Tomorrow, Tigercub unleash their sophomore full-length album, As Blue As Indigo. Second albums are intimidating at the best of times, least of all when you’re coming back after a hiatus and a pandemic with something to prove. Fortunately, Tigercub come armed with an arsenal of hench riffs, musical expertise galore, and an essential message to tell. We caught up with frontman and creative force Jamie Hall, to find out what to expect.
The road to As Blue As Indigo has had its ups and downs, pandemic notwithstanding – “the band took a hiatus from 2018, and took some time to get our resources and stuff like that in order, and all the while I was writing the record”, Jamie tells us. “We started tracking the first day of lockdown, and everything was against us. The band broke up after the record was made, then we got back together, and the shows now are just gonna be this huge family hug with everyone that wants to come and just be a fucking weirdo with us. It’s been a long and hard road.”
Jamie found solace, and just a break from the intensity of Tigercub, in pop music – side project Nancy is as far from the riffs as you can get, but it almost managed to creep in to Tigercub’s repertoire. “To start with I wrote a pop record! We’d done loads of touring, headline shows that weren’t sold out, and I just wanted to get out of the drudgery and break new ground, so I wrote this pop record cynically to serve that purpose, to appease this hypothetical made up audience. So I just scrapped it and made a whole new record. I think I naturally write kind of poppy, though, I like melodies and I like the chorus to be legible, so a bit of that did carry through.”
Coming back after such a different side project, coming back after a hiatus, coming back with an album in general – there’s pressure on Tigercub from all angles. How’s Jamie been feeling about it all? “Loads of pressure! Loads and loads of pressure, anxiety, worry, tension. The amount of time we’d been away, we were worried people would think we’d just folded, the world is moving beyond Tigercub’s era, and we didn’t wanna leave it too long. We had arguments because of differences in vision, and all of that stress and friction was borne out of anxiety that if we don’t come back strong, we’re fucked. If it’s a whimper it’s kind of over, you know.”
Pressure can be helpful – but in small doses. “There’s biting points,” Jamie says. “Pressure is good when it converts into drive and desire and passion, but if you let it go too far you can end up with option anxiety, and not being confident in the choices that you’re making.”
Having had such a successful side project in such a different realm, does Jamie feel like Tigercub have something to prove, back in the rock scene? “Tigercub is so different to what I do in Nancy! It’s like trying to compare The Beatles with Metallica, it’s just a different brain, and I did that deliberately so I wasn’t watering down Tigercub. I see them as quite separate, but there’s always gonna be people who are disappointed by what you do, I can’t control that, I’ve learned to not attach my ego to my outcome as much. I know if I make something that I think fucking bangs, then that’s great.
“When I was younger I used to worry, what people said, if people thought I looked like a prick or whatever, and then I discovered that no matter what you fucking do in life, people are gonna talk shit about you so you may as well do it for you. That’s pretty huge, it’s quite obvious when you say it out loud, but until it actually clicks you don’t realise how powerful that can be. It was getting more tense the longer we left it. I was getting migraines, I was getting cracked vision, drinking a lot, not dealing with my problems well and that’s what a lot of As Blue As Indigo is about, the battle against stoicism and actually opening up about how you feel.”
Let’s talk the actual content of the record then. What was the vision Jamie set out to execute? “Well, I’m getting a bit older, I’m not 24 any more, and I just started to reflect and reappraise who I am. In the past, I was expressing these feelings of anxiety and angst through a borrowed persona, like a mask of Kurt Cobain’s fucking angst, and I was sort of appropriating that and I was able to express, be edgy, but I wasn’t really risking anything at all lyrically or giving anyone anything to go deeper down the rabbit hole with. But with As Blue As Indigo, I tried to explore sadness, depression, melancholy, how I perceive it subjectively, and put it all on the fucking table, man, and I did and I hope it connects with people. At the very least, for me to purge all that poison that was in my mind and go through that process of pouring out, that was a turning point for me mentally.
“The record’s fundamentally an exploration of my own toxic masculine stoicism, and obviously I have responsibility in that but the way I’ve been brought up is to not even react. I’ve had friends who’ve committed suicide and family members die and when it happened I didn’t cry or anything, I was just shocked and then I repressed it and went on with my life. And it would come out in these really volatile ways and that happened even when I was making the record. I hope in me doing this other people like me can find something in that and we can all just cathart together.”
Live shows are set to be pretty intense, then. Is Jamie nervous? Not for the emotional side, it turns out. “There’s always an emotional drive behind it but we do get into the groove and you’re able to just perform and sometimes it’s not even a conscious thing, you just go into this fugue state where no neurons are firing, you’re just performing. I don’t find it daunting, I’ve been round the block a couple of times now. Me and the lads got in a room together and started banging out the tunes to see if anything would sound shit live, cos in the studio it was like, let’s make a great record at any fucking cost! If we got four guitar parts going, a synth part, two drums, let’s make it sound great and overdub. So it was daunting, the idea of pulling all that together, but for the most part it’s been like a charm.”
If not for the live show, then, what is Jamie the most nervous for? “I wanna get in the charts! We’ve sold a boatload which is wicked, like fuck yeah, band’s getting bigger, and we’re just approaching this threshold where the band’s gonna break the top 40, and I know we can do the top 20, I know. We can do it. So I’m nervous about that. Artistically, though, I hope people still consider it a Tigercub record. I hope people feel it’s still authentic.”
See for yourself. As Blue As Indigo is out tomorrow.