One to watch: My Tiger My Timing

The London alt-pop five-piece on setting up their own label and keeping the rock-star cliches in check

Basking in the midday sunshine, admiring the riverside flats that overlook the Regent's canal, the members of "weird pop" band My Tiger My Timing can't quite believe they are about to release their debut album.

Makers of lovelorn, hook-laden pop with a post-punk sensibility (think Gang Gang Dance or Metronomy), the band formed in 2008, naming themselves after a song by the late American musician Arthur Russell. They have since opened the John Peel stage at Glastonbury, worked with Hot Chip's Joe Goddard and Andy Spence of New Young Pony Club, and had their music played on Radio 1.

The five-piece (drummer Gary Drain and keyboard player Seb Underhill are elsewhere today) are based in New Cross, south-east London, "the cheapest place to live in zone 2", where siblings Anna (the band's 29-year-old frontwoman) and James Vincent (28, guitar/bass) grew up. Guitarist Jamie Harrison, 29, completes the line-up.

My Tiger My Timing began work on their debut album, Celeste, a year and a half ago, but rather than courting record companies, they decided to self-release on their own label, Snakes & Ladders, originally set up to champion other bands from their local area. "We've never tried to get signed," says Anna. "Maybe that's a mistake, but we never wanted to jump through the hoops you sometimes have to. But if someone's going to give us a million quid then we're not gonna say no, we're not gonna take it and burn it in Waterloo station!"

"We wanted to create a community of bands that worked together and could give each other a hand," adds Harrison, "but at the same time you would think: God, that single they released is so good, the next thing we do has to be better than that."

They were inspired by labels such as Rough Trade and Factory, particularly because "they wanted to do it for the sake of releasing bands that they liked, and their friends' bands, music they were into that other people wouldn't have heard otherwise," says James. "So we started a label for those reasons, it felt quite natural to us."

The flipside of this is that they need to support themselves with part-time jobs. "It's half the time being on stage with people clapping, half the time wearing a name tag," says Harrison.

"But that's how things are now," James says. "It means that a lot of musicians are doing it for the right reasons. If you're making an album and putting it out yourself, you really have to believe in it. Rock-star cliches have to be kept in check. You smash up a hotel room, you're paying for it."

As well as a new album and a single, The Gold Rush, complete with music video made from footage contributed by fans, the band will be touring in the summer, giving their alt-pop creations a rock edge for their live shows.

"When you come to see us live you get something different," says Anna. "I don't think you want live performance to be predictable. It should be on the edge of falling apart at any moment."


Gemma Kappala-Ramsamy

The GuardianTramp

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