Miniature Tigers is not your typical indie rock band. Founded in 2006, the quartet got their first big break in Rolling Stone Magazine as “one of the 25 best bands on MySpace” and have been riding the wave ever since. Frontman Charlie Brand says that while writing their newest release, Fortress, their creative process was fueled by late night swims, sexual energy and psychedelic treats. Miniature Tigers are steadily becoming the new kids of summer. Check out what else Charlie has to say about the album and download Fortress, available on iTunes now.
YRB: Where did the Miniature Tigers name come from?
Charlie: I was imagining little tigers running around on my hand.
YRB: On your upcoming album, Fortress, which of the songs was your most favorite to write?
Charlie: Last summer, I was eating mushrooms and doing a lot of night swimming. I wrote “Coyote Enchantment” with Rick in that phase and really captured the feeling of that summer. I had a lot of fun writing that song.
YRB: How did you develop your sound? How would you describe it?
Charlie: To be honest, I have no clue how our sound developed. I started writing songs as a teenager, which were basically Weezer rip-offs. As I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered so many different types of music and opened my mind to all different kinds of melodies and production.
YRB: Who are some of your influences?
Charlie: Huge influences would be The Beatles and The Beach Boys. I love Harry Nilsson. ABBA are big – David Bowie, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones.
YRB: How long did it take you to complete the album?
Charlie: We spent seven days in upstate New York at Dreamland and spent another three days in Manhattan doing overdubs and vocals. Spent another couple weeks off and on mixing. We worked really well under these time constraints and made it so we never drove ourselves crazy obsessing over the record.
YRB: In an industry dominated by mainstream hip-hop, rap and pop, what made you decide to take the alternative classical route?
Charlie: Well, I’m not much of a rapper, so I don’t know that I had much of a choice. I feel like we make music that interests us and don’t feel committed to one genre or style. I’ve been listening to a lot of Hot 97 radio and might take the production of the next record in that direction.
YRB: Where did you draw your influences from specifically for Fortress?
Charlie: I was really fascinated by ego and emotional walls people put up around themselves. Our last album was shrouded in childlike metaphors, which after a while, didn’t feel genuine to me. I wanted to write an honest portrayal of who I really was and what I was going through in my relationships, even if it wasn’t flattering at times. Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man was a big lyrical touchstone.
YRB: If you could do a collaboration with any artist(s) (alive or dead), who would it be?
Charlie: I would love to do something with Van Dyke Parks. I’d like to work with The Dream too. Maybe an album co-produced by the two of them?
YRB: Explain the artwork for your album.
Charlie: There’s a sexual theme running through the album and lots of vulnerability going along with that. We wanted to capture that. We also wanted tits on the album cover.
YRB: What made you guys move from your home base in Arizona to Brooklyn? Does one influence your music over the other?
Charlie: We move around a lot for tour and like the idea of not having a home base. I fell in love with New York and wanted to live there. I still love Arizona but needed a change of pace. New York is very inspiring. I’ve written a lot of music since I’ve lived there.
YRB: How did your collaboration with Neon Indian (on the track “Goldskull”) come about?
Charlie: I had a demo for that song that had more of an electronic touch than what we’d previously done. I was a huge fan of the Neon Indian record so we reached out and sent the song to Alan [Palomo]. Luckily he was into it and wanted to work on it. We spent a marathon night in the studio recording it until the sun came up. He’s one of the nicest and creative guys I’ve ever met. I can hear that night in the recording.
YRB: What are some of your top favorite albums of this year or all time?
Charlie: This year I’ve been listening to the new Ariel Pink album like crazy. I loved the new Gorillaz. MGMT was a big one. Seemed like a lot of people weren’t as into it, but I think it’s brilliant. Of all time, I’ve been listening to Beach Boys Smile a lot lately.
YRB: Are there many differences between your EPs and the full length?
Charlie: I feel like we’ve matured as a band a lot since the EPs, which feels like a typical statement, but I wrote a lot of those songs over five or six years ago and the new album represents where we’re at both musically and as people.