From LA, Tigertown‘s Chris Collins fills us in on the Sydney band’s recent time writing and touring abroad (most recently with St. Lucia), as well as the release of their new EP, Lonely Cities. For the group, they’ve grown stronger as a creative unit considerably over the past year and a bit and as Collins mentions, the lessons they’ve learned along the way have been invaluable.
You spent pretty much all of 2015 touring and writing, I imagine in such an intense period like that, there would be a lot of highs and lows. Was it as much work as it sounds?
There were definitely highs and lows. We learned a lot of important lessons over the last year and we also had some of the best times of our lives. Touring the U.S. for the first time was a highlight. We love being able to get on the road and play a different city each night. As far as writing goes, we collaborated a lot which was new for us so it took a while to learn what works and what doesn’t. We made some amazing friends and they ended up being the ones that worked.
What was it like working with producer Tommy English (BØRNS, Ladyhawke, and Robert DeLong)?
We were already massive fans of the BØRNS record and felt very lucky to work with Tommy. It was the best connection we’ve ever felt with a collaborator. We wrote three songs straight away and went straight into the rest of the record. It doesn’t normally happen that quickly and flowy. We became really good friends and seeing as we were living down the road, there were a lot of BBQs and dinner parties. He comes from a family of butchers, so he schooled us on burgers and hot sauces.
Can you describe the band’s working dynamic now that you’ve got all this writing and touring experience behind you as opposed to when you were still trying to get a feel for how the band was developing musically?
Our first three EPs were all written in our bedroom and it was all very much ‘in-house’. The best thing about working with so many different people is that we have learnt so much from each person. We still ended up recording a lot of it in our AirBnB bedroom here in LA, so not too much has changed. The other difference is that the live show is at the front of our mind even when we’re in the studio. The rule is that if it makes you dance, then it’s working.
Were there any significant challenges when it came to making this EP that popped up that you weren’t expecting, or did you latch on to a creative formula early on in the process that made making the EP flow easily?
This EP is made up of three songs written a couple of months ago and two songs that were written two years ago, so the challenges were everything in between that. It’s funny that the older songs were written about challenges. “These Hands” was actually written about when I worked in a café and my hands were too sore to play guitar after making coffee all day. It’s a good contrast to the other three songs written in LA while we were having the time of our lives. We love the idea of capturing a feeling in a recording. I think when you listen to the first three songs, you can hear how much fun we were having with Tommy and how good the surf was in Malibu.
How were you looking forward to the tour with St. Lucia? They’re such a vibrant band themselves…
We just got off the tour yesterday and it was an amazing experience. They are honestly one of our favourite bands and were a massive inspiration for us when we first heard their music two years ago. We wrote a song with Jean (the singer) and stayed good friends, so when they asked us to tour with them we were so excited. It was a feel good party every night, for sure.
Some artists can’t write on the road, while others can. You guys can because some of this EP was written on the road, how do you make it work?
We actually can’t write when we’re touring. We’ve tried in the past, but it’s such a different headspace. I often work on production stuff on the road, because I’ll have my laptop with it all there. In the UK and the U.S., we had set aside time to write in between tours, which is the perfect thing for us. Being overseas is super inspiring.
What do you prefer, working on the road or in a studio?
With the right person, being in the studio is our favourite place. Whether it’s our home studio or Tommy’s, the idea of starting with a blank canvas and walking out with a song is amazing.
The band has been getting some sweet props from international media and radio – it’s got to be a bit of a trip to think about the reach your music is having, no?
A trip for sure. I remember the feeling when we first played in Perth and there were people singing our songs. That feeling that someone so far away knew our music. Last week we played in Toronto, Canada and seeing people sing the words was just a whole next level. It’s definitely the thing that drives us the most, the thought of writing somebody’s favourite song. We generally write uplifting feeling music, so it’s amazing thinking the music can now affect people across the world.
Thinking about when Tigertown first started making music, what was exciting you about your local music scene back then and are these artists and elements of the scene still exciting you now (with the amount of touring you’ve done behind you), or do you think things have changed significantly for bands cutting their teeth?
The thing that has always excited us about our local scene at home is that there is a real opportunity for any one making music to have their music heard. Triple J is amazing, in the way that you can still walk in and play your CD and it could get on the radio. From being in the States, we’ve seen that whole concept is a fairytale story that hasn’t happened since the 80s. The labels still control everything in the U.S. where in Australia, independent artists become nationally know all the time. I think it leads to much more diverse music and is probably the reason that so many Australian artists are impacting the world right now.
Catch Tigertown on the road in Australia with the Lonely Cities EP through April!
April 1st | Newtown Social Club, SYDNEY
April 2nd | Northcote Social Club, MELBOURNE
April 7th | The Foundry, BRISBANE
April 8th | Beach Hotel, BYRON BAY
April 9th | Sol Bar, MAROOCHYDORE
April 15th | Pirie & Co Social Club, ADELAIDE
April 16th | Jimmy’s Den, PERTH