With the 2000s came a new trend: blog bands. These were acts that came
out of nowhere, riding a wave of buzz built solely by music blogs.
But with the quick rise came the inevitable backlash, and the poster child for that unenviable situation is Tapes ’n Tapes, the indie-rock fourpiece that performs Tuesday at Opolis in Norman. After self-releasing “The Loon,” the Minneapolis group’s positive reviews and Pavement comparisons led to shows with the likes of Spoon and The Black Keys, along with a record deal from XL Recordings.
Whether or not Tapes ’n Tapes succumbed to the sophomore slump with “Walk It Off,” doesn’t matter, because people already acted as if they had. Blogs dismissed the quartet as a flash in the pan. Tapes ’n Tapes shrugged off the claims and soldiered on.
“We could worry about the past and try and analyze it, but we were really fortunate,” front man Josh Grier said. “We just want to make music and have people listen to it, and blogs opened that up.”
Not that the guys are appreciative of the “blog band” label.
“I just think it’s a pigeonhole term,” Grier said. “I don’t think anything is black and white … so when people call us a blog band, I think it seems silly. We were a band long before any blog wrote about us, and we’ll be a band long after any blog cares about us.”
They are now taking steps to put that in the past, focusing on music and doing it on their terms. Partly for a fresh start and partly because it didn’t need the connection anymore, Tapes ’n Tapes cut ties with XL to continue forward as independent artists.
“We were at a crossroads, and we knew we had to make a decision. There was always a possibility of doing things on our own again, so the first step was knowing we just wanted to make another record. After we were done with that on our own, the next logical step was to just release it on our own,” Grier said. “It’s a risk putting things out on your own. You are the one responsible for the financial situation behind it, and you can’t put failures on anybody else.”
Looks as if there is no need to place blame; the group’s third album, “Outside,” came out in January and has been a resounding success. With Tapes ’n Tapes being revered for live shows, many fans claim the band managed to bottle its jangly, infectious energy with the new disc.
“It was a focus while we were recording: keeping things light and relaxed; having a positive, good vibe in the studio; and that overflowed into us,” Grier said. “We were capturing more of us in that way, putting a lot of feel into what we were playing.”
The tides are turning — bloggers be damned — and the guys are looking forward to a long career of doing things for themselves, by themselves.
“I’m proud of how much we’ve done on our own,” Grier said. “We can make our own timetables and make the decisions we think are best for us, and that’s the thing that excites me the most. To be able to execute without it conflicting with someone else’s plan … that’s exciting.”