Our latest session in The Guest Apartment scoops Tapes 'n Tapes; the venerable, guitar wrangling outfit from Minneapolis who first stirred attention when the call of their album The Loon became one of the first to be picked up by something dubbed the blogosphere back in '05. In conversation the band weave past exploits into their present, discussing the role a once weird phenomenon played in helping shape the band's current, musical pursuits. Those endeavors consist of their own self-run record label (Ibid) and a brand new third album titled Outside. So it's an interesting story that recently brought the band to our doorstep. Learn a bit more about Tapes 'n Tapes, in this, our latest segment of The Guest Apartment.
Tapes 'n Tapes is a rock band from Minneapolis, MN, made up of Josh Grier on guitar and lead vocals, Matt Kretzmann on keys and horns, Erik Appelwick on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Jeremy Hanson on percussion. Grier said he formed the band in 2003, to "have fun with my friends. I always wanted to see if I could play music with others and for others." Grier and his buddies amassed "tapes 'n tapes" of noodling, experimental jams and declared themselves officially a band.
In the winter of 2004, the band now known as Tapes 'n Tapes bought some recording equipment and headed out to a rustic cabin in the woods of Wisconsin. They recorded their self-titled, now long out of print, seven song EP in three days. Songs like "Beach Girls" and "50's Parking" from the EP are still in their live set today.
Next up for the band was recording their critically acclaimed follow up, The Loon. Appelwick recorded, mixed and produced the eleven song record with the band in one week at a friend's home studio. The Loon came out in November of 2005 on ibid records, and no one was ready for what came next. People started to notice the foursome's jangly, melodic brand of rock and the band started touring gaining more and more attention from music critics and fans all over the world. Even the Thin White Duke took notice. "'Insistor' is the first single, and it's cracking. It was a slow grower, but once that chorus digs in there's really no escape," said Mr. David Bowie. The prestigious XL Recordings re-released The Loon in July of 2006, the same month Tapes 'n Tapes made their national television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman.
The band then toured around the world for the next few years- playing shows with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Spoon, Cold War Kids, The Black Keys, Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Wrens. In 2006 they were honored to play Reading/Leeds, and 2007 saw them rock out at Lollapalooza and Coachella.
When starting to work out songs for their follow up, Walk It Off, the band was asked who their dream producer was. The obvious answer to them was Mr. Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT). With twelve songs in hand, the band made the jaunt to upstate New York to live and work with Fridmann for two amazing weeks- one week in September 2007 to record and one week in October 2007 to mix. However, years of touring, the political climate, and distance from friends and family had changed the band, and given them a different point of view- one that seemed to pervade their sound. Spin praised the record saying, "the tunes are tighter and performances far more dynamic and aggressive..they can now pull off jittery punk and understated, graceful melancholy." XL released Walk It Off in April of 2008, on the same day the band made their debut on Conan O'Brien.
After touring and supporting Walk It Off for the following year, it was time for a little R & R- rest and relaxation. They purposefully took their time and tried to get back to a place where the band was fun, and not work. They also decided to go back to their roots and do everything on their own, with no label involvement. They cut ties with XL, and re-launched ibid records, their own label which initially released The Loon. The brothers tapes had saved their pennies over the years and set out to make the record they've always wanted to make Outside. They wanted to record at home and self-produce, which they did over two weeks at The Terrarium in Minneapolis, MN in March of 2010. The next step was getting the talented Mr. Peter Katis (Interpol, The National) to lend his ears to the mix. Grier spent two more weeks in Bridgeport, CT while Katis mixed the record to perfection. Tapes 'n Tapes finally have the record they've always wanted- twelve songs that are playful and melodic, while also capturing the essence and energy of their live show. Grier said, "We had a great time making Outside and we wanted our enjoyment of the process to be audible in the recording, and I think we succeeded." One thing is for sure, Tapes 'n Tapes feel like they are making music for the right reasons fun and pure love for music. And as Grier always says, "Everything else is gravy." Outside will be released on January 11, 2011.