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Preview: The Blank Tapes at the Catalyst

Does anyone write more songs than the Blank Tapes’ Matt Adams?

Matt Adams (center) is the prolific creative force behind the Blank Tapes, who play the Catalyst Atrium on Thursday, June 23.

Matt Adams, the man behind the Blank Tapes, has written more than a hundred songs in the past couple of years alone. That’s not really anything spectacular for him. Since he started making music under the Blank Tapes moniker a decade ago with just a lo-fi 8-track tape recorder, he’s had more music pouring out of him than he knows what to do with.

The only difference is that in the beginning, he would just release everything, ending up with gigantic scatterbrain double albums with songs spanning folk, rock, surf, psychedelic and other genres. Nowadays, he says he tries to pull back a little bit.

“Songs keep coming. It’s kind of like a faucet. Sometimes I have to turn it off so I can record the songs I already have written, ’cause I get too stockpiled,” Adams says.

He is currently touring in support of a new album, Ojos Rojos, which was released in May. The songs are ultra-catchy surf-pop and psych-rock. The album was actually recorded back in 2013 and 2014, but he does so much writing that a backlog of a couple of years is not unusual.

He’s already got three more projects in the queue to be released. One was recorded a couple of years ago up in Portland with friend Eric D Johnson of the Fruit Bats and the Shins. Johnson pushed Adams’ tunes into a spaced-out direction. Adams has also been recording some material in Texas with a different friend. And another he recorded down in Joshua Tree with a full band, a kind of cosmic country album.

“I like to think about every album like a project and a set of songs that are chosen because of whoever is involved. Most of my early stuff was very isolated. Nowadays I like to collaborate more,” Adams says.

Before he started the Blank Tapes, he recorded music on his computer like everyone else, but got infatuated with lo-fi analog recording, and wanted to build the project around that—hence the name.

The first two albums were self-released. As all-over-the-map as they were, there was always a focus on styles and sounds stemming from the ’60s.

“I grew up in the ’90s, but I didn’t really connect with it as much. The ’60s, as soon as I was turned on to music of that era, there was no turning back. It’s still my favorite era of music. It definitely shaped the way I write songs,” Adams says.

When labels started working with him, he thought he owed it to them to edit these little chaotic lo-fi White Album-esque records into shorter and more cohesive packages.

A critical moment for Adams was 2013’s Vacation. At a producer’s urging, he utilized some digital overdubs, something he hadn’t done since the inception of the band almost a decade earlier. And he found that it didn’t really comprise his sound.

“Honestly, at this point, analog and digital is irrelevant to me. The most important thing nowadays is to record the songs and make sure the recordings sound good. I’ve recorded so many lo-fi cassette tape albums I never want to do that again. I just want a good recording,” he says.

As he releases new albums, Adams continues to write more music, or in some cases piece together little fragments of songs he wrote years ago. He claims that some of his tunes he started when he was 10, but only recently put together.

“I have a good memory. I can remember almost all of the melodies I’ve ever written. But if you were to introduce me to your friends, the next day I might forget all their names,” Adams says. “They float around in my head, and then eventually I’ll be sitting on the beach and I’ll be like, ‘oh I think I have an idea for this.’ Voilà! There’s a song.”


INFO:  8:30 p.m. June 23, Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/Adv, $12/Door. 429-4135.

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