Thursday, May 13, 2010
Hear the new, soulful San Diego band “Old Tiger” perform live in studio.
Old Tiger will be at The Soda Bar on Friday, May 14 at 10 p.m.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Categories like pop, hip-hop, indie rock dominate today's music. But, some musicians reach back into the rich past of American music for their inspiration. More than 50 years ago, traditional gospel music was changing. The great singers and musicians who made African-American religious music so powerful, were bringing that same passion to secular music. And so, soul music and rhythm and blues were born. Many of the best R&B artists were recorded on the Motown and Stax Record labels in the sixties and seventies. Now some young San Diego musicians are sharing their mutual love and admiration of R&B music in a new band they call Old Tiger. And they're here today to play for us. Let’s start out with some of their music. Here’s Old Tiger with the song “Free.”
(audio of Old Tiger performing the song “Free”)
CAVANAUGH: Thank you. That was the song “Free” performed in-studio here at KPBS by Old Tiger. Thank you so much. That was a great way to start out.
ERIC BOONE (Drums): Oh, thanks for having us here.
CAVANAUGH: I want to introduce the members of the band. Eric Boone is on drums. Good morning, Eric. And Dustin Lothspeich…
DUSTIN LOTHSPEICH (Vocalist): That is very well said.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you – is on guitar and vocals. And Matt Phillips, bass.
MATT PHILLIPS (Bass player): Good morning.
CAVANAUGH: Good morning. Matt, give us some history on Old Tiger. I know that you’re a new band, so how did you actually start playing together?
PHILLIPS: Well, we’re a new band. Eric and I had actually played in another band called the High Rolling Loners, as well, for a number of years, so we knew each other pretty well. I found out these two worked together and one day Eric was tapping on the desk in very good rhythm…
CAVANAUGH: As a drummer should.
PHILLIPS: As a drummer should, of course. So the story goes that Dustin heard this and decided to Google Eric Boone, drummer, and he found out that Eric Boone actually was a drummer and plays in the High Rolling Loners. And…
CAVANAUGH: So you couldn’t just go over to him and say, hey, are you a drummer?
LOTHSPEICH: Well, you know, he’s very secretive. He’s kind of an anomaly around where we’re from. No, he kept to himself a lot. He’s very private. And I kind of assumed he was a drummer just by the way he was tapping the desk, and because he was moving his arms and his feet at the same time…
LOTHSPEICH: …and most people don’t normally do that when they’re tapping along with the radio.
LOTHSPEICH: So I kind of assumed something was going on with him. And I kind of had a hunch. You know, this guy’s got some kind of musician quality to him so I…
CAVANAUGH: So when did, Dustin, when did you find out that you were all like really in love with R&B music?
LOTHSPEICH: Well, that’s a good question. It started a long time ago for me. You know, when I was a kid, my mom was really into the Supremes and, you know, bands like that. And, you know, I kind of discovered Marvin Gaye, you know, when I was about 17, 18 and, you know, ever since then it’s just been, you know, discovering more and more about it. And Eric has kind of turned me on a lot to a lot of the Stax records like Otis Redding and Rufus Thomas, William Bell, artists like that.
CAVANAUGH: Because, I mean, you’re all, you know, you’re all young guys. Where – Matt, so where did you discover this music?
PHILLIPS: I believe kind of the same as Dustin. My parents were always playing the oldies and stuff. And as the years go by, there’s something about that old music that lingers with you and, you know, it’s always kind of got to me that way. So I’ve kind of got a warm place in my heart for the oldies as opposed to the newer stuff, you know.
CAVANAUGH: And Eric, I know that you’re really involved in the old, wonderful artists who performed for Stax Records but, you know, before we get there, let’s do some more music. I mean, that’s what we’re here for, right?
LOTHSPEICH: Yeah, that’s what we’re doing.
CAVANAUGH: All right. This is a song called “Deliver Me” and it’s performed by Old Tiger.
(audio of Old Tiger performing “Deliver Me”)
CAVANAUGH: That’s the song “Deliver Me” by the band Old Tiger. What a great hook.
LOTHSPEICH: Thank you very much.
CAVANAUGH: Really, really nice.
LOTHSPEICH: Yeah, I wrote that. That was me.
CAVANAUGH: Dustin, so how do you take – Okay, so you spend lots and lots of time listening to the really, really great R&B music on Motown and Stax Records. So how do you create new music? How do you create new songs? Are there some standard chord progressions? Are there some standard ideas that you have to have in the lyrics?
LOTHSPEICH: Well, there is and there isn’t, you know, and it kind of comes along with every kind of music, is that there is usually some kind of style, usually some kind of form that you follow depending on your genre, depending on what category you want to be associated with, you know. And, you know, for us, you know, it was kind of bringing all the influences that we have with that old music, you know, Motown, Stax Records, all – everything, really, and kind of trying to, you know, craft our own version of that in a way, you know. And, I mean, it’s tough. It’s kind of a struggle, you know, but, you know, songwriting in and of itself is a struggle to begin with, you know.
CAVANAUGH: All right.
LOTHSPEICH: So, I mean, no, I think, you know, I think, you know, generally we just – we just try to, you know, make it interesting, put a new spin on it…
LOTHSPEICH: …and, you know, try to keep it cool, basically.
CAVANAUGH: Eric, I know that you grew in Tennessee, right?
BOONE: That’s right, yeah.
CAVANAUGH: And you got – have this connection to Stax. Tell us how that happened.
BOONE: Just being born in west Tennessee, you kind of hear that stuff all the time, you know, growing up. And just kind of – appreciation for it kind of grew as I got older, you know, it was, you know, kind of matured and – in songwriting and – and just playing in general because it’s kind of a hard, challenging kind of thing to play. So…
CAVANAUGH: Sure, I would imagine.
CAVANAUGH: Now you said that one of the songs that really inspires you is “Love and Happiness” by Al Green.
CAVANAUGH: Why does that inspire you?
BOONE: I think it’s just a perfect recording itself, you know. It was recorded, you know, at Royal Studios in Memphis there, Willie Mitchell doing the production. Just the groove is just perfect. You know, the product – it sounds like they just kind of hit record on a machine and Al Green and the band just kind of took off and there’s just a lot of energy in the room. You can feel it kind of crackling through the speakers, even to this day, you know.
CAVANAUGH: Well, so that listeners know what we’re talking about, let’s hear just a little bit of “Love and Happiness” by Al Green.
(clip of Al Green performing “Love and Happiness”)
CAVANAUGH: I guess if that doesn’t inspire you there’s nothing that can…
CAVANAUGH: …inspire you.
BOONE: I saw you clapping on that one, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: That was “Love and Happiness” by Al Green. And I’m speaking to the members of the band Old Tiger. Matt, talk to us about the bass in rhythm and blues. What kind of – what do you need to do to make it sound right?
PHILLIPS: Boy, if I knew that, I’d be rich. If you guys could help me…
CAVANAUGH: If you could come closer to the mike, we could all hear you.
LOTHSPEICH: Yeah, I want to know, too, Matt.
PHILLIPS: If I knew that… There’s just something about the rhythm of a bass in soul music that just gets way down into your soul. Probably why it is called soul music. And something – the bass is just full of so much kind of funk and groove, and it really carries a lot of those songs. And…
PHILLIPS: …I was always – it always just made me latch onto that, you know, when I’m listening to the music.
CAVANAUGH: Can you give us a taste?
PHILLIPS: Yes. An old song the Temptations did, “Get Ready,” was one of the first ones I learned how to play with my brother, and it was kind of a – Let me get a little of this in…
(audio of Phillips playing riff from “Get Ready”)
PHILLIPS: So that kind of stuff, you know. It’s – it’s – it just gets to you.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, I can see that. So as you said, you started to do this when you were just fooling around with your brother and just learning?
PHILLIPS: Oh, yeah, a lot younger, just learning. And my brother, you know, he was kind of into the Motown thing, too. And we tackled a song like that as one of the first ones to learn. And…
CAVANAUGH: How different is that from, let’s say, a rock bass?
PHILLIPS: Rock bass, it’s just – it’s more different progressions, different chord progressions, different patterns, things like that. A lot of rock bass follows a very blues oriented type of thing. This is a little more challenging, a little different.
BOONE: You stop a lot, too.
PHILLIPS: The progressions – a lot of more stopping, yeah. Yeah.
BOONE: Like instead of letting it ring, you know, there’s a lot of more stopping, kind of emphasizing the beat.
CAVANAUGH: Right. Right. The beat more than anything, yeah, yeah.
PHILLIPS: Yeah, it’s almost like playing drums and guitar at the same time.
CAVANAUGH: I understand. Okay. I think that it’s very interesting when I was told that I was going to be speaking to Old Tiger, I said, what? Where does that name come from?
BOONE: Chart toppers, really. That’s what we’re all about. Top 40 music.
CAVANAUGH: Old Tiger. Where does that name come from?
PHILLIPS: It comes from a long list of thought-up band names, really. Nah, I mean…
LOTHSPEICH: The one that didn’t get eliminated.
PHILLIPS: Yeah, we had a very long and tedious elimination process. I’m not going to share some of the other band names we came up with because they’re too good and I don’t want other bands stealing them so, you know, if these guys ever go their wayward ways, I’m going to have to come up with a new band and, you know, I want to have a good name for it so I’m keeping the list to myself basically. No, but, I mean, yeah, it – it came from a lot of things and we wanted something to kind of, you know, kind of signify or kind of symbolize what our sound’s all about and Tiger’s kind of a cool thing and Old, I mean, we play old music basically, you know, that’s what we do.
CAVANAUGH: Right, right. Let’s hear another song. You’re going to give us – you’re going to perform for us “I Got It Figured Out.”
PHILLIPS: Yes, ma’am.
(audio of Old Tiger performing “I Got It Figured Out”)
CAVANAUGH: Rocking out at the end of that one.
CAVANAUGH: “I Got It Figured Out” by the band Old Tiger, and the band Old Tiger is Eric Boone on drums, Dustin Lothspeich on guitar and vocals, and Matt Phillips on bass.
CAVANAUGH: Eric, you recorded – you guys recorded all these songs in your house?
CAVANAUGH: Okay, so I know that you’re in the generation of DIY, do it yourself, but isn’t this taking it to the extreme? I mean, why did you do that?
BOONE: Probably money issues.
LOTHSPEICH: No other way, basically.
BOONE: No other way. We had the digital software and then we had some pretty good mikes and we had a pretty good house for it. You know, we had wood floors and kind of a small craftsman house in North Park. So we…
CAVANAUGH: Good acoustics?
BOONE: Pretty good acoustics.
PHILLIPS: Yeah, right.
BOONE: We put the amps in the bathroom and miked those and, you know, got a good little natural echo out of those.
PHILLIPS: True, it’s very true.
CAVANAUGH: All your secrets are being revealed.
LOTHSPEICH: Don’t tell them anything else.
CAVANAUGH: So, Matt, what do you do with, you know, this young band, what are you doing to try to get some notice for the band?
PHILLIPS: A lot of we’re really on Facebook and MySpace a lot and all of our friends are on there every day, and it’s a really great way to get people out to shows. MySpace/oldtigermusic.
PHILLIPS: Please go, everybody.
CAVANAUGH: This is one of the things you’re doing to get people in.
PHILLIPS: Hey, it is.
BOONE: Coming to KPBS.
PHILLIPS: And you – I mean, it’s just a dream. I cannot believe I’m on the radio. It’s ridiculous.
CAVANAUGH: And you have some shows coming up here in town.
PHILLIPS: We do, yeah. We have a show tomorrow night at the Soda Bar. We’re playing with Eclipse 79 and Of Sons and Ghosts. It starts at ten. Doors open at nine. It’s four dollars, which is slightly less than a McDonald’s Value Meal, so be much more healthier and come to a show, have some drinks and hang out with us. After that, we’ve got a show at the Chico Club in La Mesa on Saturday night, and then we’ve got a show at the Radio Room coming up on…
CAVANAUGH: May 20th.
PHILLIPS: …May 20th.
CAVANAUGH: And I know another one, too. May 25th, O’Connell’s…
CAVANAUGH: …here in San Diego.
LOTHSPEICH: That’s right.
BOONE: Yep, that’s it.
CAVANAUGH: Well, we’re going to go out on a song. A song called “No, No, No” but I really want to thank you guys so much. It’s great music. Thank you so much for being here.
LOTHSPEICH: Thank you.
BOONE: I thank you very much.
PHILLIPS: The honor’s all ours, definitely. And, Maureen, I just want to say that you’re probably going to like this song a lot. I would not be surprised if you get up and start dancing so…
CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right.
PHILLIPS: …I’ll be watching out for it actually.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, I’ll try to restrain myself but I never know. Here’s the song, “No, No, No” by the band Old Tiger.
(audio of Old Tiger performing “No, No, No”)