“Caught In Love” by Jackpot, Tiger is a humorous, if slightly cautionary, tale of lust gone wrong. Highlighted by a ’60s-style chorus, buoyant melodies, and a thoroughly desperate protagonist, the single fully represents what the band does so well: straight-up pop music.
Still, Jackpot, Tiger isn’t aiming to live up to that label; at least, not exclusively. A light-hearted alternative to the heavier sounds that populate its tight-knight Brooklyn community, the quartet has found a comfortable niche in a style of indie pop that’s bright, but not basic. Ahead of shows at Bowery Electric tomorrow and Cake Shop next Friday, and the release of their sophomore album on May 13, the band chatted with us about inspiration, their local scene, and why pop music is more punk rock than you’d think.
Half of Jackpot, Tiger are siblings. How did everyone else in the band meet each other?
Claire and Eryck met in college and started Jackpot as an acoustic project with one other member who is no longer in the band. In 2010, Claire asked Kevin to move to New York to play drums, and at the same time she asked Alex to join the band on bass. They’d been friends for a few years before that and Alex had just left his old band, so the timing was perfect.
What first inspired the idea of a pop band versus, say, a punk band? Lack of teenage angst?
We don’t really have the intention of writing a certain kind of music. We’re writing jams that resonate with us, and that’s all you can do as a songwriter. If it means something to you, it will mean something to someone else — that’s Newton’s law of inertia working in music form.
I think pop is a relative term. Some might consider our music to be too raw for them, while others might consider us to be as poppy as they come. Pop to us means a special kind of simplicity and directness. It takes courage to say something right out loud as opposed to burying it under a cloud of vague, murky sounds and indirect lyrics. To us, that vulnerability is the most punk rock thing you could pull off. This record has as many moments of upbeat bliss as it does slow and emotional heaviness. It’s all pop, it’s all music, it’s all awesome.
“Caught In Love” seems to represent the arc of a budding relationship. Is love the general theme/inspiration that drives the new record?
Well, actually, “Caught In Love” is a very literal song about a guy who’s trapped in his girlfriend’s apartment. He’s trying to escape the whole time but has to keep it cool by hiding his SOS messages in “lovey dovey” phrases that won’t tip off his captor. That being said, love is certainly a huge part, if not the main part of this record. It’s difficult to talk about love, and it’s slightly less difficult to sing about it, but you must access those feelings if you want to create something that’s valuable. The thing about love is you can capture it from all different angles: funny love, first love, the end of love, platonic love, hidden love. There’s a lot of love in this record.
Jackpot, Tiger plays a lot around Brooklyn. What are some of your favorite venues to play, and who are some of your favorite local bands to play with?
We love the Knitting Factory, Cameo Gallery, and Glasslands. It’s all about having a bill that’s stacked with awesome bands that are going to make sure the night will have a great vibe. Some of our favorite bands to play with are Teen Girl Scientist Monthly, Bears, Boy Girl Party, Big Ups and Flagland.
Do you feel embraced by the Brooklyn community, even though your sound is probably more pop-oriented than a lot of the stuff usually heard around town?
There have been plenty of times when we have been thrown on a random bill that we probably didn’t belong on for whatever reason. It happens, but it’s never something that would bum us out too bad. Hearing our friends sing along and dance like mad to our sets will always be the most inspiring part of playing live music and that alone gives us faith in the Brooklyn scene.
It’s interesting that you embrace the genre of straight-up “bubblegum pop.” Why is that important to your music, and why do you think other bands maybe shy away from that label?
There wasn’t a whole lot of thought behind that description, honestly. It’s a funny term, and it’s applicable to some aspects of our music, but it probably doesn’t define our music as a whole. Maybe other bands shy away from lighthearted labels like that as a way to make sure people know that life can be dark and heavy and sad, and they understand that. Wallowing in that sadness can be dangerous.
It’s often harder to look that eternal emptiness in the eye and say “you know what, I’m gonna try and make the best out of this odd situation that we all find ourselves in, you know, living on earth and what not.” Basically, we’re just happy that people like to dance and sing to the music we make, and if some of them want to smack some bubble gum while they do it, that’s all the better!
Jackpot, Tiger play The Bowery Electric on April 19 and Cake Shop on April 25. Their self-titled sophomore record is released May 13.