It’s been a little over two years since three founding members of Tigers Jaw departed. But the remaining dynamic duo of Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh has soldiered on, touring extensively to support their 2014 record Charmer. There was a point when Walsh, guitarist and vocalist, and Collins, keyboardist and vocalist, weren’t sure about the future of the Scranton indie / emo outfit. But they’ve regained serious momentum, especially with news of a new release set for late June.
The release is a live collaborative acoustic album, Tigers Jaw Acoustic: Live at Studio 4. It was recorded and produced by Will Yip, who has made quite a name for himself in recent years producing luminaries of the pop-punk world like Circa Survive, Title Fight, Superheaven and the The Wonder Years.
The album was actually recorded in September of 2013, when Tigers Jaw and Anthony Green of Circa Survive played an intimate acoustic show at Studio 4. The show was one of the first acoustic shows Ben and Brianna did as Tigers Jaw mark two. It was also the first time an acoustic gig was performed at Studio 4.
“I’ve always wanted to do it, just because the room’s so cool to have a sit-down show in,” Yip says. “And at that point, it was to help generate some press and awareness of what was going on at Studio 4.” He was buying into the studio to become co-owner with founder Phil Nicolo, and wanted to celebrate with a show.
Yip then sat on the recordings for a while, planning on doing something with them, but got caught up in other projects. When Tigers Jaw came to him and asked if they could release the songs to support their run of acoustic shows this June, Will happily agreed.
Yip, a man of many projects, also found inspiration to launch a record label via the live recording: “This kind of gave me the push I needed to see through this project. I feel like if Ben didn’t text me about putting out these acoustic songs, this would have never happened for at least a few more years.”
His new label is called Memory Music, and it’s a collaboration with Run for Cover Records. It’s a boutique label of records he believes in. Memory Music will release records from Studio 4, records that showcase the community, and “bands I love that show real musicianship that I adore,” Yip says.
Regarding Live at Studio 4, he adds, “I thought this was a perfect first release to do. The whole theme of the label is to pay homage to Motown Records, Sun Records, Chess Records. A lot of those old-school records were all tracked in the same studio – not that they all sound the same – but they created a vibe. And I thought this was the perfect way to cement that as the foundation of Memory Music.”
According to Yip, Studio 4 will definitely release more in-studio shows, but will probably stick to mostly audio only, because the vibe it creates is an experience like no other. “We did it consciously to not have video for the first one, so you pay attention to listening… it made the show very, very personal and intimate,” he says.
Walsh and Collins recall fond memories of that night.
“Everyone was just appreciating the music, and there’s just something about that room. It has this natural reverb, and it just sounds awesome,” Walsh says.
Collins adds, “Everyone that came to the show was so respectful; it was almost like perfectly quiet. You could just tell that they were really listening, ”
They also remember overcoming the challenge of shifting their songs’ sound to fit an intimate show.
“It was a fun challenge to try and see how they translated to the acoustic setting. It’s totally different – it’s almost like a lot more pressure to focus on the small details of everything,” Walsh says. “But it’s just been fun to focus more on the vocal harmonies and stuff like that, where you just have the three elements – two vocals and one guitar. I feel like we’ve been able to change the feel of the songs around a little bit and kind of tailor them to that setting.”
He pauses to think, then says, “It is weird stripping it back down to its essence, almost.”
Collins chimes in, “He and I sometimes switch who sings melody and harmony for songs we wouldn’t sing the same way live, so it’s fun to get to do that.”
After they wrap up their acoustic dates, Tigers Jaw is embarking on some pretty exciting summer tours.
“This is the first year that we’re actually getting to tour more than just one summer tour,” Collins says. “We go to Brazil in like 6 days, Australia in July, the UK and Europe in August, and then we actually just announced we’re doing a US tour with New Found Glory and Yellowcard, who are co-headlining. So it’s a big year for us.”
It’s a big year for all of the members of Tigers Jaw’s original lineup, in fact. All of them are still on good terms and faring well. Former lead vocalist/guitarist Adam McIlwee has numerous releases under his solo recording moniker Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, and is now touring in support of it. Former bassist Dennis Mishko and drummer Pat Brier continue to play in Three Man Cannon, which released Pretty Many People, last year on Lame-O.
Though Tigers Jaw went through a bit of a rough patch, they’re back and roaring louder than ever before.
Below, listen to Collins, Walsh and Yip’s interview on WXPN’s Philly Local Show (which this story drew from) and hear their acoustic performances of “Teenage Rocket” and “Hum.”
Tigers Jaw Acoustic: Live at Studio 4 is out June 30th through Memory Music, and Run for Cover is helping to distribute it. It will be available through the Memory Music webstore.
For more information about Tigers Jaw’s upcoming acoustic tour dates, including their June 25th show at the First Unitarian Church, as well as their tour with New Found Glory and Yellowcard, you can visit their Tumblr page.
You can also read all of the Key’s past coverage on Tigers Jaw here.
Tigers Jaw, Will Yip