Gimme a Break: Tigers on Trains
New York folk duo, Tigers on Trains is back from a three year hiatus with Foundry, new album of gorgeous, heartbreaking tunes bursting with harmony, acoustic and electric guitar and brilliant reflective lyrics. Christian Van Deurs and Mason Maggio are also members of The Republic Of Wolves, a more rock-oriented project consisting of Gregg Dellarocca, Billy Duprey, and themselves. Van Deurs and Maggio relished returning to making softer, simpler music after the heavier feel of The Republic of Wolves. Check out the interview below for the guys’ opinions on Fleet Foxes, unusual band photos, medieval history and more. Don’t forget to listen to “Turquoise Mines,” a pristine, slightly melancholy number that evokes Bon Iver with less electronic tinkering involved.
Hometown: Riverhead, NY
Members: Christian Van Deurs, Mason Maggio
Album/EP or Single Being Released: Foundry
For Fans of: Good Old War, Cassino, Fleet Foxes
Who or what inspires you? Why?
We’re inspired by a lot of different things, including literature and religion and history. We’re both still in college and we love to learn new things, so lyrically we really bring in influences from all over the place. In terms of music, we’re inspired by classic stuff like Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, as well as recent artists like Bright Eyes, Manchester Orchestra, Bon Iver, and a whole bunch of others. It’s hard to say exactly where our inspiration is coming from on any given day.
I noticed that you participated in the Bon Iver remix contest. How did you go about choosing a song to cover?
“Holocene” is one of our favorite songs on that album, and we knew we’d love to hear it in a new and different way. The song really revolves around the vocals, so we figured we could rearrange the music to fit the vocals in a new way that would give the whole thing a totally different tone. So that’s what we did, and we actually had a great time making it dark and epic and dynamic, and adding all sorts of new stuff like banjo and violins. We would’ve loved to have won, but either way we had a lot of fun doing it.
What was the last piece of art (music, physical art, film, book, etc.) that really blew your mind? What effect did it have on you?
That’s a hard one. We both really loved Fleet Foxes’ most recent album, and some of the songs on there really are masterpieces. Aside from that, we’re huge fans of the show Breaking Bad, so our minds are always being blown by that.
So, I have to ask about your Facebook profile picture with the plants. It’s creative and unique. Who came up with the idea for this photo?
Well, we really hate the idea of having press photos that are just generic pictures of the band. Usually we like to get as creative as possible, and I think some of our Republic Of Wolves photos really show that. This one is a lot simpler, and I guess we just wanted something that seemed a little odd and out of the ordinary. The whole photo is kind of dry and mundane down to our expressions, except for these bright green plants with the sun shining in on them. So it’s kind of ironic in that sense. I’m sure we could think of a complex, abstract symbolism for the picture if we thought long and hard enough, but essentially it’s just supposed to be kind of weird.
I see you guys are from Long Island. How are you doing? Do you have a harrowing storm story to share?
We’re doing fine, especially compared to a lot of others on the island. We really got lucky, since a lot of people we know got displaced or lost a lot of property. The worst we had to deal with was a couple days without power and some basement flooding, and we’re grateful for that. We played a lot of Monopoly during the storm.
If you could travel anywhere in time past or future, where would you go and why?
I actually study medieval history, so I’d probably have to go back to around the year 1000 and check things out. Though I’m sure it would be terrifying. Going a couple hundred years into the future would also be scary, but it would be great to see what kind of progress we’ve made, and maybe buy the iPhone 27. This is a hard question.
What have you been up to in the last six months? What are your plans for the next year?
Well in July we released our most recent full-length, Foundry, in digital and vinyl. We had hoped to get a short tour together in support of it, but that kind of fell through for a lot of different reasons. We spent the rest of the summer working on some new Republic Of Wolves material, which we hope to record and release some time in the next few months, and we also helped our friend Billy Duprey (also of The Republic Of Wolves) with the debut album for his solo project (The Year Fifteen). We’ve got plans to record a couple new Tigers On Trains songs in December, which we may release as an EP, but we’re not exactly sure yet.
I’m happy to see that your latest release Foundry is available on vinyl. How did you come to this decision? Are you vinyl collectors?
We’re not actually vinyl collectors ourselves, but we really appreciate the medium. Purchasing music physically these days is more and more about having something tangible that you can feel connected to, and vinyl is really great for that. Regardless of whether or not you even have something to play it on, having a record is like physical proof of your emotional attachment to a piece of art. We actually started pressing our music on vinyl when our good friend Doug Castro from Simple Stereo Records reached out to us and offered to work with us on a vinyl release for The Republic Of Wolves. We’ve been working with him ever since, and it’s great to work with someone who’s passionate about the physical and visual aesthetic of music.
You recently shot an acoustic video for “Already Spent”, can you tell us about that experience? Who filmed it, where it was filmed, why you chose this song over the others?
We actually filmed that video with our friend Billy’s camera in his basement (he’s the one featured in the video on keyboard). We really enjoy recording live videos of our songs, especially since we don’t get out to perform very often. And it’s really fun to change up the songs and make them different from the originals, so that’s why we chose “Already Spent.” It’s a really simple, sparse song driven by electric guitars, so it was easy to transform it by doing a more upbeat version with acoustic guitar and banjo. We’ll probably be doing a couple more videos like that soon.
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