This past Valentine's Day, I had the privilege of meeting the band Tiny Victories and speaking with both members Cason Kelly and Greg Walters. After listening to and reviewing their epic single "Lost Weekend" off their EP Those Of Us Still Alive
(released today), I finally got to sit down with the pair and chat with them about their backgrounds, influences and what the process of developing their music is like.
You might not expect such a lush sound to come from this duo. In fact, catching these two guys together in any environment might come as a surprise. On the surface, Greg Walters appears to be the more cerebral of the two, sporting a clean haircut, thick glasses and a neat attire while speaking eloquently and boasting some obvious musical expertise. Cason looks like a free-spirited Southern rocker with his long hair and beard complementing his faded jeans and a subtle southern drawl. Finding out that The Allman Brothers were one of his greatest influences came as no surprise. But, southern or not (Greg being the latter), both were equally chivalrous and informative, proving that opposites do attract and are capable of creating something magical. In this case that magic is Tiny Victories.
Cason and Greg are both influenced by bands that are not associated with electronic music. Cason (as noted before) is an admitted Allman Bros fan and Greg surprised me by revealing The Grateful Dead as his biggest influence. So how, then, did the whole experimental/electronic sound make its way into their music? Greg answered "I don't know if the music would be considered, 'experimental.' To me the whole process is an experiment. I still dont think of myself as an electronic musician." Having grown up playing the guitar, Greg's first experience delving into the world of electronics began as Tiny Victories was forming.
The unlikely pair met via some unlikely circumstances. Greg explained that "my brother went to high school with [Cason's] girlfriend... [Greg] got back from Russia (where he had been a journalist) and one of the first nights he was back here, we all hung out and we talked about music. Then we jammed a little bit later and it was all guitar and drums." The jamming seemed to go well but they admittedly found themselves playing similar rhythms over and over again. So, in an effort to hopefully create something different, Cason explained that they, "Borrowed 404s and other samplers," from Peter Spear who is, "in a band called Empty Chairs that doesn't get as much recognition as it should." Taking the time to plug another band during the interview is a good indication of Greg's character.
Greg seemed to fall in love with the samplers immediately, explaining how they are, "deceptively intuitive." Even today, he is finding out new ways to use them. "It's an old school analog and it's not like playing a laptop where you can instantly do anything you want to do." With the beginning stages of their music-making process having an acoustic focus, I was curious to know whether we could expect to hear both acoustic and electronic music on the album. Greg gave some background: "For me, it's all jumbled together because there are songs on the record (two of them) that started out as just acoustic guitar songs but they dont have an acoustic guitar in them now." After watching the two perform, you wouldn't think they were relatively new to the electronic scene but you might be curious as to what category of music they should be listed as.
Greg and Cason said that they were described as a 'Big-Beat Band' but they don't really think that's the genre of music they would fall under. Cason explained that, "I've always said that were experimental pop-- but that's changing as we speak." Between their stage setup at a live show and their not-so-typical song structure, they are experimental in their own right, while still taking on some pop-like qualities. On the other hand, their song-writing process seems typical of most band but the final product is about as lyrically experimental as it gets. Greg admitted that the songs end up more like letters to somebody.
I was wondering why the two chose to not put a third verse in the song "Lost Weekend." Rather than having a third verse, they added a coda that really seemed to take away the need for a third verse, but I was curious to know why it was omitted. Greg explained "I think a couple things. We kind of felt like two was enough. I think also we didn't really start out trying to do this but it's kind of happened that we end up taking the traditional pop-song structure and for whatever reason a lot of our songs become the 'demented, secret cousin that's lived under the staircase' version of that song-structure. We didn't really mean to start doing that but we just kind of have for whatever reason."
Their live show has been said to "change you," And after interviewing them, I was given the opportunity to stick around and see what they were all about. I knew it'd be something special after I sat through the sound check and watched the two prepare while Greg sang, "Under The Boardwalk," over Cason's drumming. It was the live show that had the lasting impression, as it was indeed a changing experience. These guys really know what they're doing and it's obvious that they love their fans. At one point, they had a handful of people from the crowd walk up to the stage and clap together. They then weaved the clapping noise into their song. It seems like sometimes, they are more than just a tiny victory.
Their next single is expected to be, "Mr. Bones," which is actually an older track of theirs but will be on the EP. Also, they will be appearing for the second time at SXSW.
Check out the second celestial single below and click here to purchase their new EP Those Of Us Still Alive
, out today.
Check out their impeccable live show. Here are some tour date:
2/23: NYC: Pianos
3/01: Philly: Kung Fu Necktie
3/02: D.C.: The Paperhaus
3/03: Richmond: Balliceaux
3/05: Charlottesville: Tea Bazaar
3/07: Durham: The Pinhook
3/08: Knoxville: Pilot Light
3/09: Savannnah: SSO Fest
3/10: Atlanta: Big House
3/11: New Orleans: Foburg Fest
3/13: 3/18: SXSW
3/20: Nashville: The Baement
3/21: Bloomington: Bear's Place