BY AMBER AINSWORTH, A&E Editor
It’s a Sunday evening and the usually streaming playlists on WUMD are suddenly interrupted by a playlist that hasn’t echoed through the DJ booth in years. University of Michigan-Dearborn alum and former WUMD general manager Paul Corsi and his band are on campus, relishing the early days of Go Tiger, Go! in the room where it all began.
The four-piece group shuffle through CDs on the shelf, laugh about how the room has changed over the years, and reminisce while seated on a couch that Corsi credits himself as bringing into the WUMD room when he was still a student.
The band has been through some lineup shakeups throughout its tenure, currently consisting of Corsi singing and playing guitar, Jon Victor playing rhythm guitar, Matt Puz playing bass, and Ryan Patten on drums.
During his UM-Dearborn days, Corsi looked at a “Go Team, Go” sign and Go Tiger, Go was born.
“A lot of the image from the band comes from the name,” said Corsi of the band’s brand, noting that he wanted to break away from the sound of his former band. “I wanted something that sounded indie to kind of define the new sound.”
What started as a folk and bluegrass project morphed into something entirely different, a style of music the guys refer to as “sun-kissed indie rock,” with heavy influences from across the board in terms of genres.
Corsi finds himself drawing inspiration from Detroit bands like The Von Bondies and artists with a garage sound to them, but also levitates towards indie groups like Beach House. Victor prefers ‘60s pop music and The Beatles, while still focusing on modern groups like Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys. Puz also enjoys ‘60s pop, but credits most of his inspiration to his interest in ‘90s alternative, especially Soundgarden and Incubus. Patten’s sound has the most diverse influence, saying that he enjoys all music and takes “a little bit from hardcore, a little bit from rap, a little bit from rock, punk.”
If they had the option to collaborate with any musician, Puz would want to work with Chris Cornell because of the way his music has evolved over the past 30 years, while Victor and Patten would like to make music with the multitalented Jack White, and Corsi could see himself collaborating with Paul McCartney.
As for their songs, the guys all pull inspiration from each other and others in their lives and those around them, while never really having any songs that tell stories or try to pinpoint a specific emotion. Instead, one or two of them will bring what they are thinking to the table and go from there, mentioning that even warmups can turn into a new song simply from a chord that had a sound that could have potential.
According to Corsi, the way the group writes is “structure in the chaos,” moving from idea, to song, and back again. They even started playing what could one day become a Go Tiger, Go! song while posing for a photoshoot with the Michigan Journal — yeah, that’s exactly how their songwriting works.
Since the band has developed a following, they actively improve based on the feedback they receive from fans at their shows, often readdressing a song after gauging how audiences react to new music. A recent ordeal garnered them some positive attention: covering Drake’s “Hotline Bling” during one of their live shows. The cover joins some of the other successful covers the band has churned out, including Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and Cold War Kids’ “Hang Me Up to Dry.”
This year has been huge for the guys, with some of their biggest accomplishments coming recently; they all acknowledge taking second place in a battle of the bands this summer as being the largest accomplishment for them thus far. Out of 250 submissions to 89x’s contest to open September’s Chill on the Hill festival, Go Tiger, Go! was one of nine bands selected to compete.
The process was rigorous from start to finish, through all the performing and voting, with another band in the running even attempting to intimidate the band with threats. Corsi claims the contest was enough to keep him from eating for a week and joked that it forced stomach issues on other members of the band as well.
While it was one of the most stressful endeavors they’ve ever encountered, they look at it positively.
“We’ll never do it again but it was worth doing once,” Puz said, with Corsi adding that the best part of it was how it made the band stronger.
“The stage presence became something all its own.”
Aside from the competition, a separate submission landed a clip of their song “Inhale” on the Jumbotron at Joe Louis Arena during a video of Red Wings player Dylan Larkin’s first NHL goal. As Larkin’s first goal was huge, the band takes pride knowing that moment with their song will be part of his life forever.
Staying dedicated to the music is far from easy, though. As the members of Go Tiger, Go! are moving into careers, they have to work harder than usual to keep music a priority in their lives.
“It’s getting tougher,” said Victor, who makes sure no matter how busy he gets as he works towards being a teacher, he always keeps dates and times open for the band because “it’s just something I love doing.”
Even just a half hour one night is enough time for everyone to bring together inspirations from the day and relieve stress.
Like the rest of the guys, Patten puts it all into his music: “I just let my stress come out through my hands.”
Managing busy schedules is all driven by a true love of music each member of Go Tiger, Go possesses.
“It comes from the passion,” Corsi said.
For Patten, fans are the ultimate motivator.
“To be able to see the faces of the people that actually enjoy your music is nice; it keeps you going.”
Big things are planned for 2016 and beyond. The group’s EP Eating Berries in the Dark is currently in the mixing and mastering phases, with a tentative release for late winter or early spring.
They are also hopeful about one day touring, potentially a west coast tour. Their music has a Cali vibe to it that they want to bring to that side of the country, though starting with a regional tour is something they believe they can make happen first. For now, they are focused on playing at least two shows a month while working to grow their following through networking with a loyal group of fans and new listeners they continue to gain.