Featured Artist

Cosmic Rock

Tonight our guest on CR is the charismatic and well loved vocalist Tiff Tantrum from the group No Anger Control. Tiff and company have been tearing it up in the Carolinas and beyond for a good while now and she has become a well-recognized positive figure in punk rock. We had a chance to have a rare pow wow with Tiff about her life history, musical inspiration and thoughts on many subjects.

 

    1.Hey Tiff, it’s good to speak with you how have you been?

 

    Hey, Gideon. Thanks for asking me to be a part of Cosmic Rock. I have been great! Super busy. I just went to Raleigh this past weekend, August 17th, and attended the Carolina Music Awards. I was nominated for best female vocalist in rock. I did not win, but I was the only person there from a punk band, so that was huge in itself!

 

    2.Of course and thanks for taking time for the interview. Anytime. Congrats on your recent award nomination, that’s awesome. Tell us a little about your background, did you grow up in NC?

 

    I was born in Fort Lauderdale, Fl, but moved to Conover, NC when I was four years old. I grew up there, and then attended East Carolina University, in Greenville, NC. That is where I resided until my mid twenties, and where I started singing for my first band, Princess and the Criminals. We played a lot of our first shows at an awesome underground venue, The Spazzotroium, that was started by my wonderful friend, Jeff Blinder. We played in a living room with Future Islands, and I played more house shows than I can count. We even got to play the Soapbox, in Wilmington, before it was shut down...opening for Murphy’s Law! I miss those days. Princess and the Criminals would morph into a three piece, called The Mighty Good Ship. My bandmates and I moved to Raleigh, but unfortunately our drummer decided to part ways not too long after the move. This is when I decide to form the BAMFs, which would be the first band I ever got into the Milestone. I fell in love with the people and city of Charlotte, but I especially loved the venues. The Milestone set me on the right track for where I wanted to be next in NC. Only a few months after moving; I was approached at the Milestone, by John Ehlers, the drummer for my current band - No Anger Control. He asked me to try out for NAC (they wanted to have just a singer, so our guitarist, Levi Erickson, and bassist, Jason Damiano, could really rip into their instruments) and around December we played a “test” show at Firewater 110 in Rock Hill, SC. I was asked to join the band that very night! NC has been good to me.

 

    3. Very cool. Any classic concerts you saw back in the day that inspired you and in what way?

 

    To be honest with you; it wasn’t particularly a classic concert, and I didn’t see it live. Of course; this band is classic to me, and their lead singer is literally the reason I move like I do while performing. When I was starting out with Princess and the Criminals, believe it or not, I was afraid to move around on stage. I would look like a deer in headlights, and my drummer wanted more. She asked me who my favorite performer was at the time (2005), and I easily replied, Karen O. I was pretty obsessed with her and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I still am. I watched her live performances over and over. I wasn’t necessarily trying to mimic her, but I was inspired by how she moved. There was one show, in particular, where she crawled across stage, while chewing up grapes, and spits them at the audience. I actually did this at a battle of the bands for ECU, and let me tell you, not that many people liked it. Haha. Wrong crowd. Anyways, to this day, I move like I do thanks to the amazing Karen O. She is a forever inspiration to me!

 

    4.Yeah okay for sure. What were some of your favorite albums over the years?

 

    One of my favorites was and still is; Rocket to Russia, The Ramones. That is the best Ramones album...hands down! I was highly inspired by; Fever to Tell, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The album came across more punk to me than indie. Minor Threat’s complete discography was what really pushed me into hyper drive though, and made me want a band more like NAC. Then I found the Dead Boys - Young, Loud, and Snotty, and I realized that I wanted to be just a bit more angry.

 

    5.You are known for your group No Anger Control. How did you get into being a singer in a band?

 

    So when I was in my senior year at ECU; I started messing around with a band, in the basement of a dorm. We had so so many drummers, and they were all pretty bad. There was another singer besides me, and he and I had a little bit of a falling out. I never even played a show with them, and I was told the only show they played was horrible. We called ourselves Glass House. What a horrible name. Haha. Eventually, the guitarist and bass player from that band, would meet an insanely talented drummer. Emily (guitar) and Ant (bass) introduced me to Kim (drums) and I started to sing for Princess and the Criminals. Fun fact: we were called Sheena’s Wasted at this point, and would later change the name due to sounding too much like a name for a Ramone’s Cover band. I of course, fought to keep it Sheena’s Wasted.

 

    6.What keeps you inspired and learning?

 

    The audience. I especially love it when young women move to the front, and act like they should be up there; moshing, pushing people, and just letting go. I have had people tell me they have started bands because of seeing me with NAC, or have toyed around with the idea at least, because now they know it’s possible. I recently played a show with a band, Mutant Strain, and their lead singer reminds me of myself when I first started. THAT is why I don’t stop! There are more women that need to see it’s ok to be rowdy, and that you only need to be yourself to step up to that mic!

 

    7.Of course, that’s fantastic. What are some of your favorite films?

 

    My favorite flim, period, is Better Off Dead! Oh man do I love John Cusack. The director, Savage Steve Holland, only did three films in the 80’s, and they are all classic. Better Off Dead puts such a funny twist on a breakup though, that it made me feel comfortable with being the awkward person that just couldn’t seem to get relationships right. I’m also a HUGE Elijah Wood fan, and pretty much love anything that he does. Of course, his best, LOTR! I love hobbits. I don’t care how nerdy I am for it. Haha. My favorite indie film is The Chumscrubber. It is the best satire I have ever seen about suburbia. I actually wanted to be a casting director, so I will stop here, because this could literally be my whole interview.

 

    8.Yeah I can dig it. Maybe one day we’ll do a full interview about movies. What about favorite books?

 

    ANYTHING by Ray Bradbury! He is my favorite writer, and I just feel like he really wrote with elegance and darkness. Fahrenheit 451 is becoming a reality, and the Martian Chronicles may not be far behind. Sadly, his books tend to end with death. Although; Something Wicked this Way Comes....is devilishly amusing, and has a much happier ending then most of his tales. I’d also like to give a shout out to Aldous Huxley for Brave New World and Island. I’m pretty sure you can tell I love Sc-Fi!

 

    9.Great answer. Ah yeah I remember those and how great they were. What is one life skill you think everyone should have?

 

    Empathy. If you can hone this; there is no way you will be able to hurt anyone. You’ll be too busy thinking about how you would feel in their situation. I’d love to see more of that in this world.

 

    10.Beautiful answer. How do you feel the current era of underground music and social media? What advice would you give someone just starting out?

 

    It’s a lot easier to access bands from all over the world now; known and unknown. You can listen to pretty much anything for free on Spotify, or peruse YouTube for the latest music videos (Vimeo also). Facebook is a great tool for booking shows, and keeping up with your connections.....BUT....it has caused a lack of hitting the street. People use social media alone to push shows; when it is still just as great of an idea to canvas the neighborhood in fliers, to spread news of new bands by word of mouth, and to get out amongst the people that support you and your bands! The best advice I can give would be to be who you really are in person, and online. There is no room to be fake, because you are hiding behind a screen. Anybody that really truly wants to love you and your band; wants to know the real you and not the keyboard warrior.

 

    11.Yes, I agree totally good advice all around. As for flyers, oh yeah I remember when we would go all over the city with a stapler and stack of flyers. It was fun and like you were on a mission to promote your gig. Some younger bands need to discover the joy of that and not just post all day in such a sea of social media news flow. It’s only one part of the picture and it’s not as natural and organic for music.  What does punk rock mean to you personally in your life journey?

 

    Punk saved me. I went through abuse for well over a year when I was between the ages of eighteen and nineteen. I’m never really sure if I have fully processed everything I went through, and for a good while; I was allowing myself to be used and hurt by most of the people I knew. When I realized the power I had over my past, my present, and future; just by holding that mic...by releasing the anger through my words and tantrums on stage....there was no looking back. The first punk show I ever walked into; I didn’t look like I belonged. Nobody said a word though. We all just stood or moshed together, sweaty and happy. I kept going back. Nobody stopped me. I haven’t stopped going back, and I won’t stop anyone that wants to join in!

 

    12.What inspires you as a songwriter?

 

    I think what inspires me the most is love and understanding. Most of my anger has evolved from the hatred and pain I see humans causing each other. We act like we aren’t the same, but deep down we know that we are all hurting and all need to be loved and understood. My words are my weapon. I believe that they could easily make somebody think twice about how they are treating those around them. It’s my hope at least.

 

  13.Awesome. Do you have any projects or news coming along you’d like to mention?

 

    NAC is always working on new material, and we have been throwing around an idea to have a huge backyard party, and shoot footage the whole time, so we can have a great music video with our friends just enjoying life. There will definitely be skateboarding involved!

 

    We also are about to play Punk Rock Picnic 10! Yes, a whole decade of one of the most awesome punk festivals in Charlotte! It will be ALL AGES, Saturday, September 7th, at Canvas Tattoo and Art Gallery. Lots of good bands, hotdogs, and beautiful people!

 

    14. That’s fantastic. Any last words or news for your fans today?

 

    Thank you for your support. Thank you for truly listening to our lyrics, and being a part of a change that we all need. Love and understanding for other humans in necessary, now, more than ever! I feel like I am seeing more and more people join in after every show we play. It’s awesome to see people realizing that we can actually be there for each other, and that it can truly build us up, together! Much love to all of you! You are beautiful to me, and I appreciate you all. EAT MORE PUNK! It’s good for ya ;)

 

Awesome Tiff, thanks for the interview today and rock on G