Band Booking: Musings on Comics and the Melodica From The Blank Tapes


San Francisco’s The Blank Tapes play a skewed, blissed-out take on pop music. The cover of their new album, Vacation, featured Adams laying on a beach, oblivious to the wave about to crash down on both him and his trusty melodica. That’s a good metaphor for the songs within: both tending towards the beatific and wittily self-aware. I checked in with the band’s founder, Matt Adams, via email on the eve of their Brooklyn show.

You’ve been on tour for several weeks now; how has the lineup been coming together?

The current line-up, of myself, Pearl [Charles] & DA [Humphrey], came together last Summer on a cross country southern tour. Every now and then a friend will join us on percussion. This is probably the 6th or 7th incarnation of the band over the years.

I noticed that you’d played a comic book shop on an earlier tour — is that the most unexpected venue at which you’ve ever played?

That comic book store actually wasn’t too unexpected in my eyes. Apparently they do a lot of shows at that particular shop. Other than that, I’ve played some random places over the years especially in the beginning. Played a street corner in SF at 6 a.m., played a “show” on the back of a bus in Davis. played in way too many dingy basements to remember. The list goes on and on. I wasn’t too picky in the beginning.

There’s a melodica on Vacation‘s cover art. Are you planning to make more use of one on future albums?

Melodica is all over my previous albums, so I’m actually taking a break from it at the moment, although I’ll always love ’em and continue to record with them.

The title track of Vacation takes a look at being in a touring band; at what point does the experience of being in the band become the lyrical muse for that band?

My band is my life, so it’s hard not to write about what you do with your time. If I was spending my time doing something else I’d probably write about it. Besides, it’s easier for me to write about my life sometimes.

What have you been reading while on tour?

I finished a great Hank Williams biography & a couple comic/graphic novels; Wild Man Fischer & the Cartoon History of the Universe. We have a ton of books in the van but I tend to do most of the driving so I’ve been behind. DA’s finished quite a few recently…

The Blank Tapes play tonight at the Knitting Factory.

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