04 March 2012
Introducing - Aloha Tigers
Nowadays I really don't have the free time that I once did, I used to pride myself on being ahead of the game when it came to being in the know about the 'next big thing' amongst the indie hipster kids. With most of my time being spent solely focusing on the Scottish music scene, I am now a bit lost to anything that doesn't hail from this wee nation of ours. Thankfully though I have a wealth of fellow music friends who are on hand to point me in the right direction as to things that they've been enjoying. Which in a round about explains why I am featuring a duo who hail from Bloomington, Illinois in the US of A. Having recently released their self titled debut album on the newly formed Scottish DIY label, Kirkcudbright Tape Club, I caught up with Nick and Mike from the band to talk about their new found love for Irn Bru and whether they have any idea as to how to pronounce Kirkcudbright...
Aloha my feline friends, would you care to introduce yourself to the Peenko readers?
Nick Aister: Aloha Peenko.
Mike Wharfield: Sup. Nick: Thanks for having us.
Mike: So. Well, we are Aloha Tigers. We've been around for about two and a half years now and we'rereleasing our debut album through Kirkcudbright Tape-Club.
Nick: Mike and I have both been making music separately for a long time. He started out in hardcore bands and transitioned into sampling, writing beats and doing production. I pretty much sat alone in a room playing acoustic guitar for like the last ten years. Then we sort of met by accident and everything went from there.
Mike: At first, we were both kind of intimidated by each other as well. You can't really tell from the pictures, but Nick looks really mean.
Nick: And Mike is like a trained cage fighter. But yeah, once we clicked and started working on shit, right from the get go we felt like we were on to something.
It's that question that all bands seem to hate, how would you describe the music that you make?
Nick: Pop music . . . with a twist!
Mike: For the sake of simplicity if nothing else, I think it's pretty fair to call us dream-pop for the time being.
Nick: We basically try to write catchy, upbeat, melodic music.
Mike: And then Nick shows me the lyrics and it's like, you need to up your anti-depressants, son.
Nick: I think a lot of the lyrics are fun.
Mike: You would.
Nick: Peenko readers, you're all intelligent, educated people. You can see that the world is literally ending before our eyes. Everything's gone pear-shaped, as they say. So maybe we get a little bleak from time to time. I think you'd agree that's a pretty natural reaction given the state of things. War. Famine. The Singularity. We're doomed.
Mike: I don't think we've described our music at all.
Nick: Can you ever really describe art, really?
Mike: Oh my god, shut up.
Having no musical talent to speak of I am always pretty intrigued as to how the whole creativity process works. What processes go into the way that you write songs?
Nick: It's like a big pot of gumbo. I have hundreds of notebooks full of lyrics and hundreds of hours of tapes of me playing guitar and piano, so basically what happens is that Mike will bring me a beat and I'll either start improvising over it, or if that's not working, I'll delve into this dark musty well of ideas and start Frankenstiening them together.
Mike: We do everything out of Nick's spare bedroom.
Nick: Yeah, I met Mike and within two weeks he'd taken over half my house building a studio. And that's pretty much all either of us have been doing since.
Mike: The nice thing about having a home recording studio and doing everything ourselves is that we could take as much time as we wanted on the album and try out as many things as we wanted to. A lot of times, I would start with a beat and Nick would play something over it, and then I'd basically take it apart and rebuild it into something different, adding ambiance and samples and shit. We spent over a year on the album and wrote about three times as many songs as we wound up using.
Nick: There's not really a formula or anything. Stuff just kind of winds up getting cobbled together.
Mike: And then sometimes a complete song just comes together out of the blue.
Nick: "Happy accidents" have been a recurring motif with this band.
You've just released your self-titled debut album with Kirkcudbright Tape-Club, how on earth did a band from Bloomington, Illinois end up releasing their album on a Scottish tape label?
Nick: It was kind of an "I left the South, I travelled North, I got confused, I killed a horse" type of thing. Just a series of odd random events.
Mike: Everything basically fell into place when we met Ian Greenhill, who founded the label.
Nick: He's our Colonel Tom.
Mike: About a year ago, our song "Oh, The Glory of It All", was featured on The Line of Best Fit and the write up was done by Ian, so we sent him a message to say thanks and started corresponding back and forth. When we finished our album, he was one of the first people we sent it to and he really liked it. We had no idea he was planning to start up a label at that point, so we were really excited a few months later when he asked us to be the first Kirkcudbright Tape-Club release.
Nick: I have to say though, Ian did seal the deal through a deft bit of international soda bribery. He sent us one bottle of IRN-BRU to share and said that if we signed with him he'd send more. We were literally incapable of resisting this deal. Fortunately, it's worked out really well, and he went on to send us three more bottles.
Mike: Ian is basically a preturnaturally energetic and ambitious guy and he's had our back since the beginning. He's the kind of person you basically dream about having on your side.
Nick: My prediction: Kirkcudbright Tape-Club is the new Rockafella.
And more importantly, do you have any idea as to how you are supposed to pronounce 'Kirkcudbright'?
Nick: "Kir-coo-bree"! It think it sounds like something a little yellow bird would say.
Nick: It's a fun word to say.
Aside from being on a Scottish label, do you have any Celtic roots that you'd care to share?
Mike: I do not. Not biologically.
Nick: I'm like a quarter Irish, I don't know if that counts. I like a lot of Scottish bands though. That Spearmint song "Scottish Pop" turned me on to a lot of bands that are legendary over there but that aren't necessarily that well known in America, like Teenage Fanclub or Orange Juice or Josef K. Aztec Camera, I love . . .
Mike: I'd like to apologize for Nick's blatant name dropping right now.
Nick: Billy Joel, Zwan, the Mighty Mighty Bostones, Ice Cube . . . they're all Scottish, right? All excelent, exemplary Scottish artists.
I know it's a big ask, but can we expect to see you playing any Scottish shows in the near future?
Mike: That would be amazing. It's actually not that far out of the question. My girlfriend is from Stockton or Leamington Spa, so its not outside of the realm of reason that we might make it over there.
Nick: We'll crash at Ian's place.
Mike: If we get the opportunity to tour Europe, we'll do it in a heartbeat.
Nick: Faster than a heartbeat. A fraction of a heartbeat. An increment of time not worth measuring.
Mike: I pledge right now that Peenko will be the first to know when Aloha Tigers cross the pond.
Aloha Tigers - The Kind of Girl U Like
Aloha Tigers self titled debut album is out now on Kirkcudbright Tape Club on very limited edition cassette or on a pay what you want basis on Bandcamp.
Kirkcudbright Tape Club