YA band Tiger Beat talks singing, unicorns & Holden Caufield

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The YA community is often a fun and strange place, and no group of YA authors exemplify that more than Tiger Beat. You know all about Tiger Beat already, I bet – no? You don’t? Then boy, have you been missing out.

Tiger Beat is an all-YA author band. Libba Bray sings. Daniel Ehrenhaft and Natalie Standiford rock the guitar. Barney Miller – who writes under his much more formal full name Barnabas Miller – plays drums. They’ve become an accidental staple of YA conventions and launches, where they’ll pop up, play their wickedly awesome YA-themed music, and disappear into the night like ninjas. They’re loud. They’re fun. And they, of course, are completely unconventional.

Learn more about the YA band Tiger Beat with this exclusive interview, where the band came together and answered my questions in one (hilarious) voice.


Why and how did the name “Tiger Beat” come about? Any teen magazine connections?

Tiger Beat (TB): Yea verily, it was carved into stone at the top of a misty mountain hop in Iceland. Some called it prophecy. Some, vandalism. And some said, “Huh, so that’s what Tiger Beat looks like in Icelandic.” Or maybe Natalie Standiford said, “What do you think about the name, Tiger Beat?”

TB: Origin stories are so complicated.

How would you describe your sound?

TB: Like your ear canals are having sex in a unicorn pasture under a double rainbow, bold as love.

How did you first connect with the other members of the group?

TB: Juvie.

What was it like playing together for the first few times?

TB: The opposite of your ear canals having sex in a unicorn pasture under a double rainbow.

What’s your chemistry like as a band?

TB: Like Nitroglycerine: Explosive. Potentially life-saving. And smelly.

What other musical influences do you have?

Barney Miller: Prince, Stevie Wonder, R&B, orchestral kazoo.
Dan Ehrenhaft: Classic rock, grunge, 90s hip-hop, punk barbershop quartet.
Natalie Standiford: Elvis Costello, Velvet Underground, Bowie, primal screaming.
Libba Bray: All of the above, plus any show tunes beloved by drag queens.

How does your work in YA influence your music?

TB: We bring our years of collective immaturity to all that we do.

What are some specific literary influences for your songs?

TB: At present, we have abandoned our work on our existential concept album/theme park, Naked Lunch Program, but our dedication to the mixed media presentation, Babar Was Framed, continues apace. Also, our signature anthem, “Y.A. Song,” is rife with references to many classic YA tomes, including Monster, Weetzie Bat, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, and A Step from Heaven, to name a few. But all anybody remembers is that we sing, “And Holden Caulfield is not an asshole.” To be fair, we sing it a lot.

Are there any books out right now that are just begging to have a song written about them?

TB: The (Sugar) Walls Around Us
Welcome to the (Grasshopper) Jungle
My Heart and Other Black Holes (Sun)
We’ll Always Have Summer (Lovin’)

What is a typical Tiger Beat practice like?

TB: Lots of fart jokes. Reverent recitations of Bell, Biv, Devoe lyrics. And Barney’s always late.

How about a show?

TB: More of the same. But with props and flop sweat.

Do you have any plans for formal release of your music?

TB: Yes. We will record “Y.A. Song” soon. And we will wear tuxes to meet the formal requirement.

Are there any places fans can find your songs online?

TB: Like Viagra ads, Tiger Beat is all over your Internet. Happy Googling, kids.

Any upcoming shows?

TB: Tiger Beat will play the first-ever YALLWest Teen Book Festival in Santa Monica, CA, on April 11th. We hear they are shoring up the San Andreas Fault in preparation for our earth-shaking rockage.

What do you hope audience members/listeners will get from listening to/seeing Tiger Beat perform?

TB: An urge to boogie oogie oogie till they just can’t boogie no more coupled with an overwhelming desire to buy our books. We have mortgages.

Any particular moments from your time with the band that stand out?

TB: What happens at the Javits Center, stays at the Javits Center. Please God.

For more on Tiger Beat, skulk around the darkest corners of the internet, or attend YALLWest in Santa Monica on April 11th.

Feature image courtesy of Jeffrey West.

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About Author

Nicole Brinkley

Nicole is the editor of YA Interrobang. She has short hair and loves dragons. The rest changes without notice. Follow her on Twitter at @nebrinkley or Tumblr at nebrinkley. Like her work? Leave her a tip.