The other day I popped a cassette of John Williams playing some Spanish classical guitar songs into the old Kenwood stereo tape deck at home.
Side one played, but at 30 seconds into side two I heard the distinctive “tape death warble” and then the dreaded stop-click of the machine, as the tape would advance no further.
What the heck causes that?
The only way to fix it, to my knowledge, is to find another cassette shell, the kind with the tiny screws that allow you to take the shell apart.
Then, you’ve got to separate the shell of the dead cassette, which can go really easy, or really difficult. In my case, I was looking at about 50 random shreds of plastic, but miraculously, it worked.
Then, you’ve got to transfer the tape into the new shell, and be sure you keep everything straight as to what side is up and down, left and right, and inside out.
If you’re not careful in this process, you’d probably wind up looking like the guys in Stubborn Son, the Seattle rock trio coming to River City. From the photo I found of them, they may have had some similar tape experiences.
Anyway, it’s going to be a fun show because also on the bill are Hood River alums Kool Stuff Katie, with a solid punk-pop groove.
Did I mention the show is on April 15, better known as Tax Deadline Day?
Which reminds me, I need to check the 1040 form for a line-item deduction for old worn-out tapes.
Interview with Garrett, Andrew and Blair of Stubborn Son
Hi, and thanks for putting Hood River on your schedule. Please describe your music and what we can expect at the show on April 15.
Absolutely, we have heard so many good things about Hood River, and when we got this opportunity to come down and share a bill with our buddies Kool Stuff Katie, we were all about it!
Our music sounds like the first sip of beer after a long Friday. When you are ready to walk back into work just to tell them you quit, you never liked them anyway, and you are taking your desk phone with you! It’s tons of fun, light and heavy, and a bit irresponsible.
I noticed your photo where you’re covered with tape. Did you guys mangle up a reel to reel tape or an old 8-track?
We had a lot of fun taking that photo. It’s actually about 15 cassette tapes. There were a couple gems that got sacrificed actually. An old Eric Clapton album, some kids sing alongs, and maybe Mariah Carey? As it turns out, there is way more tape in one of those than one might think. It took us about 45 minutes violently pulling out the tape to get it all out. Think of trying to start a lawn mower for a half hour, it’s a pain in the butt. But hey, it was worth it.
Does music sound better on tape (assuming it’s playable)?
Yes, everything (well almost) sounds better recorded to tape. We recorded all of our album “Birthright” to 2" reel to reel tape. There is a warmth to the sound that you can’t really reproduce with a computer. It’s like the added magic you add to a track. Not only that, but when recording to tape, you are forced into playing things well. There really isn't the option to do unlimited takes of something and pick and choose the best parts. You have to nail it. All that being said, there is a large difference between recording to tape and listening to cassette tape. In our opinion, cassettes don’t sound good. But a two-inch tape machine in your car and carrying around a zip-open book of tapes takes up way too much room in the Prius.
What’s the next recording project for you guys?
We are working on an EP-ish type of project (four or five songs). We have some plans to do things a little out of the ordinary with it, but it’s a bit of a secret at the moment. We are really excited about the music we are making for it.
“Birthright” was a kind of springboard for us if you will. Our producer Martin Feveyear pushed us to make things sound heavier and grittier and now we are just running with that, finding all sorts of new sounds and styles that are inspiring all three of us. So we are taking all of that and pouring into this next project.
Interview with Shane Blem of Kool Stuff Katie
Hi, and thanks for coming to Hood River. What would you like to say to your friends/fans here?
This is our favorite place to play. Joe at River City is amazing and always very welcoming, Joel always does an amazing job with sound and the people that come out and support us here every time we play, are simply amazing.
This show is for Ed Wilder at daBrewshop, here in Hood River, to help raise money for his medical expenses he's been dealing over the last few months. He's a great friend of ours and we hope everyone can come out and join us!
Please describe what you guys do and who you’re influenced by.
We're a guy/girl, two piece rock band. Think White Stripes, Ramones, Cheap Trick, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Pretenders. That kind of sums us up.
Is having a gig on tax deadline day good luck or bad? Should people celebrate or panic?
Well, we figured everyone needs a drink or two on tax day. You're either celebrating, because of you got some money back or you're completely hating life, because you owe more money. Drinks and a good time seemed in order for both occasions!
Did I see a Space Invaders cartridge in one of your photos?
Yep, that's an Atari and Space Invaders. You can see it in action in our new video, which should be out in the next couple of weeks!