Psychobilly Mavericks Tiger Army Headed to Arizona Just In Time for Halloween
Psychobilly mavens Tiger Army have managed to amass a legion of loyal followers over the course of 17 years. A massive discography on the other hand, is something the Southern California trio is yet to possess.
Ever since their 1999 self-titled debut, the group has added only three more titles to their credit, with the last one coming in the form of 2007's Music From Regions Beyond.
During that time the band has seen it's fair share of lineup changes but frontman Nick 13 has remained the lone familiar figure and the group's driving force. Now entering its fifth year, the Octoberflame concert series has proven to be another constant that fans can bank on.
Fresh off of last year's country/Americana solo side project, 13 is taking the boys outside of California for the first time to celebrate one of our country's greatest holidays: Halloween. The singer/guitarist took time to chat with us before he and drummer James Meza and bassist Geoff Kresge take the stage at the Marquee Theatre on Sunday, October 28.
What does it mean to you now that Octoberflame has reached its fifth year? Did you think it would reach this landmark when it first started?
It's really exciting to be apart of something that's entering its fifth year. I'm definitely happy that it's reached this point but it's not something that I necessarily would have anticipated.
When we did the first one in southern California in 2008, that was the cap on a two year touring cycle that took us all over the world for our last album, Music From Regions Beyond. We knew that we were going to be taking some time off, so we wanted to go out with a bang. Octoberflame was the result.
In the ancient world, the harvest festival -- the stuff that Halloween comes from -- was a celebration of the completion of the harvest and it was also the new year to the ancient Celts. And I think a lot of primitive societies were more in touch with death and the role that it played in life. The outlook was healthier and more complete in a lot of ways. So some of those themes tie in to what Octoberflame means to us personally.
It's a celebration of music and the people that we tour with and it's also about death, rebirth and renewal. So it's a special time of year for me, personally. From the first year to the fifth year, its become a part of a tradition so we try to make these shows special in any way we can.
We spend a lot of time in the rehearsal room, digging deeply into our catalog and we try to pull out some songs that we've never played before, or haven't played in many years. Sometimes there will be musical guests joining us, but the goal is to create a show that even the diehard Tiger Army fans who have seen us a dozen times, can come to and see at least a few things that are new to them.
You mentioned the role Music From Regions Beyond played in establishing Octoberflame. That album was considered by some to be one of Tiger Army's more commercial-sounding records. You've obviously been around for a long time now and you've seen the ebb and flow of rock music popularity. How much did the mainstream influence that release?
I've never been particularly interested in what's going on in mainstream music or the music world at large. It's more of a personal thing with me that there should be a progression between each album. And I think that album just kind of reflects where we were at musically at that time.
There were a few factors that fell into place with that record with the lineup and the producer, the late Jerry Finn. He made, I think, the best sounding record we had ever done. A lot of the credit for that goes to him. But also it was the first time while making a record that the other players in Tiger Army could play anything I could think of. There were times in the past where my musical ambitions were a little bit wider than whatever particular lineup could capture at the time.
Particularly the drumming of James Meza. There were some ideas that I had wanted to explore for a while whether they were related to post-punk stuff, or Spanish rock 'n' roll, and he could pull that off flawlessly -- that wasn't always the case in previous lineups.
So I think all of the factors were right at that time and it just kind of fell into place for us and our sound to expand a little bit.
I remember reading somewhere that one of your goals with that album was to create the first post-psychobilly band. Was the end product closer to that original vision or a step in a different direction?
I think we took a step towards realizing that. It's never been my intention to leave psychobilly behind, but it has always been my intention to take the energy and the roots of that musical style and push it somewhere new.
I guess when you look back to Britain and the late 1970s and early '80s, there were a lot of bands doing the same thing with punk. They were taking that incredible explosion of energy that happened, and then started pushing that energy in different directions but still maintaining a connection to it. Bands like Joy Division and the Cure took some really interesting musical steps.
I always want to take the music somewhere new but at the same time, maintaining contact with the roots of what it is and where it comes from is a priority, too.