The Blank Tapes expand its sound

Published on June 25th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

Over the last decade The Blank Tapes have built up a fanbase with a lo-fi sound caused, fittingly enough, by the music being recorded on blank audio tapes. The process was anything but simple, with band founder Matt Adams layering multiple tracks together to create a full, lush and wonderfully retro sound.

The Blank Tapes’ latest album, “Vacation,” was recorded in an actual studio, using equipment more advanced than Adams’ eight track recording system and blank tapes.

“For the most part my lo-fi equipment has been my main thing for almost 10 years,” Adams said during a phone interview. “But over the last few years I kind of decided to go into the recording studio more and attempt to collaborate more with producers and band members. I’m trying to capture more of the band’s energy. I’d reached my limit on how hi-fi I could go.”

“Vacation” wasn’t The Blank Tapes’ first trip into the studio. The band released a single last year, and Adams recorded and then abandoned most of another album before “Vacation.” He might revisit those songs at a later date.

Adams has a huge backlog of songs, more than 100 dating back years. With every new record he mixes in some old songs with newer material.

“Most of it was written around the time we were making it, but a few songs I had been kicking around for a long time,” Adams said of the new album. “Sometimes I just feel I need something else and go into the notebooks looking for something that fits the vibe.”

Like the song “Brasilia.” Adams had the melody running through his head for more than five years and had been calling it “Instrumental Bosanova Song.” The Blank Tapes have picked up a good number of fans in Brazil over the years, but Adams wrote the melody for “Brasilia” years before he ever visited the country.

“I went to Brazil, but it wasn’t until later when I was on vacation in Mexico that the lyrics came to me,” Adams said.

The cover of “Vacation” was illustrated by Adams. It features a cartoonish version of the singer lounging on the beach.

Adams regularly illustrates posters for Blank Tapes shows, often utilizing the R. Crumb meets the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers caricature of himself. Before his career in music opened up, he pursued a career in art and even spent some time as an assistant for a Mad Magazine cartoonist.

“Before I was obsessed with music, that was my obsession,” Adams said. “When I moved to San Francisco I cut my ties with art, other than doing drawings for my own projects and occasionally for friends. It’s funny, most people who knew me before totally expected me to go down the cartoonist path, but I switched gears.”

The Blank Tapes

When: 9:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Vaudeville Mews, 212 Fourth St.

Cost: $5

Info: or

About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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