Tigers Jaw: On Letting Go

Interview Tigers Jaw: On Letting Go

With the release of their new record ‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’, Tigers Jaw find themselves rejuvenated, and ready to embark on a new era of the band.

From booking their own shows through MySpace as the forerunners of the late ‘00s emo-revivalist movement, to releasing their sixth album as an audibly reinvigorated four-piece, Tigers Jaw’s history has been hinged around Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins’ unshakable resilience. Having overcome the departure of three band members ahead of the release of 2014’s ‘Charmer’, the pair embarked on a journey away from the rawness of their pizza-covered breakthrough, introducing the power-pop undertones that would characterise 2017’s ‘spin’. But it would be officially teaming up with touring members Colin Gorman and Teddy Roberts that would see them rediscover confidence in their sound on their latest offering.

“It feels really exciting to be entering a new chapter of the band,” Brianna beams over Zoom, met by a nod of approval from Ben; a two-hour drive away in his Pennsylvanian home. “We feel really comfortable not just playing together but writing together, and just as friends. It just feels really good to be in the band.”

“In 2015 our band was in a much more transitional state. We were figuring out what our next move was,” Ben recalls. “When we started working on ‘spin’, we had different people filling in for tours and we weren’t in a place where we were trying to find anybody to join the band.” Unwilling to force anything inauthentic, the duo settled on remaining the sole creative forces behind the record. “We wanted to go back to the spirit of how the band started – before even Bri joined the band – when it was myself and Adam [McIlwee] building songs together.” But after Colin and Teddy joined them on the road things began to change.

Tigers Jaw started to naturally shift, forging a strong bond during the band’s busiest touring years to date. “All of that time together, strengthening our friendships and getting close, it was a no brainer when we decided to ask them to join the band for real,” Ben explains. “It makes it feel more like a band, in the traditional sense. It’s just been really good; it feels really natural, and those guys feel like family.”

"Everything that we are doing is going to live on beyond us."

— Brianna Collins

As well as bringing two new musical minds into the fold, Tigers Jaw also found themselves edging closer to their live sound. Paired with more time to write and record than for previous releases, and returning to work with scene-stalwart producer Will Yip, the band became even more considered in their approach, looking to, in part, replicate the gig environment on record. This was bolstered by more brains to bounce ideas off, or “a bit more back and forth but in a way that’s really beneficial,” as Brianna notes.

“Many years of touring with them and playing our catalogue made them very familiar with the ins and outs of our energy and style,” Ben says of their newest members. “There was plenty of room for both of their musical personalities in these songs as well. We approached the tracking and mixing of it in a very minimal sense. We didn’t do a lot of layering of tracks. We kept it pretty true to the number of instruments and voices that would occur at a live show. It just created this wide open, big sounding mix. Everybody’s personalities are in there, and a couple of new voices, but it still feels and sounds like Tigers Jaw.”

‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’ represents this openness to change and the band’s constant drive to move forward in its songs, embodying resilience, tenacity and adaptability in both its lyrics and in the very fact that it even exists. “I guess I’ll have to learn and let live, or die,” the album’s opener - which features Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull - dramatically asserts, setting the scene for a record that encourages listeners to live in the moment as best they can. “It’s about not focussing on things that you really can’t control and focussing instead on the things that you can take ownership over,” Ben notes. “There’s a sense of confidence and identity.”

Tigers Jaw: On Letting Go

"As long as we are creating something we are proud of, that’s what is most important."

— Ben Walsh

It’s identity that Tigers Jaw hold onto so tightly. Despite vast line-up changes and subtle shifts in sound, Ben and Brianna have adamantly stuck to their guns. Even a brief flirtation with a major record label only happened after the album in question was recorded, and both claim prominent roles in the inner workings of the band outside of performing. Ben acts as both their manager and tour manager, while Brianna handles all things creative – most notable in their consistent release of music videos over the past months.

“The way that we see it is that as long as we are creating something we are proud of, that’s what is most important,” Ben says, of their unfaltering do-it-yourself attitude. “We’ve never been tracing a trend or trying to be the biggest band. Hopefully we can continue to grow in a natural way and be able to keep doing this for a long time.”

“Teddy is the one who made this point,” Bri adds. “Everything that we are doing is going to live on beyond us. It’s so important for it to be accurate. Not just the music – which is obviously the core and the inspiration for everything else – but everything we put out there. Every decision we make, every tour we do, we’re really conscious of it and of not just doing it because it’s a good idea. Even if it’s a lot of work, in the end it’s worth it because it’s going to exist forever.”

As the band begin their new chapter, it’s this that rings loudest. Even though, as the new album title suggests, they may not care how they are remembered, in their many guises Tigers Jaw continue to make sure they are doing it right for themselves, and for the legacy and message they put out into the world. This is immortalised on an album that pushes for acceptance and finds hope in letting go of the uncontrollable.

‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’ is out now via Hopeless Records.

Tags: Tigers Jaw, Features, Interviews

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