Fun and Games with The Miniature Tigers *CMJ Interview*

The Miniature Tigers have quickly become one of my favorite new bands this year and I was very excited to hear they were coming to New York City for CMJ. We (As in Me and my CMJ Photographer extraordinare, Maribeth) were lucky enough to meet up and talk with the band at their first time at CMJ and New York for that matter.  Not only do The Miniature Tigers make flawless indie pop songs that will be stuck in your head for days, they are also the nicest guys you could ever have the chance of meeting. After their stellar set at Fat Babys in the Lower East Side, we headed over to the resturant across the street with Charlie, Rick and Lou (Daggrr was missing) to begin the most fun interview I’ve personally ever experienced.

MM: How did the band form?
Charlie: I started writings songs in like 2005, and I had known Rick a little bit then. I had been from Arizona but was living in LA and Rick was in LA. Me and Rick had started collaborating out there
Waitress Interupts: Are you ready to order?
Charlie: We need another minute

Rick: Yea, wait, can I get a coke?

Charlie: And then we kind of got the band going like that and then it was kind of Me and Rick and friends filling in. Then I moved back to Arizona and thats where we got Lou here and another friend of ours Daggrr who also plays what us now.

Maribeth: Thats a bad ass name

MM: It sounds German

Maribeth: Daggrr does not sound German, it sounds bad ass (laughs)

Lou: Daggrr is definatly not German (laughs)

 

 

Charlie: And we then kind of started doing that, jamming

I hear that one of you lives in California, and that one has moved back to Arizona. Does that make playing shows and writing more difficult?

Charlie: Definatley. Like we all live in Arizona and Rick still lives in California. So its a little difficult to practice, like he’ll come out for like a week before we have a show.

Rick: Honestly, sometimes we just hang out. We’re probably the most unorganized band in the world.

Where did the name Miniature Tigers come from?

Charlie: Um, I don’t know, it kind of like doesn’t mean anything

Rick: Its not that interesting

At this point the waitress brings Rick a can of soda with a wine glass.

MM: Thats a fancy glass

Rick: Yes it is! This is not normal. Its over the top

MM: The straw is a nice touch

Rick: Its not necessary though

So how is your first National tour?

Charlie: Um, well actually we supposed to go on tour, and then the other band we were touring with kind of like flaked out on us. The tour fell through. So we haven’t been on tour yet.

Rick: Its our first time playing outside of California and Arizonia. Its pretty exciting.

MM: So its your first time at CMJ?

Rick: Yea, its defaintly our first time at CMJ.

MM: Is it your first time in New York?

Charlie: Yea.

Rick: Its pretty wild.

MM:  Try not to get shot.

Lou: My mother was right.

Rick: Don’t walk alone! Carry your money in your shoe.

Charlie: Unless your shoe gets stolen and you’re screwed.

MM: Then you’re out of a shoe and money!

Do you have any good tour stories so far?

Lou: Um, there was that drive a couple of weeks ago in LA when we got stuck on the highway.

Charlie: Yea, we were driving back from a place, and it closed, and we driving like an all night drive. And at around like 4 o’clock in the morning, traffic just stopped and people were just getting out of their cars and sitting there for 2 hours.

Lou: It made for a pretty fun time

Rick: Didn’t some guy get decapitated?

Charlie: Yea.

Lou: I think so!

Charlie: Yea it was a big deal.

Rick: Wow thats deep…

Maribeth: Did you just say ‘neat?!’

Rick: No, ‘deep’ not ‘neat’!

Charlie: Thats horrible, have a heart! (laughs)

Lou: Its not a good way to go.

MM: Who are your influences? New and Old?

Charlie: Um, I’m really influenced by The Beatles, and I guess right now, my big influence now is a band called Department of Eagles, and I recently got into Grizzly Bear, jumping on the bandwagon a little late, but yea, the album is really good.

Rick: Harry Nilsson

Charlie: Yea, Harry Nilsson. He did an album called ‘Nilsson Sings Newman’, Its Nilson singing Newman songs and its really fantastic.

Rick: The Kinks are a big one.

Charlie: Yea, The Kinks, ABBA.

Lou: ABBA (laughs)

Rick: ABBA, you got to respect ABBA.

MM: Are you surprised by the amount of attention you have been getting within the indie community?

Charlie: Yea absolutely, its really surprising, its just like we kind of got started doing this for fun, and we just started goofing off in the bedroom, you know. Its really crazy from going and reading about CMJ to actually being here as a band, it hasn’t even really sunk in that we’re here. Its too cool.

MM: Especially with the internet and blogs, the word about bands spreads so much faster than it would 10 years ago.

What do you enjoy more, being in the recording studio or playing live?

Rick: Tough question. I like them both! I mean, live is pretty special, but being in the studio is pretty fun too.

Charlie: Being in the studio is like really fun, but its a short lived thing. But live is really fun, lately i’ve been enjoying live alot, because its like, we finally have this band.

Rick: I like live because you get to meet a lot of people, and in the studio you’re with the same three people. But its all fun, a really good time.

MM:  Until someone dies

Rick: Yea, or gets decapitated!

Maribeth:Neat!

Lou: That was pretty neat.

MM:  How does the songwriting for the Miniature Tigers come about? Is it more of a collaboration?

Charlie: Usually it starts with me, and I work on a demo. With this album I had all these demos in  Garage Band, and then me and Rick kind of went over them, and then in the studio we kind of reapproached them, re-recorded them, and Rick would come up with parts and we’d sort of collaborate on them. It really started to take shape kind of as a collaborative thing.

Why did you release ‘The White Magic EP’ and the ‘The Black Magic EP’ at the same time, but decided not to release them as one album?

Charlie: I don’t know! We had these songs recorded, we had demo sessions before our most recent, and then they were just sitting around, but we really didn’t want to put it out as an album I guess. I think someone else brought up the idea of it and we thought it was really cool to seperate the two. I don’t know. We don’t remember actually.

Rick: You have a beautiful brain there Charlie.

Who came up with the idea for the ‘Cannibal Queen’ video?

Charlie: This guy named J.D. who does this series called Yacht Rock, sent us an treatment over the internet, and it was his idea, and we just kind of ran with it.

Rick: Fun, fun time. Fun day!

What was the first song you personally ever wrote or recorded? And how bad was it…or good?

Charlie: It was like ‘Burn babyyyyy’ (sings)

Lou: Burning? Yearning?

Charlie: It was something really bad. It could have even been a metal song or something.

Rick: I think we both started writing music kind of Weezer inspired, so I know when we first started sending music to each other along time ago, it was veryBuddy Holly-esque and stuff, you know? Weezer rip off….not to throw you under the bus (looks at Charlie) laughs.

What was the first record you brought?

Rick: Ohhhh

Lou: I’m really dating myself, I think it was the Stray Cats ‘Greatest Hit.’

Charlie: Greatest Hit?’

Lou: Greatest Hit. They only had one!

Rick: I think mine was Bush ‘Sixteen Stone’

Charlie: I had a few CDs at the same time. I think it was Nirvana ‘Unplugged’, ‘The Crow’ Soundtrack (laughs)

Rick: I had that too!

Lou: I forgot that existed!

(laughs)

Charlie: I don’t know, when you’re younger, you don’t even know. Like you don’t know the difference between The Beatles and the Crow Soundtrack.

 

What was the first instrument that you learned to play?

Lou: Bass, its the only instrument I know how to play really. (laughs)

Charlie: How about you Rick?

Rick: The piano, yep. My Mom made me take piano when I was young.

Charlie: I took violin lessons when I was 2.

Rick: 2?!

Charlie: I learned how to play ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, like barely maybe. Then I played the drums.

Lou: I’m just picturing a tiny baby sized violin.

Rick: We both played the Saxophone too in Elementry.

Charlie: For a week.

Rick: And then realized it was the worse instrument there is.

Maribeth: In our school you could be in the orchestra first, but then in 5th grade, you could be in the band. I played the flute…

Rick: You got to enter the band, yep. I wanted to play the clarinet.

Charlie: I was always bitter of anyone who wasn’t drums, because they made drums sit out.

Who was your first musical obession?

Lou: I was pretty into Guns n’ Roses when I was a kid.

Rick: Yea?

Lou: Yea, but I didn’t know how messed up ‘Appetite for Destruction’ was when I was a kid. (laughs)

Charlie: Yea, Guns n’ Roses were so cool back then, I watched them with my Grandma on Headbangers Ball like trashing a hotel room.

The waitress reappears asking if we want anything to eat.

Charlie: No, no, still no. You know what, a diet coke. (pause) Actually I want to cancel the diet coke.

The waitress seemed even more unpleasant after that, and gave Charlie the look of death.

Charlie: ‘Pinkerton,’ was a really a big influence. It was probably the first album I was really obsessed with.

Rick: Andrew Lloyd Weber was a big one for me. I got pretty hooked on him.

MM: Phantom of the Opera?

Rick: Yea, my favorite

MM: Did he do Cats?

Rick: Can I say something? I thought Cats was horrible. Well I went to see it and I was like ‘Really?’ I listened to the Sound of Music soundtrack before I saw the movie. But when I saw the movie and knew all the music, it was way cooler.

Charlie: I’ve never seen Phantom of the Opera, but I love the music.

Rick: *A loud Gasp comes from Rick* Unbelievable! I get emotional everytime I see it.

Lou: Its very sad.

Rick: Yea, very sad. 

MM:  What was the first concert that you attended?

Charlie: Aerosmith.

Lou: Technically it was Santana or something like that but I was only like 2 so that doesn’t even count. I think the first concert I willingly attended was like, Bush I think. They played with like The Goo Goo Dolls and No Doubt.

Charlie: Its like a powerhouse!

Rick: Ohh baby!

Lou: Yea it was a powerhouse showing.

Charlie: What about you Rick?

Rick: My parents were big into country so I saw like, George Strait, and Chubby Checker actually. But my first willing concert was actually I think Weezer, and then after that I saw Britney Spears

Lou: Really?

Rick: Yea maybe that was before Weezer actually, because I was big into the Weez. 

Where do you see the band in 5 years?

Rick: Hanging out with God.

Charlie: Reaching the hand of God….(laughs) Maybe on a cruise, or playing on a cruise.

Rick: I hope in twenty years we’re playing like Disneyland and stuff, we’re balding and…maybe one of those PBS specials where we’re balding and old and still playing guitar.

Charlie: We’ll be playing ‘Cannibal Queen’.

MM: Like one of those fundraiser things where you have to pay 150 dollars…

Charlie: The one thing though, is like, you see The Zombies and they’re all old….and i’m like ‘oh you’re so good, don’t do this!’

Rick: You got to cut it off at some point. You got to have your dignity.

A year ago, do you think you’d be where you are now?

Charlie: No, not at all.

Rick: Yea, Charlie and I talked about that, how kind of fast the band progressed. Just from him coming over to my house one night and we had talked on like AIM and stuff for years before we actually met. Then he just came over and we jammed out and then like a year later, we’re playing cool shows. It happened pretty fast. Its really awesome.

Charlie: Yea its surprising just reading about it and stuff, and kind of thinking that it doesn’t even seem like a reality. Its really great. Its such a surprise.

Rick: *Slams table and yells YEAH!’

MM: You scared the crap out of me!

Rick: Sorry about that!

Charlie: You’re a loudmouth Rick! (laughs)

If you weren’t in the Miniature Tigers, what would you be doing?

Rick: I don’t know, probably have some dead end job or something.

Lou: I worked at a Bakery for a while. That was pretty miserable.

Charlie: Was it hot?

Lou: It was.

Charlie: Maybe film school or I’d be working at McDonalds.

Lou: I’d be working at McDonalds with Charlie. I’d be his manager. I can aspire to that.

MM: Something to fall back on.

Charlie: Yea, its always there.

Rick: The Golden Arches are going strong.

What board game can you kick anyone’s ass at? Its a real serious question.

Charlie: Scattergories, is that a board game?

Rick: Whats Scattergories?

Charlie: When you roll a letter and you have to name things with the same letter. We played it on my Birthday! I’m not good at it but I like to play it.

Rick: Board games aren’t my strong point, but Charlie and I dabble in video games once in a while. Super Smash Bros., I mean I’m not going to hype ourselves up but we’re pretty kick ass. The whole time we were recording the album, I think every night for a good hour we played Super Smash Bros. Its nothing to be proud of.

MM: Thats like us with Excite Bike.

Maribeth: Excite Bike is a great game.

Charlie: Oh yea Excite Bike is great.

Maribeth: She still has the original Nintendo and all the games and everything still works.

Rick: Nice!

Lou: Thats a rare thing to have happen. Usually they crapped out after a while. You had to blow in the game.

Charlie: Yea the cartridge and the system, you had to blow in it.

Rick: Who was the person who said ‘Lets stop blowing into things and get different technology?’ You don’t blow in anything now. You’ll like break yoursystem if you do that.

MM: Or get electricuted.

Rick: I used to tape music videos I liked.

Lou: So did I.

Maribeth: Remember when you had to tape songs off of the radio and you had like the disc jockey talking over the beginning?

MM: Yea you had to wait all day for your song to come on.

Charlie: I guess we do have the technology now, but I miss tapes. There was something magical about that.

Rick: This digital age is too easy. Thats why I don’t have an Ipod. Charlie let me borrow his and it is convienent and nice, but man, when you have so much music, you get ADD.

At this point a man comes into the resturant trying to sell us lighted glowing things on a string and approaches the table. Rick sees them and says ‘No thanks, we’re good.’ Lou responds ‘I should have told him I have epilepsy’.

Maritbeth: (to Rick) Are you enjoying your soda?

Rick: Its pretty amazing.

MM: How come you got such a fancy soda and Charlie didn’t?

Rick: I know, sorry Charlie.

Charlie: Yea that waitress hates me.

Daggrr enters.

Daggrr: Hey guys, how you doing in here? Its cold out there!

Charlie: This is the guy with the bad ass name, Daggrr.

Maribeth: Daggrr, thats a bad ass name.

MM: Is it German? I think its German.

Daggrr: No its not German. My real name is Lawrence.

MM: That was a hard left turn.

Daggrr: Its off the record. Its Daggrr, D-a-g-g-r-r if you want to look me up on the internet. I didn’t know you were actually running audio, thats GREAT! (Laughs)

Check out The Miniature Tigers on their Myspace.

 

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