Once thought banished to the shelves of nostalgia, cassette tapes appear to be making at least a minor comeback within a generation tired of impersonal and intangible downloads.
Perhaps nowhere is that more clear inside the headquarters of First Base Tapes in Boulder, Colorado.
Underneath the cat posters on the walls and scattered beside the guitars and speakers, the staff of First Base Tapes – almost exclusively University of Colorado students – is busy dubbing 100 copies of Denver-based Princess Dewclaw’s latest release.
Thankfully, the process isn’t terribly time-consuming due to the presence of a Telex cassette duplicator.
Four dubs at once. Each one at 16 times normal speed.
At $3 a tape, before markup, First Base gives up-and-coming bands an old-fashioned way to connect to their audience.
“There’s something special about being able to make a physical thing, even if you’re in a band not making enough money,” says CU sophomore and First Base social media guru Jen Keller.
CU junior Adam Tammariello says the cost outweighs any potential negative.
“And if it gets eaten (by a tape deck), then rest in peace,” he said.
At the age of 24, CU graduate Liam Comer is the “adult” in the room. “I get a senior’s discount for my tapes,” he jokes.
Comer says younger generations like his don’t always want to live their lives online and detached from the physical world.
“I think our generation definitely craves something physical,” he said.
Do any of the employees have cassette decks in their apartment or dorm rooms?
Most of their hands shoot up.
Colton O’Connor says even if his friends don’t, there’s a good chance they have a deck to play this stuff somewhere.
“People our age drive a lot of old cars,” he says.
Amanda Gostomski, member of the band Princess Dewclaw loves the new trend.
“You don’t just want to have a download. You want to have a physical thing,” she says.
Shortly after, a fan approaches a table she’s set up just outside of the concert hall she’s about to perform in.
“It’s called Teenage Warewolf. It’s our EP,” she says.
The fan scoops it up and leaves.
Maybe he’s headed to his 1998 Toyota Corolla to hear the first song.