For Charlie Brand, the frontman of Brooklyn indie rock/pop band Miniature Tigers, music is an escape. There was never a backup plan — it was the only thing he felt he could do. This year, Miniature Tigers will perform for the second time at Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Since being voted one of the 25 best bands on MySpace by Rolling Stone in 2006, Miniature Tigers has produced six albums — their latest titled Cruel Runnings.
The band consists of Brand on lead vocals and guitar, Rick Schaier on vocals and keyboard, Brandon Lee on bass and Algernon Quashie on guitar. Brand grew up in a suburb outside of Phoenix, Arizona. The intense heat kept him inside growing up, which he said helped shape his creativity, imagination and songwriting skills.
“After high school, I locked myself in my room for two years, and I would just write all day and all night,” Brand said.
Brand said that as a young adult, he never felt college was the place for him. He dropped out of high school, got his GED and moved to L.A., where Schaier lived. They had been fans of each other’s home recordings on MySpace.
“I wanted to be with people who were also pursuing their art in a major way,” Brand said.
Brand heard his voice on the radio for the first time on iHeart Austin, a station that now frequently plays “Swimming Pool Blues” from Miniature Tigers’ newest album. Gaining popularity is exciting for the band, Brand said, but it also reminds them they are in a competitive industry.
“Even though we’re getting played on the radio — which is so cool now, you’re being played on the radio — but there’s other bands being played on the radio that are doing a lot better,” Brand said. “Even if we were in Billboard Top 10, there’s other bands doing better there.”
As close friends, the band has learned how to balance their professional and personal lives while maintaining their music as the core focus. On tour, they usually share close quarters and rehearse together for long hours.
“We have all learned and grown throughout the years to travel and work with each other in a very positive way, with little to no drama,” Schaier said. “It’s key to a band’s survival to enjoy one another and to also let them be them.”
The group recorded Cruel Runnings in Jamaica. Lee said the band wanted to get away from the big-city recording scene, so they set out for a more laid-back environment.
“It was amazing to spend mornings swimming in the ocean before heading up to the studio to record,” Lee said. “It definitely set the tone for a productive but relaxed recording
Catch some of Miniature Tigers’ pop melodies at ACL both Sundays on the Austin Ventures Stage.