Monday 8 April 2013

20 Questions w/ Tigon

Infinite Teeth

Back during my early attempts to search the web for bands who might be interested in reviews for the blog.  1) I didn't know better and 2) I wasn't prepared for the subsequent influx of music I would eventually go on to review.  (Idiot!)  Anyway,  I inexplicably stumbling on a band, whose record would eventually feature in my top 25 records of 2012, beaten only by Neurosis and we all know how great that record was?!  Well, I thought it was superb anyway.

As often is the case when posting these interviews, I listen to the latest record of the band I am featuring. In this case, Infinite Teeth by Tigon is currently blasting out in the headphones and just reaffirms what a superb and genre bending record this truly is.  I had a few choice words to say about the record back in July 2012.   Tigon produced a record unlike anything else I had heard.  Here is a taste of what I had to say about their brilliant record
"All I can say about Prophetess, is that it is magnificently epic, think the grandness of your favourite Post Metal Sludge band, think Old Man’s Gloom or A Storm of Light, man this is titanic! The riffs are monstrous and this is the longest and most spine chillingly heavy song of the record. Everything on this track sounds huge, a colossus beast, it is mouth watering, with elements of blackened screams that twists like a knife, inflicting untold pain. It’s as if the band has thrown out the rule book of everything which encapsulated the first 2/3rds of the album, with wanton abandonment. They slow things right down with atmospheric tones and this appears to be the band at their most reflective with the spoken vocals giving it an emotional and introspective flavour. This for me is easily the coupe de grace of the album and exhibits that Tigon incorporate many influences to their music and this is the thing that excites me about this band, they truly are a brilliant, and with this song they have written one of, if not the best song of the year" Words by:  Aaron Pickford

So, I had been trying to get the band on the blog for an interview for awhile and as luck would have  ittheir vocalist Clint contacted me.  I hope you dig this band as much as I do, enjoy the interview with one of my favourite new discoveries of 2012.   20 Questions with Tigon.   

First of all, congratulations on the release of the frankly stunning record, Infinite Teeth, it was so good in fact it, I lauded about it in my review (looking back now it is pretty exhaustive review lol) and featured it my Top 5 last year. Phenomenal.
Q) How are things in the Tigon camp? What are your immediate plans with potentially a full year of band promotion ahead of you?

Clint. Thanks Aaron, we're very appreciative of your enthusiasm for the record. Things in the Tigon camp are moving along nicely at the moment. With the inclusion of our new guitar player, John Yu, we've been back at the drawing board writing new material and we're excited to incorporate a few new songs into our live set. As for immediate plans we hope to put together a tour this summer.

Q) Can you tell us about the record and the process of putting it together? It incorporates many influences it seems from noise rock to sludge, to post metal, post hardcore, screamo.

C. We slowly began writing new songs in the winter of 2010 after we acquired Joe (drums). The first song that was written was The Great Machine, and we didn't stop writing until right before we recorded. As far as influences go, we're an eclectic group of gentlemen with various influences up our sleeves. When we first got together, there was never a discussion about what we should sound like or whom we should imitate in terms of bands that we liked. The music progressed in a very natural fashion. Unfortunately, there are so many labels thrown around when trying to describe our sound that it's tough to explain to people what we sound like.

Q). For the benefit of readers who may not know your band, could you tell us a little about the Tigon first formed? Current band members? Within your band you also feature current member of KWC?

C. Tigon officially formed in the summer of 2007. Former guitar player Brian Dooley and myself (Clint) were in a band called City In Fiction that only played a handful of shows before breaking up. We had posted an ad on and found Jon, and former drummer Chris, as well bass player Doc. From there we wrote a batch of songs and recorded an EP in early '08. Since then both Brian and Chris have moved on and our current line-up consists of Jon (also of KWC) on guitar, Doc on bass/vocals, Joe on drums, John Y on guitar, and Clint on vocals.

Q). Which band or artist turned you guys on to music and specifically introduced you to Heavy Metal and wanting to form a band?

C. I can't speak for the rest of the guys but for me, I knew I wanted to be in a band from the age of 13. I can't specifically mention which artists influenced me the most because I grew up listening to all kinds of music. I can say that I wouldn't be playing heavy music if I didn't see the original Black Sabbath line-up perform when I was 16. At that point I knew that I had to start a band and take it as far as it could go.

Q) Since your inception, was your plan always to write and release your own music?

C. I think for our type of music and the scene in we're in, releasing music on our own was always the only option. For the majority of bands in the DIY scene, it's about building everything from the ground up and approaching our business in an organic manner. I don't think we'll ever have producers sitting shoulder to shoulder with us offering tips on how to make our songs more appeasing to a wider audience.

Q) In your experience, how easy/difficult is it for your band to get coverage and get gigs?

C. It's fairly difficult for us to get on shows where we don't stick out like a sore thumb. When we're playing predominantly heavy shows, people look at us like we're Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. And when we play shows with bands that offer a little more diversity, people look at us like we're Pantera. When bands come along with a sound that's not so easy to pigeonhole, it can be difficult for people to digest. If you're not offering a sound that's easily identifiable or that can be traced back to a familiar sound/band that has come before, it takes a bit longer for people to become accustomed to that sound.

Q) It might sound like stupid question, but is playing live important to Tigon because touring can depend upon work commitments etc? Often touring is the main source of promoting your band.

C. Playing live is very important. In our case, we all have jobs, other bands, and school, so it's not as easy to put as much time into touring as we'd like but we fare pretty well doing small two-week tours. We've definitely had our share of bad luck with booking the wrong venues or bands dropping off our tours at the last minute, but we usually do well and get positive responses from most audiences.

Q) Do you think there is the same significance attached to being signed to label as their once was, with bands releasing music on bandcamp etc? I know you released you record on excellently title Ghost is Clear, which seemed take a DIY approach?

C. We've released everything ourselves for the most part. We don't get big name DIY Label attention but we've had the opportunity to do things at our own pace. I think for bands that get signed to a bigger label, more awareness is spread and bigger tours and more promotion follows. As I mentioned earlier, our sound is not easy to identify. So a label like Deathwish Inc. or Metal Blade would have no idea how promote us because they wouldn't be able to slap a sticker on the front of our album that says “For fans of: Converge, High on Fire and Job For A Cowboy.” In many ways, we as a band are more comfortable without being lumped in with a certain band or a certain sound. (Even though it is inevitable for any band.) Being in a DIY band allows more room to grow musically without feeling obligated to cater to an audience.

Q) What are some of the difficulties/frustrations of being part of Tigon, because you seemingly have this amazing record and perhaps not as many people hear as you may like and there are many other commitments such as family, work etc, that perhaps restrict the amount of time you can dedicate to the band?

C. Speaking for myself, being in a band that resides in San Francisco where there is a slew of heavy bands all vying for attention, most of the frustration lies in our inability to attract the right kind of audience. I personally don't believe our music is specifically geared to one type of genre or audience. Being that every member of the band offers something different to the writing process and our live performances, our music ends up being an amalgamation of influences and ideas. That can be good and bad, but for the most part, over time, we've been able to reign in those influences and ideas in order to create songs that have more of a natural flow to them instead of a thirty riffs per-minute sandwich. As I said earlier, having a sound that deters from the norm can be difficult to get across to an audience clamoring for more of the same. I think we enjoy being that band that sticks out, that seems weird and bizarre to people chomping at the bit for relentlessly heavy riffs, blast beats, and skinny vocalists screaming about summer being over and all the friends they miss.

Q)Don’t think about this too much, but If someone was unfamiliar with your band, what words immediately spring to mind when you think about your sound? I mentioned noise rock, sludge, post metal for example, is that fair?

C. I think it's fair for anyone to generate their own description of our sound. When I try and describe our sound to someone who is unfamiliar with us, I tend to just say “intelligently written heavy music.”

Q) Tell us some of your influences/heroes both musically and artistically, both metal and non-metal?

C. Again, I'm speaking for my own here and not the rest of the band. A lot of my influences as a vocalist are from female singers. Billie Holliday, Mary Hansen from Stereolab, and PJ Harvey are some of my favorites. As far as performers go, Ian Curtis from Joy Division and Phil Anselmo from Pantera are two front men that have a huge influence on how I carry myself during live performances. Artistically speaking there are just too many influences to name, but Jimi Hendrix was a huge inspiration to me as young kid, so was Ozzy. I think for me it's important not to imitate but to emulate.


Q) It might sound like a stupid question but, how important is the band’s chemistry when writing and performing?

C. Very important. I think every band feels this way. Everyone needs to be on the same page otherwise it's not worth doing.

Q) What were your aims for Infinite Teeth and how do you feel about it now that it has been in the public domain since 2012?

C. I don't know if we had any particular aims in terms of songwriting. For myself, I wanted to approach the vocals with a lot more diversity and the guys wrote riffs that allowed me to take that approach. I believe that our songwriting vastly matured and in a way became more hopeful and pretty sounding. Having Joe (drums) involved in the songwriting process this time around helped to streamline our ideas and bring more cohesiveness to the band altogether. I wanted to incorporate some female vocals to a few parts like in Tortoise Goes To Burningman and Prophetess to add a certain kind of atmosphere and I guess, a feminine, softer sound to those songs. I'm sure a few tough dudes wince at those parts, but I guess that was the intention. Almost to break up the monotony of all the aggro vocals that accompany our music. The reaction we've received from people has been overwhelmingly positive. There have been a few negative reviews, but you can't win 'em all.

Q) How important is support from your peers and how do you feel your band has generally been received? Does it still surprise you when people buy your music and merch?

C. Honestly for us, I think support from our peers is the most rewarding. We like to think of ourselves as a band's band and usually its bands that give us the nicest compliments. Obviously having KWC digging us, makes us feel good about what we're doing. We've also had the pleasure of playing with some really great bands like Canyons, Matsuri, Fight Amp, The Tunnel, Bone Dance, Caulfield, Sloths, Mercy Ties and so many more. How we're perceived in the media is usually hit or miss. I guess it depends on whose hands our music falls into. If it's somebody who is open to new things and different sounds, we may be their cup of tea. But if Punk Rock Steve with a Black Flag tattoo hears us, he might just take a bite right out of our CD before throwing it in the trash. I'm always surprised when people buy our merch. I always think to myself “Are you guys in the right line?” or “You want to give us money?” We're always flattered and appreciative when people want to support us. We always try to have free buttons or stickers to hand out as well.

Q) Taking a more general view of the changes in the music industry as a whole, what with illegal download and perhaps more pressure on mags to feature ‘scene’ bands or bigger artists. How valuable are blogs such as the Sludgelord to bands and artists covering your music? Does all forms of media coverage translate to people buying merch, downloading music etc, coming to shows?
C. I think with the imminent death of the music industry as a whole it's good for bands that take a DIY approach to their business. The problem with illegal downloading is that major labels will only sign “safe bets” or artists that can be easily manipulated in order to produce their music for a mass audience. I don't think we'll ever see KWC on the cover of Rolling Stone (although that would be amazing), but even print magazines seem to be fading. With the help of the internet, virtually any band can reach an audience with self-promotion. Music blogs are an up and coming promotional tool and an extremely viable commodity for a band to spread awareness. I would hope that people who download music from bands that aren't Metallica or MTV endorsed, end up going to a show and buying merch directly from the bands themselves. To me that is the most direct way to offer support to lesser known bands.

Q) Quick fire question, what’s your preference? Cassette, CD, Digital Download or Vinyl? And why?

C. I'm all about cassettes. They don't skip when your car drives over a pot-hole. Plus, when I was a kid I used to make a ton of mix tapes for friends.

Q) Given that music seems to be so disposal at times, with people perhaps buying single tracks as opposed to full length records, how important was it for you to put out a great package? (It is available on clear and black vinyl, with the option of CD included and DD)

C. I think there are still a lot of people that want to own physical copies of records from bands they like. I think we're consciously aware that a record with interesting and provocative artwork can catch people's eye and having a strong sound to back it up only adds to the entire package. Plus people just like to own vinyl these days. 

Q). What sets you apart from your peers and what are your thoughts about being part of any scene?
C. I think our age is a big difference. Also the fact that each member of Tigon is from a different part of the country and it helps add to our overall diversity. I think we offer something uniquely different than a lot of our peers who are in the Punk/Screamo/Hardcore/Metal scenes and that we're a nice little antidote to those particular sounds. I'm confident in saying that we are most definitely “scene-less.”

Q) Getting back to your record ‘Infinite Teeth’, Do you learn anything about the band from the recording and touring of previous records, that you wanted to change or incorporate in your new record? Does having members play with other bands, influence your own sound?

C. I think we learn not to hate each other (though we’ve come pretty close to it sometimes in the confines of that nacho-cheese-and feet-scented van of ours). But aside from that, we all learn from and about each other. We only become tighter and more of a well-oiled machine during touring. Any sounds that we want to incorporate happen naturally and organically. I think having members play in other bands only adds to our diversity.

Q ) The record was engineered and mixed by Scott Evans of KWC fame, how important was his contribution to the band in terms of the overall sound of the record?

C. I personally hate Scott Evans. (I kid, I kid.) For me, I can't imagine anyone else engineering our records. It's always a fun and relaxing environment and he pushes us to give the best possible takes that we can muster. When it comes to recording vocals, he's always offering ideas and valuable insights that even if we were to record with a different engineer, I'd want to record the vocals with Scott.

Q) Did you have an agenda when you began writing the new record?

C. Our only agenda was to not repeat ourselves from our previous recordings.

Q) Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with or bands you’d like to share the stage with?

C. There are tons of stories and incidents from every tour. Getting banned from Canada for a year is probably our most notorious story. Bailing Bobby from Canyons out of jail with our merch money to make it on time to play St. Louis, MO is another. Every tour offers something new and exciting and being on the road with your friends, meeting new people and playing shows is probably the most fun you could have. We've had the pleasure of touring with Joe's old band Ventid, and we did two weeks in the Midwest and East Coast with those crazy fuckers Canyons. Smoking blunts and listening to Bobby wax poetic on his hatred of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Michael Jordan are memories that I will cherish forever. There are way too many bands that we'd like to share the stage with. For me personally, I would love to play with Cave In and Torche. Someday it could happen!!

Q). Reflecting upon your time together as a band, what have been some of the high and low point in your career. Are you a stronger unit now, than when you first started?

C. Luckily I don't think there have been many low points. Somehow we manage to get along really well even when we fight occasionally. The truth is we're all in love with each other and have been a strong unit throughout all our years together. I think our goal is to take Tigon as far as we can possibly go with it and so far it's been such an important part of our lives.

Q). In terms of the band, what are your plans for the rest of the year? Can we expect new music or big tours ahead?

C. You can definitely expect some new music at some point. We're in the infant stages of the writing process and the songs have a more melancholic atmosphere to them. There might be some heaviness in there, but overall our music matures just as much as we do as people. As for touring, if we can find the time, we'll definitely be on the road again.

Q) Thanks for answering my questions, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?

C. We have fans?
Tigon truly is a fantastic band and thanks to Clint for his in depth answers for the interview. Do yourselves a favour and pick up their latest record. Check the links below for more information about the band and where you can buy their record. You can buy the album here.