Big Sound, Little Tybee

Little Tybee is a big band with an even bigger sound. And when the 6-member group performed at Rough Trade last Thursday, ATYPICALSOUNDS was there to receive it. Before the show, we sat down with singer and guitarist Brock Scott to find out how touring was treating him, twelve shows in. 


 
You started your tour by playing 11 nights in a row. How are you still standing?

BS: Well I’m seated right now! We’ve done a bunch of U.S. tours in the past, and it’s always like 10-hour drives in between stops and it just kills us. But this tour, we intentionally booked 3-hour drives per day, so we didn’t stress ourselves out. This tour is really less about marketing, and more about us finishing up an album. Before we finalize everything we want to get the songs mature. When you tour with a song is when the little nuances of the songs come out.

Right, you want to make sure you can perform the songs live.

BS: Josh, our guitarist, plays an 8-string guitar and a lot of the time he’s recording part by part. His technical prowess on the songs is so advanced, he pushes himself to where he’ll write something and record it, but he can’t actually play it live yet. Then it’s like a challenge to progress his talents, to meet up to the recording standards.

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So, this tour is to practice the new songs? Did you get to tour with the last album?

BS: We did, but not as extensively as we would’ve liked. We all have jobs back home, so like July and August is kind of our touring month. A lot of the guys teach in the band, and summers are when a lot of their students are doing summer camp. This is just the time that we go on the road, but most of the time we’re kind of just focusing on online content and doing videos, and recording. I’ve been playing with some of these guys for like 15 years, so we’re not one of those bands who’s just putting everything into it and living out of our van, and then we burn ourselves out because we don’t get to the level we think we’re supposed to be or whatever.

It takes time.

BS: Yeah, exactly. I’m a firm believer in slow-build. Cause that’s when you get true, devout fans, and people that follow a kind of legacy, or a discography, as opposed to a Pitchfork, overnight band, where it’s like, “They’re awesome! Everyone’s got to see them!” But then after 3 months it’s like, “Who?”

We’ve messed up enough times in our career to know what not to do. It’s almost like things have leveled out on all sides, where we’re not wearing ourselves too thin. We’ve made it work. But to answer your question, we toured a good bit around the U.S., but really we’re trying to focus on online content and then potentially doing festivals. It’s kind of where our future lies.

As a folk band, what kind of festivals would you like to do?

BS: I think we fall into a lot of genres. Believe it or not, we appeal to the metal scene because of Josh playing the 8-string. He’s playing a lot of technically advanced things. The way we write songs, if you add distortion, a lot of our songs would be metal songs. It’s really kind of arpeggiated and classical sounding, but cleaner. We don’t really want to pigeonhole ourselves into one genre, we kind of want to be accessible to you and your grandmother, and everyone.

Similar to how ska is basically sped-up polka music, do you try changing up a single element in your music that turns it into a completely different genre? 

BS: I think we have a little bit of that in there. I think what we try to do though, is not be limited. In one song, we might have four different genres. On the new album we have this one song that goes from sounding like a funeral procession, a New Orleans-style ending part with a horn section, to rah-rah marching band kind of stuff. But then right before that, it’ll be really prog-y and almost sound like [the Yes album] Fragile. So we just kind of go wherever our interests lie. We’re just having fun.

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Do you get to do anything cool on your tour stops besides play? Do you get to look around, or do things? Or are you just trying to catch up on sleep?

BS: I guess the biggest endurance challenge is on your liver. Because you get to the venue, you get to the soundcheck, and you’re hanging out. They’re like “Oh, by the way, here’s a bunch of free drink tickets!” You need a lot of restraint, and there’s a lot of fatigue. It’s not tiredness, because we’ll get a full night’s sleep. But fatigue is a different kind of monster.

We just came from Richmond, and we hung out with some locals there. A lot of times we hang out with the bands, we have a lot of friends in all the cities we’ve played in over the years. We’ll make a plan to stop at the Crystal Cave on a drive if we see it, or Wizard World or something; as long as we have time for it and it seems interesting enough.

I noticed you’re going up to Canada on this tour.

BS: This is more or less an east coast kind of thing. We started in Georgia, and then went down through Florida, then have been working our way up the coast. But from New York, we’re moving to Boston, and then Maine, and then Vermont and Canada, and then down through Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, and then making our way back down to Nashville and then home.

It’s about 36 stops in 38 days. It’s a lot, but it’s the only way. We’re not a band that gets gigantic guarantees, so the only way to make it financially viable for us is to play every night. And it’s what we want to do, because it allows us to get really tight, like that tour-tightness that you don’t really get normally. We’ll practice just before a show, but you don’t have the nuance of the songs down, so I think we’re just now settling in to how the songs are supposed to be.

Have you done anything since coming to New York? Have you tried the pizza?

BS: We haven’t really done anything other than sit in traffic for a while. But we’ve been to New York a whole bunch of times in the past, so we have friends in the area, in Williamsburg and Manhattan.

Nirvana, our violinist, is Dominican and her family lives in Teaneck, right over the bridge. And they’re awesome. They cook the best authentic Dominican food you’ll ever have. So we’re going to go there straight after this.

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Tell me about the new album.

BS: The new direction is awesome, it’s really 1970’s-inspired. Real direct-sounding. For a while, everyone was on a Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear kick, so reverb was cranked high on those albums. We’re going back to Harry Nilsson, Bill Withers, really 1970’s close drums, tight vocals, everything’s right in your ears instead of in a field. It’s real bombastic and I’m really excited. I think this is our first album where we actually figured out our sound and our writing process. We look forward to having it out, probably at the beginning of next year.

You mentioned you all work outside of the band. How do you find time to be a band?

BS: I work building sets for the movie industry, I’m a welder. I build props for The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games, and a bunch of other things. Some of the guys work at a brewery, a lot of the guys teach. They’re all jobs in which we can have a flexible schedule where they don’t mind if we take off for like two months or something. Traveling the country, playing music, doing the things you love, there’s nothing better than that.

Watch: Little Tybee, “Tuck My Tail”