Ahh The Tapes. Hailing from music’s new found indie capitol, Bowling Green, OH, comes the world’s newest, hippest trend setters, The Tapes, are ready with some straight up rock. Picked for both of this summer’s biggest Christian festival’s new band showcases, and friends of mutual friends, I decided to catch one of them for an interview. Sadly I missed their set at Purple Door due to traffic and general lateness on my trip down from Canada, after many run-ins I was able to run around back stage with The Tapes’ lead vocalist, here’s what he had to say:
Joel IVM: Tell us who you are.
Greg: I’m Greg Jenkins from The Tapes.
Joel IVM: How long have you guys been together?
Greg: One year, about exactly thirteen months.
Joel IVM: You guys did an EP, how long ago was that?
Greg: We recorded it in December of ’05 and we ‘released’ it on New Year’s Day. We recorded it at a friend’s house. At that point we were just doing it grassroots, like burning it and doing artwork ourselves, with cardboard and some cool stuff. Then we just got it pressed this summer.
Joel IVM: How’s the reaction been to the EP?
Greg: We’ve been selling it for five bucks, because we just want to get it out, we’ve been able to get rid of quite a lot of them this summer and people really like it. We’re just excited to start getting some new stuff going. Even in our year of doing it, we’ve kinda grown out of a few of the songs and only a couple of the songs on the EP really reflect where we’re going now. So we’re excited to show people more of what we’ve been doing recently and we have quite a lot of material to do that with. So we’re going to work on recording again soon, we don’t really know of the timeline.
Joel IVM: Any label interests at all?
Greg: We’ve been approached by a couple of different labels, but right now… it’s funny, I was just chatting with one of the guys from Anathallo, and they’re one of the greatest examples of doing it on your own and relaxing when it comes to all the pressures of the industry, all the numbers, markets and demographics. They’re just doing their art and I really respect that kind of band, and as I meet more of them that’s just the way to do it when you look at your music as an art, if you look at it as a product or anything else than a label is the way to go. Not to say that we don’t want to be on a label, but right now it’s hard to see how that would help us, but I’m sure eventually, I would hope to be in a place where it could.
Joel IVM: You guys were picked for new band showcase for Purple Door, as well as Cornerstone, how did that come about?
Greg: It’s funny… we’ve only been a band for, like I said, a year but we’ve been best friends… since we were born pretty much, which is the greatest thing about our band if nothing else. It’s just we love making music but it’s the people, I could spend every day on the road with these guys because they’re my best friends. That’s an awesome thing. We’ve attended cornerstone in the past, just listening to our favorite bands and then to actually get to play there was like our dream come true. Like if we stop now, we’d be fine. Our friend was like ‘Apply! Apply!’… And we we’re like ‘…yeah.’ and he just said we had to do it. So it came down to the semi-final round and we ended up getting voted in, through the internet voting. That opened up a lot of doors including this …Purple one. It’s been really cool, since then things have kind of snowballed and just this summer has been cool [as far as] us playing shows.
Joel IVM: So are a lot of people really reacting to what they’re hearing?
Greg: Yeah, we talked to a lot of people at cornerstone, we met so many people. We got more MySpace hits then we had had in the last year combined in that following week. We think people really like what we’re doing and it’s exciting. Our job now is just to get people to hear it in whatever capacity we can. We actually did a show with Audio Adrenaline last week, not that that’s our demographic really, but we’re thinking… ‘There’s going to be eleven hundred people in one place, let’s go and play there.’ It’s just we want to play for anyone we can. It’s funny… on weekends, at home, I actually play piano and sing out on the street corner. It’s fun. I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager. I have fun, but everyone that walks by, one out of ten is going to ask me a question and I’ll get to tell them about the band.
Joel IVM: You talked a bit, about Anathallo and music as an art, do you see your music as being more of an art or… not so much a business, but sometimes you talk to bands and they seem very straight forward, ‘we make music that’s our job’, and other people who are more, ‘this is how we express ourselves’.
Greg: Well the thing with us is, it’s definitely not the way we make our living. First, we’re really young, I mean I’m 20 and I’m the oldest member, the others are like 17-18. We all have jobs; actually we spent this summer like digging sewers and doing the nastiest stuff. So usually we lose money when we go out, because we sell our CDs and stuff for so cheap, we just want people to get it. In no way do I think about it… I get a cringe when I hear the word business because it just feels so dirty; you see it so much today. The more and more friendship grows in the band and we feel like we’re coming into our own in the writing style, we feel like this is just the music that God put in our hearts to sing to people, and He is going to do what he wants with it and we want to give him the glory and also just give him the control over what we’re doing. More and more it’s a way for us to get out in the world and meet new people and try to love them. It just happens to be through the vehicle of [say], a music tour. But really that’s all that matters in whatever you’re doing just loving people.
Joel IVM: You were talking about touring this summer, obviously the main thing would have been Cornerstone and Purple Door, did you manage to get some touring in between?
Greg: Yeah we kinda played a little in between, around Ohio, where we’re from. We have mainly been doing a lot of writing and preparing for these big shows. We’ve booked mostly weekends this summer. This fall will be really big for us because in our hometown, Bowling Green, we’re doing a lot of things on campus trying to reach the college kids there with what we’re doing. So it’s going to be a cool fall, and a lot more writing this winter, then the plan is to try to go full time next summer with a big tour and hopefully we’ll play the country, maybe even put a record out next year, maybe some new demos.
Joel IVM: Yeah, how do you feel about that, talking about outgrowing a lot of your songs, your, sort of, business card is a year old, does that bug you a bit?
Greg: It does, I always have to add a disclaimer, ‘Here’s our CD, but we don’t really like this song and this song…’ And we have to be careful because you don’t want to give someone a CD and then tell them that you don’t like it. And it’s not that, it’s just we wish that [our new songs] were on it. We have a lot more to show, I think that’s going to be a challenge for us to go, because we really like to write, and the way the music biz goes, it’s like you have to push this one song and I’m really not into, like ‘the singles’. We write… we try to be putting new stuff together all the time. I’m excited to put together a full length and right now I’m working on writing a story which might turn into a full novel. It’s kinda like a fantasy thing but we’re going to work on writing an album around that. So look for that, it’ll be sometime in the future. I’m not a fast writer but I have a lot of ideas in my head for different allegories for the story and I’m really excited about that.
Joel IVM: Seems you do a lot of writing and creative things, are you the main lyric writer?
Greg: The way writing really works with us is, we do a lot of instrumental stuff in practice. We usually don’t start off with the instrument we conventionally play on stage. We all play each others instruments, decently well. Marky, the drummer, is really great at piano and we all trade around, Dan plays drums and I’ll play guitar or whatever. So we sit down and work on something and then realize we could take that further, take it onto our real instruments and we teach each other what we just did. [As far as] lyrics, I’ll take that and then go write lyrics on my own outside of practice, sit down with an acoustic guitar and bang out some lyrics. Lyric writing is actually a new thing for me, which I really enjoy, I’ve kinda blossomed into this ambition to write this story that’s kinda peculating. But the music side of the writing is definitely four-dimensional. Someone will bring something to the table and we’ll work off that, in no way is it one person.
Joel IVM: Is there any thing, personally, that you would say is a mission for your band as you are presenting yourself to the world? Is there any kind of thing you’re trying to get people to pick up on, any message you’re trying to convey?
Greg: There’s so much scripture about the crooked and depraved generation and that was two thousand years ago that they were talking about, but I think that today you can see that everywhere too. And our main thing, whether or not people hear it in our lyrics, we’d rather them see it in the way that we live, is just loving people. That’s the greatest commandment, and if you seek the kingdom of God, like it says, all things will be added unto you. So if we can encourage people to do that and help them in their walk than that’s the greatest gift we could ever give. I’m so happy to have the privilege, and maybe responsibility, to reach some people. So far, it’s been really awesome, for lack of a better word.
Joel IVM: Well to get personal, you don’t have to share this if you don’t want to, but can you give me a bit of your testimony, I mean, how you got saved and all that..?
Greg: Sure, well actually all four of us, we don’t have any stories of cocaine addiction and redemption from all that, we’ve all been saved since we were really young, we grew up in Christian homes, but it’s cool because in the same way that a person whose had a drug addiction just lived on their own side for a long time and then comes to know Christ can witness to a person that’s in that struggle, I think there’s a huge struggle in our generation with Christians who’ve grown up in a Christian home who don’t know how to identify and make that their own. I think that there’s this huge challenge for people that were raised in a Christian home to stick with that and avoid the routine that can happen when you’re used to doing this everyday, going to church every week. That’s something that God’s really been speaking to me about recently, because …I don’t know, I always thought that, well there’s some music that preaches to the choir, and that has it’s place for edifying the body, and then there’s some music that is an outreach. And I realized that there’s some that is an outreach to the choir because not all members of the choir are necessarily singing the right tune. ..I don’t know what I’m saying, but, there’s a kind of numbness that comes from being a Christian for your whole life and not experiencing it truly for yourself, kinda being on the fringes, just being in that culture. I think that’s really dangerous and if we can do anything to relieve our generation of that, it would be one of our biggest goals. But my testimony, back to your question, is just, when I was in high school I realized that even though I had been a Christian for this long, it just wasn’t something that I thought about, I wasn’t immersing myself in, and even, the story continues like every day, I think it’s like that for all of us, trying to put Christ before anything we’re doing. So, it’s great, and those guys, I wouldn’t pick any other three people to do it with, to try and grow in Christ with. We have a bible study that we attend at home with a bunch of other friends. If we’re on the road next summer, we only have each other to hold accountable and lift [one another] up, it’s just not something you see. It’s so easy to be sarcastic and cynical, it’s just the path of least resistance it seems like, it’s so easy to get into that. But my prayer for me and the other guys in the band is just to get away from that kind of cynicism and be uplifting to everyone, it’s contagious. To those who are reading this interview, try it, it’s addicting.
Joel IVM: So the Bonus Question! You’ve had time to think, so, is there a question that you wish someone had asked you and hasn’t yet, in all the interviews that you’ve done in your history as a human being?
Greg: All two. …
Joel IVM: You can have fun with this one, you can whip something out. I usually stray away from lame questions, some people like lame questions so this is your opportunity, is there some weird hobby you want to share or something like that… Any word of wisdom, a proverb?
Greg: Hmmm. Well, here’s a word of wisdom that I heard, though I don’t know how this would fit into a question, but… ask me for a word of wisdom.
Joel IVM: Give us a word of wisdom.
Greg: It’s something I heard in, kinda like a sermon thing I heard a couple weeks ago, and it really changed the way I thought about the world and at the same time myself. The quote was, ‘Don’t change nothing, because you can’t change everything.’ It was pertaining to the poverty in Africa and the AIDs epidemic and when you see that it breaks your heart, but you can’t fix it all. In America we’re used to just being able to hit the delete key or just fix it, read the ‘poverty for dummies’ book and just figure it out. But that’s not going to happen, it’s probably not going to happen in our lifetime, but if you help some thing, it will. And it will never happen if we don’t do anything. And I looked at that and I saw in myself, there’s sin and there’s despicable thoughts and things I do, and oh, the pride. I think, I’ll never be perfect, but that’s no reason to not try to change what you can and let God dig out those weeds in your heart. It’s just been a huge thought that’s really been on my mind sticking there. Since we can’t fix it all we’re so tempted to not even try to fix anything, but it’s the fixing of the things we can that our faith is built around. Just that constant fixing, we’ll never get there but that’s what our walk with Christ is and it’s beautiful.
Joel IVM: Any last shout-outs, prayer requests, anything like that?
Joel IVM: Anyone you want to promote, any random things like that? Or if there is a prayer request, share away! We’re willing to take them.
Greg: Ohh! There’s a really cool band of dudes that we really like to play with, from the Dayton area, called The Secondary, you can check them out.
Joel IVM: Sweet, what’s their MySpace/Purevolume?
Greg: I think it’s… myspace.com/thesecondary777 … these kids are incredible, they’re… I think one of them can drive, but they’ll blow you away if you can get the chance to see them.
Get into it!