Tiger Hatchery

The Empty Bottle, Chicago, January 13th 2009 was a chaotic, symphonic assemblage of chaos. Everyone present was aware that this was the beginning for something special, something extraordinary. Chicago was just being captivated by an anomaly: A demolition/jazz trio. Mike Forbes, visionary upright bassist Andrew Scott Young and Ben Billington, a brain melting saxophonist, had just infused the city with a little of their endless talent. Ben Baker Billington was just 18 when he moved from Cleveland, Ohio to pursue his dream. He began studying music business at DePaul University, Chicago in the fall 2004. He wanted to plunge headfirst into the huge, noisy, lawless, art-filled city, even after experiencing the culture shock of moving from his “relatively desolated” suburb. He would not have the opportunity to meet the men who would join him in creating a new part of Chicago’s underground history for nearly four years. After spending a lot of time listening to noise rock and playing free jazz, Ben Billington created the Druids of Huge. This band was a trio of electronics, drums, and guitar players. Between 2006 and 2009, Druids of Huge performed frequently. Ben lived with his band mates. Applebee’s, the house where they lived, hosted a few shows per month. This gave Billington an opportunity to develop his craft and become a musician. Andrew Scott Young and Mike Forbes, a saxophonist, first met in 2005 while they were walking the streets of Denton Texas. Both men were young and had planned to study music in Denton. Young had seen Forbes at a coffee shop and gave him a positive review. However, he didn’t know the sax player that would find him inadvertently just a few nights later. Forbes was frustrated with the music program and its musicians. He felt compelled to find a bassist to share the Kowaldian magic he had been trying so hard to achieve. Forbes set out one night to find a musician who shared his ambitions and ended up at the Syndicate on-campus jazz bar. Forbes was captivated by the band’s performance and quickly recognized Andrew Scott Young as his new partner. Forbes was impressed by Young’s talent and versatility and asked him a serious, life-altering question: “Have you heard of Albert Ayler?” After one jam session, both men fell in love with the energy and vision shared by each other. Forbes and Young quickly became comfortable with each other’s music style and became a team because of their passion for freeform music and love of Mary Jane. While they were involved in projects, Young and Forbes became more and more infatuated with the experimental side of jazz and noise. Young began to feel stuck in their small Texas town. They set out to expand their vision. They were able to take Chicago by storm, minds united. In September 2007, they fled the south and began looking for a drummer to complete their idea of a trio. They were immersed in Chicago’s culture and played with many other musicians but none felt like they could achieve the style they wanted. Forbes and Young explored the free improv/jazz scene but quickly discovered that noise/punk/rock was more in line with their social needs. They were already familiar with Billington’s Druids of Huge and began frequenting the Applebee DIY house where they met the young drummer. He was intrigued by their talent and invited them to perform at Applebees as the Forbes/Young duo. He regales, “RULED!” It wasn’t long before Tiger Hatchery breathed its first breaths and “jamming” was mentioned among the trio. Billington recalls that “I kind of brought my sloppy, ‘free rock’ vibe into the mix, but I quickly adjusted to a keen sense of improvisation, listening, and it seemed natural…we knew there was something special.” It was time for a new chapter in Chicago as circumstances changed and leases expired. They wanted to be near Logan Square, where the action is happening, but they needed to find somewhere where they could still practice. A 16,000-square-foot warehouse was found for an unbelievable price by the pioneers of jazz and some very lucky luck. As negotiations progressed, friendships strengthened and it was decided that a 16,000 square foot warehouse would be available for a ridiculously low price. This industrial loft in Chicago was the second story at a Milwaukee Avenue shopping center that was converted into an art space. At its peak, thirteen tenants inhabited a “tent city”. Large art pieces were destroyed and psychedelic depictions in mixed media and paint engulfed the walls. It was peaceful and comfortable during the day. It was a peaceful living space by day, but it became a chaotic DIY warehouse party at night. Pink hipsters and crusty punks were welcome to join this dreamia of ultimate indulgence. People were excited to go to The Mopery because of its reputation as hosting some of the most intense underground acts in America. Among the many acts that graced the stage were White Mice and Peaking Lights, Liturgy Bloodyminded, Hair Police, Liturgy, Peaking Lights, Peaking Lights, Liturgy and Bloodyminded. The amazing shows were held three times per month and featured five to six acts. The music began at 11 p.m. and continued until 4 a.m., often drawing hundreds of people to the shows. The Mopery generated so much revenue for the nearby liquor vendors, convenience shops, late-night food stops, and other businesses that it was difficult to keep the cops away. Tiger Hatchery gained unexpected recognition due to their ability to tune their sound and the extensive exposure they received on The Mopery stage. Tiger Hatchery had performed over 100 shows by the end of 2010. It was almost a year later. In the middle of 2010, Tiger Hatchery’s hard work and diligent networking brought a small Cleveland-based record company to their attention and they agreed to record an album. The recording took place on August 14th at E. 71st Street, in what Michael McDonald calls the “71st door”. The session was recorded in one day and yielded 15 takes. This could easily be reduced to make a solid album. All that was left was to master the recordings and set a release date. Chicago was proving to be the place to find all the opportunities and glamor that these men were looking for and it was beginning to pay off. Chicago’s glamor was almost too intense, truth be told. Two weeks later, Mike Forbes, the saxophonist disappeared almost three days after the recording was completed. Young was finally able to reach Forbes’ brother in San Francisco and was told that Mike had secretly taken a bus to San Francisco for rehab. Andrew and I never thought that the band would end or that we wouldn’t be playing together again based on our shared history. Forbes explains, “It wasn’t something I wanted to do…it was a drug problem.” Both the band and record label put off the release of the record. They felt that there was no need to push the record forward, as the future was so uncertain. For a time, the band members focused on their own goals and it would be one year before they went on to their next tour. Young shared his long-awaited reunion with Forbes. He said, “I knew you just had to take care your shit man.” In the years that followed, moving around the country was a common practice among these band mates. Forbes returned to Denton in the hope of returning to San Francisco to study culinary arts. Andrew Scott Young was given the opportunity to teach music in Seattle. Ben Billington is currently living in Chicago and focusing on a variety of projects, including Moonrises, Quicksails, and his solo project, Quicksails. This group of sensory slayers, determined to continue touring and expanding their following, set off on their latest (inter)national tour in June 2013. They were invited to perform at the Suoni per il Poplo festival, Montreal, Canada, during the summer of 2013. The best part is that ESP-Disk’ chose to release recordings made by Tiger Hatchery three years ago in Cleveland. Tiger Hatchery plans to expand their touring routes into the unknown regions of the Universe, as soon as this news is announced. This is the beginning of what Tiger Hatchery has in store. Are we getting a second chance to see the Mopery shows? Is it true that we will all one day have Tiger Hatchery’s first legendary record, Sun Worship, to hand down to our little freeform-demolition-noise-loving tykes, whom we adore for sharing our excellent taste? Yes. Yes. -Jaclyn D. Davis, 2013 from http://tigerhatchery.com

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