Tiny Empires is a relatively new band started by O Pioneers!!! vocalist/guitarist Eric Solomon along with a couple of the guys from New Bruises. While you can pick on some influences from their other bands, it's definitely its own beast. You can check it out for yourself on "Weird Headspace", an album that they just released a couple of days ago! Here's an interview we did with Eric... read on!
PRT: I read somewhere that Tiny Empires is a medieval-themed multiuser online game within Second Life. So which one of you is the avid gamer?
Eric: This has been coming up more and more. When we had to change our name from Black Clouds we did some research and saw that the game was a big and popular online multi player. None of us had ever heard of it though. For the most part we are all to busy for most games, but Bryon and Mikey go to the Casino three times a week, that's sort of like being an avid gamer right?
PRT:Tiny Empires started when you were recording songs for O Pioneers!!!. At what point did you decide to just start a new band rather than continue with the old name?
Eric: After we recorded the three part song that ended up on a split 7" with Tigersjaw, we realized that this was a little different than what we had been doing with OP!!!. Even though it was a natural progression, we thought maybe it would be best to try and give this song it's own legs to stand on. One of the biggest reason OP!!! broke up is because i felt we were always associated with things we were in our past, and at the point of recording this song, we were sonically further away from all of that.
It just seemed like a great time to try something new. And i think we are all really glad we did.
PRT:The new album is called "Weird Headspace". Is that how you would describe the place you were in while writing the music?
Eric: Yeah i'd like to think so. I don't even think it was just writing the music, i think it was just that period in life. I know a couple of us were dealing with some really heavy issues in our personal lives, and it just sort of came to fruition inside of these songs. The record has been recorded for something like 18 months at this point, and I don't even think we named it until about 8 months after we had it all finished.
PRT:One song on the album is called "What¹s The Plan Phil". Who is Phil and why are you asking him what the plan is?
Eric: This song title is stolen from season 2, episode 1 of Modern Family. Phil Dumphy is the father figure, and is typically a bright and cheery guy, a type of glass half full guy. In this episode if i recall correctly, things just stop working out so well for old phil, and he starts getting mad.
Everyone keeps asking him what the plan is, and at some point, he stops being so cheery. Not everyone can be happy or content all the time, but it's something i strive for constantly. I always feel like it's just out reach in a million situations, and that's what this song is about.
PRT: "Blurry Photos, Dead Leaves, Decomposed" rounds out the album and is nine and a half minutes long. Can you tell me a little bit more about that one?
Eric: This was written days, possibly hours before we went into the studio. I think we were really all taken aback at how different it was from everything else we had written for this record. We must have played these three parts over and over and over again for 3 or 4 days straight at practice, right before we went into the studio. Unlike most bands, we don't live in the same city, let alone the same state, so when we practice it's usually for 8-10 hours at a time. We wanted to write something that rivaled our three part song from the Tigersjaw split, and when Bryon and I came up with this concept, i think we all got pretty stoked on getting it together. Recording it was a huge ordeal with alot of pieces being made up on the spot so the song could flow a little bit better. Even now, months after recording it, we are still tweaking the transitions to nail them live.
PRT: You recorded the album with Tyler Nicolo. I hadn¹t heard of him before but he I looked him up and he seems to be working mostly with hiphop artists. How did you end up with him and did he bring anything to the table that made you look at things from a different angle?
Eric: Actually the record was recorded at Black Bear Studio, in Gainesville Florida. Since it's not to far from Tampa, and it's a very cool little studio, we headed up there to record with those guys. They've done a ton of Gainesville stuff (like Chris Wollard and the Ship Theieves), and the last New Bruises Record (as well as the first T.E. Song). Tyler was/is dating (soon to be married to) Bryon's neice. I'd met him a couple of times, and he was always super nice, and always really cool to talk too.
Bryon and Tyler had discussed the record alot, and I guess at some point, Tyler asked Bryon if he could hear the record, and possibly work on a song or two. After we finished recording and getting rough mixes from Blackbear, Bryon sent over the record and just asked Tyler if he was still into trying a song. If I recall correctly we got a mix back of Air Conditioning within the week, and we were all pretty pumped on it. He was hearing things that we wrote, and that we recorded that we had no idea lived inside of this song structure. I think Tyler was our secret weapon on this record. Working with someone who was not involved with writting or recording, and was more or less just piecing together a puzzle, that had no instructions was pretty awesome. It def. turned into something greater than we thought it would become. Originally these songs were meant to be demos to shop around to labels, but after all the work that Tyler did, and Steve Rizun (who mastered the record), we were really taken a back at how great this record was, that we just decided to say fuck it and make it the first full length.
PRT: The album will be out next week on Null Records. Why them instead of releasing it on Bryon¹s own label?
Eric: We actually just decided to release it ourselves with no record label attached. Although we had a couple of friends labels offer to help with the record, we just felt it was really important to start from scratch, and do everything ourselves. We didn't want to see if we could use this record to stand out a bit more, as opposed to putting it out on a smaller label that may have just sold copies because it was on said label.
PRT: With most of you living in Florida and one of you in Texas, how difficult is it to write material? How do you make it work?
Eric: Honestly it's the worst. I would not recommend it at all, unless everyone is super dedicated, 145%. Most of the time it works by me being pushy as shit about band stuff, and everyone else being able to take time out of work to make it happen. Usually i'll fly into Tampa, and we do crazy marathon practices over a week or a weekend, which is both super fun, and super tiring. It's kind of a neat creative experiment though, trying to write a record in that short of time. It most certainly takes a ton of preplanning to. Which can be a little difficult, because you know, punk stuff doesn't always work out great.
PRT: Is there a plan among the rest of the band to pressure Eric into moving to Florida as well?
Eric: As much as we'd all love to be in one city, i don't see myself ever moving to Florida. Something about the swamp doesn't do it for me. I've tried to get everyone to move to Austin, but at this point, in the past year, i've been to Florida just as much as the rest of the band has, as they travel so much for work!
PRT: So what¹s up next for Tiny Empires?
Eric: Well this record comes out tomorrow, then after that probably some week and weekend tours in the summer. Hopefully in the fall we will be able to get a break from our crazy lives and lock ourselves away for a week or two, and write LP2. That's the general hope at least