We Came Out Like Tigers
Simon Jay Catling 02/04/2010
“People are afraid to call their music emotional, they're afraid they might get pointed at and put into a genre. We're not; we try and make music that's emotional and sincere.” These are the words of We Came Out Like Tigers' guitarist Fabian Devlin, and as he delivers them, his eyes light up with an aggressive passion that says more than words ever could about the belief he has in the band that he and vocalist/violinist Simon Barr formed just over a year ago.
We Came Out Like Tigers are an interesting proposition. If you'll allow a plagiarising my own review for a minute, they're fiercely DIY at a time when the phrase is getting thrown about so much as to lose all meaning. What this involves for them is putting on their own gigs, putting on other bands' gigs in their adopted home of Liverpool, flyering for others, running their own fanzine- Brickface (the launch of which is greeted each month by a night of live music and art) and creating their own release packaging and artwork. This isn't something they've decided to do overnight- “we don't read about Ian MacKaye and think 'let's do it'” retorts Devlin, “it's just something we've all always done, back to before we were in this group.” The “group” in question are all here today, the four-piece huddled around a pub table nursing a variety of hangovers. These ailments though can't dim the enthusiasm that shines through when they talk about the band, the music they love, or the DIY scene they're keen to promote. Mykle, their bassist, speaks of the unrivalled satisfaction felt when getting something back from what you've put everything into; drummer Rik is the eldest, but the newest member, and is happy to let the others do most of the talking, chipping in occasionally. It's Simon and Fabian- sat side-by-side, a contrast of relaxed and anxious- who light up the most when talking of their love of Dischord records, of bands like Circle Takes The Square and Orchid, what compels themselves to want to remain DIY (“it's about taking control of your business, of yourself”), and how they perceive their sound. At one point, when describing the group's debut EP There Is Good Hope, Thou Will Seest Thy Friends, Simon says with such honesty “most of it's about love, and what's more positive than that?” That my own churning hangover threatens to overcome me as a reminder of the previous night's attempts to cloak such natural emotion. I'm not trying to paint WCOLT as some intimidating indier-than-thou types- they're far from it: friendly, polite, easy to talk to, they're simply a bunch of guys who are deeply in love with what they're doing, and as such know everything about it inside out.
What it is they're doing...”[it's]melodic, brutal at times” says Simon, before his guitarist backs him up “we try to take the art elements of hardcore and fit as much melody as we can within that, then try to make it as intense as possible.” What this manifests itself into are sprawling opuses that seem to howl and rage, as though the measured violin-tinctured instrumental passages merely rile their punk sensibilities more. This is certainly the case on the likes of 'This is the night, what it has done to you,' the finale to the current EP- and the recording session for the EP certainly fell in line with punk aesthetics. “The whole thing was done in two days” Simon tells me, “it was a fast process to try and keep the emotion and intensity there.” Says Fabian, “there is a very conscious songcraft, but if a song feels right at two minutes or if it comes out at seven or eight minutes then that's the way it should be.” Certainly the production values are akin to rough and ready punk recordings- scuzzy and adding to the abrasive nature of the band's expanded post-hardcore. It's also a record of light and dark, positive amongst the depths of despair; “my Dad had pancreatic cancer last year- though he's fine now” explains Simon, “but at the time it was just really weird sitting there in the hospital waiting around to see if someone you love was going to die. A lot of it came from that; but although the record sounds aggressive and dark, it all stems from hope.”
“There's optimism” Fabian agrees, “because once you've accepted that things aren't always as perfect they might be; it makes it a lot easier to move on. It's good to be sad and go through that experience,”
“and the emotion in our lyrics is something we try to embody on stage” finishes off Mykle, completing a seamless three-part answer, unsurprising given the band's admission that they write song parts not only for their themselves but for each other as well. “We're lucky; it's rare that you meet a group of guys who're on the same wavelength and can have this musical coherence,” elaborates the bassist; does that extend to the lyrics? “We all write our own lyrics, Simon writes the most, but anything we individually sing we've written ourselves” claims Fabian. Such ownership over lyrics is intriguing; the sense that when you hear one of the band's voices on record or live, what they're expressing is actually their individual thoughts, not the channelling of a central songwriter's feelings.
“From my point of view”, pipes up the thus far quiet and thoughtful-looking Rik “observing the group before I joined, it feels like they've progressed. Their songs have developed since the first time I saw them, and that's what excites me about being in a band: the feeling of going in a direction artistically. It's a journey, you don't know where it's going but it's going somewhere.” Currently that “somewhere” is looking promising. With a recent tour with Brighton screamos Easy Hips and supports slots in Liverpool with Japandroids and Cold Ones (“they're pretty much the reason we started this band”) plus a debut Manchester gig coming up, the group's horizons are widening. Don't expect them to give up putting the graft in around their adopted city though; it's clearly a scene they respect, and one they realise will only becomes successful if those in it pull together. Or, as Fabian says, “It's fun to do; and what else would we be doing instead? Sitting in the pub and complaining about how rubbish the scene is.” Fiercely proud of their music and fiercely proud of the surroundings that have helped them spawn it, We Came Out Like Tigers aren't for the emotionally conservative, but since when should it have become acceptable to be that way anyway?
We Came Out Like Tigers debut EP There Is Hope Good People, Thou Will Seest Thy Friends is out now from the band's Myspace.
They play Preston on 29/04, Manchester on 13/05 and Liverpool on 17/05.