Interview With Tank
Interview, pictures, and questions by
Marko Syrjälä and Luxi Lahtinen
This interview was done in November 2003 when Cliff visited in Finland as a member of
Killers. Besides playing with them he is also a member of legendary NWOBHM group Tank.
This interview is mainly about Tank but there are also other interesting things here. Some
recently updated info must be added: Cliff is not a member of Killers anymore. ENJOY!
Well first I have to ask
Have you ever been interviewed about Tank before?
Yeah many times.
No, this is the first time. This is my first interview ever in Finland. Finnish Tank
Thats cool for us then (laughs)
You first joined Tank bank in 1984?
Yes that was in 1984. I remember it was November and band was just doing recordings of
Honour and Blood album. I did a couple of the last songs for that album and
within a couple of weeks after that we started a tour together with Metallica. They were
doing Ride The Lightning tour
It was my first big tour then
Yes in Europe. Tour went very well. We crossed across the manner and everything was
really good for us and for Metallica. Metallica guys were so cool
We liked to drink
beer a lot
I think they learned a lot from us .. (laughs)
I believe that (laughs). If I remember right you were supposed to come in Finland
with them but you never did. What happened then?
We kind of ... Well they came over and we broke down. We travelled separately to them
and we went to Denmark and then really bad weather started and we broke down. The
wan we ere travelling with didnt go any further so Metallica then did it but we
never make it to Finland. Other wise it was a really cool time. We got that tour because
Metallica guys were originally fans of us. They liked Tank but in the beginning they
didnt liked drinking too much. But within a few days with us they were like
beer non-stop. So after a couple of weeks in tour
their manager ... what was his
I cant remember?
What was his name?
Anyway their manager told
Metallica not to come anywhere near us because of our drinking habits
and in the
end of the tour they really were not allowed to come any near us. So we stayed away of
them they stayed away from us.
I have heard some rumours that you had kind of drinking contest with Metallica guys
First of all we did. But unfortunately we had to stop (laughs) I started to be too
Ok maybe it was good for them (laughs)
then back to interview
you joined in the band, TANK toured constantly supporting headliners from the likes of
MOTÖRHEAD("Iron Fist", "Ace of Spades" European Tours 81/82),
GIRLSCHOOL, DIAMOND HEAD, BARON ROJO, DEADRINGER and ANGEL WITCH among others. Did you
ever saw them live before you joined?
Yes. Actually I was a big fan of Tank myself. I used to work in a shop when I was
young. It was a guitar store in the western London and Algy Ward used to come our place to
buy bass guitars. Thunderbirds, Gibson Thunderbirds basses etc ... So I always knew Algy
and he knew that I played guitar. Sometimes we took a couple of beers together and when
one day all of a sudden when they needed another guitar player I got the job right away
because they knew me. They had never heard me playing before but I get that job because
they knew me. So it was cool thing for me.
Names of Lemmy and Motörhead are often mentioned when people talk about TANK. Do
you think that it is a good or bad thing for you?
I think that Lemmy and Algy have a really good understanding between them. They are
very similar people. They both like a drink a lot. They used drugs and stuff. They both
were very kind of deep people. So Lemmy
the way he played bass, the way
he sings all these things, the same label, same manager. Tank has always been credited of
being Motörheads younger brother you know? So we are quite similar people with
As you probably know, some people also call Tank a second hand Motorhead
True. I guess that those are people who hear Tank first time. When you really listen to
those songs you will notice that they are totally different to Motorhead. Theres a
big difference there
I think. And even I do like Motorhead a lot, I prefer Tank
Its also often mentioned that Tank was one of the first and most important
NWOBHM bands in the early 80s.
Yeah I guess that
When Tank first came out in 1980 it was a totally new thing.
NWOBHM was just starting and were there kind of from the start and
Tank was a first
NWOBHM band to go top 20 in the charts you know? Before Iron Maiden Tank was in there. We
were doing very well. That big punk influences obviously which Algy bring to the band
bring a lot of fans from that genre but we were accepted in the metal scene as well so it
did big following. Its quite legend. I think the album indeed with the machine gun
etiquette its cool. And when you listen to it
it its a great album, one
the best albums, so its a lot of metal in there..
Unfortunately, TANK was disbanded in 1988... after the release of TANK album. What
were the main reasons behind that hard decision?
Well caught into that point when
it was a time when whole metal was going, in
England, was going very difficult. It was hard to keep your record deal no one was
interested anymore. We went to the studio and we started doing a new album. It started
okay but then suddenly our second guitar player Mick Tucker said he wanted to leave. He
wasnt happy he had some legal problems. The management was
waste of time the
record company was doing absolutely nothing
so the album
I was a little bit
surprised that we managed to finish it all. It was done with no money. We just went in and
jammed and that was it. It was quite sad I mean it was a shame It ended like that after
all that we had done. After that we ended band for a while. We didnt split up we
just stopped it for a while and we went separate ways. That time in England
almost hopeless. No any money or tours for bands. There was nothing, which was a shame
After Tank you played in a band called DESTROYER
(laughs) We never actually played anywhere. Thats the thing. All we did was
we took some photographs together and never played. We didnt do anything.
sent some photos for newspapers and
there was our photos on big daily British
newspapers but we never really played anything together
so thats the story of
that band (laughs)
Lea Hart (Paul DiAnnos current manager ) was then a member of that
band Was it first time you worked with him?
Maybe? That whole thing is legendary isnt it? (laughs)
Have you ever heard those Fastway albums where Lea is singing?
Do you have any opinions of them
Well I think they both are good albums but its not like, I mean remember Fastway
since they first came out and .. which is a great band. The original Fastway with Fast
Eddie .. that was really good. But what Lea did was completely different. Good songs but
it doesnt sound like Fastway anymore.
Good songs still?
Would you really sign that?
(Laughs) Original Fastway was a stadium class band in the U.S it was really, really
big. A friend of mine used to manage them over there and they were a massive band. But
then after two or three albums they kind of went down and they get Lea to work with them
and then they totally changed. It was only Leas songs and they didnt sounded
like old Fastway too much.
Once you also had a band called MASK?
Cant remember that one?
But you recorded an album called "Why Me?" with them?
No its wrong. Your research is wrong (laughs)
Are you sure? There was Lee Phillips on keyboards, Mike Keen (HYDRAVINE) on vocals,
Steve Clarke, Simon Hannaford (SOMA) on guitars and Terry Crowdy(SOMA) on bass
Oh yeah youre right! Lee Philips called me up one day and asked me to come down
and play some guitar
and I said okay. They gave me 50 pounds or something
and I went down and played some guitar for them. I had no ideas of their stuff or songs.
All I remember is that music was quite a crap. Even I wasnt playing songs I just
like played lead breaks and
it was quite crappy music so maybe thats why I
have forgot that
How would you describe briefly that stuff?
It sounded like old Queen kind of bad Motörhead stuff
Like Bad News?
Exactly like that. I totally forget that one. Thats interesting (laughs)
Okay. After all these more or less great bands you formed another new band called
Well Killers was formed back in
1990 or in 1991 it must have been. I was living
in New York then with and I was staying with manager of Fastway then. A friend of mine
called Steve Hopgood, who played in Battlezone. He just called me up and said
lets get something together? Next we took contacted Paul and we brought
him over to New York and then we formed a band together. Within a few days we kind of
we recorded together with John Gallagher from Raven on bass and then we had an
American guitar player on second guitar. We formed the band there and we soon recorded a
live album in two days. We just did that and then some videos and stuff. Then all suddenly
it started to get bigger we got record deal with BMG. In fact
when we played a
showcase for them, we had all big companies watching us to play. We had people from
Virgin, EMI, Sony and BMG flowing from all over the world to see us playing in studio in
New York. Then we played just Iron Maiden songs ... (laughs) because we hadnt
written our album yet. We actually hadnt written any songs together yet, nothing
we had to play Maiden songs
That sounds really interesting
Yeah. We played Phantom Of The Opera, Wratchild
stuff and all those record company guys there were amazed. Great songs, great
and we were like
COOL!! And then BMG gave us a deal for
$250,000!! (laughs) Its a quarter of millions dollar, okay? Thats not a bad
deal when youre just playing old Iron Maiden songs? (laughs)
Thats an amazing story!!!!
But thats what happened then. So once we got record deal we started to write our
first album. And we did ... We moved into, it was upstate of New York in the middle of
nowhere. We stayed in a little motel which owner had a little a rehearsal studio there and
we wrote Murder One there. We wrote that about in two weeks. It took only two
weeks to write a whole album and then we recorded that in one month. I really like
Murder One. Its still one of my favourites and Im really proud of
it. As I said before it was a really good deal for us to get ... with just playing Iron
Maiden shit. You could have been written songs for years and years and really
trying hard to make it but no one is interested. But those head guys from record companies
they had never heard those Maiden songs so they believed it was ours. For us it was a true
You really hit the jackpot then.
So we did.
Marko with the band (he's the one in the KISS shirt
of course! ha!)
After the brilliant Murder One, you released a second Killers album,
Menace To Society which is totally different style of music. What you like
about that album now?
For me its a shitty album. Its a load of shit really. Maybe one or two
songs are okay rest is horrible. Its funny that for that album we got voted in Metal
Hammer in Germany, it was voted best new album for that year. Someone liked it but we
dont do it anymore. I thought it was a bag of shit, right? Thats why we
dont play any songs from that album anymore. Crap!
So why did you changed your style then
That was because Paul wanted to sound like
you know? He really liked Pantera and
other that kind of bands then.
Luxi of Metal-Rules.com (on the right) with Cliff
Okay I believe it. Lets jump now into year 1998. Tank is suddenly active
It was mainly because of fans demand. Lots of people were sending e-mails and
stuff. People were asking whats going on with Tank and they just asked us to
something together again. And we started to think about that. We were still around, you
know, so it was still possible to get back together. I get in touch with all the guys. We
got different drummer then. We got Steve Hopgood then who was with me in Killers and first
we did a live album. It was like a best of recorded live. It was just really
raw sounding. It was called Return of the Filth Hounds. We just decided to put
it out and see what is going to happen. We played our re-union show on the Wacken Festival
on Germany which is
that was our first real show in with Tank in twelve years or
something? Of course we were kind of nervous cause Steve had never played with us
before. We only did one rehearsals before the show, and we were playing in the front of
really massive crowd. Ive got it on video too. Show went down really well so we went
on tour right after that together with Hammerfall and Raven. We had this three bands bill.
We played all over the Europe and after that we did a couple of more tours after that and
then we went to studio and we did Still At War album.
Good. Have you any plans to release Tank DVD someday?
Yes. We have been actually thinking about for a long time. We have a lots of
stuff recorded during the years. We have a brilliant full show from Japan, which we did a
several years ago. Show is about one hour long and then we filmed a loads of backstage
stuff there. Live in Wacken we have and some vintage videos from day one, promotional
videos. We just should put it all together and release it. It should be a good package.
Yes I think so. Well then some other stuff here. You know these German guys in a
band called Sodom
It seems that German thrash metal outfit SODOM guys are huge fans of TANK. They
covered TANK songs "Don't Walk Away"("Agent Orange" album in 1989),
"Turn Your Head Around"("Better Off Dead" album in 1990) and
"Shellshock"("Ten Black Years" album in 1996). Have you ever heard
their versions of TANK songs?
Yes I know those versions. Tom Angelripper is a nice guy he is. Tom have always been a
big fan of us and we have been drinking together many times
. We are good friends.
How do you like Sodom's music?
Well I like some of their stuff and I like watching them live. Im not a huge fan
of theirs but I think they are pretty cool. I liked when Tom does a every year in Wacken
he closes the festival And just does his own drinking songs (laughs) Hes a great
show guy I have to say. Hes like a drunk as shit plays the backing tapes
its a good show.
Everybody should see that show I agree with you (laughs). Well then we go back to
Tank for a while. Would you briefly comment each of your album here?
Sure no problem.
POWER OF THE HUNTER 82
But I wasnt on that ..
I know that, but tell us your opinion of that record as a fan.
As a fan on early Tank I think that Algys voice here is great. It sounds like
Motorhead with good vocals. Algys voice is cool as hell here. HE has really raw and
original sound. There are good gongs on it but the best thing here is Algys vocals.
Lemmys voice doesnt do much for me but Algys does. The title track
Power Of The Hunter is my favourite from that album. We still play that song
and its one my favourites to play live. Theres a big chorus on it and
its a really fun to play. Thats a cool song.
THIS MEANS WAR 83
Thats then album when Mick Tucker joined in the band. Hes a real musician.
He changed the sound a lot. He writes songs more. Like
before him Tank had more
Motorhead style then all suddenly came
songs. Hes more into
80s and 70s rock than rest of the guys and that can be heard on this record.
He is a very great guitar player and he uses very tasteful licks and other things on these
songs. On that album Tank changed a lot to be more rock than just being Motorhead you
know? Thats the thing.
People are often thinking that This Mean War was THAT album for Tank
Yes thats true. Actually there happened two different things there. First of all
it was a really good album and otherwise people really seemed to like it more than first
HONOUR AND BLOOD 84
There are lots of good songs on it theres a good song writing. The whole
sound of the album The first song The War Drags Ever On its a true
classic. I really love that song. When this one came out we did that tour together with
Metallica. It came out in 1984 and
after that tour we did another one in U.S with
Raven. That might have been in 85? I still have some tour t-shirts from that tour.
There are some okay songs on it.
Did Mick play on the whole album at all?
There might be one or two songs where he did not played, Im not quite sure? The
whole vibe of the album is really sad. We had so many problems with our management and all
Also the cover art is quite different on this album ..
Yeah. Its like
Its just red and black. Algy had some strange ideas
Theres not much more to say.
THE RETURN OF THE FILTH HOUNDS 98
That one is quite cool album. Really raw live sound there and its a a good live
album. There are good songs on there.
It was a sort of comeback album for you then?
Yes that was the one. It kind of brought us back together and we got a record deal in
Where are these un-released bonus tracks from on this album?
Those songs are played again on Still At War. These versions are just demo
versions of the songs. These are some of the first songs we started to work after our
METAL CRUSADE 99
That was cool. That was a good show in Japan. There are good stuff on there.
STILL AT WAR 02
its our latest work to date.
I heard that Tank in also doing a new record. Is there any truth behind that?
Well. Next album is already written. Its ready to record.
Do you have any ideas who is going to release it this time?
No. We are still doing a work for Still At War re-release at the moment. We
just get a deal for that now. Actually we signed a deal last week for worldwide release
for that so once we get that one out at it deserves we will work another one that
Is that new version of Still At War any different than the
first edition of it?
Yes there are bonus tracks on it. Some live stuff.
How are the new songs, which are already written for the next album?
We are kind of going back to our early roots. It will be much more eighties sound there
than on Still At War.
Our time seems to run out soon. A couple of quick ones now ... I know that your long
time friend Steve Hopgood is not in the band anymore. What has happened for him?
Steve is one of the best drummers when we are talking about metal
drummers. He has bad problems with his ears. He is suffering of tinning so loud voices are
ringing all the time in his ears. So if he hits a drum snare the voice will drive
him mad so he cant play anymore which is really sad. He was a great metal drummer,
Thats sad thing to hear really. Who is playing drums now?
We have a guy called Bruce Bisland on drums. Hes really good and he has played
before with Praying Mantis. Sometimes he is too busy and then we are just using someone
else who is around. We are also talking with our very original drummer Mark Brabbs and he
might come back and do some shows with us. That would be very cool. He is still very good
Well that sounds very interesting.
I agree. He still looks exactly the same as in the old days and he still likes to drink
like fuck and
he is a good drummer. It would be cool to have original drummer back
in the band. Then we come to Finland
I promise (laughs)
Ok Cliff. We thank you and have a good gig tonight!