At The Edge Of The World with Tygers Of Pan Tang
At The Edge Of The World with Tygers Of Pan Tang
The long running Tygers Of Pan Tang are as hard rocking as ever before! With a thrilling new album entitled Bloodlines being released worldwide via Mighty Music, the Tygers have majestically unleashed one of the very best metal albums of the year! Highwire Daze recently caught up with lead vocalist Jack Meille to discuss the glorious reprieves of Bloodlines, his upcominng 20 year anniversary with Tygers, news on his other project Sainted Sinners, and a whole lot more! Read on as we go to the Edge Of The World with Jack Meille from Tygers Of Pan Tang…
We’re here with Jack from Tygers Of Pan Tang. First of all, I want to say what an amazing new album. You guys hit it out of the ballpark with this one. Congratulations!
Thank you very much. Well, for once we had a lot of time to dedicate on the writing of the album, because hindsight COVID did help and did actually fuel up inspiration, because we were all stuck in our houses. And the best thing we could do was to bounce back and forth ideas of songs. And that has turned out to be a good thing. So, after the few years, I can say that COVID helped us write good songs, which is good.
It felt like so many years not just a few years. That’s for sure.
I know. But it’s the same thing. Like it’s the same thing that happened to a lot of bands, meaning everybody was really surprised when Saxon released Carpe Diem. And obviously, again when you’re a band that has such a tight schedule like Saxon – where you have to release an album and then go and tour within the next two years and then release another album, sometimes there’s no time to overthink, and sometimes to think more accurately about the songs. You just have to go into the studio and get the record done as quickly as possible to go back on the road. With COVID, a lot of bands had to stop. And a few bands had really benefitted from that because they managed to write, in my opinion, better songs because they had more time to focus on what they wanted to release.
Not rely on just the 10 songs that they had, but maybe write more songs and then choose the ones that they really like, and they really thought they were good at together, which is exactly what happened to us. Meaning we worked on at least 20 songs, which is something that would never happen since I joined the band – and we were able then to record 10 songs from the album and then keep another two, or three for B-sides or wherever.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the title Bloodlines?
The title is – I’m very proud of that because it is my idea. During COVID, we as a band had to part and we’re two members, because the guitar player, Micky Crystal, and then (bassist) Gavin Gray decided to leave the band. At the same time, I wanted to have a title that could be like a statement that says that once a Tygers always a Tygers. So there’s Bloodlines that goes way back to the late 70s when Robb Weir started the band. And that connects every member that has been in and out of the band throughout the years.
And Bloodlines is that everybody has contributed and still, in a way, contributes because of the heritage of the band and the simple fact that when we go live, we play songs from the very past and songs for Ambush and Ritual, where both Micky and Gavin were involved. It’s like keeping this heritage alive. So that’s the theme behind it. And then Andy Pilkington, the graphic designer who did the cover was very good – because we actually said to him, the album is called Bloodlines, so obviously there’s blood involved. And then there has to be a Tyger, and that’s it. Please, do the magic. And I’m really proud of what he provided because I think the record cover is really,really good. It has class and at the same time, it’s aggressive. And I think it sums up all the elements that you can find musically in the album.
Edge of the World is an amazing single! Tell me the inspiration behind that one.
The inspiration that we have, strangely enough for this whole album, I think that because we couldn’t see each other, we couldn’t be all together in our rehearsing room because we are all in different countries, meaning I’m based in Italy. Francesco Marras, the new guitar player, at the time was based in Germany, and the rest of the band was in England. We had to use technology. And so, Robb started sending us demos of riffs that he’s got. And the main riff for Edge of the World is his riff to which Francesco worked on and took it to this next level, adding the chorus and most of all, the breakdown, kind of the acoustic flamenco breakdown.
Lyrics-wise, well, it’s happy. There’re a lot of songs that are kind of related or inspired by COVID, by the simple fact that we were all living in really strange times. And so that kind of post-atomic war kind of image and theme. I think it was inspired by the simple fact that we were stuck in our own houses. We couldn’t get out and things like that. And Craig Ellis the drummer wrote those lyrics.
What was it like to go back on the road again after the pandemic? And was it kind of nerve-wracking at all?
We all wanted to play live. We desperately needed to play live. I personally like touring. I like being on the road. I enjoy recording, because I know that once the recording is done, I’ll be back on the road if you know what I mean.
I’m definitely not a studio person. I need to be on stage. I need to see the faces of the fans and people. I like to go to festivals. I like to go to festivals and even to stay in the audience, I like the whole live experience. And it was strange. It was strange, because we really wanted it and we could feel there was the need even from the fan’s point of view to go back and see gigs. But at the same time, there was still, especially in Europe, there’s still a lot of concern. Even now, you can see people wearing masks at gigs and things. So, you understand that what we’ve been through, it’s still there. What we’ve been through in the last two years is still there. So, it’s a bit strange. But I hope that from this summer on everything will go back to normal.
The other thing is that I never, since we started touring again, I never had so many flights cancellation and flight delays in my whole life. So, I was like, oh my God, what’s going on? It was a mess. We played a festival with Saxon and Diamond Head in Germany and my flights got canceled. And then the option that they gave me was delayed. Basically, I was able to get to the place, right? Like 15 minutes before getting on stage.
So yeah, it was a bit weird. It was like, okay, let’s do it. Let’s do it, let’s do it. I actually got changed in the van, while they were taking me from the airport to the venue. So, I said, it’s going to be late, so would you mind if I get dressed? So, all of a sudden, we were riding on the motor air at very fast speed, and I was in my underwear trying to put my jeans on and things like that. So, if you’re looking back, it’s funny but at the time it was like, woo woo.
Next year, I believe marks your 20-year anniversary with Tygers. What goes through your mind knowing that you’ve been in Tygers Of Pan Tang for nearly 20 years now?
I did the audition in November; I think it was the 1st or 2nd of November 2004. So yes, next year is going to be 20 years. No matter what, I’m the long-lasting singer.
Maybe I’m not the best, but I’m the long-lasting. (Laughs) The good thing is that I never met him, but I am friends on Facebook with John Deverill and he was very kind to me because obviously our manager, Tom Noble was the manager way back then in the ’80s. So, he’s in good relations with every ex-member. And so, he managed to listen to the albums, the previous albums, and this album.
And he had very kind words. And he said regarding not just my performance, but the fact that I keep the heritage and the flag of Tygers still going. But basically, it’s good. It’s really good. Yeah, I’m the long-lasting singer. I’m probably one of the long-lasting members together with Craig, who’s been there a couple of years before me, like 2001, something like that. So it’s Robb, Craig, and myself who are the three members who have been in Tygers for a long time.
When you look back on that first album you did, Animal Instinct with Tygers, what do you think of it now in retrospect?
You need to start from some point. The thing that I’m happy about that album is that I think it was a sign that Tygers were going back to their roots to write something that was heavy metal, but also hard rock, and was not trying to be modern. They tried to be with the Noises from the Cathouse, which is a great album by the way. I mean I like it, but when you hear those songs and you think about the name of the band, it doesn’t match.
So when I joined, I said to them, look no matter what you think, my opinion is that we have to prove to everybody that we are not just a retro band, but at the same time, we have to be connected to our past. I remember the day I bought Spellbound when I was like 15 years old and how I was blown away by that album.
So I was a fan first. And those records, Crazy Nights, Spellbound, even The Cage – I’ve been listening to them since I was a kid, and they really meant a lot to me. I always thought that Tygers were a really good band and so the moment I joined, I said I want to keep that heritage and I want to let the people know how proud I am to be in the band. And I want to write songs that maybe can show – you can put your personality in but at the same time, they follow that path.
And so Animal Instinct was the first step, but then I think Ambush was a better step. And then, I think with this album it’s even thanks also to the sound that it’s in the mix and the mastering. I think that Tue Madsen has done a really great job because it sounds modern without being too modern. And it sounds really energetic. It’s really aggressive but the combination of riffs and melodies is very, very, very evident. And that’s what we wanted.
What’s going on with your other bands, Sainted Sinners and Damn Freaks, are they still going?
Sainted Sinners, yes. They’re still going. Two weeks ago, I was touring with them. We are writing a new album right now. We are in the middle of the pre-production. Hopefully, we should be able to record at some point during the summer, in between all the gigs that are planned with Tygers. And on the other side, unfortunately, with Damn Freaks, I was forced because the guys wanted to move forward. They had new ideas and songs but I really struggled with the time because obviously, Tygers are a priority, and then Sainted Sinners. I really enjoy the company and the writing, and the playing live with Sainted Sinners.
And I was forced to say to the guys, look, I cannot commit and I cannot have enough time to dedicate to Damn Freaks. So basically, it’s sad because I wish I could make it but in a very amicable way, I said to them, look, if you want to continue, you should find somebody else because otherwise, you’ll be always kind of restricted to my hectic timetable. And so that’s it. I know that they found a new singer and they’re currently working on new stuff, and I wish them all the best. I’m really happy for them but at the same time it’s pointless to say, I’ll do it. I’ll do it, I’ll do it. I can make it. I can make it when you know that you can’t make it, because there’re too many things going on.
What’d you think of Francesco Marras’s other band, Screaming Shadows?
They’re really, really good. Francesco loves heavy metal, and his favorite band is Iron Maiden, and you can tell that it’s Iron Maiden but at the same time, Francesco is a gifted musician because he loves to write songs. He can obviously play a great solo, but he’s always, his main concern, his main goal is to write good songs and to write songs that have a melody. He loves when people sing the chorus live. And this is something that we both like and it’s something that we both share. And he’s very down to earth.
He’s very down to earth, and he’s open-minded. He takes on board everybody’s opinion and at the same time, he still has very clear ideas of how a song should sound like. And he definitely honored and he’s so happy to be in Tygers but at the same time, he’s such a great, talented guy that needs other input and other projects so that he can let his creativity flow. So, Screaming Shadows is one, then his solo album, It’s Me, is fantastic because it shows how much he was more into the hard rock of the ’70s with Deep Purple and Black Sabbath and things like that. And then you can tell how much they influenced him.
Do you have any messages for Tygers Of Pan Tang fans here in the States?
I would love to come to the States. We came only once to Chicago, and it was, for me, it was just like 36 hours, a flight to the gig and back. So, it was too short. I would love to gig in the US. I know there are a lot of fans there who would love to hear the Tygers and let’s hope it will happen. I want to make it happen. I know that even Robb wants to make it happen. And sometimes it is beyond the band’s desire because as you can imagine, there’re a lot of other issues that need to be taken on board and need to be solved. But we would love to, we would really love to, even if it’s just for a couple of festivals, but that would be fantastic!
Robb Weir – guitar
Francesco Marras – guitar
Jack Meille – vocals
Huw Holding – bass
Craig Ellis – drums
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Tygers Of Pan Tang on Instagram