Tygers Of Pan Tang - Interview
The Tygers Of Pan Tang are back!! At least with a compilation called "Majors & Minors" (you can read the review here) where the last four albums are represented. There are a lot of singles on the album but also some lesser-known tracks presented to the listener. I had the opportunity to chat with vocalist Jacopo "Jack" Meille and we talked about sense or non-sense of this compilation, the band history, further plans and many more topics. Enjoy the interview!
Hey how are you?
All is fine!!
You have recently released a 'best of' off the last four albums. How did the idea come about?
The first idea didn't came from us actually. We just got the rerelease of Ambush. It was re-released by Target Records in the end of 2020, and we realized that there wasn't any chance to play live. Right after the first lockdown we parted company with Mickey McCrystal, the guitar player. Although it was quite easy to find a replacement with Francesco Marras who is an Italian guy based in Germany, we actually struggled to get together. Once we started working with Francesco, we started working on new songs and we realized that no matter what, there is a lot of time before we could meet, or we can go into the studio together. At that point, the record label suggested this compilation and originally it was planned to cover just three albums, Ambush, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Ritual. Then Target asked, because we're the owner of that album, if we would like to add some songs of Animal Instinct too and this covers the last 14 years of Tyger music and at that point I realized that was exactly the four albums I've been involved with. So, it's the soundtrack of a big part of my life. At that point, we were totally free to decide which song to include which was a great thing and it was a tough decision, too. It was a hard task for Robb (Weir; M.) and me. It was Robb who came with the title Majors & Minors. This represents the songs that are important for us but which didn't came out as singles and we didn't play them live that much. So, there are not only the obvious choices like 'Only The Brave' or 'White Lines', but those songs also that we played live every time, we wanted to add a little bit more special. And this compilation should remember people that we've been working hard in the past 14 years and obviously there will be people who know every song and there are the die-hard fans, and we cannot stop thanking them for being so loyal but at the same time there is a lot of people who don't know Tygers or in some cases they knew us from the 80s but lost completely any contact. We thought that doing a compilation might give us the chance to get them back on board because there are a lot of people who used to listen to hard rock and heavy metal, but they lost interest.
'Glad Rags' reminds me of the 80s, it sounds like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi etc. Do you sometimes long for the old times?
Well, 'Glad Rags' was a song that was released on the 2016 album which was self-titled. That song was already demoed for the previous album, but we were not satisfied. When we started working on the new album, that song came back, and we decided to rework on it. At that time, we had changed the guitar player and I have to say that Mickey McCrystal was the one who wrote the riffs. The vibe with the 80s feeling really made the song change with a proper twist. The other thing is that song, if you listen to the lyrics; they are very British if you know what I mean. Glad 'rags' is a slang, I guess that Rod Stewart used it on one of his records, it means that you dress up for Friday night. With that song we wanted to capture the vibe of these days. Our drummer wrote the lyrics and while he was doing this, he was trying hard to remember how he was feeling when he was a teenager in the late 70s and what that would mean. Yes, the song is very 80s style but there is no particular reason, it's probably that we got the 80s vibe in our blood. When you think about 1984/85 when Bon Jovi hit the stage with 'Livin' On A Prayer' and Mötley Crue stole the show to everybody with 'Theatre Of Pain', 'Dr. Feelgood' and 'Girls, Girls, Girls' – I was there and enjoyed that time and it was the first time in my life where the music I liked was on TV. That really meant a lot because before that I was the outsider because I was listening to music that nobody really followed. Apart from Kiss, 'I Was Made For Loving You' and some Queen songs I was the one who was listening to strange music like Saxon, Motörhead and Black Sabbath. Then all the videos from Bon Jovi and Europe came and they were the heroes. And all of a sudden, I was the one saying I know these bands, I got the records and so I wasn't the outsider anymore but the one who had good taste in music. I have good memories about the 80s.
Have you already written new songs, so that we will get an album from you again soon? The last one will be two years old soon and you probably had a lot of spare time in the last 1 ½ years like everybody else.
Absolutely yes. We've had been working very hard. When we found Francesco, we were stuck in the lockdown, and we had our auditions on the internet. We had to ask people to send demos and when the demo and the video from Francesco came to us and we really liked his style, the way he is playing the guitar. So, we just put him on a second test and asked, "can you write songs?" What we did was that Rob had some riffs and sent it to him and told him to work on it. He should feel free to mess about and he was so quick, he came within a couple of days with two songs, and we were working on them. Within a couple of months, we had about 20 demos of new songs: The problem was that we were hoping to get together in the studio because we like to do it the old way, we're used to work with. I, myself being placed in Italy and used to use Google Drive, QBase and all that technological stuff but when it comes to recording, we're all old-fashioned and we want to go into a studio, and we want to set up the drums and the amplifier and record live. We've been trying this for the last six months but there is no way. Every time we seemed to find a way, rules changed, and flights got cancelled and we decided to wait (laughs). We have the songs, the hard work is done and let's wait for a better time. That is the reason why the compilation came out in May - to fill in the gap. We hope that the end of this year the rules will be more precise, that we can get together in England or in Germany or wherever to stay there for two weeks and record the new album. First of all, we want to record a new EP with at least two new tracks and tow re-recorded classics because that's a thing we've been doing in the past to keep going back and choose songs and re-record them with the new line-up. We hope to record the EP as soon as we can do it and then record the album hopefully early 2022 so that we will be having the new album in the summer of '22. We've been rescheduled for 2 years now and hopefully the 2022 gigs will be on so that we'll be out with some new tracks and to play songs from the compilation.
You've said that your musical influences are Kiss, Queen and bands like these? Has it changed over time?
Well, one of the good things of this band is that we all do have a different taste in music, and we are quite open-minded. Rob is a great fan of 70s and 80s dance music, stuff like Earth, Wind And Fire. It's quite funny when you have a look at him playing the guitar, you don't even believe it, but that keeps you an idea of the wide range of musical interest that we have. When it comes down to Tygers, over the years, especially me, Craig our drummer and Rob, we three tend to know now what are the ingredients that we have to think about when it comes down to write sounds that could be a song for Tygers Of Pan Tang. It has to start with a riff, it has to be not too slow and not too fast, like an up-tempo and it has to have some kind of melodic twist. Saying this, I think about old classics like 'Gangland' or 'Hellbound'. That was fast and furious songs with very flashy guitars. But when it comes to the chorus, the chorus was melodic and everybody could sing the lyrics and still after 40 years when we play those songs, everybody knows the chorus. When I grew up, my father had three cassettes in his car and one was a Beatles compilation, one was a Rolling Stones compilation and the other was American Graffiti soundtrack with music from the 50s. Basically I grew up with these three tapes and there still my all-time classics. Thanks to the 50s I was able to listen to Rock n' Roll and its evolution and thanks to the Rolling Stones, I was able to get to the blues and to hard rock and then heavy metal. With the Beatles I always have a passion for melody and for harmonies and it has remained through the years. As you can see, I have a wide taste of music. The guys in the band are always making jokes about me because every time we go anywhere, before or after the gig I disappear. If you want to meet me at a festival, go where the secondhand record store is, no matter what, I'll be there and spending part of my fee for vinyl and CDs, sometimes my entire fee (laughs). I'm music fan and for me, music is like going out or going to the supermarket and buy something that you need to eat or water. I want to be constantly updated and want to hear new music or go back in time and rediscover old bands I've never heard of.
Lyrically you got more into some serious topics and away from the love and all that stuff. Why did it change, does it depend on your age?
First of all, in Tygers it's me and our drummer who is writing the lyrics and sometimes we work together. This fact made me more conscious that I cannot write silly or too cheesy lyrics. The other thing is that we grew older, and we tend to pay more attention to lyrics even when I listen to songs from other bands. When I think of 'Black Dog' by Led Zeppelin with all these explicit lyrics – I'm in my 50s and I won't feel comfortable writing such lyrics. I can do it in my 20s but if I would sing this song now, I would have an expression on my face saying, "Come on guys, this is a joke, don't take it too seriously". I realize that in rock businesspeople sometimes take themselves too seriously and pretend to be still in their heydays. So, listening to all these love songs and passion and about things like I'll put you in that position and do things like this or that....and then you close your eyes and think "no, it won't happen,"
Haha, you're not Kiss or Manowar!!!
Yes, the only one who still can do it are Kiss because they're not humans. When they go on stage, they create their own personas – they're not them. Alice Cooper can do whatever he wants because when he is on stage, he's a mask. But once he goes out, he is Vincent Furnier and this Vincent Furnier in interviews is a very smart, deeply intelligent person and then he goes on stage and plays the Alice role and does all these crazy things, but you can tell it's just a joke.
What is a thing you would never write lyrics about?
Puh! (Laughs) Well, I'm not Bob Dylan, so I don't want to change the world. I don't have his knowledge and we are in different times. I think the world need more protest songs, but they have to be different. If we keep on writing new protest songs in the style of the 60s it doesn't work. They have to be different and maybe Rock n'Roll cannot be anymore the music for protest because it is an established genre, you have Rolling Stones and Metallica shirts in supermarkets, so there is no rebellion in it anymore. Maybe rap, maybe something new, maybe techno is more suitable to write a protest song. And the other thing is that I'm not Bob Dylan. Still now when I read some of his lyrics, he knew exactly what to say and he was perfectly connected to his time. What I want to do when I write a song and I have in mind the audience I'm singing to, I'd like to give them a good hour of layback and entertainment and relax. Just enjoy because you have probably too many stresses and hustle through the day that when you get back home. If we write something like 'Never Give In' which is on the compilation and that is a more politically oriented but still it's not too deep into it. It's still a hard rock song, you can still just concentrate on the riff, the solo and the catchy melody and that will be fine. I don't want to change your mind. I don't want to tell you the truth and I don't want to tell you that I'm right and you should think exactly like me. If I think of myself, I know how to write a rock song, I know how to write some good melodies and I have in mind what is a catchy chorus. This doesn't mean that I have no knowledge, my ego is fine, but I don't want to convince anybody. I am pleased if anybody says to me "Oh, that was a good chorus".
The band had many ups and downs and some guys split off. I know that you are a member since 2004 'only' but maybe you can still say – in retrospect, which things would you have done differently in the development of the band if you could do it?
When I joined the band, I was the youngest one and now I'm not anymore and that really made me change my mind. What happened? (laughs) In retrospect, even since I joined the band, it's just me, Rob and Craig that remained in the band. Three out of five of the same members. We changed three guitar and two bass players and for me, I would have loved that we could have done better to work together better as a band. My attitude in the band is to put yourself in the position to offer the best for the band. You need your ego when you go live and as the singer you have the duty to deal with the audience and to keep that tension and everything. When it comes down to be in the band, you sometimes have to leave your ego behind and work for the songs. I really hoped that other members would have been in the same wave line of thinking but it didn't happen. Nevertheless, every single line-up was on fire and did their best. The four albums really proved that when we focused, everything worked and sometimes it's like a marriage. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and if it doesn't work that does not mean that we don't love each other but it doesn't work and you have to accept that and you have to let them go. It was not easy to lose Micky for me, I tried my best to keep the band tighten but he wanted to go. I wouldn't change anything musical-wise. I think Tygers, since I joined them really proved that they wanted to get back on track and again, we did it the old way. Step by step, album by album we built our confidence and I think the last two albums are really good albums and I have good feelings about the new one. I know that everybody says this, but I was listening to the demos today and I thought that we have good songs. We just need the right studio to and the right time to record it
Do you have some last words for our readers?
Be sure that we're going to play live as soon as they allow us to do it and please the compilation and if you like anything, go back, use technology and listen to the full album and make your own decision then.
Majors & Minors
Tygers Of Pan Tang
Noises From The Cathouse
Burning In The Shade
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- Detest - We Will Get What We Deserve - Dec 10
- Otargos - Fleshborer Soulflayer - Dec 10
- Funeral - Praesentialis In Aeternum - Dec 10
- Cadaveric Fumes - Echoing Chambers Of Soul - Dec 10
- Reveal! - Doppelherz - Dec 10
- Vahrzaw - The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men - Dec 10
- Intricated - Apocalyptic Metamorphosis - Dec 10
- Phrenelith - Chimaera - Dec 10
- Restless Spirit - Blood Of The Old Gods - Dec 10
- Black Cilice - Tomb Emanations - Dec 10
- Stabbing - Ravenous Psychotic Onslaught - Dec 10
- Serpent Lord - Apocrypha - Dec 10
- Thalarion - Dying On The Scorched Plains - Dec 10
- Inherits The Void - Monolith Of Light - Dec 10
- Lhaäd - Below - Dec 10
- Pyrexia - Gravitas Maximus - Dec 10
- Rökkr - Rökkr - Dec 10
- Rat King - Santa Hipocresía - Dec 10
- Gore Brigade - Gore Brigade - Dec 10