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The Tiger Ritual - Interview with Jack Meille

Strengthened by the new album 'Ritual', the Tygers Of Pan Tang consecrate the splendid state of form of a band capable of combining tradition with renewed compositional qualities and freshness of ideas. Part of the credit goes to the energy of the vocalist Jacopo 'Jack' Meille, with whom we had the opportunity to have a chat.

Hi Jack, thanks for your availability, it's a real pleasure to have you as a guest in Metal Hammer Italia!
You have been the Tygers' vocalist for more than 10 years now, what do you think about if you look back and especially what you look forward to? Have you ever thought about a solo project?
I joined the band on November 4th 2004, and it seems to me yesterday! With them and thanks to them I managed to become aware of what I wanted to get out of my voice. The future can only be full of surprises and satisfactions also because I am a person who cannot live without singing and composing. In January, the new General Stratocuster and The Marshals album was released, entitled "Get A Lawyer" in which I vent all my love for classic rock; I just finished recording the second Damn Freaks album and I am taking advantage of this moment of "civil seclusion" to record some songs in solitude acoustic guitar and voice. Who knows, this time I don't feel like recording a solo album!

When referring to the Tygers of Pan Tang, many think of the first albums, but the new energy and creativity of the band today does not make us regret and in some ways is even better, how much do you feel you are the protagonist of this?
What the current formation of the Tygers has managed to create is the result of hard teamwork. It will be difficult to overcome. Many, among fans and journalists, think it is my merit ... I thank them and I take this compliment knowing that I have certainly given my best in recent years. But a band, a real band, is always the product of several people; or at least that's what I've always thought since I started singing back in 1984. Since then I've always been in one or more bands, I think it's now a necessity for my peace of mind.

Is there a sort of rediscovery of the 'classic' sounds that refer to the 80s, as comments on this 'trend'?
I think I said it in another interview: NWOBHM was a very varied phenomenon, with different bands each. Do you think of Saxon, Def Leppard and Angel Witch? Each had its own personality, its sound, and they identified themselves in a musical movement more for the type of audience and for the clothing than the music. Now I feel more of a sometimes clumsy attempt to recreate deliberately retro sounds without inspiration, without a soul. And I would also add that if the Saxons could have made their debut with today's technology, they would have exploited it for sure!

The latest album 'Ritual' was a positive surprise for some, but for the vast majority it was confirmation of the enviable form of the whole band. How is the Tygers of Pan Tang creative process? Does it follow a kind of professionally well planned process or is it more an instinctive and sudden question? Can you tell us more about the genesis of 'Ritual'?
It was a "difficult" album, because we felt the responsibility of producing an album that lived up to its predecessor. We have postponed the recordings twice, creating many problems for the record company. But we weren't 100% convinced of the songs to be recorded. We did well, because otherwise songs like 'Destiny' or 'Damn You!' Would not have been included. We worked hard: they in the rehearsal room to record the bases in England, I to record my parts. Technology has been instrumental in sharing ideas.

I find that the new album 'Ritual' recalls the early works of the Tygers, but that at the same time it knows how to offer an energy capable of making everything very current, while remaining well anchored to the reference genre. How did you manage to balance these aspects so well?
We wanted a more 'hard' record than the previous one. We wanted Robb's riffs and Micky's incredible talent to blend even more. And it was like that. It was Micky who wrote the riff of 'Raise Some Hell', while 'White Lines' started from a demo by Robb on which Craig, the drummer and co-author of many of the melodies and lyrics of the disc, worked stubbornly, also involving Micky who developed the initial riff ... as you can see, it's a constant team effort!

Tell us a little about the registration phase too. In my opinion, the sounds and volumes as a whole give this record a further and positive plus. Technology helps, if it does not distort a band, but it knows how to enhance it. Is this a typical case?
Both Fred Purser, former Tygers of the 'The Cage' period and Soren Anderson, who mixed the album as well as the previous one, have been irreplaceable. They married our same vision, that is to maintain the link with the past without being afraid of being contemporary and above all, wanting to say that the 2020 Tygers of Pan Tang have nothing to envy with the historical ones of the 80s. Recordings, mixing and burning (by Harry Hess, singer of Harem Scarem) were all 'creative' moments, aimed at creating the sound that we all had in mind. Knowing that both Jon Deverill and Rocky, who came to see us in London a few years ago, gave us their blessing, is truly rewarding.

In ‘Ritual’ we find direct and immediate pieces like, ‘Raise Some Hell’ or ‘Damn you !, other more thoughtful ones such as‘ Spoils of War ’or the ballad‘ World Cut Like Knives ’. Can you tell us a little bit about the feelings and the feeling you have while playing these different songs?
The beauty is that I don't feel all this diversity ... because when I listen to them again I recognize my voice. But I will tell you this: I would never have thought of recording an epic piece like 'Sail On' at 50 years old! For that song, both Micky and myself have done our best. At the beginning, the rest of the band was not so enthusiastic about the song, but the two of us had had the same vision. Since the first time I listened to the riff, I thought of the ocean, of the life of sailors at the mercy of the wind and the waves, of their desire to return home and then return to the sea ... Every time I listen to it, I continue to feel the same emotion as when I started writing it.

Inevitable to ask you also something about live dates, sore point given the difficult period. How are you planning on this? Is there any forecast?
Unfortunately, immediately after the dates of the first weekend of March - on March 7 in Dusseldorf we played with Saxon, Doro and Diamond Head - the world situation precipitated. Health and safety must obviously be preserved, but there is regret that these months would have been among the most intense of the Tygers' career with dates in Europe, Italy and even Mexico. We hope to be able to recover some in the autumn as long as the general situation stabilizes. At the moment we just have to live day by day and ... at least in my case, "capture" and record as many songs as possible!

By Daniele William Re

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