Make it Mag: The Blank Tapes interview
MAKE IT MAG: THE BLANK TAPES
THE BLANK TAPES ARE A PSYCHEDELIC, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BAND WITH A LONG HISTORY OF LO-FI RECORDING AND MANY GREAT SONGS AND ALBUMS TO BOLSTER THEIR MUCH TOUTED REPUTATION. WE LOVE THESE GUYS SO WE WERE DELIGHTED TO TALK TO MAIN MAN MATT ADAMS ABOUT 8 TRACK TAPE RECORDERS AND THEIR LATEST RECORD, SUN’S TOO BRIGHT…
MIM: WHAT ONE WORD BEST DESCRIBES THE BLANK TAPES?
MIM: CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF THE GROUP / YOU?
TBT: Here’s my band history in a nutshell: I grew up in Orange County & played music under my name Matt Adams up untill about 2003 when I came up with the band name THE BLANK TAPES after I moved up to LA. I formed a couple bands around So Cal, then moved up to the Bay Area in 2005 where I formed a couple more bands till just last year when I moved back down to LA. Latey, my band has consisted of DA Humphrey, Will Halsey, and my girlfriend, Pearl Charles.
MIM: TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR LATEST ALBUM, SUN’S TOO BRIGHT? (IN SOME DETAIL)
TBT: Well, my LATEST album is actually a 7″ single called I’M BACK released on SF’s 20-Sided Records, which was recorded by my band in a couple fancy studios between LA & Oakland. Immediately before that I released the cassette tape SUN’S TOO BRIGHT on Burger Records. I recorded that album the way I recorded my last 7 albums, which is done almost completely by myself on an old 8 track cassette tape recorder in various garages, basements, sheds, & bedrooms, playing all the instruments & mixing down the tracks using the built in faders and knobs. As for the reason why SUN’S TOO BRIGHT was compiled and released; I have a back log of hundreds of songs that I’ve sllooowwly been recording, mixing down and releasing. I really just wanted to release a tape with BURGER RECORDS, so I picked through my mess of recordings and found a few somewhat cohesive tracks to give them. I have a few more home recorded albums as well as some slicker studio stuff coming out eventually.
MIM: WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES FOR YOU AS AN INDIE ARTIST & HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THIS?
TBT: The Biggest Obstacles are just trying to get the word out there. Giving people the chance to hear your music, and if they like it, somehow figuring out a way to let them know when you’re playing in their town. That and everything else about the music business. It’s all one giant obstacle that I’ve been trying to navigate through for years. If only I could just focus on writing and recording songs, instead of E-mailing all day. Next question;)
MIM: CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE RECORDING PROCESS OF ONE OF THE MORE INTRICATE SONGS ON SUN’S TOO BRIGHT FROM INITIAL WRITING THROUGH TO THE MASTERING STAGE (THE LIFE OF A SONG AS SUCH) (PLEASE BE AS SPECIFIC AS YOU CAN REGARDING THINGS LIKE THE EQUIPMENT USED, RECORDING TECHNIQUES, INSTRUMENTS, ETC)
TBT: The strange single from the album called “A’BERGINE” is a track off the album I’m definetly most proud of, although the song “GET READY” was a feat too. I wrote A’BERGINE a couple years back while hanging out with friends at Lake Temescal in Oakland, California. My friend Bryant had a ton of odd catch phases like “yarrr” & “boi-oi-oing” and at the time “A’bergine” was one of them. Aubergine is another word for eggplant, so some of the lyrics are about just that mixed in with wordplay. I decided to record the song in my basement studio as soon I got home & set out to make it sound as psychedelic as possible. Using instruments and effects like my Rogue guitar/sitar being played through a wah-wah, or my Nord Electro kicking off the notes that feedback through a Fulltone Tube Tape Echo. I also played the drums with mallets along with a drum machine hi-hat. However, my biggest achievement on this recording, was what I ended up doing at the end of the song, which was something that I’ve never done on any other recording. The great thing about recording on most tape machines is that they have a pitch control wheel which let’s you control the speed at which the tapes record. I decided I wanted the song to sloooww down at the end of the song like a record going from 33 rpms to 45 rpms, but still remain in the key of E. So I did a test recording where I recorded the guitar while the pitch wheel was cranked to the fastest possible speed, and then I slowed it down to the slowest possible position to figure out what key I’d have to switch the song to to still remain in the same key. It’s hard to explain but I discovered that if I changed the key of the song from E to C#, when I wanted the song to slow down at the end, the key of the song would remain the same once I turned the pitch wheel from the fastest speed to the slowest speed. I ended up recording the vocals so they sound normal in the fastest and slowest pitches and not like Alvin & the Chipmunks or Darth Vader. So, at the end of the song, the tape suddenly slows down, but instead of being in a lower key, it’s still in E, just a little sludgier.
MIM: WHICH FAMOUS SONG DO YOU WISH YOU’D WRITTEN AND WHY?
TBT: Oh boy, just of the top of my head, the Kinks “Waterloo Sunset” is a great song. I like the sentiment of the characters and the picture it paints. Ray Davies and I both have similar vocal ranges and styles too. Besides, the lead guitar and back-up vocals are badass! Although, I’d have turned the drums up in the mix.
MIM: HOW DO YOU INTEND ON PROMOTING YOUR LATEST RECORD AND HAVE YOU GOT ANY
MARKETING TIPS FOR OTHER INDIE ACTS OUT THERE?
TBT: My PR people RIOT ACT MEDIA have been promoting my 7″ release, & I’ve just been pushing SUN’S TOO BRIGHT on my own with a little help of a music video for the song “A’bergine”. check it out! http://vimeo.com/42228242
MIM: WHERE CAN WE GET OUR HANDS ON YOUR RECORDS?
TBT: The best way is to order them from my website (which links to my bandcamp) www.theblanktapes.com
Or to come to one of our shows and get it straight from the source. You might be able to find some CDs/vinyl here or there in different records shops too. Keep an eye/ear out for our new music!