Limelight: Three Trapped Tigers

Three Trapped Tigers group shot

When their debut album Route One Or Die landed in May 2011, Three Trapped Tigers quickly cemented their place in the instrumental and experimental rock scene. Math and prog rock fans hailed their virtuosic, yet nuanced studio performances, and their tightly-woven keyboard and guitar melody lines became recognisable, yet inimitable thanks to their technicality. On the back of Route One…, the band landed support slots with technical heroes Dillinger Escape Plan, and when grainy camera phone footage appeared on YouTube of Deftones frontman Chino Moreno playing the incendiary opening track from Route One Or Die, Cramm, at a DJ set, it came as little surprise that TTT were soon playing arena shows supporting Deftones. “At our first gig together in Glasgow they made a point of watching our sound check; they had asked us because they liked us,” says keyboard player Tom Rogerson of that surreal time. “They wanted to watch our soundcheck just as much as we wanted to watch theirs.”

Nevertheless, the route to album two has not been simple, with label drama derailing the release for a time. “It was all recorded, mixed and mastered by December 2014,” says guitarist Matt Calvert. Despite a previous pattern of releasing on their manager’s well-respected indie label, Blood And Biscuits, for this record the band had set their sights higher. However, as frustration mounted at the delays, Tigers began to re-think their strategy. “When you say, ‘Was there an argument?’ [for self-releasing], there was literally an argument,” explains Rogerson. “You know, [Adam Betts, drums] was losing his patience by summer, and I totally sympathise with that.”

Eventually, the band found a willing partner in progressive label Superball and their brilliant, effervescent second album finally has a release date. Entitled Silent Earthling, its name is a reference to a scene from Back To The Future, an oddly appropriate reference given its sound – a mish-mash of futuristic electronica played by a live band mixed with metal, jazz and retro synthesiser textures. This balance in Tigers’ tendencies has found them running ahead of the times, with Tom observing, “I think it’s interesting that since Route One Or Die ‘maximalism’ became a bit of a big thing, briefly, with PC Music and HudMo, Rustie and people like this. These over-the-top, frenetic, in-your-face…” “Kitsch!” Calvert interjects, leaving Rogerson to continue: “Yeah, kitsch synth sounds. Well, there’s something maximalist about Three Trapped Tigers, obviously.”

As for how they’ve managed to keep things together in spite of the challenges, Rogerson reflects, “I really think it’s because we all get on, musically and socially, and we all want to push this same agenda – we’re all interested in this interface of technology and virtuosity and emotional communication… the sum of our parts is far greater than any of us could have done by ourselves.” Furthermore, what he loves about music is similarly clear-cut: “When I was 10 or 11, I was playing the piano without even thinking about it… it fulfilled a need. Regardless of Three Trapped Tigers, whatever, it has to have an outlet somehow.” Calvert thinks for a moment before replying, “I think it’s just a great way of connecting people. That sounds so clichéd, but I think there’s something very true about it just being something quite universal and meaningful. Like Tom was saying, I don’t think I’ve ever really known anything else, certainly nothing else that motivates me in the same way.”


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Matt Calvert (guitars, keys, programming), Tom Rogerson (keys, programming), Adam Betts (drums, percussion, electronics)

sounds like

Squarepusher with grooving, technical riffs

current release

Silent Earthling is out now on Superball