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Happy Mondays with Tigerman

The music of Tigerman encourages listeners to embrace their individuality and flaunt their stripes. During shows, the energy level never seems to drop and show-goers will be captivated from start to finish. From their vibrant tiger outfits to their saxophone-heavy, instrumental-driven songs that feature unique samples from vintage movies, there’s a lot to pounce on.

The Pop Break had a chance to interview this North Jersey-based instrumental jam band about their origins, unique sound, stage presence and what’s coming up for them–including exciting news about their first full-length album!

Who is Tigerman? (names of your band members and the instruments you play): Tigerman consists of Adam Carelli on the saxophones and wind synth (aka space clarinet), Jay Gogel on the Keyboards and samples, Kurt Althoff on Guitar, Joe Stracquatanio on Bass, and Rory Burns on the Drums.

As you guys are from Northern New Jersey, where are some of your favorite places to play around that area: To the west, we love Krogh’s Restaurant and Brew Pub and their handcrafted beers. To the east, nothing beats the stage at Debonair Music Hall. They have a projector too so sometimes we show some weird videos behind us.

How did the idea to start Tigerman come about? How did you decide on that name and what’s the meaning behind it: We all studied music together at William Paterson University and have been hanging out and playing in bands together since then. Kurt was trying to bring Joe, Rory, and Jay together to form a cover band, but Rory and Joe were more interested in trying to revive/rebirth a jammy experimental group they played in with Adam called Grandma. Joe, Rory, Kurt, and Jay got together to jam and recorded the session. We sent the tracks to Adam who was immediately interested and started jamming with us. There was lots of improvising and very little structure, but we recorded everything and started building off of the riff ideas that we liked and came up with some funny arbitrary names for the jams.

Our only real goal was to have fun and jam together. The name “Tigerman” actually comes from a Playstation game called “Worms” that Jay, Rory, and Joe played a lot when they were living together in college. Each player has a team of worms that fight each other and one the computer generated names on Jay’s team was Tigerman. He would frequently shout “TIGERMAN!” in the apartment and it kinda stuck with Joe who thought it would be a fun name for the group. There really wasn’t ever a set plan to start a band, call it something specific, dress a certain way, etc. It all just evolved from a group a friends hanging out, having fun, playing music, and being silly.

How would you describe what being a part of Tigerman is all about: It’s really just about having a good time and being free to express yourself and be as weird as you want. We dress silly and dance around and want everyone to do the same.

What artists or bands act as inspiration for your music: Between the 5 of us there are so many different influences it pretty much spans across all genres but a few specifics would be Frank Zappa, Les Claypool/Primus, Spyro Gyra, Bernie Worrell.

What elements make up the signature sound of Tigerman? What do you think makes your music so recognizable to fans: We’re mainly instrumental so having the sax/wind synth as the lead “voice” sets us apart from a lot of the bands we play with. Also all of Jay’s weird samples.

To me, it seems like each of you becomes a Tiger man while you’re up on stage performing. Is this accurate at all? How (if at all) does this play into what the energy is like during shows? What’s your favorite part about performing as Tigerman: Yes, we definitely “stripe up” as we call it, for every show! At first we all wore tiger masks but they were so uncomfortable to play in we’ve evolved into more just wearing tiger themed things. When we get on stage we are all Tiger Men who become one Tigerman, along with anyone and everyone in the crowd who wants to be a part of it. Stripes are not necessary, but we love when the fans dress up and get into it as well.

As far as your “Someday You’ll Be My Wife” Music Short Film, what is it about and what inspired this music video: The title comes from a random sample Jay cued during one of our first jam sessions together. It’s from the movie “Back to the Future” and it’s Biff screaming at Lorane “Someday you’ll be my wife!” Which is hilarious when you think about it because it’s more of a threat than a proposal. We eventually evolved the small part of that jam into the song it is today. Our friend Risa Pappas from Killer Goose Films came to us with the idea of creating a short film that’s essentially a compilation of short weird and funny random scenes that we all came up with during several brainstorming sessions. It’s Tigerman in a nutshell, random weirdness that makes us laugh.

After releasing 3 EP’s and two holiday EP’s since you formed in 2011, how has your music evolved along the way: When we started there was a lot less structure and a lot more improvising. As we’ve played together a lot of tunes became more structured while still leaving some space for improv. We’ve also been challenging ourselves more by writing more complicated riffs/songs.

Are there any themes that pervade your music? If so, what are they and how are they explored in your songs? Also – and this clearly depends on the song – how do you decide on song names and what dialogue samples to use in your music: 
Probably the only thing that pervades is random silliness. The song names mainly come from us hanging out together and laughing at random things we all say. A couple of song names actually came from “The Trailer Park Boys.” The samples are mainly random hilarious things Jay finds and plays while we’re jamming. Some samples have shaped the songs, some songs have shaped the samples, and some are just straight up random.

What can you tell listeners about upcoming music or shows? Or basically, what’s coming up for Tigerman that you’re most excited about: The thing we’re most excited about right now is the completion of our first full length album and the subsequent release show at Debonair Music Hall on September 22nd!


Laura Curry
Laura Curry
Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.

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