Drunk Tiger’s lead guitarist and vocalist Zach Carter was involved with the D.C. music scene for nearly a decade before setting on starting his own band. Before Drunk Tigers, Carter performed with post-hardcore outfit Cataract Camp. After the band dissolved in 2007, Carter was looking to take his music career in a different direction. A year after, Drunk Tiger was conceived, specializing in simple and gritty rock and roll. “I didn’t want to do angular guitars,” Carter says about where he wanted from his newest band. “It’s a bit more of a traditional band.”
While Carter says that the band has roots stemming from the D.C. art-punk legends like Fugazi, Drunk Tigers is more influenced by the Rolling Stones, Pavement and The Replacements. With guitarist and vocalist Matt Bierce, drummer Arthur Delaney and bassist Stefan DiFazio, the band has released three solid EPs, with a steadily following over the course of their five years as a band.
“D.C. has always been good to us,” Carter adds, crediting the band’s strong fanbase in Virginia. Having a traditional sound, compared to most local indie rock acts, has been a blessing for the quartet. “There’s not a whole lot of competition [for that sound],” Carter laughs, adding that there seems to be niche for that style of music and it suits him and the band well. “I think the music you listen to when you are 14 or 15 sticks onto you more than anything else.”
According to Carter, the key ingredient to the band’s success was the comradery among the group, from their live performances to the writing songs. “I think our songwriting process is kind of like an editor or a group of editors working on a report for a story,” with all the band’s members have an active role in pitching ideas, chords and melodies, before they are finely tuned for the stage.
Take their song “Small Town”, for example-while it still has remnants of John Cougar Mellencamp’s tinge to the track, there’s an added layer of the Drunk Tigers’ edge embedded into it. While the song has a steady drum beat and some agile but big guitars, the lyrics point to something a little less in grandeur. (“Spent all my money in a small town/Living like I got somewhere to go/ After seven years here can’t believe I’m still around”.)
Carter laughs at how popular that song is, especially in the band’s home base of Charlottesville,Virginia, adding that it’s a strange song to play live because it speaks volumes about being limited in a small community. “It resonates with the audience, but it’s also kind of a downer.”
Over the years, the band has been able to make noise outside their small town confines. Local Virginia label Funny/Not Funny Records has helped them promote and distribute their music, while the band has found increasing opportunities to perform regionally and nationally.
But in the end of the day, the band’s ambitions are a bit more modest than being household names.
“We’d be very comfortable being a local band that did well here and had recordings that people liked,” Carter says. “I’d rather just focus on making the music and be part of the music community. Maybe not be a ‘rock star’, or whatever, but be a part of that community.”
Drunk Tigers will be performing on April 25th at IOTA Club with Dead Professional. Listen to their latest EP Black Square below: