Miniature Tigers Take LA! Don't Be Afraid. Meet The Lead Singer, Charlie Brand
Photo: Joseph Fuda
If you were on an adventure with Indiana Jones, and were in desperate need of a sunny, happy pop album that discusses the dangers of cannibals, dinosaurs, octopi, and volcanoes, the Miniature Tigers' new album might be the one to choose. (Obviously this would be in your down time. It's not the soundtrack you would want for when you were fighting Nazis or sneaking around in tombs.) However, Tell It To The Volcano, might just do the trick for when you were having lunch or getting from one cave to another. Which is not surprising considering the founding members, Charlie Brand and Rick Schaier, cite the jungle imagery in Lost and Indiana Jones as some of their influences when writing this record. Honestly it is surprising there aren't more cannibal ditties out there considering the popularity of both of these cultural icons. Or maybe a few mysterious pop songs about "others"? Just a thought. The Miniature Tigers will be playing their adventure pop with Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band at the Troubadour on Sunday, but Charlie Brand was kind enough to talk to us from a gas station in Louisiana before the show. Here is some of what was said.
Where did you get the name the Miniature Tigers?
Oh man this is one of my least favorite questions. This one and, "So what kind of music do you play?"
It's okay. It's my own fault for having tigers in our name. We should have named ourselves something boring, like toothpaste.
You could probably get a sponsorship from Crest if you did that.
Yeah! Our new name is Crest White Strips.
How old were you when you first picked up an instrument?
I played the violin when I was two. I was great at "Twinkle Twinkle. Little Star," but that was about it. Then when I was twelve I played the drums. I was just fascinated by them. I would put on my headphones and play listening to Soundgarden or Nirvana. I used to be really into Soundgarden especially the last album they released.
How did you guys get together?
I met our drummer Rick Schaier on MySpace. We were fans of each others' music and decided we should form a band. Then we moved out to LA for awhile and had friends fill on guitar and bass. Hopefully the guys we have now will decide to stick around.
Is "Cannibal Queen" about a particular person?
Yes, it’s about my ex-girlfriend, who was my current girlfriend at the time.
Your video for "Cannibal Queen" is very confusing. Why does the strongman put you on top of the TV? Why doesn’t he just throw you out?
Derek? He’s a sweetheart. I don't know why he straps me on to the TV. We didn’t come up with the concept for the video. We just showed up and went with it. The director is probably the only guy who knows what the story means.
You look really squished in that wagon. Did it hurt wheeling around in it?
Oh man, that was so uncomfortable. I had to tuck my legs underneath and stay that way for hours. I was in so much pain by the end of the day, I could barely extend my legs.
What was the worst show you ever played?
Probably the show we did semi recently. It was in Shreveport at this this venue that was so rundown. It was the kind of place that you would expect to be haunted by dead crazy women. Their basement was really really scary and that's where we played. No one came and we all got really intoxicated to calm our nerves.
What is the weirdest thing you ever saw at a show?
It was actually a show we played in downtown LA in Pershing Square. I looked out into the audience and there was this transvestite in pink nightgown with live boa constrictor around his neck dancing. It was totally strange.
Is there anything you miss about Los Angeles now that you live in Arizona?
I really miss Runyon Canyon. I always felt so accomplished getting up that hill, especially during that final push, but then you look over and there are people who are running up it! You know? Or like, doing laps. There is great people watching as well. People get all decked out to go hiking.
If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
I hate how long it takes to put out a record. I wish I could release more music faster. The Beatles had so many albums come out in seven years. I want to do that.
Like Ryan Adams? He releases stuff all the time.
Ryan Adams sucks.
Um, because he releases a lot of records or because you don't like his music?
I don’t like his music. Sorry, I guess that’s rude.
No, not at all. We all can't like Ryan Adams. Do you have any strange promoter stories?
We played in Santa Barbara once at this dinner club kinda thing. It was so weird! We thought we were playing a show, but the audience was all eating dinner at tables. They were all facing each other and talking and completely ignoring us. They were all dressed really nice. It was really strange.
Do you have a favorite local band at the moment?
Dear and the Headlights!We were on tour with them. They're really great guys.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
I’m really into ABBA, but I don't care who knows it.
Well thanks for talking with us, Charlie.
Be sure to catch the Miniature Tigers at the Troubadour this Sunday, May 17th. Doors open at 7:30pm. Tickets are $13.