Based in North Park, Old Tiger is a three-piece rock band formed in August 2009. The band has included Matt Phillips and drummer Eric Boone of the High Rolling Loners, alongside singer/guitarist Dustin Lothspeich. “My last name is pronounced Lud-spike,” he says.
"Old Tiger came together in 2009,” according to Lothspeich. “I’d been working at a local racquetball manufacturer [E-Force Racquetball] for a while when a new guy named Eric Boone started. A couple weeks later, I noticed he was tapping on his desk with a couple of pencils. Which is no big deal, but then I also noticed he was tapping his feet, in time, at the same time. I knew instantly he was a drummer, because normal people don’t tap like that. But he was really quiet and new, so I wasn’t really sure how to ‘out’ him.”
A quick Google search revealed Boone’s secret stickman identity as the drummer for the High Rolling Loners. “So I cued up one of their songs on my computer and, the next time he walked by my desk, I blasted it over my speakers. He stopped dead in his tracks and turned beet-red. I ended up hanging out with him at their rehearsal studio one evening and played him some songs I’d written recently. He dug ’em, so we started playing together. Turns out the High Rolling Loners’ bassist Matt Phillips also heard us playing outside the garage one night, walked inside, and said he wanted in.”
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?”
One particularly large influence is the Black Keys, though asking Lothspeich about this to only reminds him of his biggest loss. “My army-green Sovtek Big Muff Pi Fuzz guitar pedal. It cost me 30 bucks when I was 14 in 1996, and they’re about $300 now on eBay. Dan Auerbach uses the same pedal in the Black Keys. Some dude stole it from me. I know who it was and I tried to get it back but never could. I just had to let it go. But, Harvey, if you’re reading this, I hope a bird craps in your mouth.”
Asked about the most difficult Old Tiger tune to play, Lothspeich says “‘Get Along.’ It’s challenging as vocalist and as a guitarist. I play some things high up on the neck that are a bit hard to do while singing, and the main vocal melody is tough for me to hit consistently. Makes it a challenge, and that’s always scary and fun.”
In 2011, Lothspeich and Megan Liscomb (Owl Eyes) formed a new side band, Bunny Gang. “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.”
October 2012 saw the debut Old Tiger release, Love Have Mercy, featuring guest musicians, string arrangements, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, percussion, and backing vocals. The opening track, “You Can’t Do Better,” includes horns and gospel vocals by the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir San Diego, several of whom performed at the October 12 record-release party at the Casbah.
“At one point,” says Lothspeich, “there were over a dozen people onstage! Definitely one of the great moments in my life.” The full-length won Best Pop Album at the October 2013 San Diego Music Awards.
All proceeds from their winter 2014 single "The Best Part of Christmas" went to the San Diego Ronald McDonald House Charities.