Modern Art Records' Ben Collins on Why Bands Skip Phoenix on Tour
In this week's issue (on stands tomorrow and online later today) I spoke to Miniature Tigers frontman Charlie Brand about the new album, Mia Pharaoh. Call 'em a "Brooklyn band" if you must, but they're showing Phoenix plenty of love: There's that downtown mural, and they're performing twice tomorrow, once at Crescent Ballroom as part of the Modern Art Records Tour with label-mates Geographer, The Chain Gang of 1974, and Pretty & Nice and a free in-store performance at Stinkweeds before that.
I also spoke to Ben Collins, founder of Modern Art Records (as well as Phoenix break-out band Chronic Future), a label founded to release Miniature Tigers' music. Collins cleared up where Miniature Tigers stands on the whole Brooklyn-by-way-of-Phoenix thing. As a Phoenix native, Collins also had nice things to say about Crescent Ballroom and Kimber Lanning of Stinkweeds and Local First Arizona. Check out our interview after the jump.
Up on the Sun: Can you tell me about the upcoming Modern Art records tour?
Ben Collins: It's the culmination of five years of work since we started the label. Miniature Tigers have always been and will always be the cornerstone of Modern Art. I started the label based around the band when I first discovered their music. It's the first thing I ever found that really made me want to be involved in a business like a record label.
It's a 24-city tour with our current line up. It starts in Seattle and ends in Las Vegas and goes through South by Southwest. It's really just a celebration of all the bands and the label itself.
You've pretty much been working with Miniature Tigers since the beginning. What attracted you to them in the first place?
Just great songs. I had known Charlie [Brand] since we were kids but when I first heard the early demos of the first songs, they just cut right through and just really moved me. It was a pretty easy decision to make, I just love the music so much.
How would you describe Miniature Tigers' sound progression from day one? They seem to experiment with each album, but they continue to turn out well.
They're always reinventing themselves and they're always pushing limits, but I think the real core values of Miniature Tigers' music is they go for very simple structures and songwriting. I think that all of the greatest bands usually stick to that kind of formula. I would describe their sound as very catchy indie pop. That's probably it in a nutshell.
You live in Brooklyn now, but do you still have some ties to Phoenix?
I always want to reiterate how much we love Phoenix. We might not spend 100% of our time there anymore, it's always in our hearts. We look at this tour, it's not just a celebration of Modern Art, it's a celebration of something that started in Phoenix and will always continue to correlate with the town.
I'm glad that you have a Tucson date as well and you guys are spending a lot of time in Arizona.
Absolutely. In fact, I wanted to have a Flagstaff show but we just couldn't make it work. With the last record [Fortress], we played Phoenix the day that the record came out and in this case we're playing Phoenix two days after the record comes out, so we always try to make it a point to celebrate new releases in our hometown.
I know Miniature Tigers is a quote unquote Brooklyn band...
It's tough. Rick [Alvin Schaier] lives in Orange County, Charlie has been splitting his time, he spent a little bit of time in Dallas recently with his girlfriend. Charlie spent I think six months of the year last year in Phoenix and two of the members do live full time in Brooklyn. I know they get tagged as a Brooklyn band, but they're kind of nomadic.
At least it's not like The Hold Steady thing, where they left Minneapolis for New York City.
No, no, no, if they had it their way, they'd be spending winters in Phoenix and summers in New York. Hopefully they'll be so successful that they can make that really happen.