When I saw Ben Folds last week at Princeton’s McCarter Theater, I was blown away by the opening act, Miniature Tigers. The band instantly impressed with unbelievably catchy hooks, quirky lyrics, and fun instrumentals. After just a few listens to their debut LP, Tell It To The Volcano, you’ll be singing along with the tune of every song. The highlights are many- just about every song manages to stay in your head and have you feeling some kind of nostalgic emotion. What makes the music so great is it’s melancholy sweetness. All of the tracks are pure, unadulterated power-pop-rock, but below them lies a dark, solemn tone.
If you can’t gather from the gushing, this is just great music. Standout tracks are surely “The Wolf,” “Dino Damage,” “Cannibal Queen,” and the song from which the album gets its title, “Tell It To The Volcano.” But the point of this post is not to review the PMA-recommended album. No, the point of this post is to get you to know the band: PMA has an exclusive interview with lead singer Charlie Brand. Read on below for the interview and a couple MP3s. And don’t forget to pick up the album when you’re done! Seriously, it’s worth it.
1. How/where did you guys meet, and when was the moment when you thought you should be making music with each other?
Rick (Schaier) and I met through Myspace a few years ago. We both loved each other’s music and did covers of each other’s songs. I moved to L.A. a couple years ago and we started playing music together and got the band going from there.
2. Who writes the songs?
I write the songs. We work pretty closely in the studio and Rick helps a lot with arrangements and shaping the songs from demos into what the album turns out to be. Rick and I will be doing much more co-writing on the next album.
3. What was your initial reaction when Ben Folds selected you to open for his tour? Are you fans? How did he hear about you guys?
Shock. We work with someone at our label who also works with Ben. I guess Ben had heard the cd and wanted to take us out on tour. We grew up listening to him so it’s surreal to be sharing a stage with him every night.
4. What kind of past touring experience do you have?
This is only our second tour. We toured with Lenka for a couple weeks right before this, so we are pretty new to it.
5. Who are your biggest musical influences?
Probably The Beatles. Huge into The Kinks and ABBA. Weezer’s Pinkerton. Lately we’ve been obsessed with Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective and Beach House.
6. What are your plans for the future in terms of more touring, more music, etc?
We’re going to be touring for the next couple years. It’s looking like we’re going to record a new album in December/January!
7. What is the band’s collective all-time favorite album?
The White Album.
8. If you had to pick ONE Miniature Tigers song that you think would give people the best sense of the band’s sound, which one would it be?
It’s hard to say. Maybe “Last Night’s Fake Blood”? I’d say where we are now a new song called “Rock N Roll Mountain Troll.”
9. How would you classify your music?
10. Best album of 2008?
3 way tie: Department of Eagles – In Ear Park, Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping, Beach House – Devotion.
11. Best album, other than Tell It To The Volcano, of 2009 so far?
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion. It hasn’t been released yet and I haven’t heard it but the new Grizzly Bear album will be amazing I bet.
12. We quickly talked about LOST at your concert the other night. What’s your favorite season of the show, and why? And are all four of you obsessed, or just one in particular?
I have to say Season 5 is my favorite so far. I really loved Season 2 as well. I love where they are going with this season so far. Rick, Darren (Robinson) and Myself are all obsessed. We go online and read theories and everything. Our bassist Lou (Kummerer) doesn’t watch it. We keep telling him he’s missing out but he won’t listen!
13. I see from your Myspace that you have the same love for Super Smash Brothers on N64 that my brother has right now, so let’s end the argument right now: which character is the best?
I play as Mario. Rick and Darren play as Kirby. I feel like I am constantly dominating them with my abilities. By this logic, Mario would be the best. Darren and Rick completely disagree. Go figure.
14. You guys seem to have good movie taste (PT Anderson, Wes Anderson, Stanley Kubrick on your “influences” list): what are your all-time favorite movies? And what were your favorite movies of last year?
My favorite movie of the last year was maybe “Gran Torino.” I really liked “Benjamin Button” as well. None of my favorite directors released movies last year. My favorite Wes Anderson movie is probably “The Darjeeling Limited” right now, but I love them all equally. We love “Punch Drunk Love” and “Boogie Nights.” “The Shining,” “2001″ and “Barry Lyndon.” We love Nancy Meyers, she did “The Holiday” and “Somethings Gotta Give.” We love movies. “Kung Fu Panda” was intense.
Indeed it was, Charlie. As I said before in my review of their opening set, great music, great guys, and a great album. Give the Miniature Tigers a listen with the below MP3s and on their Myspace (check there for tour dates as well). You’ll be hooked.