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The Tapples release their new album

The Tapples pose for a group photo ahead of the release of their second album, “Where You’ve Been.”

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

The state that produced bands like Aerosmith, New Edition, Boston, New Kids on the Block and The Cars hasn’t had a band break through to the mainstream in a long time. Perhaps Needham’s own six-man band, The Tapples, will be the next group to assume that mantle.

Made up of lead vocalist Sam Doff, lead guitarist Riley Zakarian, guitarist/mandolinist Avery Zakarian, bassists Daniel King and Arie Shalita and drummer Liam King, the band already has two albums out, and a couple songs that have played on the radio.

The Tapples, whose name originates in a childhood joke about being unable to pronounce “apple,” got their start at the Hillside Elementary School Talent Show, where they played Beatles music (they cite the Beatles as a huge influence and note the names "beat-tles" as in beat, and "tap-ples" as in tap, are similar). Originally consisting of Ari and Rylie, the band expanded, eventually leading to their 2009 album, “Bus Recovery.”

Recorded at Wooly Mammoth Studios with the help of Berklee graduate Dennis D’Angelo, the debut album consisted of four songs recorded over two days. It has been streamed over 1,100 times across thirteen countries.

Which one is the songwriter? All of them. The Tapples noted that they write all their songs together, collaboratively, which is part of what they like so much about being in the band.

Daniel King noted: “I’m pretty new to the band, but from the time I’ve been here, pretty much all the songs we’ve written have started with somebody coming up with a chord change or a guitar riff or something cool like that and then sharing it with the band. Then everyone kind of puts in their thoughts and it’s really a group effort to make a song. I think that’s really one of the best parts of being in a band is you get to see what comes out of the big melting pot of everyone’s ideas.”

To brainstorm, before COVID, the band had a fun game they played during practices. Their parents would give them a goofy subject to write a song about, and they’d try to craft one. This has actually led to the creation of a number of songs on their newest album.

“Before quarantine," Liam King explained, "we used to hang out as a band and all the parents would be upstairs sharing stories with each other, while us kids would be downstairs playing around … They’d come downstairs and tell us to write a song about something we’d never think of - like, one time it was about a lobster - and Sam always wrote the lyrics and I’d try to write the guitar part, and we would come up with these joke songs and come and play them upstairs. My dad would always say those are actually really good songs you should actually record, and that’s how we made songs like ‘Cabana Boy’, ‘Namaste Bob’ and ‘Lobster Song’ that are all on the new album.”

While COVID kept them out of the Wooly Mammoth Studios (although their new album was recorded there), thanks to D’Angelo helping them learn how to record with ProTools - and their adding sound panels they made out of hardware store materials and sliding a cable from a sun porch to outside - The Tapples recorded a Christmas song. That song, “Magical Christmas,” ended up on the radio, which the boys were extremely excited about.

While COVID has killed their live music momentum, which included driveway concerts in the summer and the dedication of the Sunita L. Williams Elementary School, the band completed their second album, “Where You’ve Been,” and released it on January 15. While anyone can enjoy it (songs from it were recently played on 102.9 FM), Needhamites might get a special kick out of it.

Inspired by the Beatles’ early songs about the places they’d visited and experiences they’d had, “Where You’ve Been” features all sorts of Needham shout-outs, from the hot dog guy at Mobil, to the triangle, to West Street and a local pizza place, Needham is well represented in both the music, and the music video Avery Zakarian and his dad made, featuring a gnome visiting some town landmarks.

The Tapples are currently focused on writing more music, getting more of their music on streaming sites, and finding radio websites that will review their music and air it if they like it. But they’re not full time professional musicians - they’re kids with other commitments, with half the band in the middle school jazz ensemble. But when pressed on how these responsibilities and hobbies hurt their band, they disagreed and argued it actually helps.  

”Certainly being in the jazz ensemble and other musical extracurriculars is not hurting our songwriting,” Liam explained. “It’s really great practice and we’ve learned so much from Mr. Heldt, the band director at Pollard Middle, and Mr. Lee-Clark, the guitar teacher at the high school.”

Will The Tapples be the next big band out of Massachusetts. Who knows? But with two records behind them and a drive that saw them learn to record their own music when a worldwide pandemic shut down their studio, while their newest album may be called “Where You’ve Been,” the real question is where they’re going.

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