Release Date: April 29, 2016
Don Tigra began in late 2012 when americana songwriter Stephen Gordon fell out of love with the rural, folk driven portrayal of his own inward journey. Gordon careened into experimentation with new instruments, process, and outlook. A year's departure from his familiar style resulted in a bold, but accessible collection of songs marking new ground for Gordon. In them was the honest, if muttering, portrayal of an anger and cynicism he had come to wrestle with for some time. Questioning is dressed in sarcasm, and handed over with deliberate, pleasing melodies. The songs feature phrase turning slight of hand, but it's never a trick, they are bound in meaning. “You can't hold on to everything, hold on / You can't hold on to anything, hold on,” sings Gordon in “Over The Line”. Electric guitar (a frontrunner of the collection's motifs) throughout is driven but playful, making for a striking indie pop collection that is as cunning as it is winsome.
Growing up in both Memphis and The Shenandoah Valley, Gordon began violin lessons at age 7, only to yield to guitar upon being enamored with the songs of Chuck Berry. Writing songs through high school, he assembled a band in college, Stephen Gordon & The Regulars, whose original cast included Mike Anderson of Anderson East, his dorm buddy, and later schoolmate Natalie Prass.
Following a year stint in Nashville, and some regional success as an americana artist, Gordon moved to Bowling Green, KY in 2010. There he met drummer David Page, whose freedom and spirit playing music was a respite for Gordon upon leaving Nashville's thick, hungry scene. David became a permanent member of the Gordon's solo act, which was on the cusp of coming to a close.
In the early winter months of 2013, Gordon began to write and demo the sketches that would become Don Tigra. Encouraged by longtime bandmate Ben Gortmaker, along with the rekindling of an old friendship with bassist Josh Hitson, Gordon entered the studio that fall. Gortmaker produced alongside Konrad Snyder (Night Beds, Kopecky). Gordon was the most surprised of all when Snyder encouraged the team to start each song with the demos, to then re-record anything that could be done with more life and intentionality. The lead vocals of the record's first single, “Maria, Mine”, were sung originally as a placeholder in the demo as Gordon wrote them, while the song came fully to life when Page cut Gordon's demo drum part in half to create its unique, swaying hypnosis. This somehow did not detract from the songs energy, but rather enhanced the attitude portrayed in the vocals. The result of this approach throughout was a sound that acutely reflected Gordon's experience composing the material.
Another old friend of Gordon's stopped by the studio during this time, songwriter and Jack White collaborator Brooke Waggoner is featured on the duet, “Heart Needs Medicine”. Finally, Gordon would record four more songs completely at his home with the help of the band, to finish the self-titled album, “Don Tigra”. Following the recording, Zach Tichenor joined the group on keys. “Don Tigra” is set to release in 2016. The band will be touring this summer, with a follow-up album already well under way.
- Don Tigra