Blank Tapes, Comic Books, Dirdy Birds and Dirty Hippies
Inspired musicians will animate our local comic book store tonight
The Comic Bug serves not only as a refuge for comic book nerds like myself, but also as a local sanctuary for art, comedy, film, and pop culture. Tonight, in collaboration with Dirty Hippie Radio, it is presenting a unique opportunity for two out-of-town artists – The Blank Tapes and special guest Dirdy Birdy – to share their music with us while in the intimate company of Spider-Man, G.I. Joe, and Dr. Strange.
The Blank Tapes come to us from the San Francisco Bay area, and Oakland in particular, with a diverse sound that ranges from Paul McCartney-esque little ditties to folky banjo laden numbers to fuzzy, psyched-out, ripping electric guitar shreds.
“Our feel and vibe is groovin’ good times for the summer sun,” suggests Matt Adams, mastermind of The Blank Tapes. “California stoner beach vibes through and through… hooky choruses and catchy guitar licks… the California sound… soul-psych-groove-rock… good times… super chill… you might just get a contact high.”
Essentially, Matt Adams is The Blank Tapes. As a recording “outfit”, he writes, composes, and plays every element of every track for Blank Tapes albums. While the name may suggest otherwise, these tapes are quite colorful indeed, and also very real.
Adams says, “The name The Blank Tapes came about in 2003 from the way I record music. I’ve always had a tape recorder around to capture ideas… eventually I started recording everything on an 8-track cassette tape Portastudio, and needed a band name to represent my new direction. Before that I had gotten lost in studio-production-land with infinite overdubs.
“Because I generally record everything myself,” he continues, “I usually start with a drum or guitar track. When I record on my 8-track I have to consider what’s going to be on each individual track… So I have to plan out the arrangement beforehand or I plan it out as the song is being created, so as to not waste any room. I recently bought a 16-track 1″ reel-to-reel, so I’ll have twice as many tracks to work with and a much, much beefier sound.”
Adams has released several albums as The Blank Tapes, including “Country Western Honky Tonk Saloon Blues” (2003), “Landfair” (’05), Daydreams” (’07), “Friends & Favorites” (’08), “Home Away From Home” (’10), “LIVE!” (’11), and “The One” EP (’11).
The current touring band lineup is Matt Adams (vocals, lead guitar), Sean Olmstead (bass, guitar), Steve Winchell (bass, percussion, misc.), Will Halsey (drums), Josh Bruner (guitar), Joel Williams (drums), DA Humphrey (bass, guitar, keys), and Indianna Hale (vocals, guitar, misc.).
“I’ve also produced quite a few albums of friends of mine that were essentially recorded and played entirely by me.”
These include Dirdy Birdy’s “Precious Jewels” (’07), “Imaginary Friend” (’08), “Down the Road/Flute Meditations” (’10), “Sweet Potato” EP (’11); Sleepy Todd’s “Songs” (’09); Kathryn Jensen’s (aka Indianna Hale) “She’s A Revolution” (’05); Collin Ludlow’s “Mattson & the Folks” (’09); as well as dozens of various recordings by Obo Martin, Matt McCluer, Jeff Manson, Quinn Deveaux, Sugar Candy Mountain, Honeycomb, Vera Gogh, honey.moon.tree, the Beehavers, and many others. Adams also released a CD compilation of his and friends’ work, titled “Universal Western Attractions.”
As a prolific artist and musician in full bloom, who seems unlikely to wilt any time soon, there’s very much more to come while much has already gone.
“I have a few new albums coming out very soon, and countless outtakes and demos to be released in some way,” says Adams. “This tour is promoting my latest vinyl, ‘Home Away From Home’ – which was released digitally and on CD many months ago on the White Noise label (L.A. RECORD). My next album, ‘Geodesic Domepiece’, is eagerly awaiting release. Another album called ‘Sha-la-love’ is almost finished too.”
And as if that weren’t exciting and full enough…
“I’m currently working on yet another album of the newest and finest Blank Tapes music. We’re hoping to take it to the next level with this one, perhaps take over the world. As far as I’m concerned, it’s getting better all the time – bigger shows, better songs, better band, more people, more momentum… We’re riding the wave. And we’re touring Brazil, and perhaps Argentina and Chile, for two-three months this fall.”
Adams lives and breathes music, and it seemed to come to him and progress as rapidly as a mountain spring feeds into the river and finds its way to the great ocean.
“I started playing piano when I was in grade school and started writing little songs around then. The summer going into High School, I inherited an acoustic guitar from my older siblings and quickly became obsessed with learning chords and music theory. Next up, I learned how to play drums and bass when I was 16 or so. Then I started picking up all the other folk instruments like banjo, mandolin, ukulele, harmonica, slide guitar, and eventually relearned how to play piano with my new understanding of music. I’m 30 now, so I’ve been making music over half of my life.”
Just barely scratching the ripe age of 30, Adams has already accomplished more in his musical journey than most of us can hope to produce in any field in a lifetime. And yet, we’ve only seen about 1/3 of what he’s already written.
“I’m inspired almost every time I pick up an instrument and open myself up to creating something new,” he continues. “A lot of times I end up writing a song the instant I let myself… My main source of inspiration is just trying to write better and better songs, purely for my own gratification. Traveling always inspires me too… The little things in life have been the most interesting subject matter to me lately.”
Fortunately for Adams, when you’re going after big things in this world, there’s infinite little things along the way to dazzle and delight the senses – and the artistic mind. The Blank Tapes have really been getting after it, and even recently returned from a tour of Brazil (after having two of their songs featured in commercials down there). Before that, they had been on tour throughout Europe for six weeks and the United States for two months. They also composed the soundtrack to a successful surf film called “Stoked & Broke,” which almost included a tour of Japan with the film, had it not been for the tragic disaster. They’ve received press in Rolling Stone magazine, after having been heard by a writer in a San Franciscan cafe. They’ve played festivals in Canada and throughout the states (including SXSW several times). They’ve headlined The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, opened for the Mother Hips, played a festival in Bolinas with Sky Saxon of the Seeds, did a Beach Boys Tribute show in LA, and have toured the California coast countless times.
“I’ve played more shows than I can remember,” says Adams; “almost every little venue around.”
And now he can add our little Comic Bug to the endless list. We’re lucky to have Matt Adams in town and whatever incarnation of The Blank Tapes – Thursday’s show will be mostly acoustic – he presents to us. He’ll be joining friend and music colleague Alan Siegel of Costa Mesa for an opening set from their project Dirdy Birdy.
“We’re the real deal, no gimmicks or trends,” says Adams. “I’m a huge fan of songwriting craftsmanship, and I’m on a never-ending search to find the perfect hook.”
You can listen to and download several albums by The Blank Tapes and Dirdy Birdy on DirtyHippieRadio.com. They’re both performing tonight, Thursday, from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at The Comic Bug, 1807? Manhattan Beach Blvd. (310) 372-6704). DHR will be interviewing Matt Adams and Alan Siegel on KXLU 88.9FM today at 1 p.m. The Tapes have one official music video, “We Can Do What We Want To”, which can be viewed at youtube.com/theblanktapes. ER