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Smalltown Tigers have taken the scene by storm recently with the release of their debut mini album “Five Things” via Area Pirata Records on Aril 24th.
An 8 song album that as a debut has just about everyone that has had the pleasure of hearing it, salivating at the prospect of more to come from this all girl sensation of a punk band. Music that derives its sound from friends having fun and then playing music that makes them happy.
Members Valli, Monty and Castel have been together as one for as little as 2 years, but in this time have already graced the stage with the likes of Hagar The Womb, Baby Shakes, The Menstrual Cramps and The Speedways.
Having been forced into isolation due to this crazy virus situation that has hit the world at large, cancelling their planned early 2019 tour and generally keeping themselves and and family safe, we took this time to be able to ask a few questions about who and what Smalltown Tigers are.
Guessing that the band name reflects who you are and where you are from, it says in your Bio that your’e from near Rimini, is that the whole story, or is there any other reason you chose the name?
No real reason. We liked it, we thought it well represented who we are and where we came from. Apart from coming from a smalltown reference, we loved the feline reference. We always felt a bit like that.
Are you all from the same town?
We come from the same region (Romagna), but from different cities. We – Valli and Monty – live in the same small village on the outskirts of Rimini; Castel comes from the biggest (but still small though) city in the area, Forli.
Does where you are all from have a thriving music scene going on, are there any other bands from your region that are worth checking out?
Rimini has always had a lively club scene since the 80s, although everything has changed since those days when it was a meeting point for subculture festivals like Mods or Rockers. Most of the clubs where the action was have closed down ever since. Today it’s kind of hard to make it in the remaining clubs in town as most of them only wants tribute bands to play. Still there’s a whole underground scene going on around squats and private spaces where you could organise a party and see the best local bands play. For sure, we really enjoyed playing with Lady Maciste and we really like Vox Kernel, that are from our region. We love also groups like Yonic South, Latte+ and The Dirtiest that are not from out of region. All of them are powerful bands, perfect to enjoy on stage.
I read that you started by playing Ramones songs at squats and parties, your original sound does have hints of this, did you want to distance yourselves from this, or are you happy that it is part of your history?
The Ramones have always influenced not only our way of playing but also how to dress since the very beginning, and even today, they continue to inspire us. I guess we never played a live show that didn’t have a song from It’s Alive in it. Nobody knows what the future brings, we’ve been exposed to so many great bands along the way that it’s hard not to be inspired with them as well but for now I guess that Ramones still are the motor that keeps us going and we’re proud of it. You never hide your roots, you know. For anything else, Joe Strummer said that the future is unwritten. We stand by what he said.
As you have only been together for around 2 years, were any of you in previous bands? (names of bands if any)
We (Valli and Monty) previously played together in another band called Rockaway Bitches that’s still going on, although Smalltown Tigers make more difficult to follow it as we did in the past. Castel has three bands that she plays with… a sort of international drummer ensemble from all over the world called Drumatica, an all-female hard rock/metal cover band called Whiskey Wives and a pop-rock project in the Italian idiom called Le Figurine. We all try to stay busy.
Several reviews, including mine, have drawn comparisons to early Joan Jett or even Suzi Quattro, I use comparisons purely to give the reader a marker as to what to expect. But in reality I think your sound is pretty unique, to this end, what actually were you all listening to as you grew up?
Well thanks a lot, for us it’s really an honour to be compared with Joan Jett and Suzi Quatro. They defined the role of the female bandleader during the 70s where real rock’n’roll was mainly ruled by men. I think we all owe something to them. As for our sound, it’s true that it’s a sum of what’s been played on our stereos since we were kids. As young surfers, we started listening to skate-punk bands like Offspring and No Use For A Name, then we grew up with the need to dig some more and then came Sex Pistols, B52s, Velvet Underground, Runaways, Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Fugazi and much more besides our great love for Ramones.
Are there any new bands around that you would really aspire to play with that you haven’t already?
I know it may sound a bit unusual in these days, but we’d really like to play with CJ Ramone. We’ve always been big fans of him. For us he’s an institution, and part of rock’n’roll royalty! When it comes to new bands, we would definitely love to make a record with the Black Lips and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes.The
album (mini-album), how long did it actually take to record?
Very little time. You guys are maybe aware about how much a recording studio cost per hours… Jokes apart, we didn’t want to stack too many layers of sound in it. It has to be live, loud, fast and powerful. That’s the Smalltown Tigers. We recorded the whole album at L’Amor Mio Non Muore studio in Forli, Italy. It’s an all analogue studio, where they use old reel-to-reel recorders and a 70s mixing desk. No computer tricks, just a bunch of tube amplifiers. The whole process took really the best part of one day: plug in, play as hard as we could, get out. No headphones, no overdubs (apart from the vocals that couldn’t be recorded together with other instruments) and some good old one-two-three-four to start each take.
It has a quality of rawness and sound that makes it stand out, melodies that are key, but songs that are not out and out melody driven, a stand out in that for me would be Girl, which has a wonderful B52’s style riff at its heart, when writing songs, do you think that influences are something you embrace, or do you always hope to be unique?
Pretending to be unique, it always sounds a bit too pretentious to us. Of course, this should be what every artist would aim to be, but I guess it’s more realistic to be aware that every band’s sound is the result of a mix of their influences. It’s really hard to find something that’s not been invented before. The best we could do is to write the best song we are able to every time.
Are you happy with the production side of the album?
Really happy. We didn’t have much studio experience on our own. Luckily Stiv Cantarelli, our producer, had a long history on the underground scene. He gave us precious hints about how to obtain a certain sound in a studio, which is a completely different thing compared to live action. He helped on the mixing desk with a clear idea about how we had to sound since before we even played the first note. Not to mention he was also in contact with Jim Diamond… He’s the one who shaped the ‘Five Things’ sound the way you listen to it. When Stiv told us about him, The White Stripes and the Dirtbombs we almost fainted. They both did a great job.
I think it comes across as full on garage style, with all the dark basement bar, beach party, grungy pop, skate punk sounds you could ever want from an album. Is this what you were aiming for?
We can’t lie… the dark bars always fascinated us. Soft blue lights, the pub wood, hopefully the pinball machine. As young girls in a coastal town, we grew up on the beach, with shorts and skater shoes, but that was the kind of atmosphere we always saw our favorite bands play, and we just wanted to be part of it as well.
As an opening album to your career, did you ever have ambitions of it getting such deserved accolades as it has already?
None of us would have expected it. As our first record, we didn’t know what to expect, especially in these days with so many good bands and good records issued every day. As we write, we actually had a lot of very good reviews of our mini-album almost everywhere. I hope they’ll help us to build a following in the real world!
Are there many more songs already in the written stage?
We were already kind of working at it before this virus thing started. You know, this isolation stopped the process for now but I suppose that the whole situation will allow us to have a lot of time to work at a full-length in the next few months.
Being that you and the rest of Europe have been on lockdown, have you been able to do work with each other and keep practice going?
We couldn’t practiced together in these days, but each of us in our own homes have continued to do so. We all love our instruments. Anyway, we’re really close to each other, we constantly keep in contact, we talk every day. It’s not just the music that keeps us together, first of all we’re friends. Just Friends.
The Punksite review for “Five Things” can be found HERE
Buy this stunning piece of modern history from Area Pirata Records