Shepherd Express – Tapebenders Feature
Tapebenders Heat Up with New Album
By Joshua Miller
November 18, 2015
Last year, as they were preparing to release their new album, Elusive Parallelograms suddenly decided to change their name, opting for the shorter Tapebenders. It was a result of their sound and personnel outgrowing the name. Since then, the band has been hard at work crafting and realizing their own sound. As singer/guitarist Andrew Foys says, the move was reflective of the recording engineer backgrounds of the band’s current members. While their debut was fairly ambitious sound-wise, the band’s growing experience and studio upgrades since then have helped them further realize their potential. It’s something clearly evident on their new album, Set Your Life on Fire.
“We were really able to upgrade our recording facilities during this process,” Foys says. “That enabled us with our ridiculous collection of gear to do stuff that we always wanted to do as far as production quality. Not being limited in any way allowed us to do things we hadn’t been able to do before.”
Foys says they’ve also gotten a lot better as recording engineers. Now, it’s easier for them to produce the sounds that are in their heads and “put them on tape a lot faster than in the past” when they had limited gear and studio setup. The band functioned like a well-oiled machine during the album’s long but fruitful process, putting together the album mostly by themselves. Justin Perkins helped the band with mixing. Dixie Jacobs and D.J. Hostettler from Body Futures also are featured on a track apiece.
The band set up shop in Foys’ Cudahy studio, which he says is “basically our private little kingdom.”
“We do it ourselves from top to bottom,” he says. “We basically did it in house here. It was basically us sitting in here and getting it done for a very long period of time. We engineered and mixed it in our own space that we built out of nothing.”
While this process involved lots of work and took a long time, the band is happy with the end product and is proud of the fact that they did most of the heavy lifting. While the album features three drummers and the band has seen its share of keyboardists, the band’s core lineup has solidified around David Schessow, Jeff Krause, Stefan Dostanic and Foys.
The album’s title reflects where they’re at in their lives, Foys says.
“This is burning everything down and starting again and going forward,” he says. “Get out of our own little world and do something kind of real. It’s also an analogy for the commitment level that it takes us to do stuff like this. Everything needs to be secondary and this is everything.”
Lyrically, Foys says the songwriting is more mature on this album than past albums.
“This has more of a theme to it. Not intentionally but it’s due to a maturation in the writing process,” he says. “It’s more cohesive than stuff we’ve done in the past.”
Fire is a diverse-sounding album full of wide-ranging sounds, and Foys says it’s a “good statement of where we’re at right now.”
Right now “space punk” seems like a fitting definition of their sound. Their sound is a mix of psychedelic, shoegaze and punk/post-punk. As a whole, Foys feels this album is slower than past work (though there’s plenty of heavier moments), possibly due to the fact that the songs have more of a groove and isn’t as much in the punk vein.
Foys says that their sonic direction is basically “whatever we’re feeling in the moment and whatever direction the song decides to take us.” Combined with layering guitar and sound effects and Foys’ love for symphonic sounds, they get a big “wall of sound.”
“Every song flows out pretty naturally,” he says. “Whatever we have going at that moment is what we go with. The only real thing that really ties them together is the production element.”
Foys says the creative process is always moving for the band, as he’s already thinking about working on the next EP in a few months. Sometimes that nonstop writing process and wanting to get better can lead to them spending more time in the studio than playing shows. But ultimately the band feels they’ve grown tighter as a unit.
“It works basically because we all know where we’re trying to get,” Foys says. “It’s all for the betterment of the sound and what we’re trying to achieve… There’s just these moments of magic that happen every now and then when we’re in the middle of doing something or doing an effect and we stumble onto something that ends up naturally killer.”