Tygers of Pan Tang
There were many new bands that rose to local stardom during the NWOBHM (appr 1979-82). There were a few that survived, IRON MAIDEN, SAXON, and did it big time. Many have returned since their unfortunate demise in the late eighties, but few have been in the spotlight the way THE TYGERS OF PAN TANG were. The band featured idols like Jon Deverill and the all-famous John Sykes. They were surely on their way to mega star status, but this did not happen. But there is always a second possibility. Founder member and stalwart guitarist Robb Weir reformed the band in 2004, with brand new members on all posts. A ruckus followed concerning the consent or dislike of old members, and a plethora of slatings from the rock press. But the band played on! Today, with their third singer after the reformation, the TYGERS seem more set on success than ever. After a number of so-so received albums they got quite a few positive reviews for their “Animal Instinct”, originally released in 2008. Now they have the same album out again, complete with a live disc from Berlin Studios. Is this the dawn of the awaited new era of the TYGERS OF PAN TANG? I´ll leave that answer to Robb, who better to spill the beans in this case, Cheers for your time Rob, and for all the great tracks during the years!
Thanks Miggo, Pleasure to meet you,
1/ How come this early re-run of “Animal Instinct” was made? How would you compare your latest offering to the likes of “Wild Cat” and “Spellbound”?
- “Animal Instinct” was a self financed project by the band/ Management with a distribution deal through Cargo Records (who did a great job lets be said) in getting the album to certain territories across Europe. The album like many releases today only had a limited run of 5000 and we were receiving a lot of mail from fans across the world saying that they just could not get hold of the album unless they paid high costs to import a copy.
Peter( Purnell) at Angel Air Records who is a long time friend of the band gave us the opportunity of re-releasing the album through an entire different network of distributers to help get the album to the countries Cargo had limited or no distribution partners. Our Management met with Peter to discuss this release and they both agreed that the release should be a CD/DVD package to give real value for money for our fans. We were also very aware that Animal Instinct x 2 would be available in countries we had already released “Animal Instinct” with full distribution so we wanted to give something extra for those fans that bought the first version and were likely to buy this one too. We had already recorded the bonus tracks so we thought making the content 16 songs and nearly 2 hours of DVD footage would be attractive to all buyers old and new. We have also set a retail price that is considerably less than the original 11 track release.
As Regards the album “Animal Instinct”, I personally believe it has the quality of the early Tygers albums and more and the reaction last year from both the fans and media alike was incredible. We had comparisons to both “Wildcat” and “Spellbound”/”Crazy Nights” of the past but also we had a really nice comment from Geoff Barton (Classic Rock Magazine) suggesting he felt the release was better than the latest offerings from WHITESNAKE and DEF LEPPARD. We invested in this album and no corners were cut, we even managed to secure the services of Ben Matthews of the band THUNDER who is a fantastic engineer and got us a great sound, a classic sound but fresh for today.
2/How did the Globegig live gig come about?
- The Globegig footage on the DVD was recorded when we carried out a live web stream on the internet in 2007, this service is the Brain Child of Ron Sharples who is John Sykes stepfather and allegedly according to Ron, it was John’s idea for him to approach the band. I speak to John still regularly; he is a great friend and fantastic guitarist.
3/TYGERS OF PAN TANG has experienced many line-up changes, how would you describe the latest incarnation in view of the past ones?
- The changes in the TYGERS tend to be mainly Singers and these are always done in the best interests of the music. If you look at the first change we made which was to replace Jess (Cox) with Jon (Deverill), we wanted to pursue a musical direction that was different to “Wildcat” and we thought Jon would compliment this direction better than Jess would.
John (Sykes) was added as a second guitarist as we also needed more depth to our sound both live and on record but John was an addition to the band and not a replacement. John was always going to move on to further his career because he was an exceptional guitarist who was and is still today in very much demand. When the right opportunity came he took it and we replaced him with Fred (Purser).
Rocky, Brian and I were in the band throughout and was the core of the TYGERS.
From the Line-up today and since the bands rebirth in 2001 the band has always been Craig Ellis, Dean Robertson, Brian West and I. Jacopo Meille replaced Ritchie Wicks in 2004 who had taken over the vocal duties from Tony Liddell in 2002.
The current line-up as you can see is the most stable we have ever had and we are at complete ease with ourselves. We enjoy playing music and celebrating the great songs from past albums as well as writing new work and recording. “Animal Instinct” was just the start for us and I do know we can record even better albums in the future.
4/How come the band came back in 2001? Where did you get hold of the other musicians? How did you hook up with Jaco?
After Wacken 2000, I wanted to start to play and record again but none of the original line up was interested as they had all moved in different directions with their lives. I was getting a lot of requests especially from the Internet to play TYGERS songs live so I scouted the best musicians the North East of England had. I went to hundreds of gigs watching guys play and then through word of mouth etc I put together the band the same way I did with the original band in 1978.
In 2004 as in 1981 I wanted to pursue a musical direction for the TYGERS that was more the classic TYGERS sound so we recruited a talent scout who found Jacopo and we invited him to an audition. As soon as I heard his voice I knew he was the man we wanted and immediately new ideas were flowing around my head. As with John Sykes, Jon Deverill and now Jacopo this was an immediate choice without any regret.
5/I have seen quite a few (rather negative) remarks about the present band, or the entire venture since 2001. What kind of reactions are you met with today (live, when releasing an album) when you have proved to be a long term concern?
- I think that some of the criticism is justified looking back, “Animal Instinct” should have been the comeback album for the TYGERS. We released a couple of albums without any real quality control which was not right for the band or the fans. You have to listen to your fans, they know best and they were asking for classic TYGERS sounds and I was not listening.
We recruited new management in 2006 who made us understand that our fans are our customers so everything we do today is for the fans. We involve them through the fan club in everything, and there feedback and opinions are taken on board in every decision we now make both musically and commercially. I have to say that though, since Animal Instinct the negative remarks have almost stopped with a lot of positives replacing them.
There will always be those who believe that I should have let the band cease in 1982 but I still think there is a future for the TYGERS and fans of British hard rock music want to hear the classic songs and new tracks played live. I know you would expect me to say this but this line up plays the classic songs better than the classic line up and we are more consistent with our performances. Check the band out and you be the judge but I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
6/who is the typical TYGERS-fan in 2009? Is the band´s long past a problem or a blessing?
- We attract Fans of Good Old British Hard Rock, whether they are 45 or 15 and usually male, however saying that we recently played a gig in Athens and when we walked on stage the whole front was young ladies no more than 25 years old. I thought our management may have planted them there but they were rocking and singing away to every song. My guitar solo which usually lasts about 2 minutes lasted 10 and there was plenty monitor standing at the front of the stage by all band and crowd.
7/What happens next; live, in the studio or otherwise?
- As I mentioned earlier we have a really good management team who are always trying to plan our projects well ahead of time. In December 2009 we are looking to release a fan club only EP to celebrate 30 years of the “Wildcat” album. It will include my favorite four/ five songs reworked by the current lineup and a brand new track with a great “Wildcat” style riff we recently wrote. We will also be looking to release a full new album that has a working title of “Ambush” around May 2010.
As always the band will be playing as many live shows as possible around the world so keep checking out the website www.tygersofpantang.com for the latest news. We also have an official MySpace site so check that out too and get down to a show if we play near where you are and then judge the band on its performance, you will not be disappointed I guarantee.
Thanks Miggo for letting me speak to your readers
Aw well, that pretty much raps things up I believe. A cat has many lives and there is so much left to be done here. I hope I will get the chance of catching them live, the DVD promises many things, apart from the nice selection of tracks. All the best Robb, and here´s to another decade of TYGERS music!