It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from indie poppers Miniature Tigers… However, next week, October 28th, to be specific, sees the release of I Dreamt I Was A Cowboy, a gloriously lovely sunshine alt pop album reminiscent of the best summertime junior high jams of the mid-late ‘90s, and their first album since 2014’s Cruel Runnings. And this October is seeing their first live dates in two years. Earlier this month they played San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, and this weekend they’ll be playing a trio of Mid-Atlantic shows, beginning with our very own Boot & Saddle this Friday, October 21st. Earlier today I got the chance to chat with Miniature Tigers guitarist/frontman Charlie Brand, who tells me about the band’s current goings ons and just what it’s like to be a decade into making music together.
Izzy Cihak: I always hate to start with such a huge question, but what have been some of the highlights of Miniature Tigers so far? You’ve been around for about a decade now (which is crazy to think about).
Charlie Brand: So much of it has been great. Moments like touring all of Europe or recording in Jamaica are still surreal. I think the craziest thing is that we’ve been a band for 10 years and still deeply love each other so much and have a great time together still. I feel like most bands hate each other by this point. It’s been amazing to watch our fanbase grow with us and have this small cult of friends.
Izzy: On a related note, have you noticed patterns in the kinds of people who are most into, or “best get,” your sounds?
Charlie: I feel like we’ve attracted people that were just like us in highschool. And this sounds trite but, misfits and people that just don’t fully fit into whatever the general population is into. It’s amazing to meet people that I recognize myself in and are affected by the music. I mean we’ve been touring for years and we hang out for hours after every show with people that come and it never gets old for me. They are our people.
Izzy: Next week you release your fifth album, I Dreamt I Was a Cowboy. How do you feel the album compares to previous releases, whether in terms of an evolution of your sound or just your process of writing and recording it?
Charlie: The biggest evolution is that this is the first Miniature Tigers record that I fully produced/mixed and mastered. It feels nostalgic in a way like, “Look how we started, not knowing anything and now we still don’t know anything but have the confidence to try it ourselves.” To me it feels like the most “us” record yet.
Izzy: What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences, both musical and otherwise?
Charlie: My producer friend, Chris Zane, was super encouraging to me early on in making this record that I could actually record and mix it myself. It was like, getting that approval of someone I respect so much gave me the confidence to just go for it.
Joni Mitchell was also a huge influence musically on me. I wanted to capture that California feeling that runs through her work. People like David Hockeny and Matisse. Their approach to art and editing their art was heavily influential.
Izzy: So Godard and Anna Karina are two of my favorite people, so I’m curious how you came about the idea to use the theatre scene from Vivre sa vie in your video for “Crying in the Sunshine.”
Charlie: I love Godard. The funny thing is that isn’t our video. Someone on YouTube randomly made that. it’s great and simple. I’m much more passionate about our video that was made by our friends Albert and Meghan, using the Hololens. I’m flattered to have people inspired by our music enough to make videos so it’s all great to me.
Izzy: For that matter, are you all particularly into cinema? If so, who are some of your favorite filmmakers and what are some of your favorite movies? Have you seen anything especially good recently?
Charlie: Movies are a huge passion for us. Kubrick is someone we try to emulate in the sense he never made a movie in the same genre twice. We’ve always tried to make our albums radically different from one another. Cost us some fans along the way too. I had never really experienced some of the old classic movies, so I’ve been going through some of those. Recently saw Bye Bye Birdie and Singin’ In The Rain and fucked me up. Also Wallace and Gromit! So touching and deeply funny.
Izzy: What can be expected of the live experience when you play Boot & Saddle this Friday? Are there any songs from your back catalogue that you still especially enjoy getting to play on a regular basis, or will we have to wait and find out?
Charlie: The last time we played there the staff was rude as hell, so I’m not sure what to expect [laughs]! I love Philly, so I’m excited. Sometimes we play a song so many times it just becomes a drag to play it. We haven’t played shows in two years so when we went to relearn some of the old stuff everything felt new and fresh to us. We are trying to be very diplomatic and play things we love to play and also play a balance of every album to make everybody at the show happy. We care more about that than anything else. It’s more old stuff than new because we’ve only learned a few new songs. Also learned some old stuff we haven’t played in years.
Izzy: And for this East Coast run you’re on the road with Ela Minus, who I totally love. Are you excited to get to share the stage every night? Are you fans of Gabriela Jimeno and the project?
Charlie: Yes! So excited. I met her while producing a record for another band and fell in love. She’s so talented and I’m a fan of her music and a fan of her as a person. She’s the best. Also, one of my favorite new bands and oldest friends, Carol Cleveland Sings, is playing the show with us and I couldn’t be more thrilled! They just released maybe my favorite record of the year.
Izzy: Finally, what’s next for Miniature Tigers? How do you hope to spend the remainder of 2016 and the first part of 2017?
Charlie: The rest of the year will be spent chilling. I plan on spending the winter painting and writing music. Not sure if that will be for Miniature Tigers or Promises Ltd or something else entirely. Excited to have a blank page. I would love to tour more next year. Not sure if that’s realistic or not yet but I would love it to be.