June 1, 2011
Emerging out of the 1980s UK glam scene, Tigertailz lit up the pages of the metal press in a burst of neon color, jagged guitars and perhaps the best hair of any of their British or American contemporaries. While often only linked to subtle-as-a-brick anthems like “Love Bomb Baby” and “Livin’ Without You”, the Welsh quartet showed that deep down they were a hard rocking force to be reckoned with through the likes of later albums such as 1991’s ‘Banzai!’ and 1995’s ‘Wazbones’, the former even featuring Metallica and Megadeth covers.
Tigertailz split up in the mid-’90s before reforming almost ten years later, only for 2007 to see the sad and untimely death of bassist Pepsi Tate. The band, including founding guitarist Jay Pepper and best-known singer Kim Hooker, however, soldiered on, recruiting bass player Sarah Firebrand and drummer Robin Guy and releasing a new live album last year, encapsulating the timeless quality of their genre-defying music. Speaking backstage at the Cathouse in Glasgow, Scotland, Kim and Jay took the time to give an insight into life in the band.
Sleaze Roxx: You’re almost at the end of your UK tour. How has it been?
Jay Pepper: Most nights have been great. There hasn’t been a really bad show — a bad show for us if the sound isn’t great, and there have only been one or two of those. The rest have been fantastic.
Kim Hooker: Something that we kind of forgot is that how much easier it all becomes when you do five or six shows in a row. It all becomes like second nature and you become a better band. I’m more familiar with the set now than I ever have been.
Sleaze Roxx: ‘Bezerk’ is hailed as your breakthrough album. Does it feel like twenty years since it was created?
Jay Pepper: It seems like a long time ago, yes, but playing the songs is like riding a bike — it all comes back to you quickly. It was a lifetime ago that we actually wrote and recorded the songs though, so you just do what you can to make it feel as fresh as possible. As for career highlights, some of the festivals we’ve played since our reunion have been brilliant. I enjoy things a lot more nowadays, doing them at our own pace.
Kim Hooker: I’m exactly the same — I can’t honestly look back on the ‘Bezerk’ period and feel that I enjoyed it more than today. Back then our lives depended on it, but now it’s something we do purely because we love it.
Sleaze Roxx: Tigertailz have been credited as being one of the definitive British glam metal acts. Is this something you still identify with?
Kim Hooker: I never did identify with it, to be honest. I always thought we were just a heavy metal band. Our influences growing up were the likes of Judas Priest, Accept and Black Sabbath. That’s what I listened to, and that’s what I still listen to.
Jay Pepper: It’s understandable that people will always identify with your image and pigeonhole you before they’ve even heard a note of your music. Luckily, this time round, I think we’re changing people’s perceptions of us. For example, we played Hard Rock Hell (in Prestatyn, Wales) three years in a row because people wanted to see us.
Kim Hooker: When it comes to image, I just couldn’t imagine being in a band and going on-stage at night looking exactly the same as I did when I arrived in the afternoon. There’s nothing in that for me at all. Even bands like Metallica have an image — they just have a different image from us. We’ve never considered not getting dressed up before a gig, and we never will.
Jay Pepper: Yeah, it’s entertainment! It’s a theatric. When you go to see a show you don’t expect to see people in jeans and t-shirts. A lot of fantastic bands do dress like that, but our deal is that you get a show — like it or not.
Sleaze Roxx: Women in metal is something that has been documented ad nauseam, but does having a female member change Tigertailz’ perspective in any way?
Kim Hooker: Well, the problem for us was that we thought Pepsi Tate was irreplaceable. Then it occurred to us, let’s not try to replace him — so a female bassist was perfect because no one will compare the two.
Sleaze Roxx: What changes have you observed in the music industry or live scene since your inception in the 1980s?
Kim Hooker: Well, one good thing is that people don’t get fucked over by record companies as much anymore. Back when we were making ‘Bezerk’ we were always driven by record companies who used to demand singles, and that’s why the songs on it range from “Sick Sex” and “Heaven” to stuff like “Love Bomb Baby”. Nowadays we just write what we want to write, with no one telling us how to sound. The pressure’s off, and that’s a change for the better. I think the Internet has a lot to do with bands feeling like that now.
Sleaze Roxx: What about the caliber of bands nowadays?
Kim Hooker: I don’t really go out of my way to listen to any bands, they tend to come and go out of my life, but generally I think that bands seem to play a lot better these days. You get fifteen-year-old kids who can play very well, and that wasn’t the case when I was that age.
Sleaze Roxx: Has your fanbase changed in twenty years?
Kim Hooker: On this tour I’ve realized that, yes. There are people that weren’t even born when we started who are getting into us.
Sleaze Roxx: Is it satisfying?
Jay Pepper: Well, hopefully it’s a testament to how good our records were. It’s really rewarding when eighteen-year-olds who weren’t part of the scene at the time get into the music years later.
Sleaze Roxx: What are your plans for after the tour?
Jay Pepper: We’ve got a few more shows planned. We tend to cherry-pick those and only do the ones we really want to. But, apart from that, we’re looking to record a new album later this year. I’m not sure whether it’ll actually be out this year though.
Sleaze Roxx: What can we expect from it?
Kim Hooker: We’ve been writing for a while, and it will just sound like the heavier songs that we play at the moment. We’re now the band that we always were, in truth. I’ve written a few songs that could be called singles, but then I’ve thought why? I don’t need to write singles anymore. We’ll just throw a load of new songs into the air and see which way they land.
Jay Pepper: If a commercial record or single comes out of it, that’s fine, but it’s not like we’re going out of our way to write another “Love Bomb Baby”.
Kim Hooker: We’ve been talking about doing this album for a few years, but shows and such always get in the way of recording, so we’d like to get a record finished before we come back…
Jay Pepper: …more aggressive.