The Pensilvania indie-punk quartet are back with their sixth studio album, “I Won’t Care How You Remember Me” via Hopeless Records, which comes at hard times for everyone, especially musicians, who aren’t able to tour at the moment. We sat down to chat (virtually) with Ben Walsh about this new release.
- How are you feeling about the release of your new LP “I Won’t Care How You Remember Me” via Hopeless Records, and what are the first reactions to your sixth album?
I’m feeling very excited and happy to finally be able to share this record. Seems like our listeners are really enjoying it and there are some new people who have never listened to us before that are now finding us through these new songs, so that’s really great to see.
- We are interviewing you from Spain, where we are suffering the effects and crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in what way is it affecting you and the music industry in Pennsylvania and in the United States in general?
The pandemic has definitely shifted everyone’s lifestyle significantly. I think for touring musicians it has completely decimated the touring and live music industry. I have also seen some really important music venues close their doors permanently because they did not receive any government support. For us, typically when we release a new album, we are able to go on tour to support it and promote it. We have been forced to shift our approach to focus more on hands-on creation of music videos, releasing a full band live performance of the new album on YouTube, and probably doing more livestream acoustic performances.
- Cat’s Cradle, Lemon Mouth, Hesitation and New Detroitwere the first singles to be released from your new album. What was the process like to choose which songs were the first to be presented? Is there another song you would have wanted to release as a single but haven’t been able to for any reason?
I think when we decide the singles, we want to portray the overall spirit of the album. It’s a difficult process because we like to think about the album as a whole. We like the old school way of listening to an album from start to finish, and hearing the transitions from one track to the next in the sequence the band chooses. I think we could have released the title track as a single, but we wanted to save it so that when people first experience that song, they are able to listen to it as an introduction to the entire album.
- Ben, Brianna, your voices combine to perfection, and in occasions you even take it in turns to sing, as we can see with Brianna in Cat’s Cradle and Ben in New Detroit. In which fragments or type of songs does each of you prefer to sing? And in what way do you decide who sings which song or part?
Typically we sing lead on the songs that we each write. One example where this was not the case, was the song Commit. I wrote this song for Brianna to sing lead on, knowing that it was much better suited for her vocal range. She helped me shape some of the melodies and wrote some of the lyrics as well, and really made it her own. In general, we love to use vocal harmonies as a way to bring more dynamics into the songs.
- In an interview with Spin Magazine you mentioned that this album is like “throwing out the rulebook and hitting the refresh button”, but in what way? In ‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’ there are familiar sounds that remind us of your 2017 album ‘Spin’.
We took an entirely different approach to this album compared to spin, so sonically it is actually very different. With spin, we wanted to create lush and dense soundscapes, using many layers of guitars and vocals. There are lots of textures embedded in the tracks, like layers of acoustic guitars and fuzz guitar tracks to thicken the overall tones. With I Won’t Care How You Remember Me, we wanted to create an album that showcased the energy of our live performances. We approached the recordings in a similar way to how we play our live shows, sticking to two guitar tracks on the majority of the record, and keeping the vocal arrangements and harmonies simpler, with just one track of each vocalist instead of many layers. Using simpler arrangements actually allowed for a much wider sounding mix, with each track afforded more space. You can hear the human element much more clearly.
- Tigers Jaw began their adventure in music in 2005. How has the evolution of the band been up until now, just as you present your sixth studio album, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic? Do you remember what it was like making and releasing music and touring in “normal” times?
While the band has changed and evolved over time, it has always followed one constant- we follow what feels natural for us. We don’t try to be something we are not. We create the art and music that we want to create, so everything comes from an authentic place. Releasing an album in a pandemic has been challenging but it has allowed us the time to take more creative control over the rollout of the album, and over the creation of music videos. We made 3 of our music videos in our home town with our friends in a very DIY way. We definitely wish this album release could be accompanied with touring, like our last few releases, but we’ll be ready for that when the time comes.
- Unlike in Spain, in other countries, especially the UK and USA, you give a big importance to physical formats of music. In modern world where pretty much all music is on digital platforms, how much longer do you think the physical format will last and what is your opinion about it?
It is difficult to say how long it will last, but in the US it appears that there will always be a percentage of the population that cares very much about the experience. A physical release is an incredible thing. So much work goes into the creation of album artwork, and writing lyrics, and creating the packaging for an album. My bandmember Brianna does all of the artistic direction for our band, and there’s no better way to appreciate an album than putting on the vinyl record and holding the physical artwork and booklet in your hand while you listen.
- A band with as much experience as yours is not so easily forgotten, especially when you make music that more than one generation feels identified with. How would you like to be remembered as a band in the future?
We hope to be remembered as a band who was always genuine. We love the music that we make, we love to tour and travel, and we love being in this band. When art comes from a genuine place like that, it is intrinsically motivating. We wouldn’t be around for this many years if we didn’t believe that. I think people feel like they can relate to us and our music, so that is what keeps drawing new people in to our albums.
Listen to “I Won’t Care How You Remember Me” now!