Responsible for transplanting Death Cab for Cutie from Seattle to “The O.C.,” television music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas has helped put some of indie rock’s brightest acts on the mainstream map.
Now launching bands beyond prime time with the launch of her own boutique record label, Patsavas has recruited The Republic Tigers to lead the charge.
Despite the buzz that has surrounded the five-piece since being anointed by one of the entertainment industry’s most influential tastemakers, the electro-folk act recently released its debut album, “Keep Color,” and independently delivered on the hype of being Chop Shop Records’ flagship act.
“It’s nice to be attached to their opening, as well as our own,” said lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Kenn Jankowski. “It’s really cool. I still can’t believe (Chop Shop) picked us. We’re very lucky.”
MUTUAL MUSIC INTERESTS
Formed in Kansas City, Mo., The Republic Tigers is ultimately the result of a serendipitous friendship between Jankowski and guitarist Adam McGill, who met in 1999 thanks to “mutual music interests.” Following the breakup of his previous band, The Golden Republic, in December 2006, Jankowski immediately contacted McGill about a tentative musical project. It wasn’t long before the duo had reaffirmed common bonds and exchanged demos.
Taking their name from Jankowski’s high school mascot, The Republic Tigers expanded their lineup with guitarist/pianist Ryan Pinkston, bassist Marc Pepperman and drummer Justin Tricomi.
With the goal of creating a sound that was distinctive and idiosyncratically their own, the new group spent the following year recording a series of demos separately. Each member worked individually on home recordings, which then were passed around and melded together.
“Everybody in the band is a songwriter and an engineer and a producer,” Jankowski said. “We all have studios and we each get ideas constantly. Even right now, we’ve probably got up to 200 song ideas. When the lyric or melodic inspiration is brought together, it doesn’t matter who wrote it ” it gets finished.”
LUSH ELECTRONIC ORCHESTRATION
The layered arrangements and lush electronic orchestration heard on their completed full-length transgress the fact that the group recorded the bulk of “Keep Color” in the comfort of their own residences.
“I did the vocals in my apartment, for the most part,” said Jankowski. “My studio is portable, so I just take it with me whenever I want some new scenery. The guys did a lot of guitars and the drums at our friend Chad’s loft.”
Although additional tracking and mixing were completed at other studios, the finished album retains a homespun intimacy while still sounding otherworldly, thanks to an impressively organic mix of synthesizers and acoustic instrumentation. “Keep Color” is filled with old-school instruments like acoustic guitar, accordion and trombones ” additions that are blissfully accented by modern musical technology such as synths, programmed strings and multitracked harmonies to create swirling bedroom symphonies.
“I’ve been interested in incorporating electronic elements and structures into my music for a long time,” Jankowski said.
Taking such elaborate craftsmanship out of the studio confines can be tricky, but The Republic Tigers perceive live performances as unique opportunities to translate their elaborate music and expand upon its energy.
“The live show is getting increasingly more passionate and energetic as we all get used to each other and playing with the crowd,” Jankowski said. “We’ve all kind of done it before in different bands, but it really changes with the collaboration and playing off of each other’s energy. We like to give the audience a different experience than the record while playing live.”
A cross-country tour, including a Saturday stop at Opolis in Norman, has The Republic Tigers further poised to take off and spread far beyond their hometown, both literally and metaphorically. Although Jankowski is excited to be playing for the first time in places like Oklahoma, his dream gig is to return to his alma mater and band’s namesake to perform a halftime show on the same field he pulled double duty as a football player and marching band member.
“I think it would be cool to go play a football game personally,” he said. “There’s no curse words in our songs yet, so I imagine the school wouldn’t have a problem with us playing there and sharing the name.” “Lucas Ross