Tiger Riot is a relatively brand new five-piece indie rock band from Long Island, New York. Musically, the guys have been fortunate to bond very well, which is helped by the fact that they all in some way, shape or form have grown up together. The band signed with a small local record label called Brookvale Records in August, 2010 and released its debut album Look Up! at the beginning of February. Look out for two music videos from Look Up!, “Time is on Your Side” and “Damn These Electric Sex Pants!” which also happen to be Tiger Riot’s first ever music videos. We recently spoke to the group’s bass player Dan Ardis to learn a little more about what Tiger Riot is all about.
Tiger Riot has been a band for barely a year and a half. How did you guys all meet?
Daniel: Me and Fred are brothers so I’ve known him forever. Alex and Vince both went to our high school so we knew them through that and then Chris we actually met in college because Fred and Chris actually went to the same college so we actually have been doing music together for about four years like where we’ve all been playing in and out of bands. At one point it was the four of us playing with a different singer but under another name and then after a while so many problems came about like every smaller band goes through with who’s interested and who wants to do it. So we kind of found out that the five of us were the ones who really wanted to stick through it and make this something bigger than a hobby, like make it a fulltime project that we’re going to put our all into. So I think that was the biggest reason, like we came together because the four guys and me were definitely the most serious about what we wanted to do.
Collectively, the band members have been members of several bands for the last four or five years. What are some of the bands that you were previously in?
Daniel: Me and Vince played in a band called High Class Heist that we did right out of high school. Me, Fred and Chris all played together in a band and then that turned into another band with a different singer named Aaron Barber where then Vince joined, we stole him from High Class Heist. But during that time, Chris was actually helping out Deer Hunter, he did a tour with them, he did the Soundwave festival, I think it was in ’08 or ’09 and played bass for that tour and he was kind of just you know writing his own stuff and doing his own thing for a while. I guess doing the Soundwave thing was pretty awesome for him. Besides that, that was really that, we had a few bands where you start with your friends from high school and you play in the basement but besides that those were our serious projects.
Now the name Tiger Riot sounds like something maybe from a martial arts movie. How did you come up with and settle on this name?
Daniel: Coming up with a band name was ridiculous. We picked thirty-two band names and had like a tournament in bracket kind of thing about it, literally just put them against each other and voted on which one was better and Tiger Riot just won. I actually sparked the idea because I think someone said Wolf Riot and I was like well there’s too many Wolf bands and then I was like well there’s so many tiger bands too but I just liked the way Tiger Riot sounded better so that was really it. It definitely doesn’t have any special meanings I guess, it was just like “oh Tiger Riot, that sounds cool…”
You’re signed to Brookvale records who you signed on with this past summer. What attracted you to Brookvale?
Daniel: Well actually we released our own little EP, it was like another version of Look Up! So we released that and I forgot who but someone heard it, I think it was Randy Nichols who then showed it to a friend of ours Neil Rubenstein who then showed it to Carl the owner of Brookvale. It was actually pretty quick, we only released the music a month or two before and then a month or two later he came and set up a meeting with us where we met him, he’s from Long Island, he owns Looney Tunes Records which is a pretty nice record store on Long Island that he’s been running for a while.
So he had a meeting with us and we were trying to find something that was a little more our pace, we just started this project and we wanted to make sure it grew pretty grassroots style where we had a nice slow start instead of jumping into things too heavy, I don’t know, I think we just wanted to pay our dues and get what we deserve. So we like that we signed with a smaller label and also the attention we get from Brookvale is fantastic because they only have three artists right now. It was our first offer but it just felt right, Paul is a great guy and he just said what we wanted to hear I guess.
Let’s talk about your debut record Look Up! which is coming out right at the beginning of February. This must be an exciting time, what can we expect from this album?
Daniel: I think you can just expect an honest attempt at what we feel we should be presenting musically. We didn’t have a producer work with us, we actually engineered and recorded it all ourselves. We did all the tones and everything like that, this is our biggest and most honest attempt at what we could have offered at the time. You’re always hoping to do bigger and better things but for that time period we can just show that we wrote this and this is what we are so I hope that everyone can enjoy it.
How far back do some of the songs go on Look Up!? Are any of them songs you were working on or have reworked from previous bands?
Daniel: Yeah actually one song, “Smash Adams,” track five that song actually has been around for a while. We wrote that honestly on a whim one day when me, Alex, Vin and Fred were just kind of jamming for fun, we didn’t really have anything serious going at the time and we wrote “Smash Adams” and once we started Tiger Riot we thought like okay let’s try to rework that song with this so that’s kind of how that came. But everything else besides that song was written just for Tiger Riot.
How many songs did you record for Look Up!? Were there any disagreements between the members on what songs should actually be included on the record?
Daniel: I wouldn’t say disagreements, but we wrote about, we decided seven tracks the first EP release that we did, actually three were added on later on but I think for those seven tracks we wrote about twelve or thirteen songs and we had at least fifteen ideas brewing. We just kind of sat down one day and just you know, picked the best seven that we all agreed on and there was actually more of an agreement. It wasn’t too much of a fight, we all actually were looking in the same direction which was pretty cool because to me it just showed that we were all on the same page from the very beginning.
Do all you guys write collectively or do one or two of you do more of the work?
Daniel: I’d say Vin and Alex, our two guitar players, they’ll definitely bring the riff or spark an idea. But as far as song structure and rhythm patterns, that’s all me and Fred, like we all definitely do our own part in the writing, we try to hold down our own end of what the song can be. They’ll have a little riff or a verse or a chorus and then we’ll just write around that and make sure everyone gets their opinion into the song so it’s a little bit of a contribution from everyone.
You’ve been playing some gigs in the New York, Pennsylvania area over the past couple of months. Do you have any touring plans for the rest of the winter?
Daniel: This weekend we’re actually going to Pennsylvania again. We just got back from, last weekend we were in New Jersey, we were in Cambridge, and then we went to Providence so we’re just trying to go all around the Northeast. As far as a whole tour, maybe not at this time, definitely something we’d like to do sooner or later but right now we’re concentrating on the Northeast and trying to play as many weekends as we can and just make sure every weekend we’re going to be somewhere different.
What does Tiger Riot have planned for the more distant future in the Spring and the Summer?
Daniel: Honestly, we’re going to be writing, that’s one thing that we love to do, we just want to keep writing songs and keep putting out music. Hopefully we can put out another release in 2011, I don’t know if that would be in the summer or a little later but we like to make sure we put more music out and hopefully get some solid connections so we can start playing with bigger bands and just getting on some really great packages, trying to get Look Up! to as many fans as we can. [ END ]