘n Tapes?
Josh: *laughs* My bosses know I’m in a band because they let me tour. Every time I go into the breakroom, it’s like “where are you guys playing this weekend?” Then I have to say that we aren’t playing that weekend, and they always ask me if the band’s doing okay.
That’s good that they care–or at least pretend to
Yeah. One lady makes me sign a piece of paper every time we go out on tour.
Because she thinks you’ll be famous one day?
I guess so.
Have you promoted your band at the office at all?
I gave my boss the very first copy of our CD. I had to go pick them up on much lunch break, and gave it to her once I got back. I’m fairly sure she never listened to it though.
So let’s get back to these new songs you were talking about earlier. Are we going to be hearing any of them on your next tour?
I don’t know when they’ll be introduced into the set. I have to figure out what the hell I’m saying first.
Are you more of the “melody first, lyrics later” kind of guy?
I’d say 90% of the time I’m just mumbling something and then I have to figure it out later.
So what’d be your ideal situation for the future?
I’d say that if this time next year we didn’t have jobs–that’d be ideal.
Are you all working on anything in the near future?
We’re hoping to get The Loon out on vinyl…We’re all big vinyl geeks, so that’d be a bonus for us. Plus, we set up the album with vinyl in mind.
Yeah. If you look at it, up to “Manitoba” is side A; then side B starts with “Cowbell.”
So you all are still unsigned at the moment, right?
We’re currently unsigned but I don’t know how long that’ll last. It’s no secret that we’re talking to a lot of labels. But our record’s out there, and it’s doing pretty well. All we can do is just keep touring and hope that everything works out.