Norwich has a vibrant music scene at the moment. At the forefront of this community, acts like Bearsuit, Magoo, and Rory McVicar have exposed to the outside world a fantastic neighbourhood of musicians, underground labels and more importantly, friends. One member of the collective who brings these people together is James Butcher (aka JB) – a man who releases and promotes bands in the Norwich area, while bringing eclectic acts such as A Hawk And A Hacksaw and Part Chimp to play at the area’s best venue: Norwich Arts Centre. Aside from this, JB is also focused on his solo venture Tiger MCs – a project which sees him experiment with summery, twee folk-pop and lo-fi acoustic pleasures. Needless to say, it’s absolutely lovely. Fans of The Mountain Goats, M.Ward and Nick Drake should take note.
Tiger MCs started as a side-project to JB's former band PostaLowa around about four years ago. As James accedes, the transition from playing in a band to playing solo was natural:
“I was in other bands at the time and I had extra songs that I wanted to do on my own. It didn’t happen with any great master-plan, it was just another way to play gigs and have fun. Tiger MCs started to take over from the PostaLowa side of things, and since then it’s become my main project. It’s grown organically; there’s not been some purposeful way in which it’s developed.”
**"It’s grown organically; there’s not been some purposeful way in which it’s developed.”**
Over the past four years, JB has mainly been playing gigs in Norwich, whilst getting his songs on as many compilations as possible. The name Tiger MCs came about as a way to generate interest in his first solo gig; flyers were handed out to the local skaters who thought that the event would in fact feature real MC's. Since then, Tiger MCs' music has generated its own hype around Norwich. However, although he is more than happy to play within the music community in the area, JB admits he would like to get his music outside of the Norwich underground:
“I like playing in Norwich, but it does end up where you’re playing to the same people every time. Sometimes you just feel like ‘what’s the point’; these people have heard these songs about twenty times in the last year. Although it’s nice to play amongst friends, much recently I’ve enjoyed playing outside of Norwich, as I’m playing to people who haven’t heard me before. I think you get more of a genuine reaction that way as well, and to keep the live set sounding fresh, you’ve got to get fresh views coming in. I’d like to do that a lot more.”
Aside from the mini-LP Piston Pawed released last year, Tiger MCs’ next release We Go Out is set to be the first album proper from JB. However, JB bought in a host of local musicians to help out in the recording of the record, including members of Magoo and Master Solo.
**"If you enjoy listening to nice songs then you’ll like it.”**
“There are eleven tracks on the album. Five of them feature a full band, but the other six are just a voice and a guitar. They were originally intended as home recordings, but I managed to get a load of stuff done in The Sick Rooms (Magoo’s own studio) it that I didn’t think I’d be able to do.” Upon asking him what the album sounded like, JB explained that he doesn’t really stray from the pop-folk formula explored on previous songs: “They’re just songs, there’s no real pretence about them or anything, they’re just a bunch of songs that I find pleasant to listen to and that I enjoy playing. I’m really pleased with the album, but if you’re expecting the next Velvet Underground or My Bloody Valentine you’re not going to get it. If you enjoy listening to nice songs then you’ll like it.”
As for the future, JB hopes to get a small tour going around the time of the album release, and also looks to get a full band for the live environment:
“I’m interested in getting a band for the live shows, but I’m a little scared of doing the whole band thing for two reasons. I’ve never been in a band where it’s ‘my band’ before, so I’d be a little scared of the responsibility. Also, in general, playing solo is so easy and if you fuck up then you can make a little joke of it. There’s so much more dynamically you’ve got to get right with a band, but it’s certainly an idea I’m interested in; it will happen when the time’s right. On record though, the next album could well be a full-band thing. We’ll see what happens.”
Tiger MCs' debut album We Go Out is set for release on Cherryade Records in February next year. DiScover Tiger MCs sweet folk sound here, or contact JB via email at email@example.com.