Life as indie rock stars has changed the members of Tapes 'n Tapes.
Sure, the Pitchfork crowd and rock critics are lining up to name the Minneapolis band as this year's Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, but singer-guitarist Josh Grier says the band's financial and social status remain pretty much the same.
"We're all pretty normal dudes," Grier says, calling from his Minneapolis home. "I still drive my crappy mid-'90s car that has a red body and a black hood because I got into a fender bender three years ago. It's not like we're selling a million records. We're all just taking it easy."
And, he adds: "It's not like any of our circles of friends have changed in town. It's still the same band. When we're at home, everything is back to normal."
Somewhat anonymous but hardly innocuous, Tapes 'n Tapes emerged on the scene a few years ago. Eventually, the outfit played around the Midwest with its debut effort The Loon, which was recorded in 2005 and released by XL Recordings in 2006. Early on, the band's decidedly '90s indie rock vibe was embraced by music fans as directly descending from luminaries like Pavement and The Pixies.
"We weren't trying to be like any band," Grier says. "We were trying to make the best out of what we have, so I think, more than anything, the sound of our record came from all of that stuff. It was like, "These are the instruments we have at our disposal and this is how much money we have to make a record. Let's try to do the best we can with that.' In that vein, maybe the bands we get compared to have kind of the same approach."
Overall, it's the group's inventive and vivacious musicality that stands out. "Cowbell," a standout track on The Loon, defines the outfit's aesthetic, with off-kilter rhythms and Grier's yearning howl surfing over simplistic percussion. Then there's the rousing "10 Gallon Ascots," which possesses such a palpable anthem feel that you can instantly hear it as a cornerstone to the band's live show.
Prior to embarking on its current tour, the band actually began working on its sophomore effort, due out this fall. Grier, who says fans should expect to hear a few new tracks at upcoming shows, stresses that a larger studio budget for its next album will not result in a self-indulgent, multilayered Sgt. Pepper's-like effort.
"It's funny, I don't really feel like all that much has changed since we recorded the last record," Grier says. "Overall, we still practice in a basement, we still screw around, and we're not sitting around saying, "Man, we really need to get a sitar on this song and, like, blow it up.'
"The focus is still on making the songs the best they can be, and not trying to get too caught up in crazy technology or too many instruments. Right now, we're kind of in the phase [of], "Let's get these songs the best they can be and not get distracted with whether or not we're going to put strings on top of it.'"
Tapes 'n Tapes
The Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
Wednesday, May 9, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $12, 16-plus; visit ticketmaster.com.