tb Blog buzz propels band to stardom
By Patrick Condon
MINNEAPOLIS -- Like so many indie rock bands before them, Tapes 'N Tapes started out small -- self-releasing their debut album and running the entire business operation out of a south Minneapolis bedroom.
But in between begging clubs for a spot on the bill and screening T-shirts, band manager Keri Wiese late last year e-mailed MP3s of a couple songs from "The Loon" to a few influential music blogs. She had watched as online buzz helped vault bands like the Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah to indie stardom.
"I thought, you know, maybe this could actually work," said Wiese, who is also the girlfriend of Tapes 'N Tapes lead singer/guitarist Josh Grier. "I loved this record, and I read these blogs and felt like I had the same kinds of opinions about music that they did."
To the band's surprise, the plan worked like a dream.
"So today, we need to turn our joyous ears towards the frosty streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to hear the current most amazing band in the world," read a Nov. 3, 2005 post on the blog "Music for Robots." The site also linked to an MP3 of the record's first single, "Insistor," a country-punk stomp that sounds a little like the Pixies covering Johnny Cash.
After that, everything fell into place "like puzzle pieces," in Wiese's words. In February, a rave review from the indie-rock tastemakers at Pitchfork Media; in March, eight shows in four days at Austin's South by Southwest music festival, earning them a glowing notice in the New York Times; in May, after sales of more than 10,000 for "The Loon" and wooing by major labels, a record deal with XL Recordings, home to the White Stripes, M.I.A. and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke.
"Things have just snowballed," Grier said. "We just had a record that we were excited about and proud of, and we just wanted as many people as possible to hear it."
In July, XL re-released "The Loon." Strong reviews in national music publications have followed, as well as a recent appearance on "Late Show with David Letterman." In the coming weeks the band is performing at several major music festivals in Great Britain, and will fill much of the rest of 2006 with touring.
Grier, 26, formed Tapes 'N Tapes in 2003 with keyboard player Matt Kretzmann, also 26, soon after they graduated from college. Along with a third band member who's since moved on, the trio would use Grier's computer and four-track recorder to generate what they called "tapes 'n tapes" of material, prompting their moniker.
The current line-up is rounded out by 20-year-old drummer Jeremy Hanson, who joined up a few weeks before he graduated from high school; and bassist Erik Applewick, who joined the band full-time earlier this year after serving as producer on "The Loon."