Miniature Tigers not so small anymore

Courtesy Miniature Tigers
Miniature Tigers play in New York City Feb. 14 (above) to promote their new record, Cruel Runnings, scheduled for release May 27.

By Weston Pagano

Having originally met through Myspace, the indie-pop quartet Miniature Tigers comes from humble beginnings and was named one of the 25 best bands on the social network site by Rolling Stone in 2006. Miniature Tigers released their throwback debut, Tell It to the Volcano, evoking a classic pop style reminiscent of the mop top era of The Beatles. They have since toured with chart-toppers Fun. and recently traveled to Jamaica to record their new LP.

Now with three EPs and three full-length albums under its belt, the Phoenix-born and Brooklyn-based collective is back with a more polished approach on its upcoming record Cruel Runnings, which is scheduled for release May 27. The first single, “Swimming Pool Blues,” references Brian Wilson’s early ’60s work, buzzing with sea-breezed anticipation of summer in the verses before exploding into a chorus splashed with bright synth counter-melodies and shaded with forlorn nostalgia.

The band recently embarked on a tour with fellow Brooklynites Bear Hands and opening act Total Slacker. Before their March 19 show at The Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., The Chronicle stepped inside Miniature Tigers’ van with frontman Charlie Brand and guitarist Algernon Quashie to discuss their new album, cover art and fights with other bands.

THE CHRONICLE: What was it like performing in large venues on your recent tour with Fun.?

CHARLIE BRAND: It’s a whole different thing, really, and the energy is different…. It’s trippy playing in front of that many people and playing to that large of an audience, but then we also love playing more intimate shows and smaller clubs.

CC: What other bands would you like to tour with? 

ALGERNON QUASHIE: Man, maybe the Paul McKenna All-Stars, but for people we have toured with, yeah, Fun. has been awesome, Kevin Devine and that crew, Spinto Band.

CC: How did recording your upcoming album in Jamaica influence your sound?

CB: It was just a more laid back recording process. We were really relaxed making it, so it felt very effortless to record it and make it, but it doesn’t really sound like an island record, really. It’s very clean and poppy and there are lots of big drums.

CC: You create a lot of your album artwork. What is your inspiration?

CB: It usually happens after everything’s already done. Rick [Schaier] painted the first two album covers, and the third one, we just shot this photo. [With the new record] we’re on the cover for the first time. We’ve never really done anything like that and just kind of had this idea inspired by the [Memphis Group] with lots of ’80s interior design, like really pastel-y colors, and [we] wanted to basically create this room and put ourselves in it.

CC: What is your songwriting process?

CB: I’ll just kind of like sit down and start f–king around and record demos, and most times I’ll like send it to these guys and they’ll write little parts and we’ll all kind of tinker with s–t, and once we get in the studio, then that’s kinda when the songs really take shape and we all contribute our parts and weigh in on how we’re going to approach the production.

CC: Are either of you currently working on any side projects?

AQ: Yeah, everyone has their own little thing. Rick has the Alvin Band. Rick and I have a little group called Spooky. I make beats. Brandon he has his own solo project, too, so we all just keep it moving. [Laughs]

CC: You’re currently touring with Bear Hands so I have to ask: Who would win in a fight between a man with bear claws for hands and a group of four miniature tigers?

AQ: Hmm… a group of tigers. 

CB: I personally think the pack of miniature tigers would win, but ultimately, who would win in a fight between Miniature Tigers and Bear Hands?

AQ: You mean the bands?

CB: Bear Hands, dude. I mean, I’ve had some fights, but I think they’d ultimately beat the s–t out of us.

For more information, visit MiniatureTigers.com.