Tigers and Monkeys // Feature Friday
Written by: Kayla Lee
Have you ever found yourself lost in a day dream about giving up your 9 to 5 in order to pursue your wildest, most exhilarating and fulfilling dreams? Of course you have. We all have. In the case of Tigers and Monkeys, vocalist Shonali Bhowmik did just that. After leaving law school to purse a music career, Shonali has been in the music world for over a decade and is the lead vocalist for the NYC based rock band Tigers and Monkeys.
The full line up for Tigers and Monkeys includes bassist and back up vocalist Jason Lam, guitarists Joachim Kearns and Russ Dungan, percussionist Antonia Santangelo, and drummer Anthony Cangelosi (honorary mentions include drummer Jody Bilinski and Jeff Sheinkopf.) The band’s latest release, Saturday Destroyer, is an eleven track album chock full of jaunty riffs, steady garage rock sentiments, and personal life experiences turned into anthemic choruses. This is the third full length release from Tigers and Monkeys and is being put out through Bhowmik’s own label, Little Lamb Recordings.
Saturday Destroyer pulls the listener into the sleek and chic world of vintage rock and roll. You’ll feel like you’re cruising around the streets of your city with the top down and sunglasses on in no time. With a diverse sound ranging from indie rock to bluesy southern roots to good old fashion rock and roll, there’s a track on Saturday Destroyer to fit any mood. If you want to dance, then you’ll want to put on “Too Good To Forget” as this track bridges the gap between folk and garage rock. “Not Your Little Girl” is another track with a foot stomping-worthy rhythm and White Stripes-esque riffs.
“The Dream Is Still Alive” is a stand out track in terms of lyricism. For a lot of us, the dream is dead. Don’t worry — Tigers and Monkeys are here to remind you that this is not the case. All that you need to do is follow it.
The band reveals a fun and playful side on “Over The Sun” — this song sounds like it was catapulted into 2018 from the depths of the 80’s and was supercharged with some futuristic power while on its way to us.
Saturday Destroyer reminds us that when you pursue your passions without holding back, the result is a true labor of love and dedication. Continue reading below to check out our interview with Shonali where we talk about the NYC music scene, following your heart, and more!
Photo credit: Stefano Giovannini
Q: How would you describe the music community in NYC - is it easy to network, or more over saturated than other cities?
A: Though NYC is the largest city in the US, after living here for a short while it began to feel like a small neighborhood to me. And when it comes to music and the arts in general, I find that it’s just like every other city I’ve lived in (Atlanta or Nashville) in that we as musicians somehow always manage to find our kindred creative spirits without much difficulty. I am blown away by the talent here and if you are someone like me who loves to get out and check out new bands, artists, comedy or theater you can’t help but meet a multi-talented person you would likely want to perform with.
Q: Are there any tracks on the new album that almost didn’t make the cut? If so, what changed?
A: In the case of this album, every song we recorded actually made it on to the album. Our cover of “Driver’s Seat” didn’t make the vinyl edition of the album because you can only put so much information on a vinyl disc without degrading the sound quality, but its on the digital/CD version.
If you asked this question about our first album Loose Mouth, we recorded so many songs during those recording sessions which wouldn’t fit on the first album, so many of them ended up on our second album The Animals Will Forgive Us Again.
Q: After the first listen, what would you like for fans + new listeners to take away from Saturday Destroyer?
A: Hopefully listeners will hear the authenticity that comes with this band. No gimmicks here - we are just a group of friends who love to perform and create rock n’ roll. There are lots of influences on this album which definitely stem from my love of 90’s indie rock and southern blues. Only after some time away from this album have I started to understand where the songwriter (yeah am speaking of myself in the third person - ugh!) lyrically was coming from when writing these songs. I get the sense she was reminding herself to stay strong, to be herself and that she must rally her friends & strangers together to stand up and fight for something bigger than themselves. All this introspection makes me uncomfortable….
Q: What are your goals as a band for the upcoming months following the release of Saturday Destroyer?
A: Tigers & Monkeys right now is getting major adds on college radio right now and we hope to gain millions and millions of new fans. Ha! We will do some East Coast dates this fall and winter and we hope our fans get to experience the live version of the band which is something quite special, even if I say so myself. I recently went to a show here in NYC where the performer sang along with her pre-recorded tracks and I realized that perhaps this is the new future of “live” music.
I felt a sense of sadness of not seeing a live drummer, bass player or keyboard player on stage. Since I was an adolescent girl growing up in Nashville, I went to see live music as often as I could and it changed my world. Growing up in Nashville was integral to me becoming a musician. We had great college radio, awesome house band parties and we would sneak into clubs. There were so many teenage kids in bands and we were all going to see live music by touring bands from other cities all the time. That is how I created my foundation for becoming a musician. Yeah, I know I got side tracked here… but live music is everything to me.
Q: Following your dreams can be a scary step for people. What sparked your decision to pursue music to the extent that you have, and what has the most rewarding experience been this far?
A: I can honestly say that following my passion of playing music wasn’t even a decision I had to make. I think the fear factor of becoming an artist never played into my decision making process because music was always a part of me and there was no way to change that. It was while attending Emory law school in Atlanta, Georgia when I realized making music could become more than just a hobby. I realized that I would always have to find a way to play music regardless of how I paid the bills. There were times after graduating from law school while I was waiting tables at Grant Central, a pizza place in Atlanta when I waited on fellow law school classmates of mine who were making the big bucks and felt a little embarrassed, but I had to remind myself that I had no choice in the matter. I have to be me. And now, in this crazy world, playing music is what keeps me sane.
There have been SO MANY rewarding experiences which have come from being a musician. The small ones would be meeting or performing with my music heroes. The big ones would be the network of friends I have built across the world via music. It’s a family of friends who always get me and I get them. Their mere existence is a comforting thought….awwwwww.