Nine For 2009 - Three Trapped Tigers

Clash speaks to breaking-through Londoners...
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Band names, eh? Gone are the bands revolving around being associated with ‘Kids’ or ‘Fields’ (see AD 2008). Now it’s officially the season of the ‘Tiger’.


First up there’s Papier Tigre and Miniature Tigers. Then there’s Three Trapped Tigers, who look particularly hungry and the most dangerous of the lot.

The band’s name comes from the book by Cuban writer Cabrera Infante (“I was reading it on a tour and my friend said it was a good name for a band”, says Thomas Rogerson, the band’s core songwriter. “Given that I was sick of trying to think of a decent name I stuck with it and refused to rethink it even though the other two don't really like it!”), yet their music has its roots closer to home, sounding like feeding time between Midwest Product, Battles, Holy Fuck and a sniff of Red Snapper if they had swapped their double bass for a Korg.

Originally an improvisational duo of Rogerson and Matt Calvert, they ditched their laptop in favour of a drummer called Adam Betts to squeeze more presence. Says core songwriter Rogerson:

“I had an instrumental improv’ band for a year or more which involved Matt and a few others. I used to live in New York where I was heavily involved in jazz and improv, so I suppose the decision to move to more material was just one of feeling frustrated with improv - musically, I felt like our playing would always follow the same shape, and would what was supposed to be 'free' music was also very predictable; and practically it sucked not getting the chance to play gigs as the improv scene is comparatively small here. We've left a few elements of free improv in the current set, and all three of us are always trying out different things in each gig with the basic material.”

The band’s tight-as-light percussive structures work brilliantly as Rogerson’s tender keys juxtapose with the angry and oft-tempestuous guitars of Calvert. Soulful yet technical, brash yet sometimes prone and exposed, Three Trapped Tigers are a welt of emotive musical passage crammed into a taut indie outfit: as sonically deadly as their name suggests. They’re also keen to avoid pigeonholing, and going the right way about it.

“We're likely to be pigeonholed with math-rock guys, but we don't actually SOUND like them, and I'm not even sure that we're on the same page in terms of what we aim to achieve,” says Rogerson. “I think of TTT as a rock band, not as a dance band, a live dance band or an electronica project. I don't want our music to be 'functional'; I believe in the idea of music as narrative that leads you from A to C via B and often back to A. So in that respect it's a listening experience: I think I'd prefer it if people were stood there in rapt concentration rather than moshing, but either is good.”

As for the year ahead, Rogerson is surprisingly reserved in expressing his hope for the band.

“I don't have any ambition for 2009 particularly. Bands like ours aren't really 'now' bands, I think we're going to stick around and keep trying to do our best, making music for our own benefit principally because it expresses something and it's interesting, innovative, whatever. The plan this year, then, is to make a couple more EPs, keep trying out new stuff, honing the sound and concept a bit more, and certainly not rush into any album just yet. All the tips and stuff are flattering but we've got to keep our heads about us and work out our own way forward.”

And does Rogerson have any tips of his own for 2009?

“I'm afraid to tell you I have no idea as I don't listen to much new undiscovered music. Bands we played with in 2008 who we liked included Man Man, Shield Your Eyes (click for album review), and Munch Munch.”

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Three Trapped Tigers’ debut EP is available now via Blood & Biscuits. Get a free track as part of our Track of the Day series HERE, and another via our special Nudie Naked talent download compilation HERE.

Three Trapped Tigers headline the next Clash Saturday Social event, held at the RoTa afternoon at the Notting Hill Arts Club, London W11. The date for your diary is January 31, doors open at 4pm, and support comes from Brontide and The Invisible. Entry is FREE. Get more information on ClashMusic.com HERE and find the event online at Facebook and Last.fm.

Words: Matthew Bennett and Mike Diver

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