Ahead of their upcoming release ‘As Blue As Indigo,’ Tigercub are back, raring to go and ready to sink their teeth back into the industry. It’s been five years since their debut album and fans have long awaited this new record, which by all accounts promises to be an absolute banger. Formed in 2013, the Brighton-based trio have only continued to push their sound and ambitions further and as a result are certain to make a dynamic comeback later this month. Dom sat down with vocalist Jamie Hall for a chat about what he’s been up to, his definition of success, and some of his favourites from the new album.
So, first things first: How does it feel to be back with a new record?
‘It feels fucking great. Relieved! It was a huge undertaking, picking up where we left off 3-4 years ago – it wasn’t like we just had a holiday and didn’t do anything during that time. We were constantly in negotiations with record labels and trying to find the right resources to make the next step a step up. We were teetering on that next stage, we did some big gigs for us, and that felt like we were stepping up and we thought like, fuck, man, we’ve got to get a little bit more resources at our disposal so we can make that leap and that turned into a four-year fucking break!’
‘We just couldn’t get anything together with a label. We had no shortage of material – I love writing songs, it makes me happy, it makes me feel better, so there’s never any shortage of that. And then, at Christmas 2020 we tied up this deal and I made my own record label. All of a sudden, we had the ability to go and make this record and then we made the record on day one of lockdown.’
However, Tigercub hasn’t been Jamie’s only musical focus. His solo project ‘Nancy’ was started back in 2018, and shows no signs of disappearing.
‘I had these extra songs that I didn’t think would work in the Tigercub world and I’d already dropped an EP that was quite explorative and pushing our sound into new territories for Tigercub, out of the riff-rock realm into a more electronic thing. I was like, let’s do something separate – it’s just a nice pressure outlet of creative activity. It got signed straight away and it did really well by accident. It got played on Radio 1, we went out to America… It became my outlet whilst Tigercub was getting its shit together. It was fun to be like, I love the Beatles, let’s write some Beatles songs, rather than the aggressive edgy rock… Which I still love. It’s the spice of life, isn’t it!’
‘I was meant to go to LA two weeks ago and I got knocked back at the airport because of Covid. So, we tracked the drums over there – I was like, on Zoom – and then I’ve been in the studio for the last 3 days tracking vocals for it and tying up loose ends for that. Back in the studio with Nancy, it never ends!’
And it’s not just Nancy that Jamie has been involved in; he also started a podcast with London-based radio station Soho Radio, which he’s enjoyed as a way to connect with fans:
‘That whole thing just came along accidentally… I might not be brilliant at talking but I have a lot of thoughts and opinions on music and rather than just boring my friends and my partner to death about it, I can bore everyone else about it! I always make a million mistakes at the start but it becomes tangible. I felt like it was a great way to, like, as the fanbase to be funny. You have these half-trolling interactions with people and I just really enjoyed answering the mad questions people put to me. I was just constantly thinking of new segments and ideas to do that would be quite funny and not boring.
‘Tigercub’s not massively popular but loads of famous people in bands rate us. Like, Pearl Jam has jumped on the bandwagon. It’s weird – we’re like a band’s band. I thought, I can just get these people to come on… I know Benji and Mike so well [from Royal Blood] because they are Brighton. I wish there was a way they could tell me some of the stories they’ve told me already without getting people into trouble. They’ve got some absolutely mindblowers of stories.’
And regarding success and all that entails, Jamie feels his outlook on it is a rather ‘realistic’ view, and that his definition of it changes as he gains experience and grows older. For him, it’s about progress
‘The key for me in everything I do is always be securing the next thing, finding the means to do the next thing better, so if I can keep doing that and keep creating something that I feel is better than the last thing I’ve done, is success for me. And I can still see being a songwriter and a creative person as the main thing that I do in my life at the moment, so I guess that’s a fundamental thing. And I guess, more of the game of music that you start to learn, you start to change your priorities of what is successful… Everyone’s offered me everything and I know what’s true and what’s bullshit.’
‘Whenever younger lads and lasses hit me up and they’re like how do you get this, or that, I’ve always been like: just focus on the basics. My old college asked me to speak to the students and they were asking me questions that were way beyond the shit that’s really important. I was like, if you can get a 50-capacity venue and it’s exclusive and they can all buy cheap tickets, just keep doing that. Then next time, make it 60 people. Be nice to people, be friends with all your fans and make it so they are your mates. When I started to think about music and success in that way I felt happier and more optimistic.’
‘I guess I’ve gotten a little bit older now and I have started to just think about who I really am, where I come from. I think throughout my twenties I was like, borrowing personas and I don’t think I was ever being authentically myself. I feel like in reflection, I wanted to make a conscious step towards sharing with people who want to listen what I’m really about and trying to discover it myself which can be a life’s work; it’s no mean feat. I want to hold that sentiment close to me when making stuff going forward. When I released ‘Funeral,’ people hit me up and they were like, this song, there’s a part of it that I really clicked with and it felt cathartic. It’s something tangible, it’s not just stupid rock music, it’s real; it’s about people. Creatively, I want to stay true to that and I think I’ve got something to share with people.’
Touching further on the topic of reflection, Jamie shared some thoughts on the meaning of one of the new tracks, ‘Shame,’ and how his upbringing influenced the initial idea for it.
‘As a man, the way I was brought up, and the circumstances I was brought up in, I learnt that expressing anything other than stoicism was wrong, and to be met with the piss being taken out of you if you got upset. As a result, I’ve had a shocking amount of friends kill themselves and I haven’t cried – I haven’t been able to cry, and that’s not right. I mentioned earlier re-appraising what I’m about and who I’m going to become as I get older in life. That all worked its way into this record. A song like ‘Shame’ is me trying to really get across what I feel. In the moment, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what it’s about. Sometimes you listen back to something 3 months ago and you’re like, I know exactly what I was going through at the time.’
‘It’s a song about self-loathing, fucking hating yourself and going to that place, and I think we all do it. I really feel like that should be like, not demystified, but I feel like everyone has dark, suicidal thoughts, without ever really intending on acting upon them in any way. But it’s almost like an intrusive thought just crashes into your mind… There has to be some kind of discourse around it so people feel more comfortable opening up about stuff just so there can be a purge of anxiety, and let go of it. I feel like I feel happy after I’ve had a sad thought and just lived in it, whereas if I repress it and just don’t deal with it, it becomes so volatile. I get aggressive, I get hives. It comes out one way or another, and the best way to deal with it is head on. ‘Shame’ is my attempt to deal with things.
Moving onto the visual side of Tigercub, it’s something that Jamie feels is important, too; ‘crucial,’ even, as he feels that ‘it can elevate a record to classic status if you manage to get all these parts to fit together.’
‘I handle all the visual stuff myself. I do a bit of graphic design on Photoshop and all those programs. Putting records out and being in a band is a gang and it’s an entire world you have to create, and the artwork is the first impression, the thing that you will experience before you hear the music… Artistically, I’ve always liked Peter Saville and that branding. The vintage futurist imagining of the world, and Bauhaus. I try and put that stuff into Tigercub because I feel like there’s a relationship there; we reach back into the past and we can be referential and maybe derivative sometimes, but I think that in our mind we’re always trying to do something that’s pushing the genre forward in some way.’
So, what’s Jamie’s favourite from the new album?
‘As Blue As Indigo,’ I think – yeah. it has all the performing elements and the pantomime of all the rock music I really like. It’s like, really quiet, and the chords are kind of complex and jazzy – I was listening to a lot of classical pianists around the time and I was like, these chords are so cool, it kind of sounds like Radiohead. It’s insane! It’s like a tidal wave’s just splashed over you, I think that’s cool and it makes me quite excited. It’s bold, it’s quite bloody, it’s got big riffs, it goes really quiet, and it’s explosive. I do get excited by it.’
And last but not least, what does Jamie want to say to all the Tigercub fans out there?
‘Alright, here we go. Tigercub: we’re not fucking dead! We fuckin’ cheated death, we came back with a record that was climactic to make, it was horrible to make, it was beautiful to make, it was stressful, emotional, volatile, it’s everything captured in 25 to 40 mins. I want to say thanks to all the Tigercub fans for just staying on the journey and staying patient. ‘As Blue As Indigo’ comes out June 18th, it’s a big fuckin rock record! We’ve got loads of shit in the pipeline, loads of shit coming out, there’s more songs, we’re back, we’re going on tour November and December in the UK… Just get used to us, ‘cause we’re back.’
Interview: Dom Smith / Words: India Fishburn