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Interview: Sink Tapes

We recently got a chance to speak to Gabe Chilarello, lead vocals of Sink Tapes, an indie band based out of the Asbury area of New Jersey. We were able to learn a lot about the background of the band, their first album, Same Strange Dream, their upcoming sophomore album, what they’re all about, and what they’re about to bring to the plate.

LitS: So, Sink Tapes, many people are curious as to what the origin of your band name is. Could you tell us?

Sink Tapes: It’s probably better left unsaid. It’s kind of one of those things that no one will understand. It’s a name we decided to go with because we had already been called a few other things and we were forced to figure out what to call ourselves, and something just happened where we decided the name Sink Tapes. There’s no meaning to it, but we had people telling us we should be “sync” tapes, but we like NOT making sense so it makes it fun, just like how our songs are. Just fun.

LitS: When did Sink Tapes first form as a band?

Sink Tapes: We probably started playing about two summers ago as Sink Tapes with our original songs. We first met through friends; none of us go to the same schools and we just started seeing each other at shows in the Asbury area so we decided to jam together on covers and what not. Eventually, we played a backyard show with a few bands and since then we just kept playing. I don’t think we meant it to happen, but it slowly got serious yet fun, and now we’re working on our second album.

LitS: Are your current members the original members?

Sink Tapes: Yes, it’s just Alex, Ricky, Tom and I, just like it has always been. Alex goes to school in Maryland, which sucks, but whenever he comes home we make it a point to play shows as a four-piece.

LitS: So, when he’s not around, you still perform with just the three of you guys?

Sink Tapes: We don’t prefer to play with just the three of us because with Alex, we have a more complete sound, of course. But over a few months, we relearned how to play our songs as a three piece so we could continue to play while he was in Maryland so we don’t slow down and we’re able to keep process. When he goes to school in the fall, we definitely want to travel there and play a bunch of shows with him in his area.

LitS: That’s great that you have put the time into relearning the songs when Alex isn’t there to play with you guys. But it’s time to ask a more in-depth question.. If you could describe Sink Tapes in only ONE word, what would it be, and why?

Sink Tapes: (Laughs) Oh jeez.. give me a little time. I wish Ricky (guitarist) were here because he’d have something great to say. I’d say the word, “dream,” because it’s a reoccurring theme in a lot of our work. It wasn’t something that was meant to happen purposely, but we realized after a while that all of our songs involve dreaming in some kind of way. A lot of it sounds like it could compare to a dream whether it be lyrics or the sound; that’s why we named our first album, Same Strange Dream.

LitS: What are Sink Tapes’ biggest influences?

Sink Tapes: Our biggest influence is probably The Velvet Underground, that’s definitely a big one. Also,Guided By Voices, a ‘90s alternative band, is a big influence. We like all different kinds of ‘80s pop and alternative. We also have to say MODEIQ, an ‘80s rock dance band that my father played in; we’ve even covered one of their songs in our upcoming album.

LitS: You currently only have Same Strange Dream released, correct?

Sink Tapes: That is true. We have no EP’s. We released SSD with seven tracks that complete up to 40 minutes and that’s the first batch of original music that we released. We’ve sold those albums at every show that we’ve played so that album has definitely been successful, but I can’t wait for our second album to be complete.

LitS: Yes, I want to hear more about this new album! Tell me more.

Sink Tapes: We’re working on the new album right now that is obviously going to be full-length with at least 10 tracks, and we’re already almost halfway done tracking it. We still need to write a chunk of music for it, but it’s still going to be a while before we release the album because we really would love for a label to pick us up to release the album for us. Our first album was self-released and was great, but this next album is going to blow the first out of the water and we’d rather take the time out and wait for a label to help us out. Our main goal for this album is to release a 12-inch vinyl; vinyls are making a huge comeback and CDs are almost dead technology. Nowadays, most vinyls come with a download code for instant play on a computer so the buyer has a hard copy with nice artwork and the files in their computer, so it’s the best of both worlds. I don’t want to settle for self-release because everyone has good hope in this album. I think it will be well worth the wait.

LitS: What is it like, being in the studio, recording the new album?

Sink Tapes: For all of our music, we’ve recorded it all in my basement, as well as the new music. I have a nice set-up studio that I’ve learned to operate from trial and error, as well as my cousin who went to school for recording who has also helped me out. I learn everything on my own. Besides, we like our music to have a garage-band kind of feel. We record everything live; maybe do a few over-dubs here and there, but we play all at once. We first contemplated going to a studio, but we just decided to record it ourselves.

LitS: I know you’re very excited about it.

Sink Tapes: Yes, we are. Our old record is great but the new stuff is REALLY good. After you play an album for a period of time and then come up with something new the anticipation is amazing to finish a project. Don’t get me wrong, we love the old record and when it was completed it was so rewarding and a very well represented first project. We think every song is solid and we’re glad we took the time to do it right—and we’re doing the same thing with this upcoming album.

LitS: What kind of message do you try to convey with your music?

Sink Tapes: I think that all I should say for that question is the advice, “treat yourself once a day,” and, “don’t plan it, don’t think about it, just let it happen.”

LitS: Sounds like a great message of advice (laughs), I’m going to have to keep that in mind. Where is your favorite place to play such songs that want you to, “treat yourself once a day”?

Sink Tapes: We really like to do basement shows. There’s something about playing in a basement with a bunch of people that are having a good time. It makes it stress free; it’s like you’re just hanging out and practicing and jamming out. That’s always really fun. Probably the two venues in the area that we really enjoy playing at are Asbury Lanes, who have always been nice to us, and The Brighton Bar. They’re always about helping bands out to just play and have a good time without worrying about ticket sales and all of that nonsense. I’d rather play a good house show where I don’t make any money and I know people will enjoy it, maybe sell a few CDs because they enjoy it, instead of there being an expense just for us to get our music out. There are some cool places in NYC that we’ve been able to play. There are just so many cool venues in the area but we’d like to branch out in different states to show other people our music especially to showcase our new album.

LitS: That’s great. It’s hard to find bands that just want to play for the sake of playing rather than getting a paycheck. But, if you could play with any band (still playing or not), who would you play with?

Sink Tapes: I’ll answer this question from different perspectives of all of us. Alex, Ricky, and Tom really likeThe Smiths and Morrissey. I enjoy The Beatles a lot. We’d also love to play with Joy Division or The Clash… we all love them. When we first started, we would just jam on covers from The Clash and The Velvet Underground.

LitS: What is your favorite part of being in Sink Tapes?

Sink Tapes: Definitely going to, “the dirty bird,” also known as the Blue Swan Diner. It’s a tradition for us to go there as a band, and they know us by name. And playing our songs is kind of fun I guess (laughs).

LitS: I will definitely mention that in the interview. What are your biggest challenges as a band?

Sink Tapes: Besides having to work as a three-man band most of the time which is mainly the biggest difficulty, we really want to learn more of the music business and eventually be picked up by a label for our new album. That’s our next step. We already have one release and are halfway done with the next, we’ve been playing for a while, and now it’s just moving to the next step and getting our business aspect into play.

LitS: That’s definitely a challenge, but it seems like you guys almost have it all figured out. It would be great if you could send some new tracks my way for a track review for all of our LitS readers. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Sink Tapes: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, and we’re excited to show LitS what our next album has to offer.

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