Miniature Tigers Q&A

I had a chance to interview Charlie Brand of Miniature Tigers about the role the internet plays in songwriting, being drawn to creative people, and how growing up in Arizona sticks with him. Their new album I Dreamt I Was a Cowboy is out now. The title track features vocals by Brand's girlfriend and Parenthood star Mae Whitman.

You collaborated with friends and loved ones on some songs on this album, would you say creativity is something that draws you to people?

Definitely. I have a hard time holding a conversation with someone that is a tax accountant. It’s not that it’s not a valid way to spend life I’m just more interested in creative people. So many of my friends added little details to this record. When I listen to it I feel happy that my friendships are all here forever.

Who illustrated the cover of your album?

I illustrated it. It’s kind of a tribute to Ricks original painting for our first record. Kind of an updated version of the colors and things that are in our room now.

How much does musical collaboration over the internet factor into the songwriting?

A lot of the songs on this record I started and finished alone but a few of them like Nobody Else and I’m Awake Now we’re collaborations with Rick that we sent back and forth. Without the internet playing a role in it, those songs wouldn’t exist.

The song “Dreaming” sounds like a perfect track to play poolside while just floating around. What was the process of writing and recording that song like?

The best started with me chopping up an arpeggiated synth I made with my friend Jeremy Malvin (Chrome Sparks) and adding that glitchy chopped up guitar chord over
It. I sent a different beat to my friend Stacy King years ago and she wrote what is now basically the chorus on Dreaming. When I was writing Dreaming I got stuck at the chorus and her Melody came into my mind instantly and it fit in this new setting. Again, more collaboration.

A lot of the songs have great harmonies and a Beach Boys-esque feel to them. Is this warmth a conscious influence or more of a subconscious thing?

Brian Wilson is obviously a huge inspiration and always there in our music. This albums harmonies were more based on Simon and Garfunkel. We wanted to try and keep it simple two part harmony as much as possible but obviously got carried away a few times.

Most of your music has a fun breezy summer kind of feel to it, but this one feels a bit more southwest, especially with the cover, slide guitar, and cowboy references. How did Arizona and its landscape factor into the making of the album?

I grew up in Arizona so it’s in my DNA. I think more of California when I hear this album but wanted to incorporate those country sounds and southwestern vibes in a non-obvious way. Like there aren’t any country songs on the album but there are elements of it. It’s used in a nostalgic way.