Tapes ‘N Tapes

One word to describe the state of music in 2006? Buzz. It was the year of the blog band. And Tapes ‘N Tapes was one of them.

Named by nearly every influential music blog as a band to watch, given rave reviews by tastemakers like Pitchfork and likened to bands like Pavement, Tapes ‘N Tapes got its fair share of publicity in the first half of the year.

And then the backlash started.

Like so many other darlings of the blogosphere, the band came under fire for the very hype that it was showered with just months earlier. But if there’s one word to describe Tapes ‘N Tapes, it’s dedication – not only to the music, but also to touring – getting gigs, and getting heard. Started nearly four years ago by lead singer Josh Grier and Matt Kretzmann, the band’s keyboard player, Tapes ‘N Tapes was originally a three-piece – friends from college living in Minneapolis.

The group recorded its first EP in 2004, and even embarked on two tours that year, but a musical chairs of members soon followed as people went to grad school, moved away, and eventually moved back. With the help of friend (and later manager) Keri Wiese, they found a lineup that worked, comprising Grier and Kretzmann as well as drummer Jeremy Hanson and Erik Appelwick on bass, and recorded The Loon in 2005. Wiese worked at a small record label in the city and various “odd jobs and record industry things around town.” When she heard the album she knew she wanted to help them in any way she could. “I’d never managed anyone before, but when Josh and the band got done recording The Loon, I loved it,” Wiese told Pollstar.

She took on the task of publicity with what she called a “three-tier” plan that would target blogs, magazines and then newspapers to get the word out about the band. Wiese never got to the second and third tiers of the plan. Bloggers picked up on the album in fall of 2005, soon after it dropped, and the buzz began.

Grier told Pollstar how Wiese took on multiple roles at that time – managing, booking shows and shipping out CDs.

“She just took over doing all the business things,” he said. “She did some promotion for it and ended up single-handedly running a label once it got released because of the success of the record.”

Tapes ‘N Tapes

The success also led Tapes ‘N Tapes to sign with Monterey Peninsula Artists and their agent, Jackie Nalpant, early on.

“She helped us get a show in Chicago at Schubas and just helped out right away,” Wiese said. “When it came time to make that decision it was pretty easy.”

That led to a multitude of other dates in 2006 – multiple U.S. tours, an appearance at SXSW, opening gigs for The Futureheads and tours of Europe and Australia.

Despite the exhaustive schedule, all that touring must have done the Tapes well, as some reports have said their live show improved over the course of last year.

“I definitely feel that we’ve become a better live band,” Grier said. “It’s fun to be at a point where we can mess around with songs, and try new things live.” Trying new things live also means playing new material, and the band has plenty of it. A new album is in the works, and the Tapes hope to release it later this year.

And along with all that writing and recording, the band is also going back out on the road. Nalpant told Pollstar the band will play Coachella, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits Festival, along with another U.S. tour from mid-April to mid-May. Grier has expressed his passion for club gigs and Nalpant agreed. “They’ve never disappointed a club ever,” Nalpant said. “They sold out two Bowerys in days. Their headline shows have all been great.”

Still, even with the band’s dedication and its success in 2006, how do they manage to deal with the inevitable backlash that comes in the blogosphere – where bands are praised one day and panned the next? “It seems to be the nature of the music industry,” Grier said. “People are either going to like our music or they’re not, and there’s nothing we can really do about it.

“We’ve always just focused on making and playing music we enjoy and as long as that’s our focus, it makes it pretty easy to keep going as a band, and not get caught up in the buzz,” he continued. “I always knew if we ever get a lot of support, we’re gonna hit the road and give it our best shot.”