Interview with Robb Weir of
Tygers of Pan Tang with Ilias
Metal-Rules.com: Hello Robb, how are you?
Robb: I’m fine, Helias. And you?
Metal-Rules.com: Could be better! So, What’s going on in your new album, Ambush, and what the reason of releasing the Spellbound Sessions EP?
Hi Elias, I am very well, thank you, and very busy at the moment with the recording of Ambush. We thought it would be a good way to celebrate 30 years since the original recordings, so we released two years ago the Spellbound Sessions. We did a similar project last year to celebrate the Wildcat album which the fans loved so we decided to continue with the series. I chose 6 tracks from `Spellbound` album for the EP and we have re-recorded the songs with the current line-up. The songs are sounding fantastic already.
Metal-Rules.com: Which are the main influences on the ‘Tygers of Pan Tang’ sound?
Robb: There was always a Rock influence as the band started as a covers act playing the local clubs in the North East of England, but on the Wildcat album I think we were still carrying some of the Punk era influence. Once the line up changed in 1981 when we brought in John Sykes and Jon Deverill the sound was more a traditional British Hard Rock sound with the twin guitars. As a band we were listening to AC/DC, UFO, Rush, Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent and these became the main influences on our new sound.
Metal-Rules.com: You have only one word to describe the entire ‘Tygers of Pan Tang’ career? Which word would that be? And why?
Robb: Frustration – I believe the band had a great opportunity to become a major influence in the Rock music scene, we had the desire to really make a difference but with the constant line-up changes we never really had any continuity. Once we recorded `The Cage` I knew we were heading in a direction that was a little too early for its time, if that album had been recorded 2 years later it would have been a huge worldwide seller in my opinion. My suggestion was to record another `Spellbound` Hard Rock Type album in 1982 then we could have toured for a year to capture the fan base then work on `The Cage` songs for a 1984 release. As history shows I was overruled on the plan but I still believe this would have been the best move for the band.
Metal-Rules.com: What does the ‘Tygers of Pan Tang’ name mean for you?
Robb: I am very proud of the Tygers of Pan Tang and the name and feel very privilaged to have been the founding member since I put the band together in 1978. I still live and breathe the band and I am more excited today with the current line-up as I have ever been. I love the Tygers and hopefully fans will see this when I am onstage playing.
Metal-Rules.com: How did you get into playing music?
Robb: I always loved music and did everything I could to save money and buy a cheap guitar. I spent months learning to play some simple tunes which became an addiction. Once you can play a few chords you just want to learn more and more and try and create your own style. You then get the desire to write music and once you hear your product appreciated by the fans there is no better feeling ever.
Metal-Rules.com: What do you do when you are not playing with the band?
Robb: I spend most time writing and recording ideas for future Tygers releases and practicing songs we plan to play live. I spend time with my family and grand children which gives me great joy.
Metal-Rules.com: What’s your opinion on other kinds of music?
Robb: I like every kind of music but I always steer back towards Hard Rock music.
Metal-Rules.com: Tell us some words about the well-known N.W.O.B.H.M.
Robb: New Wave of British Heavy Metal was a scene that came from young guys wanting to play music they loved, they had dreams of stardom but it was never just about money. These bands would play anywhere every weekend and usually released their own original material on their own labels which they sold at gigs. In the UK 1979 was a winter of discontent similar to the scenes Greece has recently experienced with strikes etc, these frustrations lead to the need to escape the pressures of life and this was realized through music. There were hundreds of bands and some great music being created that influenced a lot of today`s bands. Unfortunately it only lasted for 2 years and the bands who did not progress musically and got a major record deal disbanded leaving a lot of very talented musicians unemployed.
Metal-Rules.com: Well, ‘Tygers’ are one of the most important bands of the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement. What’s your opinion about the entire career of the band till now? It’s like a force account.
Robb: There are two eras of the band in my opinion that really count, the early days from 1980 – 1982 which saw the band release four very strong iconic albums and then 2008 -present when we released Animal instinct with the current line-up. I am very proud of the history of the band and first four albums established the name and reputation of the band. We built up a very strong fan-base and in my opinion we folded too soon without a fight. We had management problems at the time and this did not help the cause. If we had at the time strong management they could have guided the band to much greater achievement and success. If we fast forward to 2007 we had a stable line up but again no direction, we then met our current manager who has enabled to get us working together as a band unit and `Animal Instinct` was the result of that organization. The critics loved the album as we did and it was very similar to the accolades we were received in the early 1980s. I believe the future is very bright for the band.
Metal-Rules.com: And now I would like to discuss about some deplorable events. We are in the middle of 2010 and three big metal personas have passed away… Ronnie James Dio, Peter Steele and Paul Grey (SLIPKNOT) and finaly Jeff Hanneman (SLAYER) . Is the year of 2010 the most donsie year of heavy metal?
Robb: It was such a shame that the Industry lost these fantastic musicians, if we look back at the early deaths of Bonn Scott, Phil Lynott, John Bonham, Jimmy Hendrix, Freddie Mercury all of which died far too young, we should remember them and celebrate their contribution to music and never forget them. I met RJD once and he was such a lovely man, he will be sorely missed and his creativity and fantastic voice is a great loss to all Rock music fans and musicians alike.
Metal-Rules.com: What do you think of today’s music industry in general?
Robb: The music industry is pretty stale at the moment in my opinion, there is not too many new bands coming through who are the future flag flyers for Rock music. There seems to be a resurgence in Classic Rock bands which is good for the Tygers but the only investment from the record companies are with the no risk stadium bands who can guarantee them sales. There needs to be an investment program into young up and coming bands who could be tomorrows stadium Rock bands but the financial risk seems to prohibit the record companies from doing this.
Metal-Rules.com: Is technology part of your life or are you still a “romantic”?
Robb: The way in which music is now produced, marketed and subsequently sold is very different to when the Tygers started 34 years ago. We have to embrace modern technology and work within it but our fan base is now mainly 40 year old + family men who do not spend every minute surfing the web so we need to get our music to the younger Rock fan who can spread the word for us as this is the main ingredient to success via the web. We have been pleasantly surprised however at the number of female fans we are getting at the shows who really know how to rock just as much as the guys. We are constantly updating the website, Myspace and Facebook sites so make sure that you all check out the bands activities.
Metal-Rules.com: I have beholden that heavy metal changes through the decades. Heavy and Thrash metal dominated over in 80’s, Death, Black and Power metal in 90’s and Metalcore and Nu Metal in the 00’s in general. 2010 was the beginning sign of the new decade. What do you see for the future?
Robb: I am waiting for a new sound to emerge but I believe everything goes in cycles so there is a strong possibility traditional Rock music will continue to resurge. If you look at some of the biggest tours over the last two years they were AC/DC, Rush, Iron Maiden, Metallica. We need to get the fans who attending these tours to buy the CD recordings to really get Rock music back to the forefront which I still think it deserves. Maybe Thrash is also due for a come back.
Metal-Rules.com: What’s your opinion on downloading?
Robb: There is legal and illegal downloading, both are part of today`s music business. I can understand a legal download straight to an Ipod or MP3 as the artist is rewarded through royalties. I have to say however, I like to have some artwork and booklet to read which really gets me into the lyrics and spirit of the music. As regards Illegal downloads these give no financial return to the artist so the funding required to ensure the artist keeps performing and releasing new music is not being received. This does have an effect on the amount of new albums/material currently being released. It is sad to say but I do see the future being totally free music for everyone and revenue coming in only from other means such as merchandise sales and touring fees. I think bands will look at new releases every three years instead of two to give themselves time to tour and create the finances required.
Metal-Rules.com: If you could pick only one musician to work with, who would that be and why?
Robb: I think it would be Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. The guy has passion, vision and relentless desire to succeed. He lives and breathes Iron Maiden as I do the Tygers, so I think we could totally relate to one another. He is a great songwriter and bass player too.
Metal-Rules.com: Mike, I wanna ask you another one general question.
Metal Rules.com. Who is the typical TYGERS-fan in 2013? Is the band´s long past a problem or a blessing?
Robb: We attract Fans of Good Old British Hard Rock, whether they are 45 or 15 and usually male, however saying that we recently played a gig in Athens and when we walked on stage the whole front was young ladies no more than 25 years old. I thought our management may have planted them there but they were rocking and singing away to every song. My guitar solo which usually lasts about 2 minutes lasted 10 and there was plenty monitor standing at the front of the stage by all band and crowd.
Metal-Rules.com: Which are the plans of ‘Tygers’ for the future?
Robb: We are looking to release this new powerful album, Ambush, and I wanna say that the Spellbound Sessions EP is available from the web site only, then we will start to write and record songs for the new album which hopefully will be released soon. We will also be looking to play some shows to break up the writing process and to keep us active as a live band.
Metal-Rules.com: You are about to come to Greece? Have you ever been here? What would you like to say to the Greek ‘Tygers of Pan Tang’ fans?
Robb: We played a small club in Athens back in 2009 and we are looking to get back to Greece hopefully in 2013. We are working on confirming a couple of shows which will be a good chance for the fans to hear a lot of spellbound songs live. The live set will also include songs from Wildcat, Spellbound, Crazy Nights and Animal instinct so there is something in there for everyone.
Metal-Rules.com: Thank you for this interview, Robb. I wish to ‘Tygers’ all the best!!!!
Robb: Thanks Helias, It’s been a privilege to speak with you!