News Column

First priority for Tapes 'n Tapes Grier's side project Ginkgo? Fun

September 19, 2013


Sept. 19--Just before Tapes 'n Tapes released their third album, 2011's "Outside," guitarist/vocalist Josh Grier was laid off from his day job.

"It worked out great, with the timing of touring 'Outside,' " Grier said. "For the first time, I was living the dream. I was a full-time musician."

Soon, though, that total lack of structure threw Grier for a loop, which led to his "quarter-life confusion" and ultimately "Manopause," the debut album from his side project, Ginkgo. Grier wrote and recorded nearly everything on the record, pulling in Tapes 'n Tapes drummer Jeremy Hanson near the end of the process. Grier released "Manopause" earlier this month and plays the CD-release show Friday at Icehouse in Minneapolis.

Hanson and his guitarist brother Jacob perform with Grier in Ginkgo's live band, along with Communist Daughter's Adam Switlick and Mason Jennings sideman Rob Skoro. Now 33, Grier has found another day job and a new balance between work and music. "After having that time where I was just being a musician, as crazy as this sounds, I think I'm a happier person if I have a job and I also do music. I'm really happy right now."

Here's what else Grier had to say about his life, his music, and his other band:

On the birth of Ginkgo:

"I was between Tapes tours in the summer of 2011 and I went down to a friend's cabin in Iowa with the mind set that I would record an album in five days. I recorded two songs and all of my gear starting crapping out. So I had some friends come over to hang out for a few days. But I was really excited about how everything sounded, and I wanted to keep pursuing this path. I had these weird songs in my head and I wanted to let them kind of evolve. That's where everything started."

On how Ginkgo songs are different from Tapes 'n Tapes songs:

"If it's going to be a Tapes song, there are logical steps that you follow. You capture an idea in a demo, rework it, get it into the studio and work on it some more. By the time you get it out, it's gone through all these different phases. I wanted to get away from that. These songs were a little more personal and coming from this point where I was confused in life. I really wanted to capture what came out of me at that moment during the creative process."

On the future of Tapes 'n Tapes:

"There are no doors that are closed. We played a show this summer in Madison, but we don't have anything on the books, we don't have any plans. With bands these days, there's this whole record life cycle, where you record an album, promote it and tour and then do it all again. We wanted to take a break from that. We still go out weekends and hang out a bunch."

On playing "Manopause" with a live band:

"The songs weren't written with a band in mind, so we've done some sort of reverse engineering where we went back in and figured out what parts I was playing and who should play what. It doesn't hurt that all the guys in the band are great musicians. The live version of Ginkgo is its own thing. We switch up instruments, so everybody takes turns playing keyboards, bass and guitar. It's the same loose feel as the recording. The No. 1 rule is that it needs to be fun."


St. Paul's Red House Records kicks off its third season of live concerts held in conjunction with the Landmark Center Friday, Sept. 20, with a performance from singer/songwriter Meg Hutchinson. The monthly gigs take place in the Landmark's intimate, 230-seat F.K. Weyerhaeuser Auditorium in downtown St. Paul. The artists and KFAI guest hosts are invited to join the public at the pre-show cocktail hour at 7 p.m., with the concert kicking off at 8. The Boston-based Hutchinson has won numerous awards, including the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, and has released a pair of albums on Red House. The series will continue with Drew Nelson (Oct. 18), Spider John Koerner and Tony Glover (Nov. 15) and Heather Masse (Dec. 20). Tickets are $15 in advance, or $50 for the entire series.

After years of being known more his stage attire (underpants, usually) than his music, Sean "Har Mar Superstar" Tillmann got serious -- or, at least, "serious" -- this year with the release of "Bye Bye 17," his leap into classic soul, complete with a full band and horn section. Tillmann returns to his home state Friday, Sept. 20, to play a sold-out headlining gig at First Avenue. To coincide with the show, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak even declared it "Har Mar Superstar Day" in Minneapolis, noting Tillmann's early days in Minnesota, his roles in film, his podcast and his musical career.

Singer/songwriter Jeremy Messersmith is the first artist to headline the New Century Sessions, a six-show series of gigs meant to give "Minnesota's most talented musicians the rare platform to share stories about their life and creative process" on the New Century Theatre stage in downtown Minneapolis. Taj Raj and Cjell Cruze open the show Saturday night. Expect to hear plenty more from Messersmith in the coming months as he prepares to release his debut for Glassnote Records, the label behind Mumford and Sons, Phoenix and Chvrches.

The Terma Festival is a new two-night series of shows kicking off Friday, Sept. 20, at Minneapolis' Belmore/New Skyway Lounge. The goal is to highlight "new goth and dark experimental music from Minneapolis and beyond." Ten acts will perform each night, including Youth Code (Los Angeles), Night Sins (Philadelphia), White Car (Los Angeles) and locals Prostate, the Funeral and the Twilight, Oaks and Claps. Tickets are $15, or $20 for both nights.

Pop music critic Ross Raihala can be reached at 651-228-5553. Follow him at


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