INTERVIEW: Tigercub at SXSW 2024

  • Post Author
    by Music director
  • Post Date
    Tue Apr 16 2024

BY: Claire Borgelt

Photo: Andreia Lamos

Brighton-based rock outfit Tigercub has taken the modern alternative scene by storm. Their most recent album, The Perfume of Decay, introduces a darker, moodier edge to the glittering guitar-driven instrumentals and expansive vocal delivery that won them their growing cult following and a spot on Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard's record label. We met the band in Austin on the last day of their US tour to chat about their travels, the notion of ‘fan favorites' and the inspirations behind their latest album. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

You're just coming off of a six week tour in the US! What do you miss most about Brighton? 

Jimi: Well, for both me and Jamie that's kind of simple. We're both parents. I've got a little boy called Phoenix. 

Jamie: I've got a little girl called Clementine. It's been hard being away from her.

Jimi: Yeah, it's been so hard. You know? You miss them spilling their cereal and having to clean that up. You miss that. When you're there, you can't wait to go on tour, but when you're on tour, that's the stuff you miss. I quite miss the Indian cafe down the road, too. 

Jamie: Just the sea. The Brighton coastline. There's few other places I've been in the world that match that sort of ethereal-ness that the coastline has. It's beautiful. 

James: I don't live in Brighton, I live in London. 

Jimi: Well, what do you miss about London?

James: Not much. I like it here, actually. Well, no, I mean, it's quite a cool distraction. I just get so swept away with it. You're just so in the moment. You're not thinking about what's coming up, it's just like, what's right on top of you. I think in normal life that headspace isn't always there. 

Jimi: Like, two weeks at home can go by in the blink of an eye. You might see, like, a brown dog in that whole time and that's it. On tour, you go to like ten cities in that same amount of time. 

Jamie: We've been in Austin for 48 hours and it feels like we've been here for a week. 

James: That's quite indicative of what being on tour is like. So much is constantly happening. 

Jimi: Five days ago we were still on tour with Porno for Pyros. We were in New Jersey.

What would you say is your favorite place you've visited so far? 

Jamie: I really liked this place called Tulsa in Oklahoma.  Bands don't always go through there. We don't always get routed that way, but I really enjoyed my time there. We played a legendary venue called Cain's Ballroom. So historic. Everyone, those gods, those idols, played there. They've got the original stage that those people played on underneath the stage so you can have a look at it.

Jimi: One of my favorites was when we put our first record out seven years ago or so. We got booked to play the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. I remember they flew us out, we had a driver collect us. Muse were headlining, and we just kind of stood near the loading door. On the wifi list, we saw a network called ‘Muse production' or something like that. That was incredible. I think I've got a picture somewhere. I just remember being impressed by the scale of operations. 

James: Whenever I go to New York, I just feel at home. And I mean, I'm slowly becoming accustomed to LA too.

I was reading about your most recent record, and I was really interested in what you said about the landscape you found yourselves in as you came off of your last tour and how it inspired your writing process. Where would you say that influence manifests the most on the record? 

Jamie: I think it's there in the scale of the record. We were driving through Death Valley in Arizona, listening to a lot of heavy records through that landscape and it just paired so perfectly. It was like a penny dropped. We just wanted to slow things down a little bit and try to focus on scale. I think the music we make does a better job of describing it than talking about it ever could, though. 

James: It's more subtext when you're hearing it. 

I know you've talked about your influences on this album being a bit more along the lines of goth and post-punk. Definitely darker sounding music overall. What is it that draws you to that sound specifically? 

Jamie: Being from the northeast of England, there's just a dreariness that fits. Like, when you put on Unknown Pleasures and walk around there, it just fits. That style of music just inherently feels like a part of my life. It's the sort of music I will always love – it resonates with me the most. 

Jimi: Yeah, that nostalgia. We all share that. 

James: I mean, we listen to so much music outside of our own genre. Bauhaus, The Cure. 

Jimi: Hell of a lot of Iron Maiden. 

Jamie: Not by choice. 

Jimi: I mean, we listen to loads of stuff. Soundgarden, Grimes.

Jamie: Loads of Soundgarden on the flight today. 

Are there any artists who don't show up as sonic influences but who have really influenced your outlook on the creative process? 

Jimi: PJ Harvey is an absolute powerhouse. I love her. Who she is and how she presents. Fever Ray, Björk. Debussy. 

Jamie: Debussy.

Jimi: Have you ever seen what Debussy looks like? I'll show you. You're gonna freak out. 

Jamie: Aphex Twin, Woody Nelson. 

Jimi: Billy Nelson. Nelson Mandela? De La Sol. Saul Goodman. 

Jamie: Mike. Oh, boy. 

So, you've described Perfume of Decay as being set at night. What did you mean by that? 

Jamie: It's a loose concept. I just remember lying in bed, thinking that being there takes up almost half of your day. It's this visceral space that you don't always talk about. I'd stay awake and all of my anxious thoughts and dreads would pour into my thoughts. It's meant to be this place of rest but it's also a time people spend worrying about stuff. I just thought it would be fun to chart the journey through those thoughts. It sort of runs from evening through dawn. If you listen with that in mind, it does follow that path. It's abstract, though. 

As you're putting these songs together, do you have a sense of which will be fan favorites? 

Jimi: No, that always comes as a surprise! Sometimes the ones we think we've really got are the ones that become the fan favorites, and other times those are the ones that get panned.

Jamie: They get panned. 

James: People spit at us. Because we thought we wrote good songs. 

Jimi: When I heard that Beck hates the song “Loser,” and that he got bullied into putting it on his first record, I realized that as an artist you don't really have the best perspective on what people will like. 

Jamie: You don't get a say. But then, I do take issue with artists who are like, ‘wah, they like this song and I don't like it.' It's like, ‘well, you've written it, you f*cking genius. Why'd you write it, then?' It's Kings of Leon saying ‘“Sex on Fire,” ugh!' Like, why'd you write that song then? It's amazing! What did you think would happen? 

James: The best part about “Sex on Fire” is watching wedding bands struggle through the guitar part. 

(the band performs an impression of a wedding cover group trying to play “Sex on Fire”) 

Just one more question – is there anything else you're really passionate about besides music? Any other hobbies? 

James: We love coffee. Football, we love.

Jimi: I love cooking, the boys love cooking. I really enjoy making an onion real little and melted down. When I get home from work, I'm cooking an onion. So great, chop up a carrot, some garlic. Don't burn it. 

Jamie: He loves that. 

Jimi: We love movies! Love movies. Favorite is Big Lebowski. I love Delicatessen. I love Brazil. The Rescuers Down Under, that's a sick film. Mcleach, one of the best villains of all time. F*cking lizard. Proper scary. 

Jamie: The Rescuers Down Under

Jimi: Where they have to go to Australia. Check it out. Golden film. 

Tigercub on Spotify: