'80s - Tygers of Pan Tang (2015)
'The Story So Far: Hear the Tygers Roar!'
For those uninformed, and yet so-called musical aficionados of you out there, Tygers of Pan Tang are a heavy metal band, part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal wave. Robb Weir (guitar) formed them in 1978 in Whitley Bay, England, and they were active until 1987. The band reformed in 1999 and continue to record and perform today.
Indeed, today the Tygers of Pan Tang are: Robb Weir (Guitar), Jacopo "Jack" Meille (Vocals), Gav Gray (Bass) who played with the band at the 2000 Wacken festival re-union, Craig Ellis (Drums) who has been with the band since 2001 and the latest recruit was local North East guitar prodigy Micky Crystal who joined in 2013.
The original band - Robb Weir (guitar), Brian Dick (drums), "Rocky" (real name Richard Laws, bass), and Jess Cox (vocals) - rapidly built a local following from relentless touring and after signing with a local independent label, they released the debut single 'Don’t Touch Me There.'
The band then released their debut album Wild Cat` in 1980 (on MCA Records), and after a few band member changes, released the now-classic Spellbound in 1981. The album was critically acclaimed and loved by the fans and so the band dove straight into making their third album, the under-rated Crazy Nights.
After a few more band member changes, their fourth album The Cage (1982) was their most accomplished effort and contained their worldwide hit single, a cover of 'Love Potion No. 9'. But, as the band tried to break free from their contract to concentrate on their own material, and not be tied to recording cover songs, the band broke up.
In 2001, Weir decided to reform the band as a going concern, despite being the only original member. After some ups and downs in that department, in 2008 the band released their real comeback album Animal Instinct - and the reviews were spectacular! 2012 was also a special year for the band, for not only were the Tygers invited to play one of the premier music festivals, `Sweden Rock Festival` they also finished the writing of the new album, Ambush.
I recently got the chance to sit down and chat with both original guitarist, Robb Weir and vocalist for the past decade, Jacopo "Jack" Meille about all things Tygers of Pan Tang (TOPT):
TOPT were formed in Whitley Bay, in the North East of England back in 1978 by you, Richard Laws, Jess Cox and Brian Dick. Initially playing working men's clubs, what was the bands objective at that time - to have fun or to be famous? Robb Weir: "What we were doing already was fun, getting a band together and starting out fresh. So the objective as young starry eyed musicians in 1979 was to be famous, play huge venues and make endless amounts of wealth! The first two we achieved, the wealth I’m still waiting for! Who doesn’t want to be famous? We all did from the word go, and to be fair it came to us quite quickly. Our live playing reputation spread rapidly and offers of work and recording deals were aplenty."
And Jack, what was your own first taste of singing live as a young lad back home in Italy? Jack Meille: "I started quite early. My first gig was in 1984: the name of the band was Heady Souls and we were playing original songs and a bunch of covers: 'Paranoid', 'Burn' and 'N.I.B.' I was already into hard rock. I asked my father to buy me A Night Of The Opera in 1976 after I heard it during the Christmas holidays in 1975. I loved Kiss from the first listening as well as AC/DC. My father used to have a Rolling Stones Greatest Hits in the car as well as 'American Graffiti' soundtrack. These are my roots."
And what was your personal objective at that time - to have fun or to be famous? Jack: " Music has always been a priority for me. I started collecting vinyls when I was 8 and I'm still collecting. So it was never because I wanted to become famous, but more like a need, something important for me."
Robb, just where do the origins of the band’s name come from - and if it hadn't have been TOPT, what was lined up next? Robb: "The name comes from a Michael Moorcock novel called, ‘Stormbringer.’ Michael was noted for his Sci-fi fiction novels which were a great favourite of Rocky’s at the time. I think he had read all his books. In ‘Stormbringer’ there were the cliffs of Pan Tang and these were guarded by the Emperor’s attack tigers. So when Rocky and I were trying to come up with a name for our new band he threw this suggestion at me! ‘Tygers of Pan Tang’! To honest it was so crazy it had to be the one! My suggestion was ‘Achilles Heel,’ not nearly as much star quality as Rocky’s offering! And there we were - a band was born on that afternoon in Rocky’s house back in 1978, 37 years ago."
Having been initially signed by Neat Records, it wasn't until MCA gave you a major record deal that things began to take off for TOPT. In reflection, was there one show, one occasion where TOPT had played that had grabbed the attention of MCA, perhaps? Robb: "Actually the show that helped us the most at that time was at Whitley Bay High School, just a mile or so from where we all lived. From what I remember the two sons’ of local recording studio owner Dave Wood’s asked the High School if the Tygers could play at a school disco. The boys made sure there dad was there to see us and after the show in the gymnasium - which was packed out! Dave asked us to come to his studio in Wallsend, Impulse Studios, to do some recording. All very exciting at the time, and we recorded our first single there, 'Don’t Touch Me There' on Dave’s label, Neat Records.
"Just to jog my memory further, I’ve just rung Rocky for his thoughts as well. Rocky said we did a headline show at the prestigious Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. MCA record company executives came to see us and after the show we were invited down to London to sign on the dotted line! After the event in one local paper it was reported that the Mayfair was sold out to capacity, with 15,000 in attendance!" A slight misprint me thinks as the capacity was actually 1500. We showed this article to the record company person who came to see us, to which he said, “Mind I didn’t think there was that many there, I would have said more like 12,000!” It’s just a pity our first advance didn’t have an extra zero on the end of it!"
TOPT signed to MCA, released some singles, and then came the debut album, Wild Cat (1980). Complete with a vividly colorful album cover, and thunderous, of-the-age songs, it announced you to a very ready and waiting audience (inclusive of me, of course). But, as I've never really associated TOPT with the "heavy metal" tag that was placed on them, I was wondering if you had always thought it was an apt tag? Robb: "To be honest, I thought we were “Hard Rock,” I still do! I wasn’t aware we were being marketed as Heavy Metal because that was never my intention when I put the Tygers together and wrote the initial material which later became Wildcat. Although the banner we were all under was, ‘New Wave Of British Heavy Metal,’ I wouldn’t call Iron Maiden, Saxon or Def Leppard heavy metal, would you? The NWOBHM was a new tag invented by the press to encompass all these fantastic new bands coming through. Some, of course, were heavier than others, but that didn’t matter, it was the ‘In thing,’ at the time and the Tygers were a big part of it."
Jack, what's your take on the TOPT sound? Jack: "Tygers are a hard rock band with a “heavy” twist. Well, that's what they have always been for me."
Wild Cat's cover art was brilliant, just in-your-face brilliant, but back then were TOPT actually involved in the album art of Wild Cat (or any of the subsequent albums), perhaps? Robb: "We were involved in all the album cover artworks. For Wildcat, Rocky and I came up with the tiger idea and the record company, MCA hired a London company called Cream to make it happen. The Wildcat cover artwork was an instant hit with us all and I even think it helped generate sales because it looked so good. It’s one of those covers that you’re drawn to when you see it!"
Jack, since you have spent a decade now as a member of TOPT, do you have any say in the album artwork these days, perhaps? Jack: "I have to be honest: I was never involved in the process of finding an idea for a record cover. I have been lucky enough to always have somebody in the band who was much more talented in doing that. I cannot suggest or judge and image until somebody shows me something like a sketch. My imagination is much more strong when it comes to sounds: when I hear a chords sequence I can easily imagine how it would sound in the end, I can come up very quickly with a melody. So for Animal Instinct it was the record label, for the EP's it was Craig Ellis's idea to create a sort of 'theme' to evolve EP by EP and for Ambush we agreed on the title and then let the artist deal with it."
Jack, what was your first introduction, album wise as a younger man to TOPT? Jack: "I bought first The Cage. I got a second hand U.K. edition of it. I heard about them, and I was curious. I think I bought it when they were already split. Then I bought Spellbound – I now have two copies of the vinyl, an Italian issue and the U.K. one – and finally Crazy Nights. I bought this last one in a second hand store and I was lucky enough to find the limited edition with extra EP! I have to be honest, I bought Wildcat on CD in 1997 together with the other three reissues. My father though bought me a nice vinyl copy of it last year for my birthday."
One year later and after some personnel changes - John Sykes being added as a second guitarist, Jess Cox quitting and being replaced by Jon Deverill - Spellbound was released. Not as commercially successful, as a lot of follow-up albums tend to be, and still under contract with MCA, what was the chatter amongst TOPT about why this had happened? Robb: "Wow! Big question. Ok, first things first. In the spring/ summer of 1980 we toured as a four piece, opening up for Magnum, Scorpions, Saxon, Def Leppard and Iron Maiden. Van Halen were also touring here, late summer of ‘80 and I SO wanted the Tygers to open up for them, but MCA our record company said, ‘No’ as we were booked to go into Morgan Studios in Willesden, London to start recording our first album, Wildcat."
"While we were recording, there were talks going on as to whether we should strengthen up the line up with the addition of another guitar player to help me out. After Wildcat was finished we held auditions at a rehearsal studio next to London Bridge. Once again out of all the great guitar players that auditioned, John Sykes was the cream of the crop! While I was showing John all the guitar work involved we ended up writing ‘Take It’ together which was the first song recorded on the Spellbound album. It was the only song John and I wrote together. Because of our personal circumstances, we always ended up writing separately. On tour, John and I always shared a room, which was a laugh a minute. I laughed so much in those two years, I developed asthma!"
"To be very honest, when Jess left we were a pretty big band in the making. Just having completed a major sell out UK tour and a number 13 British chart album we were on fire! So when we advertised for his replacement we had 120 or so hopefuls! Auditions were held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and there was one star that shone way above the rest - Mr Jon Deverill. Jon’s vocal range was like no other and instantly the Wildcat songs which sounded great sounded even better, in fact they sounded absolutely amazing! So song writing instantly took place and the much revered Spellbound album was created."
"John Sykes wrote half of the album music wise and I wrote the other half music wise, with Jon Deverill creating the melodies and lyrics. Rocky and Brian, of course, were also an integral part of the writing process and arrangements. All in all a massive band effort which achieved a number 18 album in the British charts for us in 1981. Although we didn’t set out to change the Tygers sound, it happened for us and a new chapter in NWOBHM and Tygers history began! With the two ‘John’s’ in the band we felt we were ready to take on the world. Spellbound was different to Wildcat, but we felt that wasn’t a bad thing."
That very same year, TOPT released another album, Crazy Nights. What was the thinking behind releasing another album that very same year - and being that its chart success was sadly worse than the previous two, what was going through the heads of TOPT? Robb: "After the release of Spellbound and the ensuing sell out City Hall tour in the UK, MCA asked us to write another album for release in the Autumn of that year. We were astounded to say the least: Why on earth would you want to release two albums in one year? It didn’t make sense, however John Sykes and I set about writing the music for the next release. John and I always wrote separately and brought our song ideas to rehearsals to jam through."
"MCA hired a big name producer in Dennis Mackay. Dennis had produced the likes of Judas Priest, Pat Travers and David Bowie to name but a few. So we thought we were onto a winner. Dennis lived in the States at the time and flew over to meet up with us. I invited him to my house for some dinner and a chat as to how we wanted things to sound on the record. I played him some rough demos and things were put in place for the up and coming recordings. Looking back things were fated from the start. We did two weeks recording at Trident Studios in London then Dennis flew back to the States to finish of a Stanley Clarke album he had started a few weeks earlier. That left us moving studios to Rock City at Shepperton on the Pinewood site where the James Bond movies are made. We recorded two tracks with a trainee studio engineer called ‘Jules.’ She was 17 years old and between the band and her we produced, ‘Slipaway,’ and, ‘Stormlands.’ These were going to be given away with the album, Crazy Nights as a free 12 inch single."
"Dennis arrived back and we moved studios again to the ‘Barge Studio,’ on the Thames to do Jon’s vocals, and finally back to Trident to mix. I remember the very first listen to Crazy Nights, I was with Tom our manager and John Sykes. We were all gutted ... it sounded awful. No guts, no dynamics, wafer thin drum sound and guitars that sounded like wasps flying around! The songs were all strong, but how they sounded ruined them completely. We did one show to promote the launch of Crazy Nights, it was on November the 5th 1981 at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street in London. The Sun newspaper came down along with some of their Page 3 girls for a photo shoot. I think the same now as I did then ... what a gigantic waste of time, the whole affair was badly arranged, organised and delivered. Thank goodness we have had the chance to re-recorded 6 of the tracks from Crazy Nights last year and brought them out as an EP, The Crazy Night Sessions."
The album cover artwork for Crazy Nights was also brilliant, featuring a giant tiger atop London's Post Office Tower spoofing the climactic scene in King Kong. Whose brilliant idea was that do create? Robb: "To be honest I can’t quite remember whose idea it was to contact Rodney Mathews in the first instance. However he was given a brief and the album title and did some rough sketches with that in mind for us. Of course, out of all the drawing’s the one of the Tyger up the Post Office Tower was instantly ‘the one.’ So Rodney agreed to paint the sketch for real. Without doubt it’s got to be one of my favourite pieces of art. I’m not just saying that because it’s a Tygers album cover, I genuinely think it’s very clever in its idea and design. Rodney still has the original oil painting to this day and it’s for sale! A cool 40,000 pounds hangs it on your wall! Rodney knows I dearly want it and I’m nearly there with the funds too! Only another 39,995 pounds to find!"
Then, out of nowhere, TOPT released a cover version of,
'Love Potion No. 9' by American R&B artists, The Clovers. A song written back in 1959 by the mighty song writing and record producing partners, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, your version may have only reached #45 in the UK charts (which is weird, as I could have sworn it was a massive Top 10 hit at the time!), but suddenly TOPT were "commercial"! Why had the band chosen that song in particular to record? Robb: "Actually ‘Love Potion,’ was chosen for us by MCA our record company and our record producer’s manager Peter Waterman. Yes, that Peter Waterman! At the time he had a management company that managed various producers. Peter was in talks with MCA about material the Tygers should record and 'Love Potion' came up. We still play it to this day!"
Jack, where were you at the time you first remember hearing that track, and what were your thoughts at the time? Jack: "As I already said, my first Tygers album was The Cage so, in my case, it was the other way round: I discovered after the heavier side of Tygers and I liked it!"
'Love Potion No. 9' came off of the new album at that time, The Cage (1982), which also signaled that aforementioned new musical direction. Chock full of musical goodness, and inclusive of tracks written by John Parr, Brent Maher, rock and blues guitarist, Robert A. Johnson (although no relation to the 1930's era blues man of the same name), - on two songs - of John Sykes, weirdly (and from a fans perspective, sadly) out of nowhere the band broke up! Indeed, it splintered so badly, both you and Brian Dick went off to form Sergeant! What happened that was so bad within the core of TOPT that as you were riding the wave of commercial success, certain factors came to such a head that breaking up was the only choice to make? Robb: "Just like you have pointed out, most of the tracks on The Cage were written by outside song writers. Although it’s ok to do a cover now and again, to record 75% of other peoples songs on YOUR record was a complete no-go for me! I wrote Wildcat, number 18 in the British album charts. Spellbound was up there to, so why should we play other peoples songs when we proved we could write or own very successfully? Even with the album’s success I wasn’t happy and as a band we all walked away from our record deal not wanting to be a covers band!"
Also, I find it curious that you released The Cage in 1982 and then one year later Def Leppard released a similar-in-musical-tone Pyromania! Coincidence or an act of musical hit-n' run by the boys from Sheffield?! Robb: "Hey, who knows? Maybe they listened to The Cage and liked what they heard and set about making something similar? The Leppard boys are a great set of lads, we toured with them in 1980 round all the big City Halls in the UK."
The first reformation of TOPT occurred in 1985 and lasted through to 1987, and brought with it both The Wreck-Age (1985) and Burning In The Shade (1987). However, you were not part of this version of TOPT, and were instead opting, along with Jess Cox, to play in the spin-off band, Tyger Tyger. So, why did you not rejoin TOPT back in 1985? Robb: "I really wanted to do my own thing. I had written a full album of songs and asked Jess if he wanted to be a part of it. Unfortunately the only song to be released from that collection was 'Small Town Flirt.’ It was on First Kill, a collection of early recordings from Impulse studios, which was part of Neat Records our first record company back in 1979."
Of course, TOPT broke up (again) in 1987 and it wasn't until 1999, during the Wacken Open Air Festival (in Germany) that TOPT were invited to play the main stage. Missing Brian Dick and Richard Laws, and with just yourself and Jess Cox backed by three of Blitzkrieg, this 20th Anniversary "reunion" of TOPT even resulted in the Live at Wacken album. Having not played as TOPT before then for 15 years, what are your memories of that day/night? Robb: "It was only as we were going over on the plane to Hamburg that I was informed we were headlining on the Friday night with bands like Saxon and Dokken playing before us. Although the prospect was nice to have the Headline spot I honestly don’t think we were worthy of this prestigious spot. I remember feeling anxious just before we walked on stage to an audience of 22.000 people. As I played the first chord on my guitar it was just like going back to 1980 when we were touring the world and playing nearly every night."
Then, in 2000, you decided to reform TOPT - but with you as the only original band member. Had the Wacken live experience given you the ol' TOPT bug back again? Robb: "Most defiantly, while playing that night at Wacken the gods of rock ’n’ roll bit me again and I wanted to put the Tygers back together again. I asked all the boys, but they were all doing their own thing and settled in their lives. That didn’t dampen my spirit so I carried on with my plans of wakening the Tyger!"
This new line-up - Tony Liddell, Dean Robertson, Brian West, and along with yourself, Craig Ellis - then released Mystical (2001) and toured several festivals thereafter. The album didn't do well, and so for the next album, Noises in the Cathouse, you brought in new singer, Richie Wicks. Sadly, for me, his day job as bass player with heavy metal band Angel Witch gave Noises a harder, deeper "heavier metal thunder" feel to it. So, my open and honest question is, do you have a sense at the time of recording an album that who you brought on might not actually be all that perfect for the TOPT sound after all, perhaps? Robb: "Ok, if I am to be perfectly honest, Noises was not in the right vain for a Tygers album. It was heavier and, as you say, more intense in its approach and feel. Although there is one of my all time Tygers tracks on that album, I still feel that the album was not a true Tygers album."
In 2004 a live recording known as Detonated surfaced - and with Richie Wicks on vocals, sounding like he was auditioning for the role of Paul Stanley in KISS! A raw, club-feel collection of live performances, it documents the TOPT story, but sounds like it was just recorded for promotional fun? Robb: "No, it was recorded live to show case that particular line up of the band and to be honest I thought it was a fair representation of how the Tygers sounded live at that time. Looking back there are things that we could have done differently, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, is it not?"
Later that same year, Wicks left and was replaced by current lead singer, Jacopo "Jack" Meille. Other band members left also, and a new group stood behind the instruments for 2008's Animal Instinct. So, how did Jack first get on your radar? Robb: "When we were looking for a singer we advertised with the European Agency. They in turn contacted Jack and said an English hard rock band with a recording deal were looking for a new vocalist and would he like to send some of his work to their management for consideration. We liked what we heard and invited him over from Italy for an audition. After about 45 seconds I put my hand up to stop the audition and offered him the job, and the rest as they say is history!"
Jack, from your side of things, how did you first get approached to be the new lead singer of TOPT back then? Jack: "I actually got an email from a Swiss Management; a iconic British band was looking for a new singer. It was in September 2004. I had never done an audition and the email arrived when I was going into big changes in my private life also, so I said to myself: “Why not?”. I sent a couple of mp3's and a biography and within a couple of weeks they asked me to meet in the U.K. We met in Darlington, the same city where David Coverdale took the train to London to audition for Deep Purple. I took it as a good omen sign and ... It was!"
And, point in question, why has TOPT had some many damn lead singers over the years anyway? Robb: "Like a good whiskey the Tygers have matured over the years and now Jack is the ONE. I can’t imagine the band without Jack as he is the jewel in the crown!"
Jack, how do us fans know we won't lose you any time soon? Jack: "Tygers are now “family”. I have grown so much as a singer, performer and songwriter with them. We have fun, it's good company and we are all very focused when it comes to write together."
Being that you're known for being the lead singer of bands such as a Led Zeppelin cover band, Norge, an Eagles cover band, Kings of Hollywood, a Deep Purple cover band, Purple Sucker, Mantra, and both the Glass Onion band and Mad Mice also, it truly seems like you're not happy unless your singing! Jack: "Most of them are long gone, but I still sing in Norge though and I'm still a member of Mantra, my very first band. We have just recorded a new album that is going to be released hopefully in April/May. It's called I4D: which stands for 'Instructions For Destruction' and it rocks!!! I also sing and play acoustic guitar in General Stratocuster and The Marshals, possibly the one and only classic rock Italian band you might listen to! We do original stuff and you can check out our albums: General Stratocuster and The Marshals and Double Trouble. So yes, I still need to sing a lot to be happy!"
It must be hard to balance your time in the bands you've mentioned you still perform and record with away from TOPT? Jack: "It's all about getting yourself organized. Tygers have along term schedule and this allows me to work on other projects when Tygers are not on the road or recording. I'm a full time musician, so my everyday job is to write and perform songs ... and nowadays you need to play and write a lot to pay the bills!!!"
Ambush came out in 2012 and brought with it an old school throwback style of TOPT album cover artwork. Featuring a more sinister "skull-type" entity behind the tiger, what was the thinking behind this new cover art? Robb: "The concept for the album was done entirely by Rodney Matthews. Rodney did our Crazy Nights cover in 1981 and because we used our original record producer Chris Tsganrides our management decided we would used everybody who was involved back in the early 80’s. Rodney was given the album title and asked to produce several sketches. The art work that made the album cover was way out in front of all the other ideas."
Jack, what's your own take on the Ambush cver art? Jack: "The Ambush cover was conceived and painted by Rodney Matthews, the same author of Crazy Nights and many other iconic record covers for bands like Asia, Magnum, Diamond Head's Living On Borrowed Time and Nazareth's No Mean City, just to say a few. We loved the idea of the skull and of the tiger on the prowl. We gave him the album's title and he worked on this theme. I love that cover. It looks great on vinyl."
Being that Ambush is being heralded as one of the purest TOPT albums in a long, long time, in reflection, and from your own point of view, how does this new album hold up to anything that went before it? Robb: "Animal Instinct for me, was the start of the Tygers coming back on track. Ambush had to be just that one step better, we got lucky it was two steps better! Critically acclaimed all over the world as one of our best pieces of work it set a new bench mark in Tygers history. Bearing in mind we have 32 years more technology to play with, inevitably things are going to sound bigger and better and we have used this knowledge when making Ambush to make it what it is, a monster!"
Jack, from your own point of view, how does this new album hold up to anything that you heard from TOPT before it? Jack: "Let's face it: Tygers have produced 4 iconic albums in less than 3 years. When I joined the band, we all agreed that we had to link to those albums. It was a hard goal to achieve: we started with recording two new songs 'Bury The Hatchet' and 'Live For The Day' and that was the starting point. A Tyger's song has have a big riff and a catchy melody. Robb is a riff master and has always given me and Craig – Ellis, the one and only drummer with a great sense of melody and ability in writing lyrics – total liberty to write melodies that suit best the songs. I am personally honoured to have the chance to keep the legacy and the sound of Tygers going on in the third millennium. I think Ambush is so far the proof that we are in the right direction. Personally, I feel like this album is the missing link between Crazy Nights and The Cage."
And with that in mind, and having gotten you both to think about each TOPT album that has gone before it, please answer both these questions:
a) Which one of those albums still today stands as your own personal musical triumph?
Robb: "Wildcat. It was my first piece of work and was truly humbling to be able to record all those songs with my band mates."
Jack: "I would go for Spellbound. It's a bit obvious, I guess, but it has the best track list with no filler and still a great sound!"
b) Which one of the album cover artworks is still your favourite today
Robb: "Crazy Nights is still my favourite. I just love the whole idea behind it."
Jack: "Wildcat and Crazy Nights are my favourites. The first captures perfectly the essence of the album and the second is both ironic and yet powerful."
Jack, being that you've been a HUGE fan of TOPT for many, many years, whilst I have you, please give us all some more of your thoughts on both Wildcat and Crazy Nights Jack: "Wildcat is so rough and energetic. It captures perfectly the time where it has been recorded: there is punk and hard rock; The Sex Pistols and Thin Lizzy mixed together. I still remember the day I bought Spellbound way back in the '80s. It remained on the stereo for weeks and weeks. I loved every song of it. Jon Deverill was such incredible and unique singer."
"Crazy Nights suffered from a really bad production, but songs like 'Do It Good' and 'Love Don't Stay' were such fun to listen to and still are now when I sing them live! The Cage is for me a sort of Hysteria ahead of time. We have just added 'Rendezvous' to the set list and it rocks. I loved 'The Actor' and 'Tides' which was a bit too far experimental, but it's still one of my favourite songs."
TOPT also released a seven-track mini album, The Wildcat Sessions: 30th Anniversary Special Edition CD, and are readying themselves to soon release Tygers Sessions: The First Wave - so do please tell us more about both of those Robb: "We always wanted to go back and revisit the first 4 albums, cherry picking our favourite tracks to
re-record with the current line up and using today’s technology. The plan was to release the 4 sessions EP’s as a package. Last year Bart Gabriel the CEO from Skol records came to us with a plan to release the first 2 on a single CD with new art work and a new booklet. We liked the idea so much it’s now available to buy from all good stockists. Of course, The Cage sessions will be recorded next year, so stand by for that one!"
Jack: "Through the years we have been choosing the songs to include in the set list and once decided we rearranged them. It has been a natural process, we wanted everyone in the band to feel comfortable while playing those songs. We thought it was a good idea to record these new versions so that people who would come to the show would also have a chance to listen to those songs as they are now at home or in their car. Tygers Session will include both Wildcat and Spellbound Sessions EP which are now out of stock, while Crazy Nights' Session is the latest recording for Tygers and the first that includes the guitar's skills of Mickey McCrystal."
OK, I have to now admit that I have just listened, all day, to the entire TOPT discography - well, samples of both Ambush and Crazy Night Sessions only, as I don't have them to hand! So, now you know what I did for my labour of TOPT love before this interview, what have you got to say about that, Dear Sir?! Robb: "You must be as mad as me!"
Jack: "Man, you must buy Ambush!!! Which is your favourite Tygers song?"
Jack, that would have to be 'Love Potion #9,' my friend. Commercial choice, I know, but man, it takes me right back to where I was all those years ago in a heartbeat every time I hear it!
Quick Fun Five:
Have you ever, at any time in your life...?
a) ... owned a tiger (or cat)?!
Robb: "Yes, both!"
Jack: "I got two cats: Vinnie and Bob."
b) ... visited Pantang (a village in the GA East Municipal district within the Greater Accra Region of Ghana)?!
Robb: "Yes, I was actually born in Takoradi which is in the southern part of Ghana, and while living there as a child in the 50’s I visited Pantang with my parents. Now you’re curious aren’t you? My dad was a Doctor and a Surgeon working for the British Colonial Service at the time."
Jack: "Never. I have only been in Egypt and Marocco. I'd love to though."
c) ... eaten at an actually "Pan Tang-named" Thai and/or Chinese Restaurant?!
Robb: "Not so far ......!"
Jack: "I bet Robb has! If it is hot and full of garlic he surely has!"
d) ... listened to a band from San Jose, CA called Los Tigres Del Norte (The Tigers of the North)?!
Robb: "Yes, I saw them on YouTube!"
Jack: "No, I'm sorry, but if we ever play in San Jose they will be the opening act!"
e) ... stumbled over, when explaining it to someone, what NWOBHM means?!
Jack: "More often that you would expect ...!"
Something funny is that for the longest time I had no clue you were a British band! At first, I assumed you were foreign, then American and then - down the line - I finally figured it out! Was this a common occurrence for you to come across, back in the day, perhaps? Robb: "No, not really because we were part of the NWOBHM people knew we were British!"
Jack: "Tygers are from Whitley Bay, North East of Great Britain. They are Geordie, just like Mr. Brian Johnson. Being Italian, it took me a little to get used to the North East slang!"
Did TOPT ever appear on the highly-popular UK music show Top Of The Pops (TOTP)?! Robb: "No, we did every other TV show but TOTP. Including: The Old Grey Whistle Test, The Tube, Tony Wilsons Pop World, Tiswas and many more."
I see that you keep a Blog on the official TOPT website, but what kind of Tweeter are you when it comes to twitter? Robb: "I tweet under the name of TOPT and I try to keep my tweets current, funny and informative."
Jack, is there a brand new, all original material 2015 TOPT album being written, perhaps? Jack: "We have a lot of ideas and we are currently working on new songs. I'm not sure if we will be able to release and album in 2015, but we are definitively writing new stuff and what it sounds great!"
Has it ever crossed the bands minds to record a complete cover songs album as scattered throughout some of the latter releases a few covers have already popped up? Jack: "That would be both fun and difficult: we all have different taste, so it will be hard for me to have the guys recording a Neil Young song, for example. But when it comes down to write our own material we know exactly what we want to achieve in terms of sound and attitude."
Finally, we here at Exclusive Magazine LOVE penguins! So, do you also have any thoughts on them, and/or any personal stories of your own, perhaps? Robb: "I like to lick and suck penguins! Because, in the UK they’re our number one brand of chocolate biscuits!"
Jack: "Penguins ... let me think. When I was a kid I used to like an Italian song about a Penguin who shot himself for love! 'Il pinguino innnamorato' ... an upbeat shuffle murder song! Weird, but you have a listen and let me know your thoughts about it!"
Will do, Jack. Will do, my friend.
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
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Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win an AUTOGRAPHED CRAZY NIGHTS SESSIONS EP CD from Tygers Of Pan Tang! Just send us an e:mail here before July 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: SIGNED TYGERS OF PAN TANG CDs to: email@example.com