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The independent approach suits Miniature Tigers well. "This is my favorite album we've made," Brand says. "There were times when I was communicating with AJ [Quashie, guitars] about a mix or a production technique that I really didn't even have to explain myself, because he knew what I was saying instinctively. It was very instinctual; we work really easily together. I feel like all the ideas we had came out exactly how I heard them in my head, which is a first — and awesome."
The results are sticky, slick, and sexy. In fact, when Spin magazine debuted an advance stream of the album, it described the record as "sexy disco."
So, is the gigantic-pop approach a byproduct of living in New York City? Modern Art left Arizona to set up shop in NYC in 2010, with two members of Miniature Tigers following suit. Mia Pharaoh makes for fascinating listening alongside Some Nights, the high-charting new record by fun. (featuring former Arizona dude Nate Ruess), a group that Miniature Tigers will join on tour after completing the Modern Art tour that finds the band headlining dates that will feature the rest of the label's roster: Geographer, The Chain Gang of 1974, SPEAK, and Pretty & Nice. Both records have the sound of instant pop hits, and one starts to wonder whether the NYC lights instigate grand progression.
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Brand and Collins are quick to distance Miniature Tigers from the "Brooklyn band" buzz tag, but they acknowledge that the move to the Big Apple certainly has provided the band with plenty of great opportunities.
"I know they get tagged as a Brooklyn band, but they're kind of nomadic," says Collins. "Last year with their record Fortress, for instance, they toured with bands like Neon Indian, Morning Benders, The Walkmen — those are all people that we all call friends. It's been very natural and very easy for them to find contemporaries from being around the scene. I would say that's definitely been a big help to the band, as far as their associations with other musicians and being championed like that."
Brand still spends most of his time in Phoenix and considers the town his spiritual hometown, even if it isn't his physical residence. "Really, if we have any hometown, it's Phoenix, because that's where we got our start," Brand says. "That's our hometown."
And it wasn't NYC that inspired the expressive production, as much as Hockney's paintings — and Brand's own experience in front of the canvas. "It started as a hobby; I really started painting last year. I was never really visually artistic and was always kind of struggling with that stuff, and then I got this iPhone painting thing that I actually heard about because David Hockney started to use it . . . I was looking at productions like brush strokes, to have, like, 'This needs a really bold brushstroke here or restraint here,' and really kind of looked at that, and it made sense."