The Whistler hip-hop duo Animal Nation is coming off a busy year of travel, along with new music releases and a video — and there is no end in sight into 2015.
Already this year, Tall Man (Garnet Clare) and Armadillo Slim (Mike Armitage) have performed in Montreal three times, courtesy of several cross-country tours, and also visited Colorado, California and Arizona.
They first backed Vancouver rappers Swollen Members and then made a trip across Canada again with Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne.
"The tour with Tech N9ne was incredible. He is the No. 1, most successful independent hip-hop artist out there right now," Tall Man says. "It's inspiring and cool to see someone do their own thing and still end up being successful."
Most recently, Animal Nation's music video for a song from their last album, Don't Grow Up To Be Like Us, came out on Nov. 6.
Their EP, A Great Impression of a Charming Young Gentleman, came out in August. And Tallman put out a solo album of his own at the end of the summer.
All this work has left him in a thoughtful mood.
"We've spent the last two or three years improving our technical music skills. We always had good lyrics and made good music, but now we are putting the whole package together so we can present what we want to present as a band. We always had a fun live show, but now people are telling us that we are very talented," he says.
All that hard work to make it more effortless on stage.
"A lot of time was spent at home and in the studio, just rapping and rapping, practicing different patterns, different flows and different vocal techniques," he says.
"Mike has always been a good rapper, but I felt that I didn't have a good voice. I always picked up the guitar or stood behind the piano... in the last few years I realized that if you can spent a thousand hours and get to be OK at the piano, you can spend a thousand hours and get a lot better at your vocal skills."
Animal Nation is bound for Europe in February — their first trip there in seven years.
"We went at the very start of our career. Back when Myspace was popular, we made an album with a bunch of people we met on Myspace and travelled to Europe the following year and met them all," Tallman says.
This time, Animal Nation is going with Vancouver rapper Snak the Ripper.
"He's very popular in Europe and we going to go tag along with him and do 10 shows over there," Tallman says. "Mainly in northern and eastern Europe. It'll be cold."
There will be shows in Norway, Prague and Germany.
"We've changed immensely as a band since we first played there."
Their next gig in Whistler is as back -up to Bay Area hip hoppers Blackalicious, who also performed with them at the Two Acre Shaker in August. The concert takes place at the GLC on January 15.
There will also be a new Animal Nation album in the spring.
For more information visit www.urbnet.com/artist-animalnation.asp.