Tribe & Big Cats! release Make Good tonight at 7th St. Entry
Waterbury Studios, tucked away inside an old industrial building in Northeast Minneapolis, is a quirky, eclectic place. Walk down the halls and you'll see one room painted bright red, another with a John Lennon portrait on the wall. In the control room, there's a Brazilian flag hanging up and, on the adjacent wall, a Minnesota Wild jersey.
Tribe and Big Cats! spend a lot of time here at Waterbury. The trio's producer, Big Cats!, has been working here since the studio opened last winter, and so, not surprisingly, it's also the place where the band recorded their new EP, Make Good. It's a typically smooth, laid-back record from a group whose forte seems to be making everything they do seem easy. The production is thick and heavy, the raps--courtesy of MC Truthbetold--playful and casually shit-talking.
Gimme Noise caught up with Big Cats! and Truthbetold ahead of the Make Good release show tonight at the Entry. We found out more about the band's recent summer video series as well as the new record.
Gimme Noise: You guys came out with a series of videos over the summer, putting one out each month. What the inspiration behind that project?
Big Cats!: We were pretty much just experimenting with new ways of putting music out. We wanted to keep putting stuff out between projects, between albums, and thought this would be a cool way to present things. If I could, we would make a video for every song we put out. It gives you a lot more range creatively to control how people take in the music.
Truthbetold: The whole idea behind the videos was to let people see who we are outside the music, to build a face to go with our group.
GN: Did you get a lot of response to the videos?
Big Cats!: Yeah, actually. The EP wasn't in the plans originally, but with how wells the singles and videos were going--a lot of people were asking about whether there was a project around that--we decided to make it into a full project.
GN: So how do you feel about how the finished EP turned out?
Truthbetold: I think it's more mature. It's our group perfecting a sound. It's a lot better that what we've made before.
Big Cats!: The cool thing for me, comparing it to the last record, is that because it was done over a longer period of time, when we initially weren't thinking of it as our next record, it gave us more freedom in terms of experimenting and taking some chances we maybe wouldn't have [taken]. Especially with out last one being our first one, you put more thought into how you're presenting yourselves to people.
GN: Would you say that applies to the lyrics, as well?
Truthbetold: I wrote everything on my phone this time around. You'd be surprised by the difference that makes. Whatever idea you come up with, you just jot things down anywhere. [...] I wrote about things that happened more recently--with our first album, I wrote about me growing up, a lot of childhood issues I had.
Big Cats!: The first record is always weird because you can draw on everything leading up to that, drawing on stuff as far back as you want. The next record is where you find out what you got; tons of bands have a great first record, but when the pressure is on it doesn't always work out.
GN: Do you feel like that was the reverse for you, that the time limit was a good thing?
Big Cats!: It was good to be able to just sit down and knock out a bunch of beats and be like, "Okay, these are all going to be for this project." So in that way it was probably more cohesive, even though there's a wider range sonically.
GN: You guys also collaborate with other artists a lot. Does that give you fresh angles to explore, or push you to work outside your comfort zone more often?
Truthbetold: It pushes me to write the best possible verse. I don't want to sound bad on my own song! [laughs]
Big Cats!: It does help in terms of doing the best music you can. I think some artists have the tendency to believe they should do everything themsevles, when really you can put out a better record by reaching out to other people and collaborating, pushing each other.
GN: Do those collaborations influence what direction you take things in with this group?
Big Cats!: I don't know how much the collaborations shape the sound of us. I would say we gravitate towards artists who have a similar vision more so than being influenced by the artists we work with.
Truthbetold: I guess it's helped me get better. If I'm going to do a track with someone, I'm stubborn; I want to be the best on the track. Or if we play a show, we want to be the best on the bill. We want to drop everyone dead. So if we're going to keep working with other people, we're going to keep pushing ourselves, and we'll grow from that.
THE TRIBE & BIG CATS! play a CD-release show with Art School Girls, Alicia Steele and the Endeavors, and host MaLLY tonight, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, at the 7th ST. ENTRY. 18+. $7. 9 p.m.
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