If there’s one thing Milwaukee four-piece Tigernite sets out to accomplish on its anthemic debut full-length, it’s to leave all pretension at the door and simply have a good time. While it may sound like the natural route to take, lead singer Molly Roberts says her art school education at UW-Milwaukee often stressed that legitimately passionate art emerged from some morose internal drama, and for a while, she bought in to that notion. But in order to create something as bold and lively as this daring 8-song romp, she needed to release those melancholy restrictions and let go.
“We’ve always been and will admit easily that we’re not in the business of making high art,” she admits. “We’re in the business of trying to be sincere and having fun.”
The glam rock/power pop band began auspiciously in 2013, playing its third gig at the wrestling spectacular, Mondo Lucha. It really couldn’t have been a better introduction, as the vaudevillian-like show informed the band’s future direction, leading to more over-the-top theatrical performances and comic book-influenced songs.
“Honestly, it really shaped what we do now,” Roberts says. “It presented really early on in our lifespan what we want to do to make a mark.”
This album is a culmination of what the band set out to realize two years ago, one that’s filled with endless classic rock riffs and Roberts’ soaring vocals. The songs sound so vivid and real, like graphic novels come to life.
“We draw a lot of imagery from art,” she says. “I’ll find a painting or illustration and send the guys a sketch for lyrics and will write a song that sounds the way this looks.”
“Half the band going to art school, I think informed our process,” she continues. “You know, doing research, making sketches, sharing images, making tapes for each other, things like that have played a large role in shaping our content.”
Accompanying the album is a striking 20-page booklet that’s illustrated by local artist Brian Ellis. It follows four space rangers through a journey amongst a futuristic, dystopian landscape. Ellis created the whole narrative based on lyrics alone; he hadn’t even heard the music at the time. Initially the plan was to have him solely do the cover, but “we thought there’s way too much beautiful material not to let people see,” Roberts says.
Tigernite spent this summer playing a chorus of summer festivals, from smaller block parties like the Brady Street Festival and Summer Soulstice to the bigger stages of Pridefest and Summerfest. Its captivating live shows feel earmarked for this type of performance, where outdoors a band needs to rattle the attention from its audience. Plus, those opportunities offer a slightly different turnout than the 21-and-over clubs.
“One of the bonuses of playing festivals is getting to play for kids,” Roberts says. “That’s really fun because they’re into it and they don’t care. They want to rage.”
It’s not hard to see why playing to kids comes as such fun to Tigernite. Releasing one’s inhibitions seems to be the band’s main tenent. When onstage Roberts says she embodies a character that’s a combination between her own self and something else. “It’s the person you wish you had the courage to be all the time,” she says.
Tigernite headlines a release party for its self-titled debut on Saturday night at Cactus Club, 2496 S. Wentworth Ave., with openers North By North and Hautned Heads. Doors open at 9 p.m. Stream the entire record here.