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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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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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