Loyalty-inspiring psychobilly trio Tiger Army returns to Chico after a two-year absence
Perhaps it’s that combination of stand-up bass, slide guitar and Nick 13’s rough old-school vocals that inspires people to get Tiger Army logos and lyrics permanently inked on their skin. As with the band’s fans, the retro-inspired psychobilly genre is a way of life for guitarist and vocalist Nick 13.
Mr. 13, stand-up bassist Jeff Roffredo and drummer James Meza, will hit Chico as part of the band’s West Coast tour, after it returns from Europe (where it was recently kicked off a tour with Morrissey for not having the right vibe, according to a BBC article). The tour will likely be Tiger Army’s last before hitting the studio to record the follow-up to 2004’s Tiger Army III: Ghost Tigers Rise on Hellcat Records (Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, HorrorPops). Nick 13 spoke with the CN&R about psychobilly, monster cereal and classic horror flicks.
CN&R: I noticed the tattoo photos on the band’s Web site. What about Tiger Army do you think drives fans to get tattoos of the band’s logo and lyrics?
I think our fans feel a deep emotional connection to music, and it’s something that I understand and respect as I’ve always felt it, too. I think the main commonality is a sense of individualism: aside from that our fans are young and old, male and female, from almost every different subculture of rock ‘n’ roll you can think of, from Goth to hardcore.
A lot of fans seemed to think the last album was different from previous albums. Do you think fans will be surprised by the next album?
We are actually still writing the fourth album. Each of our albums has been a progression in sound, and that’s not going to change with the upcoming record. There will be some surprises, some new things. I like to hold on to the core elements of the band’s sound while at the same time pushing it in new directions.
A couple of years ago drummer Fred Hell (drummer for Union of the Dead) left the band after being shot four times. Will it be weird playing in Fred’s hometown without him?
It will be strange. We played there before he was in the band, of course, but I always associate Chico with Fred. Union of the Dead actually set up a show for us at the Zocalo Room in 1999 on our first tour. I’m glad there’s a venue for us to play now; we haven’t been to Chico since the last time we played The Brick Works two years ago.
How do you feel about being classified as a psychobilly band?
I don’t have a problem with the psychobilly label, but to be honest, I don’t care what people call it. That’s still the best description if you’re limited to one word, but it would take a lot more than a single word to describe our sound. It’s part early punk, part early rock ‘n’ roll, part ‘80s dark pop and post punk. The energy of the live side is influenced by a lifetime of listening to and watching hardcore punk bands. I don’t think anyone does exactly what we do in any scene.
I read that you’re a fan of horror movies. Seen any good ones lately?
It’s funny. I can’t think of any new horror movies that I’ve seen recently. Some all-time faves are Dracula, White Zombie, Psycho and Carnival of Souls. Please note that three out of the four have been remade—and the remakes suck.
I also read that you collect Frankenberry Cereal monster action figures. What’s the latest addition to your collection?
I do like monster cereal, and if I see something related that’s cool I’ll pick it up, but I don’t really collect it. I don’t really collect anything that seriously, but I do spend a lot of time looking at mid-century furniture, art, vintage Halloween monster stuff and so on. I have to really like something to buy it, though. I have way too much junk.