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TALK: Tapes ‘N Tapes

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When people discuss the “blog band” phenomenon, one of the first groups included in that conversation are Minneapolis’ Tapes ‘N Tapes. Their debut album, The Loon, gained great notoriety from various internet blog postings–and furthermore–a favorable review from Pitchfork Media (which is now talked about like a Babe Ruth homerun) garnered the group even more positive attention.

This week Tapes N’ Tapes released their brand new sophomore album, Walk It Off (XL Recordings). Will the hot lights of the blogosphere shine brighter on the band? Or will bloogers and message-board-posters wordwide turn a critical eye (as they’ve been known to do from time to time)?

(left to right: Josh Grier, Matt Kretzman, Jeremy Hanson, and Erik Applewick)

Jim Shearer: You guys worked very hard putting out your debut album The Loon, having a friend send out all of the copies by hand. Does it ever bother you that some people attribute your success solely to blogs?

Josh Grier: We have had a lot of success that we never expected, so people can accredit it to whatever they want, but I feel really lucky that we are where we are and we got to make a second record. I am not like, “Well, they should realize how it really went down.” Nobody ever knows how anything really happens, so whatever. I think it’s cool that we get to do all the stuff we do.

Jim: But do you guys ever feel like a case study? I read something recently that talked about how many blogs were written about you and how it broke down into x-number of record sales. Do you ever feel like a lab rat in this whole “blog-band” phenomenon?

Josh: It’s something I don’t think about all that much. People either like it or they don’t, you know? You just kind of hope you get heard. I definitely feel fortunate. The Loon came out at a time when people were really starting to get into blogs, so blogs picked up on it and it really helped us out, and then Pitchfork and other people picked up on it. We happened to have a tour scheduled right as [this was happening]. Things kind of fell into place, but at the same time we worked hard.

Jim: On your last tour some of you were still holding down day jobs. How difficult was that?

Josh: I still have my day job.

Jim: That was actually my next question.

Josh: I don’t think it’s that hard, because the people I work with are really cool about it. They let me take time off when I need to tour. They are good people, it helps keep things normal when I go home.

Jim: Where do you work?

Josh: It is a healthcare management company. I work in a cube, it is very glorious.

Jim: (laughs) Does anyone know about Tapes ‘N Tapes?

Josh: Yes, I think the people I work with kind of know. When we were on The Late Show, everybody was like, “Oh, you were on Letterman, that is so cool man!” When I go to get water, people are like, “How is the band going?”

Jim: Does the rest of the band still work day jobs?

Matt Kretzman: I still do some construction type things when I am home. I also do a little part-time bartending with Erik.

Jim: So you’re bartending too?

Erik Applewick: Yes.

Jim: When do you think you can quit your day jobs?

Josh: I kind of like working–it is fun. We have time to do music now, which is something that we probably didn’t have as much time for before. Then there is time for hanging out or working, or whatever, to feel normal.

Jim: I actually don’t know much about your personalities, are you guys into sports or anything like that?

Matt: I would say three-quarters of us are into at least football.

Jim: Who is the quarter that is not?

Jeremy Hanson: That’s me. I don’t know anything about sports. When I did play sports I got hit a lot, like, from baseballs and stuff. I’m just not good.

Jim: Is there a favorite sport amongst the band?

Erik: We do fantasy football together, take in baseball games, watch the NCAA tournament and stuff.

Josh: In Minnesota there is a lot of high school hockey that is pretty entertaining. The tournament just went down. If you are ever in Minnesota, go to the high school hockey tournament. It is insane–20,000 people going crazy for high school hockey.

Jim: From the clips I’ve seen on the internet, you guys seem to be very likable and normal people. I hope that you would never get black-balled by a too-cool-for-school indie band?

Josh: We definitely are not cool enough, but hopefully most people get over that. We black-ball ourselves, I guess.

Jim: Do you guys ever fight over the differences in your tastes of music?

Josh: We like to pick on Jeremy for some of his tastes. I think all of our tastes are like a giant diagram with very little bits overlapping–we all kind of have our own things that we listen to. We end up listening to a lot of classic rock in the band, because it is the one thing we can all agree on.

Jim: Jeremy, why are you different?

Jeremy: Well I’m the drummer and I like drum sounds. So I don’t like Rush as a band–I don’t like the songs–but I think sometimes [the drums] sound cool. I really like how Phil Collins’ drums sound. Like, I don’t want my drums to be gated like his, but I appreciate those drum sounds. So I listen to the record. I own No Jacket Required and listen to it often.

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Jim: Can you take us through your perspective of Tapes ‘N Tapes new album Walk It Off?

Josh: Well speaking of drums–bigger drums. Jeremy hits the drums really hard and we kind of basically tried to get the record to sound like us playing the songs live. It is bigger because on The Loon, we were recording in a friend’s basement studio with very limited resources. For Walk It Off, it was with Dave Fridmann. He has a great studio and is an amazing engineer and producer.

Jim: Any good Dave Fridmann stories? Seems like everyone has one after they return from his studio tucked away in the woods of upstate New York?

(above: Tapes ‘N Tapes brand new album, Walk it Off)

Josh: We watched some Buffalo Bills football over at his house on our day off. He kicked our butts in all the video games that we played with him.

Matt: He let us shoot a bb gun after we finished a mix.

Jim: During the last couple of years, I’ve heard people say “hug it out” or “dance it out,” is your title Walk It Off in the same line of thinking?

Jeremy: It is kind of like that. When I said I got hit a lot, like, in baseball, a coach would tell you to “walk it off.” When you’re bleeding, is that really going to help? Maybe sometimes, maybe not. That had nothing to do with the record when I thought of that title. I just thought it sounded cool, and then later on, Josh and I discovered that his lyrics in one of the songs, says “walk it off,” so it was really perfect.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.