IN a time that may as well have been aeons ago, well before the big shift to downloading and streaming music online, this scribe recalls spending hours trawling Waterfront and Red Eye Records in Sydney, and Brisbane’s Rocking Horse, Skinny’s and The Record Exchange for hidden musicological gems that wouldn’t be found on the radio or the now closed and forgotten HMVs of the world. It was during these expeditions that real music fans would cross paths. You know the type, the ones that can namecheck the drummer on Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce” and recall how many hits Carol Kaye recorded with The Beach Boys. It was also on these odysseys that a band like Tiger Army, whose psychobilly-meets-Elvis melodies would eventually be found and cherished.
I’d be willing to wager that many haven’t heard of Nick 13, the guitarist, vocalist and brains behind Tiger Army. Nick’s music is of such quality and authenticity, HM would be more than happy to encourage any music aficionado, regardless of personal preference, to at least have a Bo Peep at the latest release, eight years in the making the album is cryptically titled V •••–.
Nick joins HM for what is a great opportunity to dive into his psyche to discover just what it is that makes the man tick. First up, HM observes that Tiger Army albums can survive both repeated listens and changes in the musical landscape.
“I have heard that before, and it’s always good to hear. There are records that I thought were great, and I spent about two weeks on, then I never listened to them again. And it seems like our albums have something that people do come back to over the months and years and if was up to me, that’s the way I would like it to be”
Is there a theme or a concept this time around?
“There is graphically, in terms of the title, you know the V relates to the roman numeral five for the fifth album, but the dot, dot, dot dash relates to allied propaganda during World War Two, you know, the States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and it stands for victory so that references some of the odds that had to be overcome to come back and make that record. But as far as the songs themselves, I do think that there is interplay between the themes but that’s something that occurs for me more on a subconscious level writing, rather than a pre-planned sort of thing.”
For the uninitiated, the visual side of Tiger Army is intrinsic to the aural experience, something Nick is keen to point out.
“I think the visual side of Tiger Army has always been important to me, the way the band looks, the artwork. All the bands that I really dug growing up, bands like Misfits, The Clash, The Damned, The Ramones, they had a very strong visual style, from the album graphics to the way they looked and you know, I’m from the age of physical product, holding the record in your hand and looking at it.”
Nick may just be a traditionalist, particularly so given he is actively pitching an album that will doubtless be listened to via streaming services far more than the mentioned ‘physical product’ version of the album. Either way it sounds like he must be a big fan of vinyl.
“I love it, you know I’ve always been a vinyl fan, a lot of people who buy Tiger Army records are into vinyl as well, and I am glad that it’s hung on the way it has and even come back quite a bit, because it seemed like it was on the way out there for a while.”
And there may just be a big opportunity for a band to take advantage of the trend toward vinyl given Forbes recently posted an article mentioning sales are nearing the $1 billion benchmark for the first time this millennium.
So according to the ever (not) so reliable Wikipedia, transcendental meditation is a practice Nick is familiar with. Has it helped with his music though?
“It is certainly something that has helped my creativity in the past. It was something that I was basically exposed to through David Lynch, he wrote a book about it, and how its practice was intertwined with history and activity, and then I met a woman who is a teacher of it and actually taught it to Johnny Cash, and talking to her about it, it got quite interesting, it was a couple of years after that that I actually learned it. But I do think it’s a good thing, and it’s something that I should get back to for more regular practice”
Referencing the legend Johnny Cash was not so much a surprise given the similarities between both artists, it was a comparison to the Ace of Spades himself, Lemmy, which caught HM’s interest. The following response was issued in regards to the common view that Tiger Army is a solo project, despite Nick releasing solo albums under his own name.
“It’s kind of a funny concept, but to me there are certain bands where one person writes all the music, the band they are sort of the focal point of the band if you will, but it’s still a band, and I think Tiger Army is one of those bands. Motorhead is another example. You know, of course about Lemmy, and he was the driving force behind Motorhead. I’m not sure I can explain exactly why that is the case in Tiger Army, (Mike Ness from) Social Distortion is another good example.”
Nick is definitely looking forward to the bands Australian tour in February.
“There’s something about Australia that I really like, I think it’s – the country itself, the scenery, and the people, music is important there, I think it is a bit, in certain ways it’s a bit like a combination of England and California, and my mom is English so I relate to the British style of culture there, but it’s also – its own place just like the United States is, and like Canada is. But some of the aspects of it, like the beach aspect, is pretty similar to Los Angeles, so even though it’s so far away from the States, I feel very at home there.
We love having you here Nick!
Catch Tiger Army at the following venues on Tigers Army’s Australian tour.
February 17: Prince Bandroom, Melbourne 18+
February 18: Metro Theatre, Sydney 18+
February 19: Max Watts, Brisbane 18+
V •••– is out now through Rise Records