meet and listen: dumpster tapes

Written by Madeline Happold, Co-Founder and Co-Editor in Chief

Dumpster Tapes official logo. 

Dumpster Tapes official logo. 

Who: Dumpster Tapes, a cassette tape label producing some of Chicago's  — and beyond’s  — garage rock gems, along with punk, psych and pop groups. “Garage rock is like the bread and butter, but we’ve gotten more variety the longer we’ve gone,” says co-founder Ed McMenamin. “If it’s something we like we’ll put it out.”


What: Founded in 2013, Dumpster Tapes' repertoire features bands like Flesh Panthers, Laverne, Sick Hyenas and The Bingers. 


Where: Chicago-based, but showing love to bands beyond the pond with cassettes by groups such as Switzerland’s garage-pop punk group The Staches or Germany’s rock band Küken.


Chicago Goes Global: McMenamin claims a lot of international bands “reach out… because they are looking for an entry into a U.S. audience.” He attributes some of Dumpster Tapes’ international recognition to their collaboration with the Austrain record label Bachelor Records, who have also helped produce vinyl versions of Chicago bands such as The Yolks. And, of course, the wonders of Internet. “I don’t like standing in line at the post office, but it’s really neat to mail a tape to Japan or the United Kingdom,” says McMenamin.

Dumpster Tapes co-owners and founders Ed McMenamin and Alex Fryer. Photo by Sarah Crowley. 

Dumpster Tapes co-owners and founders Ed McMenamin and Alex Fryer. Photo by Sarah Crowley. 

From Trash to Tapes: Tapes were an affordable way to start a label that would allow McMenamin and co-founder Alex Fryer to help easily promote local bands. The tapes offer portability that popular vinyl and MP3 downloads don’t allow, while helping to “show different scenes and tie together the community,” according to McMenamin. He begins the recording process by dubbing the tracks onto tape, plugging his laptop into the tape deck and recording as the songs play.


Want to support but don’t know where to start with so many local options? Check out the label’s Monster Compilations, an annually-released tape featuring 25 of Chicago’s hottest bands at the moment. “They’re like snapchats of the scene that year,” says McMenamin. Volume Three, released in June 2017, includes Peach Fuzz, Bunny, The Speed Babes and more.


We’ll Do it Live: Leave the cassette player and Dr. Dre’s at home – Dumpster Tapes is going live as part of new partnership with Slippery Slope, located in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Already known to host shows with various Chicago DIY venues and music lovers' favorited Cole’s Bar, Dumpster Tapes will now host monthly live music nights, featuring local groups, DJs and more. Stop by their Sunday, Sept. 17th show, with a lineup featuring Peach Fuzz, Beastii and Vacuum. “We love the local music scene in Chicago and it feels good to work with bands you believe in,” says McMenamin.


Listen to Dumpster Tapes' Monster Compilation Vol. 3 below. Cover art by Kati Murphy:

Visit Dumpster Tapes official store, or follow them on Facebook. 

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