The Box Tiger is a band with dual nationality. Three of the members live in Toronto, Canada, and one of them lives right here in Portland. So they are both an international and local band as far as I’m concerned. Either way, I’ve rapidly become a huge fan, and with good reason.
Their new CD “Set Fire” covers all of my favorite bases: terrific vocals, acoustic and electric moments, moodiness, fire, lyrical finesse and all over indie rock sound that pleases this listener immensely.
The band was started by singer/songwriter Sonia Sturino in 2009. The other members are bassist Ben Tran, drummer Marcus Cipparone and guitarist Jordan Stowell. Stowell’s the Portland resident and the person I reached out to with questions. He was more than happy to oblige and asked if he could bring Sturino into the conversation. I was happy to oblige.
How do you and the band like to describe the sound of The Box Tiger?
Sonia: It’s always been tricky for me, and I should probably have a simple answer for a question like this, but I don’t. The truth is, I pull inspiration from so many different places it’s hard to pinpoint a sound. Most of the time I passively call it indie rock/pop, but I feel like it’s a lot more “in your face” than most music in that genre.
Do you and the band feel there are common themes running throughout the songs?
Sonia: I feel like the reason I wanted to call this record “Set Fire” is due to the theme of really burning everything down and starting anew. It sounds rather corny, but at the same time I wrote all these songs at a point in my life where I was doing just that. You grow up a lot between the ages of 18 and 23. There is a lot of “moving past” and “starting new” in life and on this record.
What’s your current favorite song on “Set Fire” and why?
Jordan: “Hospital Choir.” It’s one of the oldest songs on the album, but I also think it’s one of the best songs Sonia has ever written. It’s a song I had to push for us to record for the album but has ended up being cited as one of the best songs on the album by most of the reviews we’ve seen and listeners we’ve talked to.
Sonia: “Taller Than Trees.” I feel like for me, especially live, it’s a song I really lose it on. The vocals were recorded in one or two takes for the song and it’s the song I have the most fun singing and performing. The lyrics for me are very simple, but I feel that is why they are relatable. I also feel that the melody shows my love for catchy, poppy music.
What was it like to work with Ron Harrity at Peapod?
Sonia: Amazing. Ron was really a savior to this record. He really helped bring the album to life and was on the same wavelength with us on how we wanted it to sound. His studio is super neat, he built a standalone structure next to his house to house it. It’s filled with cool refurbished keyboards and vintage finds, I loved it.
How do you make it work with Jordan being in Maine and the rest of the band in Canada?
Sonia: It’s not always easy, but we make it work by planning everything we do. Jordan also puts in a good effort in traveling back and forth a whole lot. I think at this point it’s working in our benefit. Maine has become a true second home to all of us. We’re so grateful with how Portland has seemed to adopt us as a local group. It never hurts being a band with two hometowns.
What’s next for the band?
Jordan: We’ll continue touring the Northeast U.S., Ontario and Quebec for the rest of the year. “Set Fire” is going to be released in Japan before the end of the year, which we’re very excited about. We hope to play the rest of the U.S. and Canada next year — and if we’re lucky — outside of the continent. We’ve already begun writing (and playing live) songs for the next album, which hopefully we’ll record next year as well.
Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at: