Tiger Mimic and the making of "Elephant Skeleton"
London-based indie rockers Tiger Mimic shared with Musicngear the story behind making their EP "Elephant Skeleton". Check it out while listening to their amazing tunes!
The first traces of Tiger Mimic appeared in the skyscraper canyons of New York City when Jess and Bram met. They both had their own bands at the time but soon discovered that their individual styles of writing fit together like tree branches intertwining. Before long they had a collection of songs that were ready for the studio and they themselves were ready for new horizons.
They left New York City and found themselves beneath the gray winter skies of London searching for the right place to record and the right people to record with. The first piece to fall into place was Ben. He was a bass playing friend of a friend of a friend and, within minutes of first meeting, a piece of the puzzle fell into place.
They then connected with the incredible producer Matt Lawrence and headed into London's Livingston Studio. Under Matt's careful guidance, they worked for five days with an amazing team, recording what would become their debut EP, "Elephant Skeleton".
There was still one piece missing, though, and this also came through Ben. He suggested meeting a drummer he had once played with who might be a good fit. Lo and behold, George picked up his sticks and before the first song was finished, Tiger Mimic had found its final element.
"Elephant Skeleton" EP
The EP covers a bunch of themes; loss, escape, identity, and longing, but in terms of writing, each song follows a slightly different path. Elephant Skeleton is a good sort of typical example of Jess and Bram writing together. It began with Bram's verses, pretty much as they are on the recording, but he had no chorus. Jess jumped in and almost immediately had a chorus melody ready to go. We demoed it and brought that version to our producer, Matt Lawrence, and he suggested that we try to add a bridge. While we were anxious about possibly losing the vibe of the song, we sat down and gave it some
thought. In the end, we found that we had a short song segment laying around that hadn't yet found a home, and it fit perfectly. The little guitar solos at the beginning of the verses were just intended to be placeholders on the original demo, but we ended up enjoying the atmosphere it brought to the song. Jess also picked up a Synth during the recording process, and the little Korg Minilogue synth lines on the chorus and bridge were written in the studio.
"Don't Cover Up My Eyes" started with Jess' vocal melody and we built the song around that. Once we had that bass riff, the rest of the song just grew out of that. We changed the key of the song probably four or five times before settling on the recorded version, but in the end we really liked when the vocals got a bit lower and more sinister. In the studio we worked out the breakdown modulation at the end and added the Ben/Bram vocals, but otherwise it is very similar to the original demo. The really crunchy guitar tone on this song is one of those red Klon Centaur pedals that the studio had. They had a really tempting cabinet full of pedals, a bunch of those old Lovetones and things, but we couldn't find a use for most of them.
"Salt Woman" also started with just vocals, the first two lines of the song popped into Bram's head and he made a voice memo of that rhythm/delivery. From there he wrote all the verses and figured out the kind of bluesy riff to back them, but had no idea where to go from there. Yet again, Jess stepped in with a chorus, this time it took the song in a completely different direction. Having that sort of classic style, almost jazzy chorus offset against the tongue-twisting blues rock verses was just what the song needed.This one uses a Catalinbread Katzenkonig for the chunky guitar on the verse. For the solo, Bram is using an Earthquaker Pitch Bay, which is just a killer 3-part pitch shifter that has a built in gain section that really drives the thing. When it comes to solos, we try to keep them short and melodic. The counter-melody on the choruses is Jess on the Korg again.
"I Took Off My Body" was a surprise addition to the EP. Bram had had the guitar part laying around for years, but it was sort of a finger-picked, acoustic thing and just never made it past the instrumental stage. A few weeks before we went into the studio we started playing around with it again and Jess
came up with a super catchy melody. We demoed it, tried it out with the band, fired up my Earthquaker Bit Commander, and the song became really exciting for us. Although the Bitcrusher steals the show, Bram uses a bunch of pedals on this one, the Earthquaker, Voodoo Labs tremolo, Catalinbread
Katzenkonig, and a TS9 Tubescreamer.
"In The Distance" was a song we wrote on the acoustic and didn't really know if we would do it with the full band or what, but we really enjoyed the jamminess of the song when we played it full band and live, so we stuck with that for the final version. The EP version is just us in the studio exactly as we
played it until the ending, then we overdubbed all the crazy stuff. Jess played the studio piano for the kind of ghostly parts at the end. It had a really nice, slightly detuned sound that we knew we needed to capture. It was the last day of recording and everyone stayed super late to get that recorded. It also had a broken hammer on one of the keys, so the assistant engineer stood there using his finger as a guide for at least an hour to make sure it hit the right string. The guitar is a Taylor acoustic that is mic'd and also running through a Vox AC30 with the Voodoo Labs tremolo running. The guitars over the ending are a mix of tremolo + Ebow, EHX Holy Grail running fully in reverse, and just some regular guitar noodling. Bram also overdubbed a little banjo in there.
Gearwise, most of the guitar on the EP is a Gretsch Electromatic CVT, but we used a Stratocaster for a few things. Almost entirely recorded using a VOX AC30, but the studio had a snappy little WEM amp that we snagged for some parts. We ended up doing multiple tracks of pure feedback for all of the songs, which was really fun. It's not often that we get to max out an amp and just make crazy noise, let alone over and over again. Ben used a much simpler setup, just a Fender Precision bass for the whole record.
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