Tape Runs Out suggests the end of something- A metaphor for the finishing of a project; the tape has run out; there is no more tape. We have no C60/90 to replace it with, like recording the Top 40 from Radio 1 when you were a kid (if you’re very old like me).
However, this is not the end. This is just the beginning. Tape Runs Out may have existed for over ten years, the genesis in 2012 as a conduit for Liam Goodrum-Bell to record his music. Now, they are a six-piece band based in Cambridge.
I had a Zoom with Liam and Ellie Winter in January to find out where they came from and where they are now.
“It’s evolved” Liam confirmed, “It was just me on my own at first, but I was in another band and I showed some of my music to one of the members and she said ‘we should form another band and play your stuff,’ so we did that, but that was when we were students. There were lots of people playing for like a year or so and then moving because they were students. So for the first few years, there was quite a lot of flux until Ellie joined in around 2014 which is when we became more like we are now but there were still different people. Laurence only joined about a year ago. Ellie is the longest-serving. It was very electronic at the beginning as I didn’t have a studio set up, it was badly recorded vocals over electronic music. There were kernels of ideas. There are two songs from that era that we still play”.
It’s now over ten years since Liam started making music as Tape Runs Out, but it’s only now that the LP is coming out on Trapped Animal Records. But was it worth the wait? “I hope it was worth the wait. I’m happy we waited because we did a lot of EPs, and some of those are album length, but I wanted to wait so called them EPs, as they weren’t on a physical format. I guess in my mind I wanted our first album to be on a decent label, on some physical formats with a bit of push behind it. So we were biding our time until we signed for Trapped Animal as they said ‘if you give us an album we’ll put it out on vinyl’. This also coincided with Dan building a studio during lockdown, somewhere we could spend all day and we didn’t have to worry about spending money on that side of things. So we had a professional recording set up and someone to fund the actual product so we thought now was the right time”.
And out of that has come Floodhead, which feels like the culmination of the years of EPs and the revolving door of members with a special piece of art. Tape Runs Out now consist of Liam as lead vocalist, guitarist and synths, Clare Myerscough on violin and vocals, Takeshi Kanemoto on bass, Ellie on dulcimer, Laurence Moore on drums and Dan Dawson on Lead Guitar, the owner of said studio, situated in Norwich.
The album was recorded in chunks with Liam and Dan taking the lead. So far there have been two singles released, ‘Souvenir’, ‘Paperback’ and ‘90C’ with accompanying videos of stop motion film that lends itself to the music. “I wanted to do a stop motion video for the first single, so I borrowed a bunch of things from a friend, miniatures and lightbulbs and I really like making these dioramas and get a bit carried away as it’s really fun”.
Their earlier stuff had the word ‘folk’ attached to it, but no one listening to the LP will automatically think that this is a folk band, but there is an incarnation that does have more traditional leanings which plays well with the folk crowd. “We have a line-up that is me Ellie and Claire which is acoustic guitar, violin and dulcimer and the folk crowds love it. The things is, you sound folky because of the instruments but we aren’t playing the same songs they’ve heard over and on over again. We played the Folk Festival here in Cambridge, and it turned out the folk crowd love buying merch, lots more than an indie crowed it turns out. We sold out of tapes at a gig with 15 people but sold nothing at a gig of 100 people”. Ellie drops the punchline: “Tape Runs Out ran out of tapes.”
The way they sound has evolved. There is more of an alt-rock edge which may well come from recording and arranging the record at Dan’s studio and also the influences that are apparent. “Different songs would have different touchstones. In the mixing process we would have certain songs as a reference. So with ‘Overseas Assignment’ I wanted it to sound like ‘The Tourist’ by Radiohead. Then I also had Paperback or Ark in there at the same time so there was a similar vibe. Even if they were works in progress. Each song had different reference points.”
Having taken a decade to release their first LP, there is no rush for the second one, and they are in a different position to a lot of bands who have the pressure of a follow up with nothing already in the works and then they rush release the first set of songs they write. “Yeah I don’t think that is my problem. I will refuse to release a song until I think it’s perfect. There were songs that I really like that didn’t make the album and also some I decided to chop off the album. It was 12 tracks long until the day before we sent it off to get mastered but took two tracks off as I thought it would flow better. We will do them again one day but I thought the album was tighter without them. I tried to have a high standard. I’m not one to rush tracks out. The opposite in fact.”
Ellie added, “The Garden’ was one we played live in a completely different incarnation which got re-written. The second half already existed as a different song entirely. I really liked the original version and then you said you’d re-written it and I was initially like ‘oh no don’t do that’ but then I heard it and was ‘yeah, that’s much better.’”
Liam added, “Sometimes I submit something and I’ve completely rewritten it and someone will say ‘You’ve ruined the song what have you done’. I won’t have liked the bass sound so I throw my toys out the pram and I’ve completely rewritten it instead”.
This must be the most patient band that has ever existed but that patience is being rewarded. The record feels like a seminal piece of work, something that has been crafted over time. After ten years, the tape has been turned over, ready for another ten.