It’s a Saturday night when we’re headed to Molotow Club in Hamburg to have a chat with Tigercub from Brighton. They’ve recently signed to Blood Red Shoes‘ new label Jazz Life and played several shows supporting them in Germany. Tonight, however, is one of the few nights they’re playing without them. Instead, they’ll be supporting Die! Die! Die! from New Zealand. Confusion embarks in the backstage area as we’re not sure which of the four dressing rooms is free for us to settle down for an interview, when the singer of Swearing at Motorists – who are playing in the bigger room of the venue tonight – walks in and everyone starts introducing each other. This is where Tigercub’s bassist Jimi informs us that everyone in the band is called James, which doesn’t really make things easier. But we manage to have a smoke and a chat.
IPD: You just said so yourself, you’re all called James. So you’re…Jamie–
IPD: You’re Jimi.
Jimi: I’m Jimi, yeah, I spell my name like Jimi Hendrix, because I’m a try-hard and because I think it’s cool. I’m actually James, like… James.
IPD: So you’re all just James.
Jimi: Well, Jamie is actually Jamie. Which, in English, is a different name, although it’s kind of the same name.
Jimi: It took us like six months or something to realise we were all called James. And then we were like ‘Whoa, fuck!’ (all laugh) but yeah, that helps at soundcheck.
IPD: Do people mix you up a lot?
Jimi: Yeah, all the time. You know, your mum or dad are like, ‘Peter– Dave– Gary– Errrr…’. My mum would probably call me my cat’s name before mine.
IPD: So you’ve signed to Blood Red Shoes’ label Jazz Life. How did that happen? Did they just come up to you and said, ‘You’re really cool, we wanna sign you’?
Jamie: They’re from our hometown. Well, we’re from different parts of the UK, but we all live in Brighton.
Jimi: We rehearsed at the same place and we have a lot of mutual friends, and when I first heard about Jazz Life, it was because they released their last record on there. And now that they’re kind of getting on in their career I think they want to help young bands… and we’re in exactly the right point in our career where we haven’t had an album out or anything yet. I think they thought they could help us, which they have, massively. So we signed to them for the single and who knows, maybe we’ll do more with them. I hope so, cause they’re really cool. We love them. Being on tour with them has been amazing!
IPD: Your sound is very 90’s-influenced, musically. Next to the obvious influences you hear everywhere like Nirvana, Sonic Youth, etc., is there any trashy pop music from the 90’s you also listen to a lot? Any guilty pleasures?
Jamie: I love that one.
Jimi (attempts to sing the guitar riff): I sing that in the shower all the time.
Jimi: ‘Kiss From A Rose‘… don’t make me cry.
IPD: That’s a nice one. That’s not even guilty, that’s just a pleasure.
Jimi: That’s a proud pleasure! But yeah, we listen to a lot of bands at the moment… there’s a band called Girl Band who we really like.
Jamie: They’re fucking amazing, they do industrial punk, it’s sick.
Jimi: I think their latest single is about 14 seconds long or something. (makes noise)
IPD: We’ve recently seen one with a song that was like 15 seconds long. Do you know Slaves?
Jimi: Yeah, we played with them a few times.
IPD: They have this 15 second song called ‘Girl Fight’.
Jimi (sings in mock voice): Girl fight! Girl fight! Where’s your car, Debbie?
Jimi: They live in Tunbridge Wells, which is like 40 minutes from where we live. So we’re not their friends, but we know them to say hello, how’re you doing.
IPD: So, Brighton. Other than yourself, who’s for you, personally, the best band or solo artist to have emerged from Brighton?
Jamie: Eighties Matchbox.
Jimi: The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. He didn’t emerge from Brighton, he ended up there. Or, I’ll tell you who really is good from Brighton: Charlottefield, the post-hardcore band with Tom House, who now plays in all kinds of different bands. No one really knows about them, but they are incredible, you see their name scratched in bar walls and stuff, and no one knows who they are. They played their last show about four years ago or something.
IPD: Did they just disappear?
Jimi: Yeah, but they just imploded, the drummer and the singer were going to kill each other if they stayed in the band any longer. But that’s what made them so exciting!
James: And when the drummer quit, no other drummers could learn the songs, so they couldn’t carry on, ’cause he’s that good.
Jimi: Yeah, he’s like Mitch Mitchell [of The Jimi Hendrix Experience], but he looks like Professor Weeto! (all laugh)
Jimi: He’s got glasses, big beard, looks really strange… when I first moved to Brighton in 2007 I saw Guy McKnight from Eighties Matchbox and I was like (whispers) ‘What the fuck…’ (gasps) It was too much, he was too cool.
Jamie: The Wytches are good as well.
IPD: For us Non-Brightoners, what is the best venue for bands to play? What is one that you always wanted to play and finally did?
Jimi: That’s a really good question.
Jamie: I’d like to play the Old Market.
Jimi: That’s where Mac Demarco played recently and I saw Polar Bear there once, actually.
Jamie: Green Door Store is a good venue.
Jimi (points at the others): These two both work at Green Door Store, so they should say that or they’ll get fired.
Jamie: Every good band has played there… Girl Band…
Jimi: …Tigercub… It does feel like a European venue in a way. Though, with respect, it doesn’t have the same catering or rider capacities but… it’s on the station, it’s in an old Victorian archway where they’d put horses, so you feel the history in there.
James: It used to be a blacksmith’s as well, for horses and such.
IPD: Is there any venue that really sucks? Or any that you don’t ever want to play again?
Jimi: I don’t know if you can ever really blame a venue, I think you just have to take a bit of self-responsibility. I don’t know, there’s nowhere that’s really awfully, awfully bad. There used to be a venue called Hector’s House, which was really grotty, and the room and the sound was great, but everything was dirty and it was fucked. And then another company took it over and reorientated it and put in a nice bar and then loads of radio bands would play there and … they fucked it. But that’s subsequently closed. So there you go.
IPD: You’ve spent a lot of time in Germany now for the past few days. How has Germany treated you? Did you like it?
Jamie: Fucking love it here.
Jimi: Yeah, unbelievable.
Jamie: People here like music. It feels like, sometimes in the UK, people just can’t be fucking arsed with it, you know?
Jimi: People want to appear to like music.
Jamie: Yeah, there’s loads of stupid hipsters. But here, we get paid well and we get fed and we get beer and we don’t ask for too much, but everyone’s nice and cool and it’s a beautiful country and people love rock music.
James: People actually get excited about it.
Jamie: People like our band here!
Jimi: We flew to Düsseldorf on Sunday morning and we met Chris [the tour manager] at the airport and we went for a walk around town, and these three guys and this girl just heard that we’re speaking English, wanted to know what we’re doing, where we’re from, and we said that we were playing at Zakk that evening. And then the girl, whose name I forgot, I think it was Wilhelmine – in case she reads this, I don’t want her to be offended, I think it’s Wilhelmine – and she just messages us on Facebook, she kind of followed it through. It was really nice just to have someone coming to you in the street and take interest. I feel kind of guilty and embarrassed that if you’re a German band coming to England, I don’t know if you have that same acceptance.
IPD: Probably not. Because the music scene in England is so much greater, especially in indie music. In Germany you’re lucky to find a really good indie band.
Jimi: Like this band here, (points at a sticker nearby) Egotronic.
IPD: They are really good.
Jimi: They’re awesome. We were hanging out with them in Berlin. They’re coming to record in Brighton in January!
IPD: Alright, so what’s next for Tigercub? What’s your plan for this year and for next year?
James: Our single, the Jazz Life release, drops on the 1st of December so pretty soon after we get back. And then we’ll be looking towards putting out some more music as soon as possible. Just get back in the studio…
Jamie: …and record the album.
Jimi: We have this masterplan we came up with in Karlsruhe when we were really drunk about four days ago, that we want to do the album with [music producer Steve] Albini and we figured out a way how we could make that happen, but that’s still up in the air. A lot of good things would need to happen… for that to happen.
Jamie: It’s a little bit rushed this year because we’ve gotten popular this year and we’ve been gone for a while and now things simmered and since January, since we toured with Royal Blood, we got a production deal and we’ve been touring loads, playing loads of shows… and now we’re in Germany and stuff.
IPD: That happened really quickly, right?
Jamie: Yeah, we’re like ‘Fuck, we need to write an album now, we need to actually be a band’.
IPD: But don’t rush it.
Jamie: Yeah, don’t rush it… We’ve got the songs, but for it to come out – even in 12 months – it needs to be written beforehand, recorded and ready.
Jimi: It’s a bit like chess, in the way you need to have all these moved planned. So yeah, that’s kind of what we’ve set in album-time, really. And then hopefully a couple of people will buy it and love it!
Tigercub played a quite short, heated set under Molotow Club’s roof to warm up the small Saturday night crowd before Die! Die! Die! took the stage. Enough to give us a glimpse of what big things the Brightoners might have planned and to leave us curious of what else is to come.
‘Centrefold’ is out on Jazz Life on December 1. Listen below:
(all photos © S. Prahl)