THE BLANK TAPES: BUS DRIVERS REALLY DIG IT
Matt Adams is the songwriter and artist behind the Blank Tapes, who are sometimes just him and sometimes a full band including musicians between Orange County (where he is from) and San Francisco (where he mostly now lives). He often reminds people of the Kinks’ softer songs and he doesn’t mind that. He released his new album Daydreams earlier this year. He speaks now from a birthday party at a bar.
What’s the most genuine human experience you ever had in a Newport Beach Borders?
That’s pretty heavy. I don’t know how to answer that. The last show I played in Newport Beach was at some restaurant bar in Corona Del Mar.
Did they have valet parking?
They didn’t, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did every other night of the week. There were a bunch of people there I wouldn’t normally be playing music for.
Like Dennis Rodman?
Typical people of the area. But they were cool—they bought my CD.
What do you miss the most about Orange County?
Probably the weather! Other than that, I don’t miss anything.
So level it and make a state park?
It definitely has a place in my heart. I still see hope for it. But I’m kind of over being there. I just moved on. Anything you get attached to there doesn’t stay so long.
How many songs do you have in your head at any given time?
Right now I have about four albums in the works—it’s crazy! I do have like 80 songs in my head. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to my melodies and my songs. I’ve had songs with me for over ten years that I’m still figuring out. I have a lot of music in my head. When it comes to other things, my memory could be not so good. But I have a really good memory for my own music and other people’s music.
Where do you see yourself in fifty years?
Hopefully focusing more on illustration—I’d like to do some children’s books! I’ve been working on a children’s book that comes with a children’s album. The album is pretty much written. It’s based on a character—Enipucrop, a porcupine character I made up when I was in second grade. The first character I came up with and the one that lasted the longest, and he has a couple buddies he goes on an adventure with. I haven’t figured out the actual story, but I’ve been working on it—the morals and characters and adventures I want it to have. Like a Dr. Seuss or Alice In Wonderland type project.
Is that your longest-term project?
The longest thing I’ve been working on. I have a lot of old songs I’m listening to that I’d like to re-record and re-release. A year ago I recorded a cover album I’m gonna mix sometime soon.
Any Kinks songs?
One Kinks song. Dave Davies—‘There Is No Life Without Love.’ Most of the covers are by friends of mine. Songs no one’s ever heard except for my friends. And I have a lot of projects. Over a hundred tape recordings—ever since I started playing guitar, I’ve been recording different ideas. I have many many tapes to go through to pick the best little pieces out of them—make a big box set of CDs! I have more recordings than I know what to do with—if I wanted, I could release like thirty albums.
What was the easiest song you’ve written recently?
There are songs that fall in my lap. When I first moved to San Francisco, I was spending a lot of times playing music on the streets. When I was in Orange County, I went through this down time where I stopped playing my own music—I don’t wanna say depression, but I wasn’t playing my own music. And when I got to the city, I was really excited—but I sort of forgot how to play my songs, so I’d take every opportunity I could to write new material and play music and be in front of people. I played a lot of shows where I’d be just playing at a café to warm up, or I’d go out and play on the bus.
What songs do bus passengers like?
Mostly ukelele songs. There was only one time the bus driver told me not to play. A lot of times, it was a pretty amazing experience—really positive songs. A lot of bus drivers really dig it. A lot of the songs on were written on the ukelele—it’s such a portable instrument. I’ve taken it with me all over the place—playing in the park and on the street, making a little bit of money but mostly just to get the juices flowing.
How did that affect you as a performer? Thicker skin? Better instincts?
All those things. Kind of a bit of perspective of what it is to be a musician or entertainer—what it is to share music with people. You learn that you’re playing music and the main purpose is for yourself—recognition isn’t like necessarily what makes it worthwhile. It’s nice when someone acknowledges it—but it’s a weird game. With anything in life, you have to be patient. You learn the main human qualities anyone would learn in life apply to music as well—being patient, being humble and enjoying the process.
THE BLANK TAPES PLAY THURS., DEC. 27, WITH THE GIFT MACHINE, ORCA AND VICALE AT ECHO CURIO, 1519 SUNSET BLVD., ECHO PARK. 9 PM / CONTACT VENUE FOR COVER / ALL AGES. MYSPACE.COM/ECHOCURIO.