“There’s such a sense of fulfilment that comes from making art that you stand behind. That piece has to come first. Everything else is secondary.”
Tigers Jaw have just released their wonderful new album 'I Won't Care How You Remember Me' via Hopeless Records.
A warm, breezy and delightfully crisp listen, the band have taken things back to basics and crafted a set of songs that not only represents where they have been in the past but also where they hope to be in the future. Stark, striking and shimmering with infectious energy, it's a record made to be played loud and frequently.
We spoke to frontman Ben Walsh and drummer Teddy Roberts all about the making of the album and what it represents for them as the band they are in 2021...
How does it feel to be at a point where you’ve been able to make an album like this?
Ben: “We’ve been doing this band for a long time, and even though this is Teddy and Colin [Gorman, Bass]'s first time writing and playing on a record with us, they’ve been touring with us for six-plus years now. So we have this incredible camaraderie between the four of us. Making this record, we had this renewed energy. We took a really back to the basement approach at Brianna [Collins, Keys]’s place and started from scratch. We would go through demos and work them out altogether and it was really gratifying and felt really special.”
So how did that back to basics approach play out? After the ‘Spin’ cycle, how did you approach the next step?
Ben: “For any band to have to longevity that we have had, you’re bound to go through some different changes and different seasons. At the time when we were making ‘Spin’, the band was in this state of flux and it felt like the right thing to do to bring it back to a different genesis. When Tigers Jaw started, it was me and my friend Adam working on songs together. The genesis was from two people crafting this thing and then it became a living thing that evolved and grew. Being in that we have toured and played a million shows with Collin and Teddy, had plenty of wild late nights and built up this level of trust, it felt like a no-brainer that this was our band now. It feels like a family and we have this immense musical and personal trust between everybody.”
For you, Teddy, and after touring with the band for so long, what was it like being at the start of the process of something completely new in a creative sense?
Teddy: “It felt really good and genuine. It felt honest. Even before I joined Tigers Jaw, I played in Fireworks but never played on their records. So, going from that to Tigers Jaw, I was just doing it because I love touring and playing music and supporting my friends. There was never a point where I felt like I needed to be in promo pictures or have my name on the album.”
“But with the point we are now at with Tigers Jaw, five years in and with everything ending up like this, it was the most natural thing to do. When we started writing it wasn’t like we were afraid to step on each other’s toes. We’re best friends after all. So Ben would bring a riff or a chord change and I would have no issue with saying, ‘Why don’t you play it this way?’ Everyone in the band is so musically competent, so the communication was so vital and open.”
That openness is so vital and something you don’t realise is vital until you’re actually in those moments…
Teddy: “Absolutely, and I was aware of what I was stepping into with the band. There are years of this band that has existed before I joined it. I wasn’t looking to come in here and make it the Ted Roberts Show, you know? But also I’m going to be who I am. It’s the same with Collin. With the players we are and the history, we have built over the last four or five years really shines through on the record."
So where in the process did it start to become ‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’?
Ben: “So we tracked 15 songs, and there are only 11 on the record. There was a big decision-making process because of that. So we brought all the songs, laid them out on the table and went through to fill them out and become the best versions of themselves they could be. It took a lot of conversation and reflection and figuring out what is the most cohesive arrangement of a selection of them. There are some common threads lyrically and we just wanted the whole record to be sonically interesting. We’re old school in our approach of the process of putting the album on from start to finish is really important.”
What were those common themes that kept on popping up?
Ben: “Timelessness is something that we have always been striving for. We never chase any sort of trends or time and place. We’re building out and making music that we love to make simply for the purpose of making art. Lyrically though, there’s something that kept on popping up and it was indicative of the title. It’s about self-reflection, acceptance and learning from things in a bid to be able to move forwards. There’s confidence in figuring out who you are and using that to map out where you’re heading next. There’s a lot of uncertainty in previous themes of our records and songs and the themes of this record almost turn a corner in terms of us accepting, acknowledging and taking account of yourself.”
Teddy: “A big part of the story of this record and the attitude of this record is how the lead up felt like such a rough period of time for the band for lots of different reasons. When we got together in that basement and said, ‘Let’s do this’, it felt like we all made the decision to go all in. We were in that basement, which was cold as shit, for a reason. We didn’t have any clue at that point what the plan was, let alone what label it would be coming out on. It was just us as friends and musicians doing what we are supposed to be doing.”
Ben: “There’s such a sense of fulfilment that comes from making art that you stand behind. That piece has to come first. Everything else is secondary.”
So how has the role of Tigers Jaw as something that is still a part of your life shifted, and how is this record representative of that?
Ben: “I’ve been in this band since day one and it’s been half of my whole life now. It’s definitely a part of my identity. The coolest part of it is that 15 years later, there’s still a sense of mystery and a motivation to keep building and taking things further. It continues to be fun and fulfilling and special. I wouldn’t be doing it if the band wasn’t those things, so as long as those pieces are still there then there’s no end in sight. It’s an intrinsically motivating part of my life and living through different life experiences but having this band as a constant outlet is something I’m really grateful for.
“If the music comes from a genuine point, where the desire is to create and express, all of the other stuff within that will fall into place along the way.”
So is there a particular moment on this record that you think perfectly defines that feeling you were going for with this new chapter?
Teddy: “I could pick eight million things honestly. The first thing that stands out to me, and something I’m really proud of, is You go out, do a six-week tour full of 40 shows. The 40th show is the best your band will ever sound, so if you cut a record on Day 41 it’s going to sound the best that you can. I wanted the album to sound like that. So for me, a moment that defines that is ‘Body Language’. If you buy a ticket to see Tigers Jaw, the end of that song is what you’re getting. It’s just fun and exactly how we play. Sonically, the way the record is structured is the way that we would play it live. We’ve made it that way. These songs are made to played loud and live.”
Ben: “I think for me, we wanted people to connect with the very human element of the recordings and the liveliness and energy that comes from seeing us live. We wanted the record to be more true to the number of instruments and voices we have, rather than it being too dense and layered. On ‘Spin’ we really leaned into the studio aspect and built this sonic wall. With this record, less is more. Everything has room to breathe and you can hear everybody’s musical personalities.
“More specifically, I think that the title track being the opener of the record really encapsulates what we hope the listener will take away from the record. It’s a musical journey in itself. There’s the build-up and the crescendos, and you’re there through all of the delicate and big moments. It primes you for the peaks and valleys of the rest of the record.”