Matt Adams, lead singer for The Blank Tapes, has been a friend of KTV for years. We’ve been fortunate to use many of their songs in our shows (see below for a not-nearly complete list), and now that they’ve spent the past two months touring their new record, Vacation, we thought it was a good time to properly introduce you to them. After 10 years, six albums and a handful of cassette and 7″ releases, Adams has solidified a place in the music industry, even if what that means keeps changing. Here he talks with us about what it’s like to tour, the van that they recently retired (after 10 years of cross-country travel), what’s so cool about the 60s and what it means to “make it.”
How long have you been a band?
I’ve been recording and playing as The Blank Tapes for 10 years now! With tons of live band line-ups along the way from Costa Mesa, LA, SF, to Oakland. I moved back down to LA a year and half ago and started up a new version of the band with my girlfriend, Pearl Charles, on drums and DA Humphrey on bass, all of us singing harmonies. Will Halsey & Levi Strom join us on percussion on occasion too.
What is it about the 60s that inspire you so?
The 1960’s was such a crazy and colorful decade and the music, art, and clothing all seemed so exciting and suiting to my ideal world. Musically, I love the arrangements and instrumentation of those old records with the 12 string guitars, organ, tambourine, maracas, fuzz, echo, leslie & psychedelic sounds in general. I also love the quality of the recordings where everything sounds a little dirtier, roomier, and more spontaneous. My favorite bands are all from that era: the Beatles, the Kinks, Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones, Doors, CCR, Leonard Cohen, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Zombies and all that sexy soul music. That being said, there’s something cool from every decade and I just try to soak in all the bits that I like.
You have produced an amazing number of albums. Have they all been supported by a record label?
The first five or six albums from 2003 – 2009 were completely self-produced and self-released by me. In 2010, I release a my first vinyl (CD too) through LA RECORD’s White Noise. Then I released three cassette-tape albums through three different labels; Burger Records, Curly Cassettes, & Dome of Doom. Last year I also released a 7″ single through 20-Sided Records which was the precursor to the current vinyl/CD ‘VACATION’ released by Antenna Farm Records. Other than that, I have a few old home-recorded albums and a couple new studio albums almost in the can that I’m hoping to release within the next couple years.
Do you have a preference, CD or Vinyl, for your albums?
I prefer vinyl & cassette tape but I understand that CD’s are a little more practical and convenient to most people. With a vinyl you get the big package with the big artwork. Cassette tapes are awesome because they’re basically mini reel-to-reels and the actual tape is an organic thing that changes with every listen (for better or worse). Either way, there’s a certain noise and character to these things that I like for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because the snap, crackle, and pop of vinyl reminds me of a campfire, or because the hiss of a tape reminds me of a fan drowning out all other noises. One thing is for sure, it seems that people seem to care less about taking caring of their CDs than their vinyl & tapes. Maybe it’s just me, but I like flipping a record or tape and being able to see the mechanism do it’s thing.
Do you consider that you’ve “made it”?
I keep making levels of “it” every year. I’ve recorded a dozen albums, traveled the world, played a million shows and made some fans, but it’s a BIG world out there and it’s hard getting the word out without the right representation. Thankfully, things have been coming together this year and people are joining The Blank Tapes team, so we’ll see what happens. Regardless, “it” never really ends and I think it gets dangerous when you think it does. My main concern is writing and recording better and better songs and then translating that to the stage.
What’s life like on the road? Do you really travel in the Toyota Sienna that’s featured in the “Coast to Coast” music video?
Life on the road is half driving and half party. I’ve been travelling the world since I was born, so it’s only natural for me to be constantly moving. After 10 years, we retired the Toyota Sienna mini-van after we shot the music video that features it. By that point the thing was practically falling apart from every corner. Not long after, we upgraded to a Sprinter van and have been super stoked on having a CD player, working windows, door handles, and lights on the dashboard. Not to mention the fact that we have a bed in the back, so life on the road just got a bit easier.
Has your music been featured in any other surf movies besides what you’ve done with KTV/Cy?
Cyrus has been a HUGE supporter over the years and we’re actually in the process of working on a new project. Other than him, Jack Coleman used a couple of my songs for some films and DC used a song for a snow boarding video.
If you weren’t playing music and touring the country, what would you be doing?
I’d do what I did before music took over my life–I’d be holed up in my room or hanging at cafes drawing comics and illustrating books. I still draw all the album covers and poster artwork for my band and sometimes for others, but other than that, I don’t draw much these days. I’ve got a ton of ideas and characters floating around in my head that are waiting to come out when I get some free time.
Check out The Blank Tapes in these Korduroy shows:
Stoked and Broke, featuring a handful of songs. You should just buy the whole thing here
Other The Blank Tapes songs used in KTV shows include:
Don’t Be Mad At Me
Oil and Water
This Is My Day
Listen To The One
As mentioned above, The Blank Tapes’ latest album, Vacation, is now available in CD, vinyl and digital download here: http://theblanktapes.bandcamp.com/album/vacation.
*Slider Image by Travers Jacobs