VIDEO: Tiger Saw, "Words Not Used in Books," live at PA's Lounge
A tap-dancer, a magician, and an eight-piece horn section. According to a recent Web-site missive from Tiger Saw, the latest incarnation of the Newburyport-based indie collective includes all three. That’s par for the course for Tiger Saw, an entity amorphous enough to embody — at least in theory — the wildest whims of singer-songwriter Dylan Metrano, yet structured enough to have recorded and released five proper full-lengths since 1999, even as the cast surrounding Metrano has continued to evolve. In fact, as I sit down at Cambridge Common with two current members of Tiger Saw — bassist Erik Tans and trumpeter/keyboardist Chris Barrett — to discuss an adventurous project they’re presenting this week at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Tiger Saw are on a tour, with Metrano somewhere in the vicinity of Chicago preparing for a gig.
“It’s a wrinkle in time,” jokes Tans.
And it’s also just the way Tiger Saw function. So it’s fallen to Tans and Barrett to lay the groundwork for the Tiger Saw performances at the Coolidge accompanying the 1926 German animated feature The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the oldest surviving full-length film of its type. A four-piece version of the band, with Metrano on guitar, Tans on bass, Barrett on various instruments, and Dylan Clark on drums (and everyone playing percussion and keyboard parts), will perform an original Tiger Saw score for Lotte Reiniger’s film based on “The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou” from 1001 Arabian Nights this Thursday night at 8 and 10 and Saturday at midnight. (They’ll also perform the score with the film at 1 pm on both May 16 and 17 at the Ioka Theater in Exeter, New Hampshire.)
This isn’t the first time Tiger Saw have scored a film. In 2000 and 2002, a different version of the band wrote and performed a score for the F.W. Murnau silent classic Nosferatu (1922). And though Prince Achmed shares some characteristics with Nosferatu, it’s a different beast.
“I don’t know if cartoon is the right word,” says Barrett as he attempts to describe it. “But it is animated with wooden and paper cutouts in silhouette. And the weird thing about it is that even though it was done in 1926, it’s in color. I don’t know if they painted the film itself or if they used some kind of gels, but it’s got this really trippy vibe to it.”
“It was Dylan’s [i.e., Metrano’s] idea to do this as one last band project before we take most of the summer off,” Tans continues. “And once we saw it, it just seemed to leave so many doors open for music that could be both modern and also have an exotic Arabic feel. And, of course, we can do our indie-rock thing. But we can roam a bit and use everything from Middle Eastern horns to ’70s-style synths.”
The very fact that Tans and Barrett are holding forth on this latest Tiger Saw project reflects the evolution of a relatively stable core who collaborate with Metrano. “Even having a steady rhythm section is sort of a new thing for Tiger Saw,” says Tans, who’s been playing bass alongside Dylan Clark now for almost two years. “It’s been pretty steady for the last eight months or so,” adds Barrett.