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Random Rules: Josh Grier of Tapes 'N Tapes

The shuffler: Josh Grier, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for Minneapolis indie-rock outfit Tapes 'N Tapes. Recently back from a tour of Japan and Australia, Grier and company are gathering material for the yet-to-be-recorded follow-up to their acclaimed debut, The Loon.

The Strokes, "The Way It Is"

Josh Grier: I really like The Strokes—their first record, then their second one, too. I wasn't sold on their last one initially, but a couple of songs had really good guitar riffs, and the first song was really great. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. With the first two records, it seemed like they always had an objective in mind, and then on the last record, they wanted to just mess around and see what came out. They're a pretty amazing band. I guess we're both guitar-rock. You know, they have a lot of guitar, we have guitar. [Laughs.] It's an integral instrument.

Wilco, "Poor Places"

JG: Ooh, I love this song. My favorite Wilco record. It was the first record of Wilco's that I bought. I went over to Europe, and I got in really early in the morning, and I had to stay up all day to beat the jetlag. So I went out and bought five or six CDs, and I ended up listening to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot probably eight times, and that was what kept me from falling asleep. All day, I was walking around Düsseldorf, Germany, listening to it. It was right after I graduated from college, and I bummed around Europe, and pretty much every time I was in a museum, I would listen to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on my dirty old CD player. So whenever I hear it, it reminds me of giant museums and good artwork.

David Bowie, "Fame"

JG: This is the original version, with Freddie Mercury. What's not to like about Bowie? It was his 60th birthday the other day, and I was going around on all these blogs reading about the different genres of Bowie. And it's pretty amazing. He's been around for 35, 40 years and is making music that's still rather contemporary. And more than anything, he just has this really weird pop sense. All of his songs have this—some of them are really, really fuckin' weird, you know? "China Girl" is a weird song, but at the same time, it appealed to a whole lot of people. There's something about anybody who can transcend doing something that's really their own and bizarre, and people can still understand what's going on—it has mass appeal. I think it's amazing whenever you get anyone who can do that.

Hüsker Dü, "Dreams Reoccurring"

The A.V. Club: That was Hüsker Dü's trippiest song.

JG: It's got all sorts of backward cymbals and a backward, crazy guitar solo. I think the whole thing's backward… I'm not originally from Minnesota, so I didn't really know that much about them growing up. I wasn't one of those kids who was cool enough to be listening to really good music in sixth grade. Then when I came out to Minnesota, I discovered a lot of really good bands; my friends were kind enough to introduce me to good music. I first heard Hüsker Dü about a year or two after I came out here, and I was pretty into it, but I didn't fully get it until two or three years later. Then I got Zen Arcade. Now I really enjoy Hüsker Dü. It's good punk music, and it's pretty weird. And it's from Minneapolis, too.

AVC: Zen Arcade is such an ambitious record, from an artistic standpoint.

JG: It's not just straight speed metal. It's got a lot of really weird stuff going on, too. There's the "Hare Krsna" song, and all sorts of stuff where they're messing around a lot more.

British Sea Power. "Remember Me"

JG: It's off of their first record. Two years ago, Keri [Wiese, Tapes' manager] had this CD, and I was always bugging her to listen to it. It's one of those CDs that I always enjoy when it's on, but for some reason, I don't ever come back to it. I don't know why. My iPod must be filled with lots of CDs like that, because earlier, when I was flipping through it, I didn't recognize a lot of the stuff on there.

AVC: What's the most embarrassing song on your iPod?

JG: I think some people would think it was embarrassing that I have Andrew W.K. on here, but I'm not too embarrassed. [Laughs.] Honestly, the thing I'm most embarrassed about is the fact that there are so many records on here that I haven't listened to all the way through. You know, we get compilation CDs and burn those on. At one point this summer when we were on tour, I did go through, and any band that I didn't recognize, I'd listen to, and if I liked it, then I'd write it down. Otherwise I'd write it down [on another list] so I could delete it off my iPod. Because there's so much crap I listen to on shuffle, and some of the stuff just sucks, you know? You don't want that. You don't want to be filling up space with stuff that's wasting your time. For the most part, right now, I'm pretty proud of the collection. I do have 50 Cent on here, which I guess is pretty embarrassing. Might want to get rid of that one day. I'm not sure why I still have that; I think that was actually one of the first things I got on here. [Laughs.] Yeah, 50 Cent and Andrew W.K. and all that stuff is awesome if you're riding in the car with people. If we're on tour and I'm driving and in control of the iPod and I want to piss everybody off, I just put that on for a song or two, then everyone gets a little riled up. [Laughs.]

AVC: Not a lot of 50 Cent fans in the band?

JG: No, I'd say pretty much nobody. I enjoy some of it, but I think I probably like a little more hip-hop than the other guys in the band. [Laughs.] It's all fun.