Blank Tapes one-man juggernaut Matt Adams adds a full band for acoustic/electric series.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
A two-month solo tour across the country can do songwriting wonders. Or at least that’s what The Blank Tapes’ Matt Adams discovered as he composed his fifth and most recent album, Home Away from Home, exclusively on the road.
“I was by myself for two months driving from California to New York to Georgia and back,” says Adams, who tours on his own but often fronts a full band, as he will this Saturday at East Village. “There was a lot of alone time in the car, going crazy for five or six hours a day.”
Adams embraced the nomadic lifestyle, spending a lot of time alone in his van, playing a different venue every night and making new friends along the way. One of the tunes on the album, “Don’t Mind,” was fleshed out on a ukulele in Baltimore and performed for the first time that same night; it’s an otherworldly and playful trip through a rustic panorama rich with sounds that appear to be coming from toys. Adams’ voice is breathy and almost cosmic as he sings simple two – or three-word lines like, “don’t mind me” and “remind me.”
While Adams was figuring out lyrics for “Drivin’ Out of My Mind,” he was pulled over by the cops somewhere in Middle America. The end result is an upbeat, catchy strummer that sounds part Kinks, part Violent Femmes. And the lyrics are all lonely road sentiment: “Don’t you cross that yellow line,/ when I’m riding that wave on the pavement/ driving me out of my mind.”
Adams’ solo journey across America is reflective of his do-it-yourself mentality as a musician: He creates the illusion of a full band, though he plays all the instruments (drums, guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo, mandolin and more) on all his albums and mixes everything together with an 8-track or 16-track. When he brings in a backing band, it translates into something a little different from his studio recordings.
“I try to replicate the recordings as much as possible,” Adams says. “But I also want the band to have a little freedom with what they do.”
For the fifth installment of Keigan Skydecker’s Acoustic/Electric Concert Series at East Village, The Blank Tapes will perform as a full, five-piece band.
Adams is particularly eager to play the strictly acoustic set.
“Both sets will be a lot of fun to play,” he says. “We rarely play our really mellow folk at shows because most people want to hear rock and roll. So it will be nice to do both.”
The San Francisco musician has additional talents: He used to be a cartoonist and animator before he started making music full-time.
“When music came along I had two things going on,” Adams says. “Eventually music kind of took over.”
He does keep the art thing going by designing The Blank Tapes album covers, which gives him another way to demonstrate he can do it all.
THE BLANK TAPES play 8pm Saturday, Feb. 12, at East Village, 498 Washington St., Monterey. $10. 373-5601.