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Metal Forver - Interview with Robb Weir by Pepsi Stone

 

Many things are happening in the camp of the ancient representatives of the New Wave of British heavy metal Tygers Of Pan Tang. It is not even a year since the band came up with the new album "Ritual" and have already announced the reissue of the eight-year-old album "Ambush", as well as confirming the surprising departure of guitarist Michael Crystal. In addition, they are currently working on another new record. These were also the reasons for interviewing the guitarist and founding member of the band, Robb Weir. This is a typical example of an English gentleman who, at the very beginning of the interview, was interested in what the situation with the coronavirus pandemic looks like in the Czech Republic and what the mood is in society at all. However, the following interview is not on this topic, because both the present and the past at Tygers Of Pan Tang are so interesting that there was no need to waste time analysing the social and political situation.


What is the current situation with Tygers Of Pan Tang since guitarist Michael Crystal left, do you already have a replacement for it?
When Michael left the band, we had a replacement, but unfortunately it didn't work out. So, we held an audition which hundreds of people applied for. We now have an amazing replacement for Michael, but it's not time to announce the name yet. But it will happen soon.


You are currently re-releasing the eight-year-old album "Ambush". Why did you choose this particular album?
"Ambush" could no longer be bought and was out of license. But our record company Target Records wanted to license the record, as well as our other old albums, which will be released again. "Ambush" is the first of them, the first of many to come out with a new booklet and bonus tracks.


What is the difference between the original release of "Ambush" and its new version?
The new version of "Ambush" has been remastered and sounds much better, it has a new booklet with all the original drawings for each separate song and four bonus tracks, so that's quite a lot. We will release a limited number in orange vinyl.


Did guitarist Dean Robertson, who played the original version, work with you on the new release?
No, but I think he's pleased that people can now get the record again after it no longer being available.


Your last album "Ritual" was released last year. Are you currently writing material for the next record?
Of course, we're dedicated! During the quarantine, I wrote more than twenty-five ideas for a new album, and on those we will work with the band and, of course, with our new guitarist.


Do you think "Ritual" met expectations or would you change something on this record?
I think "Ritual" is a great record and I'd like to thank Mick (Crystal) for his hard work in shaping the sound. It gave rise to the real Tygers hard rock feeling.


Let's take a look at the long career of Tygers Of Pan Tang. Do you still feel belonging to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, to which you originally belonged?
We belong to everyone who wants to listen to us. NWOBHM is still largely part of our history, that's where we came from. But time goes on, as does music. There are new technologies that you need to use as best you can to suit the path of the music industry. I think the Tygers are doing very well and our music is getting better and better. Wait until you hear new things.


When you released your debut "Wild Cat" in 1980, you had the same position as Iron Maiden or Def Leppard, but you soon changed singers. Why did Jess Cox leave?
Jess suddenly saw an opportunity to do other things in the music industry, so he wanted to jump on that wave. But we replaced him with the fantastic Jon Deverill, who had a huge vocal range and gave us a whole new sound.


After "Wild Cat" you started to change your style a bit and your sound was more hard rock. Did the new singer Jon Deverill influence it?
Not just him. When Jon joined our band, as did guitarist John Sykes, our songwriting started to move in a slightly different direction. As such the Tygers hard rock n`roll was created.


You had the greatest success with the album "The Cage", which was already very much focused on hard rock or pop metal. Did you want to conquer the American market with the songs "Paris By Air", "Lonely At The Top" or "Letter From L.A."?
I think that was the plan of our record company. That's what they do. But to be honest, I hated doing cover versions or playing songs by other authors when we had proven our own stuff in our own style, which we created on "Wild Cat" and "Spellbound".


Was that the reason you left the band after "The Cage"?
Not even that. At the end of 1982, our management believed that it could no longer move us to success, so it all fell apart. It was a big blow for us, from which we never recovered. We tried to get another management company, but in the end it didn't happen. In 1983, therefore, the band disbanded for the first time.


But Tygers Of Pan Tang then again from 1985 to 1987 functioned as a glam metal band. Why weren't you part of it then?
That really wasn't my thing anymore! At that time, I left the music industry, I was disappointed with everything. I even sold my equipment and tried to forget about rock n` roll. But I couldn't!


And what about the 1990s, when Tygers Of Pan Tang didn't work, did you play somewhere at the time?
No, I completely left the music industry ...


Why was there a comeback at the Wacken Open Air Festival in 1999?
At that time, Jess called me and asked if I would be interested in putting Tygers back together for the festival. Jess knew the Promoters who asked him if the Tygers would reform for this one show. In about a second, I shouted, "Yes, let's do it!" And hung up! The problem was that I had to buy amps and guitars again (laughs).


After the comeback, the singer Jess Cox did not stay in the band again. Why did he leave this time, and why wasn't Jon Deverill part of the reunion?
Everything was coordinated by Jess. He told me that he had asked both Jon Deverill and Rocky Laws, Brian Dick and John Sykes, but they all had other responsibilities that kept them out of rehearsals.


Didn't you want to address other former members of the band yourself, such as the aforementioned bassist Rocky Laws, drummer Brian Dick, guitarist Fred Purser or even John Sykes?
I originally thought that everyone would be there, I was convinced of that and of what I'd understood. But when I came to the rehearsal, it was just me and Jess and three hired musicians. The guys were fantastic musicians, but I thought the original band would come together.


Do you think that Tygers Of Pan Tang albums in the new millennium are closer to the period of "Wild Cat" or the times of hard rock albums?
No, it's not… Our new albums are still the old Tygers, but with a modern touch, more production experience and very good music performances.


In the reissues, you mentioned the albums "Wild Cat", "Spellbound", "Crazy Nights" and currently also "Ambush". Why hasn't "The Cage" come up yet?
There just wasn't time for that. But next year we are going to record "Cage Sessions", which will be an EP with five or six songs, in the same format as the previous three reissues.


Your singer Jacopo Meille is currently a member of the band Sainted Sinners. Will it not affect his work in Tygers Of Pan Tang?
Definitely not. Tygers is a clear priority for Jack, and I'm very happy about that. Because he is the jewel on the tiger crown.


Can you imagine if some of the older band members would ever meet on stage again? Which could it be?
Unfortunately, this will definitely never happen. But for example, John Sykes promised that he would stop by us in the future and we would be interested. Fred Purser played with us recently when he recorded a solo for "Don't Touch Me There", which is the B side of the single "White Lines" from "Ritual".



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