FAULT meets Miniature Tigers

Miniature Tigers began in 2006 as an interstate MySpace collaboration between singer-guitarist Charlie Brand and singer-keyboardist Rick Alvin. Since expanding into the physical world, the indie pop band has released five studio albums, the latest being I Dreamt I Was a Cowboy, which came out in October.

Lead singer Charlie Brand chatted with FAULT about life as an artist, the importance of always giving your best show, and what painting has taught him about songwriting.

FAULT: You guys have some of the most intriguing album covers. Who designs those?

Charlie: We create all of them ourselves. Our first two albums—Rick painted both of those. It was kind of a collaborative process between me and him. I wasn’t really doing visual art yet, so we would talk about what we wanted, and I would sit there while he would paint it. We’d give each other feedback, and it would kind of be like a collaboration that he’d paint … This most recent one was the first one I painted myself. It kind of ties into the first album cover Rick and I did together. It pays tribute to him, because he was the most encouraging of my painting. We wanted something that felt like that original cover, but was a totally different version of it.



Has touring with Fun. and Ben Folds had any kind of a lasting impact on you?

We grow so much any time we do a tour—personally, and musically as well. We’ve played huge shows with people like Ben Folds or Fun. where we’re playing in front of thousands of people. But then there are shows, earlier on especially, where there are like two people there, and one of them is the bartender. We were miserable in a way, but I look back on those shows, and I can remember every one of them. Those were just as important as the ones playing to a thousand people.

I think that’s because of some of the shows I’ve seen. I grew up in Arizona, and that band Phoenix came through, back before they hit it big with their huge album. I went to the show because I was a big fan, and there were like five people there, including me. And it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in my entire life. They ripped it up even though there were only five people, and I’m sure it was a huge bummer for them. That always stuck with me as my philosophy for playing a show: No matter how many people are there, always try to bring the same kind of show.


Who influenced your songwriting on this latest album?

I guess Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon have been big influences on me lately. Also this guy Arthur Russell. I kinda wanted something California-feeling and more organic. But I’m also hugely influenced by, you know, Kanye and the way he approaches albums, sampling, arrangements, and things like that. I took a lot of the organic elements and like chopped them up and pushed them around to kind of approach it like an electronic record, but also make it deceptively organic-sounding. Like lots of drum samples that sound like real drums and things like that.

Another huge influence is visual art—people like David Hockney and Matisse. Matisse—he could paint something that’s photorealistic or super-detailed, but he chooses to leave things intentionally simple. I’m always trying to apply that same kind of philosophy to recording and songwriting.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

That’s hard to say. I can barely see where I’m gonna be day-to-day. I’ve just been doing a lot of art and painting, and I want to spend some more time doing that. I’ve been working on this other project with my friend Jeremy [Malvin], who plays in a thing called Chrome Sparks. We just put out an EP called Promises Ltd. I want to write more with that. It’s super-synth-y—like analog synths and all that kind of shit.

I just wanna keep writing music. Miniature Tigers is my first real project. It’s something I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life working on and being a part of every day. I love everybody in the band, and we all get along and are great friends somehow. I would love to do that for the rest of my life. But we’re still a cult band, so it’s hard for us to practically tour and do stuff because we don’t necessarily make much money doing this. When we first started, most of us were still living at home with our parents, and money didn’t really matter; we would just tour all year long and not give a shit. But now, we all have, like, lives and shit. So it’s getting harder and harder to make this band survive, even though we all still love doing it.


What is your FAULT?

I don’t even know where to begin. It would be easier for me to tell you my strengths, because everything else seems to be fuckin’ chaos constantly. I haven’t really planned my future at all. I don’t have, like, money saved up, or any kind of a backup plan. I’m just like doing art and music and hoping something works out to where I can, like, have food in my mouth and rent payed and stuff. I’ve completely neglected any kind of practicality in my life.

You can find Miniature Tigers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Words: Cody Fitzpatrick