Interview Tigercats: ‘The Next Album’s Already In Our Heads’

The impending death of guitar music, and trying to make people dance.

Infectious, instant and disgustingly catchy, Tigercats’ debut album is one of the year’s best kept secrets. Just prior to their indietracks set - judged by many to have been a genuine ‘coming of age’-type moment - we spoke to indie-pop’s answer to Taz-Mania staples The Platypus Brothers in the shape of Giles and Duncan Barrett about comparisons to Los Campesinos!, the impending death of guitar music and trying to make people dance.

Speaking from your own personal experience, has releasing an album in any way given you a greater sense of confidence when playing live?
Giles: Yeah, I think so. Partially because the album’s released and people will know the songs a bit more but the more you play the better it is.
Duncan: Yeah, I think the confidence comes from just playing more.
G: Especially when people come to the shows!
D: Yeah, it’s nice to play to people.

But if you compare it to say, the days before you were signed, was there a sense of ‘look what we’ve got to offer’, whereas now it’s ‘look at what we’ve done or achieved’? A sense of vindication, perhaps?
D: Yeah, to an extent perhaps. But I still feel like we’ve got things to prove. I still want to treat it like no-one knows who we are.
G: We are already thinking about the next songs, you know? The album is made up of songs that we grew over a period of time and developed as we were playing live as well. That didn’t stop when we recorded the album. The next album’s already in our heads.

From a band perspective what sense of satisfaction did you gain from the record? In your heads does a debut record still hold that mythical, magical quality?
G: Well, I don’t think it’s as it used to be because the release date isn’t as big a thing as it used to be, people can stream it beforehand and all that sort of thing. Also, we’d had a few singles out in the run-up so for me the satisfaction comes in the smaller moments. Like when you play a really good show or sell a few records on the merch table afterwards, instead of being one big day, it’s more like little things happening throughout a tour or whatever.

Now that bands can exist almost entirely self-sufficiently to a certain degree, is there still the same level of importance surrounding a band’s first record?
G: I think it depends on how important it is for the band. You still know that a lot of people get the record, and that’s you. I am proud of what’s on our record and I’m happy for people to be judging us on that. I think that perhaps for people that have known us since our first singles then they’ll just see it as another part of the journey.
D: I think with a lot of bands it’s weird in that when they release an album, that’s when everyone else gets to know that record. That’s the beginning of the story for those people, whereas for the band themselves it’s the end of it. We’ve recorded those songs, it’s time to move on.

‘Isle Of Dogs’ seems a really expressive record. Is that something that was prevalent during the creative processes?
G: When Duncan brings the songs we just wanted to make them exciting and fun to us.
D: I think energy and movement is always important. You have to try and make people dance.
G: When we recorded them and played them all together…I hope at least some of them are in a way where you don’t know what’s coming next.

With your album having being picked up for positive review by the broadsheet press, alongside the radio play for both you and a lot of the other bands present this weekend, do you think that indie-pop or guitar-based pop is now gaining more attention than it used to?
G: I mean, when we’re talking about melodic guitar-based music, you have to remember we’re making it. We’ve never lost interest in it!
D: I think guitar bands are on the way out. It’s like a minority interest. It’s not the music that people are listening to, or dancing to at clubs. Doesn’t make it any less good but it’s not really going on in terms of music.
G: It’s just what’s going on for us.
D: I think guitars are maybe going to finally die. I really think it’s going to be over soon. I mean, how many bands in the charts play guitars, and the ones that do are RUBBISH.

There seems to have been a lot of - arguably lazy - comparisons to Los Campesinos!’ ‘Hold On Now Youngster’. Are those comparisons that you’d necessarily agree with?
D: Yeah, I can understand that.
G: I think their first record was exciting and there are certainly some ways of playing music - fast, major key riffs etc - that we both do.
D: But they hate that record now though, don’t they? Maybe it goes to back to what I was saying earlier. Once it’s released it’s done. But they’re a very different band now to when they released that record, aren’t they? If you were to compare us to Los Campesinos! then undoubtedly it would be that first record. You wouldn’t say that it’s very similar to ‘Hello Sadness’.

But looking into some mythical crystal ball, is their model of development something that you can see Tigercats doing? More accomplished records, but perhaps slightly less energetic.
D: Not less energetic. I want to be more energetic.
G: More accomplished, definitely.
D: I know the guys from Los campesinos! and I remember playing gigs with them around the time that they were releasing that first record and I think I like how they have developed as a band and it’d be nice to be in a similar position to them,
G: I don’t think we’re going to sound more like them but we’re definitely trying harder. One of the things you do when you listen to your old stuff is….I don’t write the songs so I’m not thinking about structure or whatever. I’m just thinking about how I could play certain bits better.

How would you define pop music as an overall concept?
G: ‘Purple Rain by Prince and everything on that record.
D: Songs that everybody know. I’d like the write a song that everybody knows.
G: Actually yeah. We were talking about White Town (of ‘Your Woman’ fame) who is playing on the train later, and he wrote the perfect pop song. It’s not a case of having certain elements such as ‘it has to have strings’ or whatever, but he wrote a song that got into everyone’s heads. In a pop way, that’s absolutely brilliant.
D: I’d like to do that. Have a massive hit and then the rest of our songs, nobody likes!

How do you view your own output relative to the answers you’ve just given?
D: We try to never have a dull moment in a song. That’s how Lennon and McCartney wrote their songs. They’d write over every bit and make sure there were no dead moments in any song.
G: In terms of musicianship, we’re not up there with ‘Purple Rain’ because Prince played every instrument on that record, but that stems from having levels of musicianship that only comes with incredible levels of dedication. We’re definitely not there, but I’m reminded of the thing that someone said about Orange Juice, where they tried to sound like Chic and ended up sounding like Orange Juice. I like that little frisson between being an indie guitar band and being an amazing pop band. Obviously with Prince there’s also all the warning signs of all the bad records he made with regard to focussing on the musicianship and not focussing enough on the pop songs.

Turning to your live show, that’s something that’s always seemed to be an important part of the band’s appeal. Is that something you’d agree with? Is that an intrinsic part of the band’s mentality?
D: We take pride in what we do. I was in a shambling indie band that could barely play their instruments and we’ve all seen lots of shambling indie bands that can barely play their instruments and that’s great. But it’d be sad if that’s where it stopped. We work hard to be really tight. I used to really hate it when people came up to me after shows and be all ‘nice show, guys. Really tight.’ I used to think that was the least important thing. But now I’m really pleased when people say it. It’s always men, as well…….I’m proud that we’re competent.

What do you hope people get from the record?
G: I guess the one thing I want people to take away from our music and live show is for people to dance. That’s always really satisfying.
D: We played a show for Cambridge University ball and everybody danced but at the same time they kind of ignored us. It was as though they were all just really happy and wanted to dance and we just happened tone playing. That was kind of rubbish
G: So, when we say we just want to people to dance, we actually want more than that!
D: I’d like to be a band that I’d be a fan of, the kind that people get obsessed over like Belle & Sebastian. I’d like to be a band that’s important to people. But I think we’ve still got a way to go yet.

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