Far from their indie-folk beginnings, Sydney band Tigertown are back with a totally new sound – a dancey electro-pop vibe that has seen them making their way around the US on huge showcases like SXSW and on tours with St. Lucia.
They’re heading back home next week for an Australian tour to celebrate their Lonely Cities EP, so Matilda sat in a park the other morning and had a chat with Chris about making it in ‘Murica, being in a band with his family and what the heck is coming next.
Congrats on the EP, it’s just a catalogue of bangers, really! How are you feeling about it all?
Thanks! We’ve been super excited for the past couple of months – it’s sort of all happened while we’ve been doing shows here in New York so there’s a lot of excitement, everything’s happening at the same time!
This is the first time we’ve played all this new music live, too, so it’s all very cool to see how it unfolds.
How’s the new music been going down with crowds?
Amazing, actually! We had these two sold-out shows even though most people hadn’t heard any of the music before, and it definitely went down like a big old dance party – so yeah, definitely what we had planned and hoped for.
Killing it! So you guys are starting to do quite a lot in the States, obviously – have you noticed many explicit differences trying to crack it over there? I mean in terms of people doing music it’s just SO saturated – how are you finding it?
This is the first time we’ve released music here, but before that we defintiely noticed from touring here that there just tends to be a lot of people kind of out and about just wanting to see live music, which is really cool – I mean, it’s probably because the population is so much higher for a start. But every time we’ve supported a band or whatever, it’s been pretty packed with people who might not have heard of us but have always been super excited to hear what we’re gonna do. That happens in Australia, but I think we notice it a bit more here.
Yeah, there’s not a huge support act culture in Australia a lot of the time, sometimes there’ll only be about 30 or 40 people in the room when a support starts.
Yeah! And you’ll see a lot of folded arms, people sort of just staring at you.
But we’ve been pretty lucky here in the US, I mean the great thing is that there are so many places to play so we enjoy the whole “get in a van and drive to a different city every night” thing – again, it’s something that can’t really happen in Australia, so that’s been pretty fun.
Back on the EP – I mean, it’s certainly evolved from your “First Aid Kit meets Boy & Bear” days – what have you been listening to this time around for your ‘reincarnation’, if you will? I feel like I can definitely hear a lot of CHVRCHES….
You know what’s weird, CHVRCHES is the band that probably gets brought up the most, and literally none of us in the band ever listen to them – so that’s a nice coincidence…but I’m sure we probably listen to the same music as CHVRCHES do! Especially for this stuff, we listened to a lot of older stuff, you know, things that were around when we were growing up. So, like, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson, Phil Collins – those sort of records are the things we had on a lot. The main thing we noticed about those records was that it’s all really geared to make you dance, so that’s where we headed, that pure feel-good music that just makes people wanna dance.
Leading into the EP, you tried stuff out with a lot of different US writers and producers. Was it working with all these different people that kind of led you to find that new sound?
Definitely. I think until now it had all been pretty in-house, like we wrote the songs in our bedroom, recorded them ourselves – and that was cool, but when you start touring here, you see there’s so much amazing stuff out there, and when you start working with other people you realise what can really be done.
So a lot of the people we worked with and met the results weren’t anything good, but even with those we learnt a lot, and it really helped us hone in on finding the people that we loved working with, and I guess we got some good stuff out of meeting lots of different people, but the best thing was that once we found the right guy [producer extraordinaire Tommy English] we really knew he was the right guy.
What made you gravitate towards him?
It was probably a bit of a coincidence that we’d had a run of kind of….not good…..studio sessions that made us realise how great Tommy was, but also we were massive fans of the record he just released with BØRNS, and when we met him he told us he’d just done that, and we were like “WOAH!”. We just kind of got on with him really instantly, and we were also staying in LA just down the street from where his studio is, so we had a lot of BBQs with him and his fiancée, and it was just SO obvious how right it felt.
Did you already have an idea of how you wanted to evolve, and that new sound, before you started collaborating with him?
I think we had the idea pretty strongly in our heads, we just maybe hadn’t quite worked out how to do it yet. We’d been experimenting with that kind fo stuff on our own for the past year or so, but when we met up with Tommy he could hear what we were trying to do an managed to execute it perfectly – it made all the difference.
So Tigertown has siblings, it has a married couple….you guys are really a band of families! I cannot think of anything worse than working with my brother EVER….how the hell do you deal with it?!
I guess it’s just the luck of the draw that we have a family we get on with! Also, before Tigertown we all played in different bands and experienced different bands, but when we tried it together we realised how many advantages there are to it, really. I mean, communication-wise you’re always on the same wavelength, you’re all really good at fighting and being honest with each other, so for us compared to other situations it’s actually pretty great.
I’m probably a bit biased because I get to do it with my wife as well, so I’m all about it! A lot of my favourite bands – and classic bands, really – have family members in, so I certainly think there’s something to be said for doing it this way.
I guess it’s easier to just scream at someone without being worried you’ll offend them….because you’ve been offending them your whole life.
Ha – yeah, we’re all very practised at fighting, that’s for sure!
So – the rest of the year; what does it look like? There’s SXSW, then your Australian tour, then what’s up next?
Well we’ve actually got a tour with St Lucia, who are one of our favourite bands ever, so we absolutely can’t WAIT for that. Actually, there’s a band with another married couple in, just a fun fact!
Other than that, i think we’ve got a couple more tours in the works, which we can’t wait for, because we just love playing this new music.
We’ve also got a lot of leftover music that we’re still finishing off that we didn’t release with the EP, so hopefully new stuff coming out in the next couple of months too.
Is that going to be a solid EP or LP release, or just random single drops, or?
Our dream is to release an album this year – there’s nothing official yet, but that’s sort of where we’re headed. It feels fast, but you know, we’ve been plugging away at this for ages – but yeah, after all the work leading up to now we’re definitely ready for it all!
Good luck with it – we can’t WAIT to have a boogie at the tour.
We can’t wait to DO that Australian tour! We haven’t toured Australia for about two years so we’re just stoked to have another tour at home. Definitely see you there.