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.
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.