Well, what a year it’s been. Italy’s number one all-woman punk power trio SMALLTOWN TIGERS finished 2022 on a high after opening for The Damned on their 1976 reunion tour at the personal invitation of the band themselves. It can be a thankless task going on at opening time, but they turned up, locked in and left with a lot of new fans and friends.
First item on the agenda for 2023 was the recording of their first full-length album, the follow-up to 2020’s debut mini-album Five Things, which earned them plaudits across the globe from the likes of Classic Rock, Vive Le Rock, Maximum Rock’n’Roll and I-94 Bar, plus airplay from BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq and Gideon Coe, The Undertones’ Mickey Bradley on BBC Radio Ulster and numerous others.
But before they could hit the studio, The Damned came calling again, inviting them to join their spring Eurotrek, which saw the three surfer-girls from Rimini playing for the first time to audiences in France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland.
Over Easter, Valli (vocals/bass), Monty (guitar) and Castel (drums) returned to L’Amor Mio Non Muore studio in the town of Forli to record with the same team who chaperoned Five Things, producer Stiv Cantarelli and engineer Robi Villa (both, incidentally of punk-blues duo J.D. Hangover – Forli’s answer to Suicide!). After three days’ toil, the ten tracks were mixed by Villa – “the best pair of ears in Emilia-Romagna” – before being sent once again to Detroit garage maven Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Dirtbombs, Von Bondies, etc) for mastering.
If some of the songs on Crush On You sound familiar, it’s because they’ve had plenty of time to roadtest them. Initially written remotely during the isolation of Covid, the girls began rehearsing and gigging them as soon as they were able, so songs like opener ‘Meet Me In The City’, ‘Monster’ and the title track (and first single) were totally match-fit by the time the band hit the stage of Hammersmith Apollo on the first date of the Damned tour.
Now fan favourites, they were joined on the girls’ September UK mini-tour by the louche, swinging ‘Dressed Right And Skinny’ and ‘Maybe’, sung by drummer Castel, while Valli’s bass punches holes in the wall, and Monty steps up with an all-too-rare guitar solo.
“It’s just fascinating to watch these little compositions become real songs,” says Valli. “It’s like watching your kids grow up in a way, don’t you think?
After a lot of work, hours and hours in the studio doing take after take until you get it right, listening to the same song a hundred times this work came to an end and we can’t wait to share it with the world.”
But rather than delivering ‘more of the same’, Crush On You holds a few surprises. Let’s face it, they’ve had plenty of time to think about it. Now all you have to do is listen to it!
“Imagine the Ramones getting sand kicked in their faces by The Runaways at a beach party while Kurt and Courtney look on.”
NUZZ PROWLING WOLF
“Straight up no nonsense garage rock… 8/10” VIVE LE ROCK!
“The rough edge of garage punk… primal beats, harsh vocals, and all-around grittiness…” MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL
“The world needs a band like the Tigers. You can quote me on that.” BRIAN JAMES
“The songs are raw but as catchy as they ought to be, sounding like The Ramones being fronted by Joan Jett.”
FEAR & LOATHING
Gerry Ranson – Vive Le Rock Web 12/01/2024
SMALLTOWN TIGERS are back with a brand new single and video, which they’re premiering exclusively with Vive Le Rock. ‘Crush On You’ is the title track from the band’s first full-length LP which follows on from 2020’s Five Things mini album. Formed in 2018 in Rimini, Italy, the trio were invited to open for The Damned’s 2022 reunion dates, then asked back to support the band on their Euro-trek last spring, before heading into the studio to lay down their new album. “In the last two years we’ve had some of the best rock’n’roll experiences a band could dream of,” say the girls. “Walking big stages, visiting loads of cities and countries, hanging out with some of our musical heroes, and meeting a load of new people who love our music. “When we went back to the studio, all we wanted to do was crank it up to 12 and shout it out loud. We wanted to take all the music we love, stir it up with some special Tiger Tonic and create something we could call our own. And that’s what we did.”
Crush On You is set for release on 9 February through Area Pirata, with the band starting a UK tour the next day in Brighton. Full dates are…
Sat 10 Feb – Prince Albert, Brighton
Sun 11 Feb – Lady Luck, Canterbury
Wed 14 Feb – Twenty-One, Southend-on-Sea
Thurs 15 Feb – Bird’s Nest, Deptford, London
Fri 16 Feb – Spinning Top, Stockport
Sat 17 Feb – The Hive, Rotherham
Sun 18 Feb –The Vaults, York (matinee 3pm)