Sunday, October 6, 2013

Local Spotlight - Tigers Eyes - October 2013 - Pittsburgh - Local Artist

Heavyweight Champ cover art

Our local spotlight for the month of October is Tigers Eyes. The local artist is a solo project who just released his debut EP entitled Heavyweight Champ which you can find streaming below. He was kind enough to answer our usual range of questions from how he produces his music, what obstacles he faces and what his goals are. 

How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school?

The band is really just myself and Pro Tools. What you hear on recordings is written and recorded by me. Occasionally Ill bring in an outside musician if there is a part that's needing something spicy that I cant pull off or is not of my capabilities. My touring band is made up of friends Ive known for years though. People who've been with me since day one. Dudes I will know for the rest of my life.


How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?

A Canadian magazine called us 'Math-Pop/Twinkly Emo as the the theme music to cynical drug-fueled tales of hedonism and alcohol abuse'... so ive been running with that lately, because it sounds dope. But I never considered my music anything other than rock and roll or punk rock.

Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?

Yeah we are all from Pittsburgh as well as our families. Except my Drummer, Rick. He is from West Virginia where it is wild and wonderful and I can buy a bottle of booze in the gas station and Sip on it while I'm pumping my gas

Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture?

Making music is definitely a full time lifestyle and mentality for all of us. I've been touring the US on and off the past 3 years and after this last tour and this new record, I've made the decision to make this a full time dedication over everything. Drugs, Booze, Bitches, etc. its all for the birds man. I can have all that when I get my recording contract. I'm all in with this and being in the studio 6 days a week comes before everything else.


Do you have day jobs?

Nah, no 9-5 for me. Ive got my little hustles here and there to help get by and maintain but other than that my focus is working on music, getting better and coming up with new art concepts and album concepts. I'm going to be dropping dope EPs every season over the next year

How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?

The creation process for the core of the song is super organic and actually really fast these days. I usually sit in my studio, fire up my amp then hit record in Pro Tools and start free styling guitar licks. I usually find something I dig pretty quick then ill figure out a real natural feeling tempo then track the guitar riff by riff, part by part, completely subconciious and free style. Nothing is pre determined or pre written when I go into the studio. Its all in the moment, that day, that time, that feeling, type of deal. Once the main guitar is tracked to the click Ill come up with a drum beat that I feel captures the energy of the song or something that really just works with the guitar part melodically, then Ill lay down the drums. Next Its the 2nd guitars part and again the same process as the first or 'core' guitar part. Ill just noodle around free styling licks over top of the main guitar until I find something that complements and works in unison and makes a killer harmony with the main guitar. For bass Ill usually just follow the melody of the main or first guitar i tracked or when my homies lay bass down they do what I do and just jam until something sounds like it fits. Vocals i always do last. I usually just listen to what I have recorded super loud while i pace around the studio smoking cigarettes & free styling vocal melodies and words out loud and then when I get a main lyrical concept Ill stick with that. Its really just trial and error with the vocals. I really like the freedom in this style of writing. I personally feel that my best work to date has come from this method and rather than stressing over trying to write songs that don't sound like anything I've written in the past and putting so much emphasis and focus on making sure each part differentiates from the last, the freestyle method lets me naturally accomplish these things without thinking about it. Its dope.

What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? 

My goals are to be a full time touring band and to create a Brand that reflects our lifestyle. A world people can escape to from their reality they face in their lives. Oh, you cant tour 10 different cities in 12 days and snort xanax and drink cough syrup before you play a show to 60 strangers in a basement in Nashville? Well Tigers Eyes does, so we are here for your outlet. We are sexy and we are dark and we don't give a fuck. We do the things we want and like making friends with anyone who has a positive energy about them. A label would also be dope to have so they can be the machine behind us pumping a bunch of money into promotion to expose us to a larger audience scale. From my experiences and networkings I've learned that no label will touch you until you show you can draw an audience, sell units and show that you are willing to grind it out in a van and earn your following. 

What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?

My advice is you need to BECOME what you desire. You need to work hard at perfecting your craft so that you stand out amongst your peers. You have to BE what you wanna be and sacrifice for it. A lot of people don't understand that. There is a mentality which will lead you to the lifestyle and a routine which will set you on the path of that which you desire. You have to find that inside of you. First step is believing, becoming and working towards that goal. The rest falls into place. Also find your angle. Who are you? What does your band or your brand represent? What are you saying? Find that and run with it. Ask people! I love criticism. Thank god for people telling me when I'm fucking up.


Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?

Ive played self booked shows in a few cities in every US state except Hawaii and Alaska and Puerto Rico. 

Being in the Pgh area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?

I used to think so. Then all of a sudden everyone started liking my shit and started to show hella love. Maybe I just wasn't putting out anything that was of a quality that people around here could get into. Haha. Ive always found success on tour in new markets though. I prefer to stay out of state with a local show around here every now then, because theres so much more mystery and adventure in new places and cities where Ive got lots of friends, and that what the T$E Brand is about.

What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?

That's a tough one man, I don't really know. Like I said, I never had a real following in Pittsburgh except my friends.My friends always showed hella love and support. I released this 'Heavyweight Champ' EP recently and the bandcamp downloads went through the roof and my paypal donations were increasing every hour on release day and I'm still seeing donations daily. Next came the blogs and people in this scene Ive always admired and respected as well as a lot of strangers and new faces that started showing mad love and support too. I didn't do anything different besides how i went about recording the music. If anything I've doubled down on my grind and worked harder to better perform the music. I'm just going to keep doing things this way, believe in myself, and see where the wind takes me.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

Lots of benefits! Affordable living, lots of cultured neighborhoods, diverse ethnicities, great food joints and a music scene that keeps expanding. I love traveling to new places and I love coming home to Pittsburgh.
Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?

I always love playing 222 Ormsby. Its super DIY and showcases the punk rock spirit about doing things yourself. All the shows are floor shows on a dirty beer soaked floor and all my homies kick it over there. I Love that spot! We love to play anywhere though man. We'd play your basement or backyard if theres a PA!

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