POPP THIS is the 1990 debut album by Bill Popp & The Tapes, the British-inspired rock group who combines punk rock and new wave sounds from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
British-inspired rock group from Queens, NY with 'a sound that begins where The Beatles left off.
A veteran of the New York music scene, Bill Popp has been bringing his melodic yet rockin' brand of power pop to audiences since the early1980s. Popp's primary inspiration is the British Invasion rock of the 1960s, although years of playing gigs on Manhattan's Lower East Side have also brought some punk and new wave influence to his music. In fact, Popp's music is so British-sounding that if you didn't know he was from Queens, you'd assume he was British himself. Born and raised in Queens, Popp fell in love with the music of The Beatles (his primary influence) as a pre-teen, and other British bands like The Zombies, The Yardbirds and The Kinks also influenced his sound. In 1981, Popp formed the first edition of his band The Tapes, whose debut single, "Love And Lust," was released in 1982. Many of the songs that Popp had been playing at his frequent Manhattan club gigs found their way to his 1989 debut album with The Tapes, "Popp This." Popp & The Tapes' second album, "Insides," came out in 1996, and he anticipates a 2000 release for their third album, "Blind Love Sees Tears".--Alex Henderson
Inspired by the British Invasion rock of the 1960s as well as the punk rock and new wave of the 1970s and 1980s, Bill Popp & The Tapes are as distinctive as they are melodic. In fact, the New York band's CDs "POPP THIS" and "INSIDES" are so British-influenced that if you never heard lead singer/composer/founder Popp speak with a strong Queens accent, you'd swear he was British himself. Popp (who grew up in the working class section of Queens known as College Point) had yet to reach adolescence when he fell in love with the music of The Beatles. The charismatic singer was also drawn to fellow British Invasion icons like The Yardbirds, The Kinks and The Zombies, and the songs he began composing as a teenager clearly reflected his passion for strong melodies as well as rockin' aggression. After graduating from high school in the 1970s, Popp became aware of punk and new wave--in fact, one of the bands Popp led, The Popsicles, included guitarist Keith Streng, who went on to enjoy recognition as a member of The Fleshtones. "I think that what really made me start working hard at my music was my mother's death from cancer in 1978," Popp says. "I had told her I'd try to become a full-time musician, and I felt I owed it to her memory to really pursue a career in music. So I started burying myself in my music. A day after my mother died, I wrote 'She's In The Sky' for her--and I still do that song to this day." It was in 1981 that Popp founded The Tapes, whose main focus is Popp's own material. Songs Popp had written in the late 1970s--including "She's In The Sky" and the passionate "Don't Hold It Against Me"--became a permanent part of their repertoire. "The Tapes wanted to combine the raw energy of punk and new wave with the pop melodies of British Invasion rock," Popp notes. "I had played new wave in various bands I was in before The Tapes, but The Beatles were still my main influence." Their first single, "Love And Lust"/"Floating On A Teardrop," was released in 1982--followed by the quirky "Too Many Stars" and its B side "Just Like In The Movies" in 1984. Popp recalls: "'Too Many Stars' was inspired by seeing so many people walking around clubs like they were stars. None of these guys were known at all, but they thought they were stars." Along the way, Popp received a great deal of encouragement from his father George L. Popp, aka "Daddy Tapes." After his father's death from a heart attack in 1986, Popp began honoring his memory with annual benefit concerts for the American Heart Association. The Tapes went through their share of personnel changes over the years, and by the mid-1980s, Popp himself was the only remaining member from the original lineup. But The Tapes always reflected the leader's knack for warm melodies and strong hooks. One of the artists who passed through The Tapes was Anne Husick, who went on to join alternative rock outfit Band Of Susans. Many of the songs that Popp & The Tapes had been performing regularly in the 1980s--including the reflective "One Door Slams" and the gutsy "Punk Girls"--found their way to their 1990 debut album "POPP THIS," which enjoyed a great deal of favorable press. BILLBOARD praised his "infectious pop tunes" and said, "Popp knows his way around a hook," while CASH BOX noted his "definite knack for haunting melodies and harmonies" and Tower Records' PULSE! felt that his songs were "warm and appealing." THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS said, "In truth, a tune like 'She's In The Sky' doesn't ever lose its value or appeal--it just needs to be heard." Released in 1996, their second album, "INSIDES" received equally enthusiastic reviews. The highly respected ALL MUSIC GUIDE exalted "INSIDES" as "one of the most honest and captivating rock releases of 1996," while THE MANHATTAN MIRROR described Popp as having "a sound that begins where The Beatles left off and THE BOSTON PHOENIX called Popp "The Elton John Of Downtown Manhattan." THE ALL MUSIC GUIDE had nothing but praise for songs ranging from the poetic "Zippora" (an ode to a dancer for the New York Ballet) to the insistent "Stone To Throw" and the poignant "Freedom's Blood," a lament for the Chinese student protesters who were shot down in Bejing's Tianamen Square in 1989. "I don't write a lot of political songs because they don't hold up well after a few years," Popp says, "but this was something I felt inspired to comment on. When I saw pictures of the Chinese students in body bags, I really felt for them. I have a deep respect for Asians and their culture." In 1998, the band's lineup consists of Popp on lead vocals and keyboards, Jerry Barnas on lead guitar, Alex Craven on bass and Rob Holm on drums. Barnas is a Chicago native who toured extensively with folk-pop group The Serendipity Singers, while Long Island native Holm has shared a stage with Richie Havens and played with such New York bands as The Benders, True Faith and Suspect. Craven, a rock and jazz musician who studied at Boston's prestigious Berklee College Of Music, once played as a sideman for the famous jazz drummer Buddy Rich. Playing live, the Tapes found the most popular song from "INSIDES" to be the infectious "Sidewalk Dance." Written in the 1980s, "Sidewalk Dance" was inspired by the hip-hop break dancers he had seen when his "day gig" as a plumber for the City Of New York brought him to poor inner-city neighborhoods. "When I was working in Brooklyn," Popp remembers, "I had to go into some horrible, broken-down neighborhoods. But I saw that some of the kids who were into break dancing seemed happy even though they were surrounded by poverty and abandoned, burned-out buildings. As bad as their neighborhoods were, these kids were dancing in the streets." Popp does so much composing that he's fully prepared to begin writing for other artists. In fact, some of his songs wouldn't be out of place on an Oasis or REM album. Popp's band is currently in the process of recording its third album, "BLIND LOVE SEES TEARS." "As much as I love singing, I do so much songwriting that I know I'll end up giving some of my material to other artists," Popp says. "Writing melodic rock and roll songs with hooks is something that comes naturally to me." By Alex V. Henderson Alex V. Henderson's articles and reviews have appeared in Spin, Billboard, Pulse!, The All Music Guide and other national publications.