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culture

Holy Closer, Tiny Danza

Indie-week darlings ink a record deal.

The men of Tiny Danza have been struggling to keep a secret, even with the writing etched all over the walls. After being declared winners of Indie Week 2011 and self-releasing the acclaimed album You Could Have It All…, they had billed their Saturday show at Cherry Cola’s as a farewell. With all the group’s momentum, and upcoming dates scheduled at CMW and SXSW, that night seemed like anything but an ideal time for the them to call it quits.

So it came as no surprise that the farewell in question was only to the group’s name and unsigned status.

“The biggest thing was our joke band name,” the group’s emcee, Galen Hogg, says of the decision. “As we expand into new markets, we don’t want to have to explain it over and over again because really, there is no reason—other than alcohol.”

Following an exhaustive search for a new moniker that involved whittling down around 300 potential names—including Manic Hispanic and Diabetes: The Band—the band members decided to rebrand themselves as Nixon. They also recently signed with Wax Records, which they say was a direct result of the victory at Indie Week.

“I remember [drummer] Nick [Shao] saying ‘I entered us into this thing. We’re not gonna win,’” Hogg recalls.

“It was a huge vehicle to get gigs, bring our brand up to something more visible,” says vocalist Andrew Cameron, adding that he looks forward to collaborating with other Wax artists. Despite the new developments, everyone insists that what will not change is the group’s output—a distinctive fusion of R&B, hip hop, and rock.

“We’ve learned so much being together for six years, “Cameron explains, “and during that time we’ve definitely picked up new styles from each other.” The group exudes a renewed sense of determination—a natural by-product of slogging through some tough times and tasting the first few sweet drops of success.

“Everything before we released our record was a disaster,” Hogg concedes with a hard-won laugh. But at this point, not even the transition from Tiny Danza to Nixon seems daunting to him. “We have loyal fans, they’ll support us.”

“As long as we sell out really slowly,” Shao deadpans.

There was an air of celebration as the band took to the stage for the last time as Tiny Danza. They delivered a compact and energetic set. Cameron and Hogg alternated spitting rapid-fire verses—Cameron both sings and raps—backed by solid musicianship from Shao, guitarist Matt Russo, and Andrew Santaguida on keys. The band doesn’t have a bass player, but this proved to be less of a hindrance than one might expect. Santaguida capably fills out the rhythm section from behind his keyboard, essentially playing the parts of two men.

It was only after a few songs that Tiny Danza formally announced the purpose of the evening. Hogg made a point to clarify that the switch to Nixon had not been at the insistence of their new label. And then with that bit of business squared away, the band picked up right where it had left off, delivering an impassioned performance of album stand-out “Hindsight,” a searing kiss-off to a former flame that saw Cameron scaling Zack de la Rocha heights in a venomous final verse. Hogg—who confessed to wanting the performance to be over due to an overwhelming party itch—invited the whole crowd onto the already cramped stage for the band’s final number, the hyperkinetic “Beatfly.” Fortunately for the band, only a few obliged.

As Hogg was thanking everyone for coming out, his mic abruptly cut out and music came over the speakers, bringing the show to an unceremonious end. But it didn’t seem to matter. Nixon will have plenty to say, soon enough.

Correction, February 22, 12:30: Tiny Danza’s (Nixon’s) drummer’s name is spelled Shao, not Zhao, as we had mistakenly put alongside his quote. The correction to the copy has been made. Apologies, Nick.

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