Minnesotans face the sun
Many bands can thank the blogosphere for their 15 minutes of fame, but although Tapes ’n Tapes are now well into their second hour, they still seem a bit dumbfounded by the whole thing. While they may be reluctant to notice, it is clear that they have traveled a ways since they exploded onto the scene in 2006. Now after three years of touring, two albums, and one arguably memorable sit-down at the WRCT studios, the band retains their sense of humor and humility about their lives, on and off the road.
WRCT: You guys are from Minneapolis. How has it been to grow up as musicians in an area with a lot of musical history but maybe not as much contemporary hype?
Matt Kretzman: Jeremy and I are the only ones that actually grew up in Minneapolis. I guess I wasn’t too plugged into it all growing up. My first show ever was at First Avenue. I saw Weezer on the Blue Album tour, but that wasn’t really part of the local scene. I don’t know, I’ve watched Purple Rain around 40 times, at least.
W: Have you purified yourselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?
Jeremy Hanson: I think I did that daily, except that I can’t really swim.
W: Talking about the music now, there’s a nice translation that occurs between your albums and your live shows, which I understand is something that you were conscious of when making Walk It Off. Do you ever think there is something in trying to obtain that translation that might preclude you from using certain instrumentation or trying things that you might want to experiment with, but you feel doesn’t fit into your sound?
Josh Grier: I think we used to be more conscious of that, but we’re messing around with things a lot more on this tour. In the last year or two I think we’ve been playing enough with each other that there’s less of a questioning of whether something’s going to come across or if it’s going to work. We just have to make it work.... When we were making The Loon, we weren’t really conscious of how we were going to do things live, so when we went in to make this record, we learned that if we do things a certain way, it might be difficult to do it live or it might just be a pain.
MK: In terms of playing songs off the different records, ultimately they take on a life of their own after we play them a hundred times. Since we don’t go back and listen to the records very much, it’s really only a figment of our imagination what it sounds like.
W: Specifically speaking about the songwriting, many critics have talked about you coming into your own as a songwriter. It seems like the lyrics on Walk It Off are more straightforward, almost serious in the sense that there’s less play with words. Obviously you were approaching this album from a very different place in your life and in your career — how do you approach writing an album from this totally different perspective? What sorts of things were you conscious of?
Josh: When I was writing lyrics for The Loon, a lot of it was stuff that had been pieced together over a long period of time.... When it came to Walk It Off, I think most of the lyrics were actually written while we were in the studio.... I was trying to make it so that people could maybe understand what was going on. I’ve never tried to be intentionally obtuse about things, but I definitely like leaving things open-ended.... None of it for me has ever been total nonsense; it’s always just pictures that I have in my head and sometimes I talk funny and sometimes I ramble on for hours....
W: Has there been anything you have expected from yourselves that you might not have accomplished?
Josh: We are so far past anything we ever expected that any level of lack of success would still be way beyond. When we began it was just like, “So Matt, you used to play trombone so you’re going to play bass and I’m going to play guitar and I don’t know how to sing and we don’t have a drummer, so, here we go!” Our first show, there was blood everywhere. We drank a lot of whiskey....