LA Psychobilly frontrunners, Tiger Army, have been cranking up the volume of their fans hearts for nearly two decades, and are still doing with their unique genre-mixup throughout their fifth studio album release, ‘V •••-‘. As you travel through the band’s discography ever since the self-titled release in 1999, it is apparent that their ferocious delivery and lyrical style fluidly waxes and wanes throughout topics such as perseverance, pain, temptation and more. I had the pleasure of catching up with lead vocalist, Nick 13, to discuss Tiger Army’s career so far, their roots in California, tattoos and more.
As Tiger Army has been going strong ever since the 1999 self-titled release, what do you perceive has been the most significant transformation that you have experienced as a band?
That’s hard to say. There’s been a slow, steady growth the entire time. One of the main differences between now and the first album era is that when we started, I was coming from DIY and I knew far less about vocal technique, playing live, guitar, you name it. I learned through doing and in some cases, additional study later. Some of my musical ideas I had for years before either I or the people I was playing with were able to realize them.
How have fans been receptive to the fifth studio album release, ‘V •••–’?
Response has been good! It’s been cool touring as the months have gone by to see people getting more and more into the new songs. Of course, there are the people who want things to sound exactly like they did in the past, but I never understood the concept of doing something over and over if you’re trying to create. Sometimes people are uncertain at first, then wind up getting deeply into a new album from us after they’ve had a minute to adjust to whatever evolution has occurred, that’s really common in fact. The good thing is that people tend to spend a lot of time with our records, they’re not something that get listened to for a week then forgotten about. This record is more about some of the things that led to the birth of punk and psychobilly, things like early rock’n’roll and the experimental work of British producer of Joe Meek in the early 60s.
Tell us about your roots in Southern California. What influences have inspired you to pursue being a musician?
I’m originally from Northern California and technically the band started in the East Bay, but we’ve been based in LA since 2000. There’s no question this city and Southern California in general have influenced the sound. You hear Latino music everywhere here – cars, restaurants, clubs… that’s probably where something like “Knife’s Edge” on the new record came from. I’m always exploring music new and old, but a lot of my biggest influences have been with me for a long time. Buddy Holly, The Ramones, Roy Orbison, Dion, early Misfits, Johnny Thunders. All those artists I’ve listened to for much of my life and all can be heard in some way on the latest album. Early Punk and early Rock’N’Roll shared the same DIY spirit, in my opinion.
Let’s talk tattoos. If you could get tattooed by any tattoo artist worldwide, what would you get tattooed and what artist would you choose?
Well, I’ve gotten work by many if not most of the artists on my wish list, but I’d really like to get tattooed by Doctor Woo, tattooer from South Korea. He was in Australia when we were playing there earlier this year, but he was booked. He does skulls made up of cat shapes that I really like.
Tell us about some of your favorite personal tattoos and the artists that brought them to life.
One of my favorites is a moth that I got from Dan Higgs in ’97. It’s almost 20 years old and it still looks great. There are people today tattooing in his style that don’t even know it. Another favorite, or pair of favorites, are two Monmon cats I got from Horitomo. They’re completely in his style but basically portraits of my cats as well.
I also really dig the stuff I’ve gotten from Joshua Marks out of SoCal. He does a really bold, Bert Grimm-influenced style of traditional. He’s been doing a lot of work on me the past couple of years as I try to finish off my legs.
Any upcoming tour or festival appearance plans that you can fill us in about?
Tiger Army is playing some West Coast shows in April in San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Ventura. We’re doing our first tour of South America in late April / early May. In June & July, we’ll be doing a co-headlining tour with Murder By Death that starts in Texas, heads west through Arizona, then up the West Coast and into Canada.
If you could share words of wisdom with kids picking up a mic/instrument for the first time with the interest in starting up a band, what would you say?
You have to really believe in what you’re doing. If you don’t, no one else will. And you have to be brave enough to do something new, something that’s your own. Take your influences and make them into something unique, don’t just copy what someone else is doing.
What do fans of Tiger Army have to look forward to for the remainder of 2017?!
I guess it depends where you live, or where you’re willing to travel too! We have still have a fair amount of touring to do on the latest album this year. Possibly another video. We actually have a tattoo-related project that will hopefully announce soon. There are a few things that I can’t talk about yet, so I’d encourage anyone interested to join our Email list at TigerArmy.com so that they hear about it all!
What do you perceive is the biggest difference between touring through the states and overseas?
Touring overseas is usually harder – jetlag, not always having your ideal gear setup, and sometimes the audiences are different. For example, people in Germany want to hear much longer sets than people in the US. But ultimately, we’re there, the music is there, the people are there to have a great time and that’s what happens.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?!
I want to thank everyone for their support as always. Check out our tour dates at our website and follow us on Instagram at @tigerarmy. It’s been a busy period, but we’ll have to come off the road when it’s time to make new music so get out to a show while you can! Tiger Army Never Die!