Thanks for taking the time to meet and talk about your new album, Kid Tiger. How long have you been in the process of developing this record?
Daniel: Oh, it’s been a process for the last year and a half.
You got to work with Grammy award-winning producer Vance Powell (Jars of Clay, Jack White, The Raconteurs). What was it like working with him after working with Mark Nevers (Andrew Bird, Alan Jackson) on your last album?
Daniel: When we were writing this record, we knew it was taking the direction of bigger songs, louder songs; more of a rock band. We had a great experience making Civilized Man with Mark Nevers. He was amazing, but I think for this, we wanted to find something different. We took the time to sit down with a bunch of different producers and engineers to try to find someone that was the right fit for the band and the songs. Vance was the third or fourth person that we sat down with, and we just knew right away. It was like right away. He was right on our level and such a great guy. We knew he was going to be so easy to work with.
How did he help develop the sound and make it cohesive across the record?
Marshall: I think Vance’s role in the recording process was very much about the sound of what we were doing. When we wrote the songs, we spent a lot of time writing, arranging, and preparing for recording in the studio. We wanted to capture the live sound, so we didn’t do a lot of individual tracking. We went in, everyone played all their parts at once, and Vance tracked it that way. I think he prefers that as a recording process, and that’s how we wrote the songs – to be recorded like that. He was instrumental in capturing our sound as a band. He is known for his sounds. You know if you work with Vance, you are going to get the biggest most amazing drum sounds and guitar sounds.
They do sound sick. There are a lot of parts on this record that are complex instrumentally. The compositions are really well thought out, and you can tell, musically, that it’s really strong. I noticed that while there is a song in five or a complex verse, you have these choruses that are really hooky and listenable. Is that something that you thought about intentionally or did it come about naturally?
Daniel: I think it was some of both, but if there was something that we thought about in the process, it was that we all wanted to make things that were musically interesting to us. We were not trying to push something that was a super marketable pop song or something like that, but we also really wanted to have these big choruses and things that were really accessible to people.
Joel: We don’t want to come across as music nerds (all laughing), like we’re putting together math rock or super complicated stuff just because we can. Like, ‘check this out, it doesn’t make sense to anybody but us,’ or something like that.
Timon: You can sing all the parts. There’s nothing on there that you couldn’t create through the voice.
How would you describe your sound to someone that is listening for the first time?
Timon: Speed Garage (all laughing). New genre.
Daniel: I don’t know, that’s such a hard thing to answer.
Joel: We like being commercially accessible.
Daniel: A rock band that writes pop hooks, maybe.
Joel: We all love hit songs that you recognize and you can sing. That’s what we listen to the most – hit songs from great songwriters. We want to have that kind of a feel and a song you remember that’s catchy. It kinda goes back to the idea that we don’t want to be an obscure band that’s just doing all this complicated stuff that only a small market would ever listen to or appreciate, because we appreciate super poppy stuff. We appreciate darker stuff. It sounds cliche, but putting stuff together that we all like just comes across in our personalities musically when we write together. Hopefully it comes out as this hodgepodge that can make sense and be accessible.
I haven’t seen your live show yet, but I’m really stoked to see it. What touring opportunities are coming up this year?
Joel: Thus far, we have four shows this week down at SXSW. This past year at CMJ I think we did six. We tried to pack it in and maybe even do more than six! We try to be as busy as possible, and we’ll be dead tired after a few days, but you just power through and keep playing shows and meeting people and doing what you hope you know how to do.
How has you manager and your team helped put that together?
Daniel: That’s been a big part of it since our first record and a growing process as a band. We can still do it independently and still do it how we want to. We started working with our manager a year and a half ago. That was super instrumental in helping to take it to the next level, organizing the chaos that is the four of us, and figuring out how to build the team that we want around us – radio, booking agents, and different things like that.
Joel: When it was just us, before we had management, we were always pretty well organized and we’ve all been 100% committed for a long time. We were pretty efficient, the four of us, internally doing everything on our own. That was important for us in bringing on management. We had the band dynamic thing covered. We needed someone who could take us to places we can’t go by ourselves right now.
What would you say most of the songs are about and what has been your inspiration?
Daniel: Aw man. So, when we wrote these songs, we wrote the music to them; composed the songs, arrangements, even melodies for the most part. We were intentional about the parts we created, but it all sort of happened naturally. We tried not to fight the melodies and let them be what they felt like they should be over the parts and the music we created. It sounds strange, but I wanted to approach the lyrics in the same way. In that process too, we’d be writing these songs and be singing certain lyrics, and there’d be a stream of consciousness in certain parts… almost just letting the lyrics be what they were gonna be, with different themes. It’s a super upbeat album, but there are some darker themes in it lyrically… There was never a point where I said, ‘okay this song sounds like this. I’m gonna write lyrics that are about this.’ Or, ‘this personal thing happened to me and i’m gonna write a song about this experience,’ because that’s how I’ve written songs in the past and I wanted to try to let the songs write themselves in a way. There’s a handful of songs about broken relationships. I’m very happily married, but a lot of people around us are at a time where they are in relationships.
How many of you are married?
Two. (Daniel and Marshall)
Last Question. Your an independent, DIY band. What advantages come with begin independent and what do you look forward to with this release?
Timon: Our team calls all the shots. Creatively, the music side of things are all our choices. There’s also all the other stuff; our poster design, tshirts, tour routing, when we do this and when we do that. It’s kind of cool to be in charge of the creative. We want to make a living playing music and sometimes you have to bend your own rules in order to make it happen. At the end of the day I think we’re thankful that there’s nobody in a glass booth saying, ‘less guitar please.’ Not that that’s wrong or anything, but that’s just not how we operate. We’ve configured the band and the musical operation (and non musical operation) to be self-sufficient. It’s a good thing. It’s like running your own business. There’s something great to be said for that, whether your a carpenter, an electrician, or a musician. It’s the same thing.