Miniature Tigers play the kind of indie-pop/dance music that makes them accessible enough to open for bands like Fun., but still cool enough to bring all the Brooklyn kids out on a frigid Wednesday night. The band was preparing for the first show of its tour with Bear Hands and Total Slacker at Music Hall Of Williamsburg. We stopped by the green room for a quick chat with frontman Charlie Brand, keyboardist Rick Schaier and guitarist Algernon Quashie.
As the guys chowed down on a spread of veggies and beef jerky, we touched on everything from the band’s upcoming album, Cruel Runnings, to the best (and cheapest) falafel joint in New York City.
Interview With Miniature Tigers
Rukkus: How would your describe your music to someone who has never heard Miniature Tigers?
AQ: I would say it’s poppy? Dancey? Poppy and dancey.
RS: Melodic. Bright.
Rukkus: Your new album, Cruel Runnings, is due out in May. How does this album compare to your previous work?
CB: I think it was the most collaborative album–between the four of us–that we’ve done so far. I think you can hear a little bit of everything from the previous albums, but it’s also kind of its own thing, as well. What would you say Rick?
RS: How it’s different? Well, I think it was probably the most hi-fi production that we’ve made. We recorded it with a producer named Chris Zane (Passion Pit, Holy Ghost!), who is a real master and he was awesome to work with. So, I think sonically the album is kind of bigger and more professional.
AQ: This is also the first time we recorded outside of the country.
Rukkus: Where did you guys record?
Rukkus: Very cool. How did that setting influence the outcome of the album?
CB: I mean, there are no steel drums on the album or anything. But, I think just being in that atmosphere and waking up at the beach everyday and recording vocals while looking at the ocean, it made us all so relaxed and everything came easy. Our last album, we recorded in a windowless basement, so it was quite a change. There’s no Jamaican influence as far as the sound of the music, but the influence was definitely on us.
RS: The vibe influence, for sure.
Rukkus: You guys have toured with fun. and opened for some other big acts, how does it feel to be hitting the road as a co-headliner?
CB: It’s good. I mean, we have opened for some big bands, but we’ve also done a lot of our own touring and done headlining shows. We’ve pretty much done everything there is to do in terms of touring in that sense. But yeah, we recently went to Europe with fun. and played a lot of big shows. That was really exciting, and we really enjoyed playing to bigger audiences. But, we also love playing our own shows, even if it’s a divey club. Not saying [MHOW] is a divey club, but on this tour we play a place in Atlanta called the Drunken Unicorn. It’s a small, dive club and I love playing shows like that. You can just feel the energy.
Rukkus: You guys play DC9 also, right? That’s one of my favorite small venues.
CB: Yeah! We’ve played there before. I wouldn’t really call it a dive. It’s smaller place, but you can really feel the energy from the audience.
Rukkus: Did you know Bear Hands and Total Slacker before this tour?
CB: I know Val from Bear Hands a little bit, but not very well. We have some mutual friends. I haven’t met the Total Slacker guys yet. I know of them, but I still haven’t met them. It’s the first night of the tour; we just kind of met Bear Hands. That’s how a lot of tours are; you start a tour not knowing anyone, but by the end it’s like summer camp or something.
Rukkus: Are you guys doing SXSW this year?
CB: Yes. We’ve done [SXSW] every year for the past five years–except for last year.
Rukkus: Are there any showcases or gigs you’re looking forward to down there?
CB: Someone told us our showcases recently, but I haven’t really seen a schedule yet. Unfortunately.
Rukkus: The new single, ‘Swimming Pool Blues,’ has a very summery feel to it. It is that something you set out to do on this album?
CB: I feel like this album definitely has a summery feel to it. That could have been because we recorded in Jamaica. I wrote a lot of the album during the summer. I feel like the influence is definitely there, but I don’t know if it was like, ‘I want to write a summer song.’ It just kind of came out that way.
Rukkus: You guys are originally from Phoenix, right?
CB: Yeah, some of us.
Rukkus: How are you guys handling this NYC winter?
CB: Well, Algeron and Brandon–who isn’t here right now–live in Brooklyn. I moved to Texas and Rick lives in Phoenix. We’re all pretty spread out. Thankfully, I haven’t really had to deal with too much of the weather. Just a little bit when we were here during a snow storm.
AQ: I just stay inside. I like it there.
CB: Does your apartment get really cold?
AQ: Oh, freezing.
CB: Yeah, I was there the other day and it was really cold.
AQ: I have to turn the oven on sometimes.
CB: Not my house now, but the house before this one, was also a really old house. The oven is the way to go.
AQ: Yeah, I had to give Brandon an electric blanket.
Greatest Rapper Of All Time?
Nas (Collective answer after some deliberation and Macklemore jokes)
Favorite venue you’ve played?
AQ: Italy, in some kind of ice rink with no ice.
Late night food in NYC?
Oasis Falafel! It’s right off the Bedford L train. You hand them $3 and five seconds later you have your falafel. (Collective answer)
Last album you bought?
RS: Beck – Morning Phase
CB: Beyonce – Beyonce
Best live performance you’ve ever seen?
AQ: Wyclef Jean on the ‘Gone Til November’ tour.
RS: Beck with the Flaming Lips on the ‘Sea Change’ tour
CB: Kanye West at Coachella.
Article by Jason Schellhardt