Tiger Army: Battle Scars

Psychobilly favorites Tiger Army have seen their star of popularity rise by the seconds. The band is on tour non-stop having completed the summer’s Warped Tour and road time with seminal act Social Distortion. Just when everyone was coming to know the green and black Tiger-striped bass of Geoff Kresge and the now infamous “four bullets ain’t nothing” thirst for life of drummer Fred Hell, Tiger Army have undergone massive changes. Nick 13, vocalist and founder, contemplates the future of Tiger Army as both Fred Hell and Geoff Kresge leave the band within months of each other.

How’s your tour going so far and where are you at right now?

Nick 13: It’s going really well right now; I’m in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

How are the fans on the tour so far reacting to the lineup change?

Nick 13: It’s been really positive, I think, I’m actually almost surprised at how good we sound on stage considering that this is this lineups first tour. But I mean I get questions occasionally about what happened. But one thing that I didn’t expect is that there’s a lot of support out there. Anytime there is a lineup change there are going to be people who said it was better with this person or that person. A lot of people have come up to me and said that they find it really inspiring that I keep going despite all the stuff that’s thrown at you and don’t ever stop doing it, and that’s a really good feeling.

How did the new members prepare for this tour?

Nick 13: Well—one of the coolest things about the new members is that they have already played in bands together. So they already have the chemistry that is necessary for the rhythm section to have as far as being able to play off of each other and locking in together really well. Other than that basically, I kind of made a list of songs we might play on the tour. They learned them from the CDs; we just hit the practice hard and spent every hour we could before we left on this tour. I want to say it was about two weeks of intensive practice.

Has the change affected the sound of the songs?

Nick 13: Not really; I mean I think each new player brings some kind of intangible aspect to the live playing. But the thing is all the songs are written by me including the bass lines and in many cases the arrangement of the drums so everything is still kind of filtered through my ear which I think gives it a consistency in sound.

Do you anticipate any sound differences for future releases?

Nick 13: As far as differences in sound go I think that is more going to be dictated by the song writing and where the songs take me and take the band. There’ve always been different players in Tiger Army and I think it’s been the exception rather than the rule that the player affected the songs instead of the songs affecting the player.

Can you tell me more about why Geoff left the band?

Nick 13: Not really—I mean it was his decision. It was a surprise to me. Anything I could tell you would basically be speculation. We’re on good terms and there were no arguments—that’s about all I can say.

Is there a need to start over after the loss of Geoff and Fred? Why not start a new band rather than stick with Tiger Army?

Nick 13: Yes and no, I mean I have been in this position many times before over the last eight years. This is the fourth totally different line up of Tiger Army of me and two totally different people. In some ways it is hard but in some ways it gets easier. The fact that in the old days it wasn’t an established band and didn’t have tours from coast to coast. That helps in terms of being able to find people who are interested in playing who are good enough to play. There’s no reason to start something different. This is the music I want to play and this is the band that I started eight years ago that’s always had a rotating lineup many times it was with friends who weren’t joining the band permanently but just helping me out for a limited period of time. It will continue to be Tiger Army as long as I feel like playing this music. I think if I were to ever play a style other than Psychobilly that would be the only real reason to start a new band.

In general how to do you feel about the growing success of Tiger Army and the success of Ghost Tigers Rise?

Nick 13: I am really happy with it but it has definitely been the result of a lot of hard work and time. We basically have been on the road almost constantly since mid-2001. The success we have had has been without the benefit of much air play of any kind. It’s really been through word of mouth and just playing show after show and turning on who ever we could turn on. So I am happy with how it is turned out but at the same time it didn’t just happen by itself.

Will the lineup change hurt the growing success of the band or the fan base?

Nick 13: I don’t think so. The reaction to the lineup we have now has been really positive. I think ultimately people want to hear the songs on the record more or less the way they sound and that’s what we’re giving them.

And once this tour is complete, what are your plans?

Nick 13: We’re having a tour of the United Kingdom, it’s going to last a couple weeks in January. This tour is a really long tour it is over two months long so December is going to be taken off I think. Next year we are looking at some foreign touring in the spring along with a full US headlining tour in April and May. We are definitely having a good time on this tour  … but nothing is set in stone for the future.