Interview: The Blank Tapes
(Photo: Karen Knoller)
The Blank Tapes are a three piece band from the West Coast that call their genre "Beach Party." Awesome, right? Now, Matt Adams, Pearl Charles, and DA Humphrey bring you their first full length record, Vacation on Antenna Farm Records, from sun drenched California. Recorded in Oakland, CA, Vacation has influences from all over the map, but mainly the psychedelic '60s. The Blank Tapes will also be performing tonight at Space 15 Twenty in Los Angeles to celebrate the opening of the new pop-up shop put on by Blood Is The New Black. Check out my interview with the band's front man, Matt Adams, below! —Maddie
So, first things first, introduce yourselves!
Matt Adams here! I started The Blank Tapes back in 2003 and played most of all the instruments on 99% of my recordings up until last year's 7" release and this year's Vacation release. I'm sitting with my bandmates DA Humphrey (bass) and Pearl Charles (drums, also my girlfriend). We've been playing together as a trio for about a year.
Since you guys are west coast based, how has the state of California influenced the music you make?
So much great music has come out of this state and continues to come, but other than being immersed in Southern California's surf and skate scene and the Bay Area's psychedelic scene I imagine I take little bits here and there without being too conscious of it. Some of my favorite cosmic California spots are Joshua Tree, Big Sur, Bolinas and Silverado Canyon.
(Photo: Joey Tobin)
Between your band's name, sound, and cassette releases, it seems that The Blank Tapes are pro-analogue. What is your favorite part about being able to produce music that way?
My favorite part about recording analog is that you get a lot random tape noise and unpredictability that digital recordings don't offer. That, and you can physically see the tape spin around and you can manipulate the tape speed. I guess all this is possible with digital recordings too, but it doesn't sound the same. Analog is a dying medium and is the only alternative to digital recording. Another thing I like about recording analog is that you approach the recording process differently. With analog recording, you usually have a limited amount of tracks to work with so you have to be a little more confident and dedicated with your performances and what you decide to commit to tape. I grew up with both, and continue to use both. The bottom line is that tapes have more "vibe," whatever that may be.
The Blank Tapes have toured all over the place. What has been your favorite place the band has been so far?
Brazil! We have a ton of fans and friends down there and have played some amazing shows! I've spent a total of two and a half months in Brazil and hope to return soon. The title track from Vacation was actually written on our first Brazilian tour and the song "Brazilia" references our travels down there too.
(Photo: Deidre Schoo)
Your debut record, Vacation, has a clear psychedelic 1960s influence. What records or artists were most important to you when growing up or growing as musicians?
It's funny that to many Vacation is considered my "debut" album since the band has been around for ten years and we've released over a dozen albums in various formats and mediums. That said, it is our first official studio full length album release and a lot of peoples' first impression of the band. Most of my albums have a '60s vibe, because that was the music I fell in love with when I became obsessed with listening to and playing music. I was heavily influenced by all the '60s staples: The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, CCR, Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground, The Grateful Dead, Leonard Cohen, etc. I always like to reference The Beatles' White Album when trying to explain the variety of styles on my own albums. I just love how different all the songs and styles are.
So, now that we've got a taste of The Blank Tapes with the new record, what's next for the band?
More tours and more albums! Tonight, July 12, we're playing the Blood Is The New Black party at Space 15 Twenty and we have tours planned with Mystic Braves and The Hindu Pirates for August, and Sean Hayes for September and October! As for the albums, it's hard to say which will be coming out next, but there's at least three home recorded albums in the can and two studio albums almost finished! That's not even counting the new songs I have yet to record...