When you see a Flying V guitar on a stage, it conjures thoughts of metal, busy solos, and long curly hair reaching back into the ’80s. Old Tiger guitarist Dustin Lothspeich wields a Flying V with imposing stature and a hearty mountain beard, and instead of over-the-top rock glory, his easy voice spreads honey over sparse indie soul music, played with tasteful reverb, warm guitar tones, and a confident rhythm section — My Morning Jacket recording for Motown or Stax.
I sat down with Lothspeich at Lestat’s to discuss his band.
Old Tiger got their start in 2009 in the corporate office of E Force Racquetball. According to Lothspeich, “One day there was some kind of music on in the office and I saw [drummer Eric Boone] tapping on the desk, but it wasn’t just the fingers, it was the foot. I thought, Hmm...this guy is totally a drummer. I Googled his name and found his band, the High Rolling Loners.” The following day when Boone walked by Lothspeich’s desk, he heard his own music emanating from the computer speakers — he had been exposed. Soon after, the two jammed together. And when High Rolling Loners bassist Matt Phillips overheard what were the early stages of Old Tiger songs, he wanted in.
“Belly Up and Casbah are our favorite places to play,” says Lothspeich. “Both have hosted some of our favorite bands. Casbah is dirty, grimy, crazy-loud. You just let loose when you play there because you know you’re stepping on a stage with so much history.”
The band’s sound is informed by Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and the Temptations channeled through Jeff Buckley, Neil Young, and Jim James. According to Lothspeich, “Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye...when I’m writing music, I think, If they were writing this song, what would happen, how would they sing that?”
This summer, Old Tiger will be releasing their debut full-length. On the new record, Old Tiger broke through the limitations of a three-piece by adding guest musicians, string arrangements, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, percussion, and backing vocals. Though, live, they’ll still own the songs as a trio. Lothspeich says, “We need to play live. It won’t be as ornate, but the songs are still there...” Fortunately for the band, they have a strong batch. And fortunately for Lothspeich’s Flying V, he has a garage-rock band called Bunny Gang in which he gets to turn his amp up to 11.
Catch Old Tiger live at Winstons in O.B. on August 4.