From their modest beginnings amongst the punk world of Gilman St. in the mid 1990's, Tiger Army has grown into one of the world's biggest psychobilly acts. Scene Point Blank recently caught up with vocalist/guitarist Nick 13 during the band's Canadian headlining tour. Here's what went down.
Scene Point Blank: You recently finished off a headlining tour across Canada. Tell me how that tour came about and how it went?
Nick 13: The tour was great. Crossing the border is a pain, which we'd done for Warped Tour and support slots with Rancid and Social Distortion. So a while back I decided I wanted to enter Canada once and play coast to coast, everywhere we could. The downside to that is that it takes a certain time commitment and can only happen during certain months because of weather, so it took a few years too long before our schedule aligned to make it happen. It was worth the wait though and I'm glad everything finally came together. I knew places like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal would be good, but it was amazing to see how good the places in the middle of the countries were as well.
Scene Point Blank: You had the opportunity to play in some places that rarely get bands coming in their direction, do you feel as if playing in smaller cities gives off a different vibe?
Nick 13: I think there's definitely an appreciation and excitement in some places that are harder to get to or tend to get skipped over more by touring bands. Calgary and Edmonton have great scenes, and it was really cool to make it to places like Saskatoon and Regina.
Scene Point Blank: The hot topic to ask about as of late has been to Geoff' Kresge's triumphant return to the band. Not to beat a dead horse, but how has the effected the dynamic of Tiger Army?
Nick 13: Both Geoff and Jeff Roffredo are excellent at their instrument, but there's certainly a different vibe in terms of onstage chemistry. Geoff is more aggressive live. There's definitely something that he and I have onstage from so many years of playing together that's not something you find everyday.
Scene Point Blank: Has Smith been getting you guys into any trouble on the road?
Nick 13: No comment! He's an old friend and a great tour manager; it's good to have him out with us.
Scene Point Blank: Is there a reason Music from Regions Beyond wasn't given the number title like the previous albums?
Nick 13: This album was a new beginning. I don't want to be weighed down by what people expect. It was as good a time to throw off the shackles of that as any.
Scene Point Blank: Though obviously in a psychobilly band, I think it's fair to say you come from a punk rock background. A lot of your contemporaries have seemed to evolve from that basis into something different, which has caused a mixed reaction among many fans. How do you balance the need for artistic progression and respecting the roots of where you come from?
Nick 13: Punk was such a force on me growing up; that it's not even a question - it will always be there in some way, shape or form as an influence. The culture has changed a lot since I was a little kid, and I'm not sure to what extent it really exists today, at least in the form I knew it, and I'm not sure that it matters. It's inside now. It should ALWAYS be a liberating force, never a confining one. On the most elemental level, what you take from it is to express yourself the way you want, and if someone else isn't into it - fuck 'em.
Scene Point Blank: Do you write music with an idea of how fans will react to it or is a strictly personal thing?
Nick 13: For me, it's always been personal. I write the music that I'd want to hear. Of course, one hopes that others will like it too, but that's definitely secondary to whether or not I like it. If I wrote an album of songs that I thought were great, and no one else liked it, I wouldn't change it if I could go back in time.
Scene Point Blank: Gilman Street has been starting to get some attention again, there has been many stories coming out of the woodwork, including stories of dead babies and a girl fornicating with a banana. Do you have a favorite memory from those days?
Nick 13: There were definitely a few crazy things that I saw, but my fondest memories are just hanging out with friends. If it was the weekend, that's where we were.
Scene Point Blank: Is it true you once lived in a frat house or what was a frat house? How was that?
Nick 13: For a couple years, I lived in a frat house in Berkeley with the guys from AFI and some other people we knew (and some strangers). The frat had lost its charter for a few years for some reason, so the rooms were rented out. It's since returned to being a normal frat house inhabited by frat boys. Matt Freeman from Rancid called it "The Squat." It wasn't much better than one.
Scene Point Blank: Getting back to Tiger Army, the fanfare you receive from a lot of people is quite amazing. We've seen a lot of really great fan sites and a message board all put up and done by people devoted to your music. How do you react to that?
Nick 13: The music is always something I've done for myself. I figured someone out there would like it, but the number of people who seem to have a deep attachment to and relationship with it is amazing. It's definitely a humbling thing to see that there are so many people that it means a lot to and that means a lot to me.
Scene Point Blank: Thanks very much for your time, is there anything you'd like to add?
Nick 13: I'd like to thank everyone who came out to see on the Canadian tour and thank everyone for their support! We had a great time and we definitely hope to be back one of these days. We're going to do some festivals and Westcoast U.S. stuff up through Fall, then we'll be taking time off before writing and recording a new record, hopefully out next year!