Interview with Robb Weir, Tygers of Pan Tang (August 2010)
From the beginning of the NWOBHM
movement in the late '70s, there's been no other band, with the
exception of maybe DIAMOND HEAD, ANGEL WITCH and IRON MAIDEN, that
has been at the forefront of the scene since its inception. TYGERS
OF PAN TANG carry the flag of the true sound of the NWOBHM and have
been together for over 30 years for a reason - for the love of
making music and the NWOBHM scene in general. Before some TYGERS OF
PAN TANG festival dates, original guitarist Robb Weir took the time
to answer some questions by e-mail.
After forming in 1978, did you think
you would be able to carry the NWOBHM flag even to this day?
When the band
started in 1978, it was just a dream to play music and get a record
deal. To still be playing and writing 30+ years later is just
incredible for me personally and for the band. We have had some ups
and downs as a band, but I am enjoying the Tygers now more than ever.
We have a very high-energy live stage show now which is much more
visual than ever before, and our last album release, "Animal
Instinct," received some fantastic reviews, all of which makes
The band really seemed to be at
its strongest on the first three albums. Not that I'm saying you
didn't have good material after that, but it seems like that classic
NWOBHM spark was missing. Or was it the end of an era so to speak?
There was a unity in
the writing for the first three albums which created that Tygers
sound. Also, with the social issues in the UK at the time, NWOBHM
was perfect music for the working man who just wanted a release from
the day to day struggles. The NWOBHM movement was at its highest
point during those albums and so was British hard rock, so it all
just came together. It was a simple process which focused on the
riff and lyrics, which changed with "The Cage". Fred (Purser) had
joined the band and was a University-trained musician, so he brought
a technical side to the band that was very cutting edge for the
time, but just wasn't the Tygers. Saying all that, "The Cage" was
our most successful album to date even though it’s not a fans’
favourite. In 2007 when we started recording "Animal Instinct," we
wanted to get back to our roots with the Tygers sound. I think we
achieved that, and if you compare that album against the first three,
the signature sound continues throughout.
With various member
changes, record label frustrations, break ups, poor
record sales, etc. With you being the only original
member, what made you want to keep the TOPT legacy alive?
decided to put the Tygers back together, it has been a
struggle. There was a lot of poor decision making by the
management at the time and myself, which I regret to
this day. Up to 2007, there was a huge focus on the fact
that I was the only original member from the early days,
but this now seems to be getting less of an issue. We
needed to play our shows and release a product that the
media and fans would respect to get that credibility
back. A lot of bands suffer this stigma when all they
want to do is keep their music alive and keep playing
songs they love live. What I have learned, is In order
to really produce good music, you need the comradery and
continuity within the band that only comes through time.
The present line up has been together since 2004 and
that is now showing huge dividend. We have a
new manager (since 2007) that takes care of all our
business so we have an infrastructure for merchandise,
touring, etc. So that just leaves the music and playing
to the band. It’s a great weight off my shoulders. You
ask why we keep this going? I believe the Tygers songs
from 1980-82 are worth keeping alive and I just want to
play these for anyone who wants to hear them. I also
want to record music I am proud of, such as "Animal
Instinct". There is a lot left in the band yet.
How’s it feel to be
on the upcoming Bridgefest 2010 bill?
Tony, the owner of the venue quite well and usually play
warm-up shows at the Bridgehouse on our way to Europe.
It’s a fantastic little venue and one bands should check
out on the circuit. Tony asked us to play the
festival and we were happy to oblige.
As you say 2008’s
“Animal Instinct” still carries on the TOPT sound, but
has a bluesy vibe especially on “Live For The Day.” This
is just great stuff. What was your mindset while writing
Instinct" was a band recording so you get a lot of
influences in there. When I listen to the album I hear
some AC/DC, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Saxon and a touch
of Free/Zeppelin on the vocals. In order to get back to
the spirit of early ’80s rock, we were listening to a
lot of older albums and this came through in the writing/recording.
As I have said in the above, we do have an overall sound
though that always shadows over the influenced sounds.
Are you working on any new material and what kind of direction is
it heading in?
We have started writing
the new album and have a couple of demos already. The direction will
be similar to "Animal Instinct" with a bit more sophistication. We
are very aware that there is a new expectancy that this album has to
be better than the last, so we will take our time and ensure we explore
every way on every song to achieve this. In between, we will be
releasing another 5- track EP to celebrate 30 years of Spellbound. I
like this concept because it shows an ode to the past, I am
extremely proud of the band’s past and present ,and I want to keep
the past music alive because there was some great songs. There are
too many bands that have forgotten their past, but the fans want to
hear those songs played live, so they are as important as the new
When will it be released?
We will be looking
at mid 2011.
With the recent resurgence of
traditional and NWOBHM bands like Enforcer, Cauldron, White Wizzard
and many others. Do you feel you have something at stake or
something to prove that you are still in the game, and you virtually
started, or was an essential part of the whole movement?
When your fans
are paying their hard-earned money for a product, then of course
there is something at stake. As a musician, there is always
something to prove because you want to push yourself into releasing
the best possible songs you can write at the time. I think as a band
up to 2007, we had become a little lazy and complacent, but our
new management will not allow that at all any more. We have been
asked to be more competitive when we play festivals. We used to be
quite laid back but now our manager wants us to be the best band on
the bill and steal the show, so we are really pushing ourselves as
musicians and entertainers. The publicity from our recent
performances have been fantastic, so it seems to be working.
Anybody that knows their metal,
especially NWOBHM, remember you and still love the band. How’s that
make you feel to know that you are still revered and are still
important in the metal world?
It’s really nice to
receive such attention, which is most apparent when we go abroad. We
have some great fans in the UK, but our main market tends to be
Mainland Europe, South America and Japan, where we sell most albums.
It’s great to play festivals in Europe, as they are still true to
original Rock/Metal. At the Headbangers Open Air Festival, we did a
signing session that lasted 1 hour 15 minutes. The comments from the
fans were great and it did show the affection people still have for
the Tygers of Pan Tang.
What’s next for Tygers of Pan
We will continue
releasing our concept EP CDs, we will record a new album in 2011 and
still keep playing live. We are accessible to the Rock/Metal Fan to
really get on board with the band and taste what it was like back in
the early ’80s.
Any last words or comments?
Please check out our
and myspace site for latest news/gig dates and shop etc. If you can
buy "Animal Instinct," please do so and give it a try, you will not
be disappointed, I promise.
Thanks for taking the time Robb
and keep rocking!
Thanks Kelley, I
Interviewed by Kelley Simms