C60 In Conversation: Tape Runs Out 24 February 2021

C60 in Conversation: Tape Runs Out

As part of the C60 Club, we here at austerity will be catching up with some of our favourite artists of the underground music scene. This month, we’ve talked in-depth to Liam Goodrum-Bell - the vision & force behind our newest family additions Tape Runs Out…

Hello Liam, & welcome to both austerity records & the C60 Club.

L: Lovely to be here!

Tape Runs Out has been a long-running project, originally being formed in Cambridge almost 10 years ago. Please take us through the band’s journey so far & what led you towards joining the AUS family late last year.

Tape Runs Out started as an electronic solo project back in 2012. I posted a couple of songs onto Soundcloud & got a good response, so a friend suggested I form a band to perform them live. Our first EP, “Covered in Tape”, was composed of some of those early electronic songs reworked with a band line-up, & was recorded at the university that I was studying in at the time. We caught the attention of a label called Ear to Ear Records who released “Friends” as a single. We actually recorded a full album for them, but the label broke up before it was released.

At this point university ended & different lives began, so I found myself with a new line-up (including current members Ellie & Rich, amongst others). In this formation we made the “Knife” EP, which had more of an electro-pop feel than our shoegaze-styled first EP. After that, & with Clare joining on violin, came “Go To Sleep”, which contained elements of freak-folk & experimental music.

By the end of 2019 we had welcomed Dan, Takeshi & Taylor & signed with local Cambridge label Kuang Grade Recordings. We released two indie-rock focused EP’s with them – “Talking Through The Walls” (2019) & “Sleepwalking into a Fire” (2020) before the label took an indefinite hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The “Ghost Fruit” EP was then recorded during the summer of 2020, & as it was nearing completion I reached out to austerity to see if they liked it enough to put it out. Evidently they did, as they offered us a digital release & a cassette release as part of the C60 Club.

The TRO sound, with its unique mix of shoegaze, post-rock & lo-fi indie pop, was once described by notable producer Marc Joy as “a perfect introduction to new & unseen places in the sonic universe.” What goes into creating such an impressive amalgamation of sounds?

I usually do a lot of experimenting with various sounds for each song, & often switch parts or move things around until they’re in the right place. I tend to see it as a combination of shapes & colours as much as sounds, & I work on it until it looks like it all fits together.

As noted before, the band already has a strong body of work behind it. With the “Ghost Fruit” EP, though, it feels like we are privy to the sound of a band that has truly found their stride. Take us through the EP & the creative process behind it.

“Ghost Fruit” actually started life as a potential solo album in which I decided to finally work on a bunch of songs I’d never completed but felt had potential. It was something to work on during the first lockdown in spring when we couldn’t get together as a band to compose new things, as had been the plan. I got as far as having around 18 songs in the shortlist, before changing my mind & deciding to rework some of them for TRO instead.

We used recordings we’d made previously & had members send me recordings, which I then pieced together & covered in indulgent synths & noises. The resulting tracks are therefore particularly varied in style & sound, having come from ideas written at various times of my life, but tied together by being worked on & completed in tandem. As a seven-piece it has been impossible for us to meet for the last year, so we look forward to finding out how performable the songs are!

“Hospital”, the lead single from the new EP, was released at the start of the year & is one of the most beautiful things. The video, a stunning collection of nature, scientific footage & time-lapses, is also magnificent. How did this track & its video come about?

It’s definitely one of the simpler compositions I’ve done. The first draft actually had a lot more going on, but I decided to cut back most of the layers on the verses to give the bridge section more impact. It felt like a stand-out piece on the EP in terms of melody & likeability &, even though it’s not the most upbeat song, we thought that it felt appropriate for the time.

A stock-footage based video was one of the limited options we had in lockdown, so I found some footage that I felt captured the mood. The grinding cogs of nature are a theme for some of the lyrics, along with trying to come to terms with being simply a part of it all, & I liked how pairing it with emotionally disconnected science footage seemed to heighten that feeling. Reversing the bulk of the footage made for some interestingly abstract visuals, and I was able to piece together a video that, to me at least, was suggestive of the themes I was trying to express.

Geographically, your hometown of Cambridge is pretty far from the AUS base in Brighton. However, it has connections to such legendary acts as Pink Floyd & Sisters of Mercy. Considering its rich history, what is the music scene like today in Cambridgeshire?

Well today it’s very quiet, but in general it’s reasonably active! Cambridge is inherently a slightly divided city, with many dedicated University areas inaccessible to other residents. There are definitely ’scenes’ within the city, as with any place, & once you’ve found your group you have a much better chance at finding opportunities.

One of the things we lack is more medium-level venues. There are a handful of very decent pubs to perform in that have dedicated rooms for performers (The Blue Moon & The Portland Arms are two very notable examples, & are our favourite Cambridge venues to perform in), but other than that it’s mostly places that are either too small, such as cafes or smaller, stage-less pubs, and one of the few larger venues that cater mostly to touring acts. There is no shortage of talented, creative songwriters & musicians here, which makes it all the more frustrating to have to rely on the same few venues, regardless of how lovely the venues are. The reality is, to be an active band based in Cambridge, you’ll find yourself convoying down to London reasonably often.

There is, however, a strong local radio presence with very supportive hosts on Cam FM, Cambridge 105 & the local BBC Introducing station in particular. They do a great job of helping to provide a sense of community amongst the musicians here, which is essential to any local scene.

With the Government’s recent roadmap out of the COVID-19 lockdown promising a much brighter future for the music & events industry, what do you see laying ahead for Tape Runs Out? 2021 seems like it could be a big year for up-and-coming artists such as yourselves.

It’s difficult to tell what the near-future brings, especially with the changes caused by Brexit regarding working & travelling abroad. Together with the uncertainty facing many local venues, it’s looking like there may be a stronger focus on single releases and maintaining a social media presence with extra visual content than the traditional method of releasing albums/EP’s & touring, which could be beneficial to physically larger bands like ourselves who find it hard to tour.

We have not escaped the mental health challenges of the pandemic, but hopefully we’ll be able to find a way to adapt to whatever new reality we find ourselves in!

Tape Runs Out’s “Ghost Fruit” EP (AUS-C04) is now SOLD OUT. Click here to listen on SPOTIFY