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Josh Grier (of Tapes ‘n Tapes) Interview

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With Tapes ‘n Tapes already scheduled to play some forty dates this summer in support of the band’s forthcoming sophomore release, Walk It Off, the Minneapolis quartet are likely to need their rest by the time everything has wrapped up. Lead singer and guitarist Josh Grier suggested otherwise in this Q&A however, hinting that this may be just the beginning for Tapes ‘n Tapes this year. Reeling from a year of scattered shows and recording the band has a lot of pressure on it to succeed with Walk It Off; many feeling that it could either validate or disprove the hype stemming from it’s hugely successful debut, The Loon. Thankfully, aside from the band’s upcoming gauntlet Grier was able to take some time to answer a few questions about Walk It Off, the band’s success and its ongoing collaboration with charitable causes.

When the band released the first single “Hang Them All” online it did so by offering a free version of the track via both mp3 and the audiophile-friendly FLAC formats. Typically an mp3 is enough to spark interest in new material, what inspired the rarely-seen FLAC release?

Josh Grier: We are all kind of audiophiles, so we thought it would be cool to offer up a really high quality version of the song (and get it as close to what it really sounds like) for any other audiophiles that might be out there.

Akin to the decision by some to make the actual release of their album’s news-worthy (Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, etc.), Tapes ‘n Tapes have really created a stir in the past month or so by playing very limited venues and “secret” shows. With the growing popularity of the act what spurred the decision to play the smaller shows and clubs?

Josh Grier: We really like to play in smaller clubs, so we figured it would be fun to play some smaller shows. It also seemed like a good chance to try out a lot of the new songs live.

At the band’s “secret” show at St. Paul’s Turf Club you mentioned something to the effect that you wrote “Conquest” in a bubble, not really being aware of The White Stripes’ release last year. Is there any music that really influenced you in preparation of writing “Walk it Off”?

Josh Grier: Nothing in particular. I think the thing that influenced the new record the most was playing so many shows together over the last few years. We just have a better feel for each other’s tendencies, and it let us mess around with things more.

I’ve heard that it has been the band’s idea to creatively follow the color scheme from the album art of The Loon, but who came up with the stencil idea?

Josh Grier: It was actually Keri Wiese’s idea, and we were all into it. Can you really go wrong with neon? She did the artwork for The Loon and Walk it Off(and does pretty much all of our design stuff).

The band is no stranger to providing support to good causes, last September joining a great production for the Mercedes Gordon I-35 Bridge Benefit for instance, but what was behind the recent decision to partner with both the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer?

Josh Grier: With an album title like Walk it Off how could we resist doing something with a charity walk? But seriously, it just seemed like a good thing to do.

Between backing these types of events, playing a host of fantastic local shows including last year’s Grand Old Day in St. Paul and just being seen aound town attending shows makes it hard not to feel like you guys haven’t really been affected by the success that followed The Loon. What has kept you close to Minneapolis and very much apart of the city?

Josh Grier: Basically, we all really enjoy living here (other than when it’s snowing in late march…).

I remember searching for the band’s performance online shortly after it played The Late Show with David Letterman back in 2006 – the first video I found was a reaction video of sorts filmed of people watching the performance live at The Hexagon Bar. While the short video is a bit tedious and dry I think it shows that people were and are behind you for these sorts of moments. How did you feel before playing the show and can you compare it to your upcoming performance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien?

Josh Grier: I was excited and scared during Letterman. It was pretty crazy to be playing on a show that I watch all the time. I think Conan will be rad. I love Conan, and am super excited to for it. This time around, I think I’ll be a little more relaxed and get to enjoy it a bit more.

While at SXSW recently, during an interview with SPIN, you guys were asked about the impact of the “support on the web” on bands. In the case of Tapes ‘n Tapes, how much difference has it made to your career to have around 26,000 MySpace friends, a healthy relationship with sites like Pitchfork and the support from various other sources including blogs and the hilarious Aziz Ansari “Clell Tickle” short.

Josh Grier: All of that stuff has been really helpful. We appreciate it.

The band will be playing an astounding twenty-nine dates on the first leg of its upcoming tour, all with the Austin-based trio of White Denim. What encouraged the decision to play with these guys?

Josh Grier: We really liked their EP (and had heard they were awesome live, and good guys). They were looking to go out on tour at the same time as us, and we were really glad it worked out for them to tour with us.

Following those dates and a very brief break, the group will then head over to Europe for another eleven dates – any idea of who will support you for those shows?

Josh Grier: Not yet…

And then I imagine – you’ll rest?

Josh Grier: We’ll see…