My Tiger My Timing interview
Conservationists have become increasingly alarmed, baffled and generally spooked about the dwindling number of tigers in the world these days. Well crikey, they should just rummage 'round the Pop Jungle, there's bloody hundreds of 'em. Tiger Feet. Easy Tiger. Eye of the Tiger. Seven & The Ragged Tiger....Tony the Tiger...Tigger...umm, that one in The Killers video. In fact there's so many, the Manics are literally sending them away. But there's always room for one more kitty in our Ark, so folks please say 'all aboard' to My Tiger My Timing – a five-piece 'sophisticat-pop' extravanganza from the Big Smoke. I'm gonna stroke 'em, tickle 'em, chase 'em and generally have a right ol' roar with 'em. Steel codpiece? Check. Bag of tranquilizers? Check. Zookeeper, if you be so kind, open the cage...
Aloha Anna from My Tiger My Timing! Can you please introduce yourself, tell us the first band you saw live and the first record you bought with your own hard-earned cash?
Anna: We're James, Anna, Jamie, Gary and Seb and we're based in New Cross in South East London.
The first live event I went to was a Capital FM roadshow on Clapham Common when I was pretty young, I can't remember the full line-up but I'm pretty sure I saw the Spice Girls, Peter Andre and East 17 that day, as well as some indie stuff like Shed Seven. The first proper gig I went to was Ash at the London Astoria - I remember me and my friends thought we were really uber-indie because we all had Adidas Gazelles on (in light blue suede).
The first record I bought was a 7" of The Shoop Shoop Song by Cher and I'm not ashamed to admit it because it's a great tune - she was wearing a beautiful mermaid outfit on the front cover and I think that's what drew me to it more than anything.
Can you give us the skinny on the new I Am The Sound EP? Also looking ahead to the (hopefully) forthcoming debut album in 2010 what direction do you feel the MTMT sound is heading?
We're over the moon to have an EP out, and to have worked with Pure Groove on it because they're a great organisation. It's a CD EP, limited to 300 copies with specially designed artwork. There are six tracks on there and I wanted to make them all run together as a whole so there are little interludes between each song to give it a feeling of continuity. I think it's quite important now to make a physical release special and different to the stuff you can download. We'd like to do an album in 2010 but I think the plan is to do another EP first - it's a nice way of working because it's a body of work which reflects a more precise moment in time.
In terms of the sound, I think we're at a musical crossroads - at the moment I think there's quite a difference between the energy of the live sound and the subtlety of the recorded sound, so it's really a decision about which side we lean towards. I do feel though that either way we need to avoid letting it get overblown - our original idea with this band was simplicity and letting the song do the talking, but it's easy to get carried away in the studio.
You've described MTMT as "the sound of five people who know and love pop music more than anything else" - can you please give us a critique of the current state of pop from an MTMT perspective?
The term 'pop' has really expanded to incorporate a lot of styles, but broadly I think it would be fair to say that it's music that is concise, tightly structured, melodic and rhythmic and these are the important elements from our perspective as songwriters. I think there is actually some great pop music around at the moment - from real mainstream stuff like Shakira and Girls Aloud to more leftfield takes on the genre like La Roux, Julian Casablancas' new one and Discovery.
If you look at economic and social history, in times of depression you see a lot of empty escapism creep into music, and this is definitely true at the moment, but it's also when you get some interesting and unique voices coming from the underground.
Can you tell us about the MTMT live experience and what's been your most Spinal Tap moment thus far?
Live we are a bit harder edged than on record but the crowd does seem to enjoy the energy we put into the performance. I think you have to kind of tailor it a bit depending on the atmosphere of the room - so if it's Friday night and everyone's having it you have it too, but if it's more low key you try and connect with the audience on a more intimate and intense level.
We've had so many Spinal Tap moments I can't even choose one, we played at Koko and genuinely got lost in the labyrinthine staircases backstage ("Hello Cleveland"), a recent gig in Leeds with Ou Est Le Swimming Pool was great fun and they got me up on stage to sing but everyone was very drunk and the dressing room got a bit the worse for wear afterwards. And then me and James had a physical fight over the lighting in the room (he's my brother so it's okay, just mild fisticuffs).
Your song I Am The Sound is going to be on the next hyper-cool Kitsuné compilation which previously helped launch fab bands like Crystal Castles, Heartsrevolution and La Roux - How did this come about and do you have any particular favs from the Kitsune stable past or present?
I think Kitsuné just heard the song and really liked it - we're so pleased to have been included on the record because we're big fans of a lot of the bands they have worked with previously and it's very flattering to be on the same billing as bands like The Drums, Delphic and Crystal Fighters (my personal favourite).
If you were to take one of our lovely readers on a night out "in your manor" where would you take them and what would you do?
Well we come from New Cross which is an eccentric and slightly grimy corner of south east London. Its main redeeming feature is that it is surrounded by cool colleges (Goldsmiths, Camberwell, LCC) so there's a constant influx of new and interesting people. I think we'd start at the Montague Arms which is this amazing pub on Queens Road filled with skeletons, stuffed zebras, nautical bits and pieces, a stagecoach and an ancient house band. Then we'd go along to the Amersham Arms to catch a band, duck into the a nightclub called The Venue for some lowest common denominator disco and into a chicken shop to get some greasy food for the walk home.
Greasy is the word! OK, Let's leap forward a year - My Tiger My Timing have conquered the world and are universally adored - what secret dreams or ambitions do you have for the band (inc. merchandise, costumes, stage sets, films, themeparks) that fame & money could help make a reality?
I think a range of Tiger underwear could be good, maybe we could try to rival Kiss for merch overload, although I really can't think of anything they haven't done - cat food? In terms of the live show, I think some interesting stage sets could be good - I saw Iron Maiden earlier this year and they really went to town; they had an ancient mariner set complete with rocking, creaking ship, amazing. But in all seriousness it would probably be the usual - lush home studio and big old house in the country.
What's this 'New Cross scene' the kids are talking about? Is it a group-hug type scene or cut-throat with people sabotaging each others equipment and dropping banana skins near the stage door?
There has always been a New Cross scene and there have always been interesting bands coming out of the area so it's not a recent thing really. All the art students around the place keep the atmosphere fresh and original, and also it's a bit cut off from the rest of London so people have been forced to make their own fun. The vibe is somewhere between group hug and cut throat which is probably the best recipe for rock n' roll anyway. You've got to have rivalry and one-upmanship but it's not as uber-hipster as East London so there's more room for individuality.
I know you like your music upbeat but with a slice of introspection n' melancholia - what cheers MTMT up and what totally pees you off?
It's seems obvious but great music cheers us up - when you play loads of gigs you see a lot of rubbish bands and that can make you start to question the value of what you're doing. But then you see someone who's brilliant and it fills you with joy. Some of the best at the moment are Hook And The Twin, Post War Years, Plugs, Is Tropical, Crystal Fighters and La Shark.
What pisses me off? Misplaced arrogance, small-mindedness, dog shit on the pavement..!
Finally we're about to bid a teary adieu to the Noughties - what are your best and worst memories of the decade and what are your hopes for the Twenty-tens?
What defines this decade? Iraq, X-Factor, Spotify, Barack Obama, Big Brother, the iPhone? It's been a mixed bag I guess, some great music, some turbulent times in terms of how the internet has affected music, but I think you've got to be optimistic about the future and how this will all progress - I'm sure there's an app for that.
...and with that time is called on our brief sojourn with 'The Tigers'. But hey that's their prerogative, it is their tiger after all. There's nothing left to say anyway, except......they're grrrrrrrrrrreat (Music Journalism Rule #1, 'Leave No Pun Behind').
My Tiger My Timing's EP I Am The Sound is out now and Kitsuné 8 is out on November 16th. My Tiger My Timing My Space (teehee).
All band photos by Lærke Feld Andersen.