Interview with Tigertailz drummer Matthew Blakout
INTERVIEW WITH TIGERTAILZ DRUMMER MATTHEW BLAKOUT
Date: January 20, 2023
Photos: Courtesy of Pink Noise PR (first and fourth photos) and Tigertailz (sixth photo)
THE NAME ‘MATTHEW BLAKOUT’ MAY NOT BE THE FIRST NAME THAT PEOPLE ASSOCIATE WITH UK GLAM ROCK BAND TIGERTAILZ BUT THE DRUMMER HAS BEEN PART OF THE GROUP FOR MORE THAN 15 YEARS (2005 TO 2011 AND 2013 TO PRESENT). HE HAS ALSO BEEN IN TIGERTAILZ WITH FOUR OF THE BAND’S SIX SINGERS — NAMELY PEPSI TATE, JULES MILLS, ROB WYLDE AND ASHLEY EDISON. BLACKOUT REACHED OUT TO SLEAZE ROXX AS THE DRUMMER WANTED TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT WITH RESPECT TO COMMENTS MADE BY FORMER TIGERTAILZ SINGER ROB WYLDE IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE 80’S GLAM METALCAST PODCAST LAST MONTH.
WYLDE’S COMMENTS THAT CAUGHT TIGERTAILZ’S ATTENTION WERE AS FOLLOWS: “I left the band in May of 2021. I’m not a believer in airing your dirty laundry in public. The one thing I will say is I left the band, I wasn’t fired. They are kinda making sound like I was fired.”
Sleaze Roxx: I know you’ve been in Tigertailz for a long time but for the people that don’t know you, can you let us know how you became a member of Tigertailz and when you joined and things like that?
Matthew Blakout: OK, so back in 2005 — well, go back seven or eight years before then — I was in a band called City Kids and we were based in Cardiff [UK] where Tigertailz are based so the other member of City Kids was very close to Kim Hooker in Tigertailz so we all became quite close friends. Through Kim, I got to meet [bassist] Pepsi [Tate] and [lead guitarist] Jay [Pepper] and everyone else within the band at the time. We became quite close — the two bands — just friends hanging out and going to the clubs. On the weekends, we used to play football, knock about on a Sunday — all that kind of thing — so my friendship went back quite some time before I became a member of Tigertailz. And then my life changed and I moved away from Cardiff. Time went on. It was a bit of a funny thing to have all the glam thing going on in the ’90s. It was all a bit weird at the time. All the bands that I had loved were kind of falling away. It wasn’t really happening. There was no real scene.
So I was in Los Angeles [California, USA] for a while. I did some jams, you know meet up with people like C.C. DeVille, Dizzy Reed from Guns N’ Roses, Bob Kulick and some other people. That kind of lit my fire to get going again playing properly and getting involved with a proper band. So I came back to the UK and bumped into Kim Hooker again strangely at a music festival for a weekend and we sort of exchanged numbers. We sort of re-connected. It was like 2004 I guess. And then., I tried to get a hold of him just to catch up with him but he changed his phone number so I couldn’t get a hold of him. Anyway, I bumped into and connected with Jay Pepper through something entirely different. I mentioned to him, ‘What’s the band doing?’ He said, ‘We’re getting back together.’ So I put my name in the ring. I was invited down. I met Pepsi, Kim and everyone else sort of knew each other so I got into the band that way. I didn’t audition or anything. I just became the drummer for them. I was in the band for seven years until I think it was 2011. And then, the old drummer [Ace Finchum] came back. He got in there. It didn’t work out and [I] got back in again and I’ve been there ever since. So that’s the history of my relationship with the band. So it goes way back.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! One you first joined the band, who was in the band at that time?
Matthew Blakout: It was the original band [when I joined] with me so Pepsi, Kim Hooker, Jay Pepper and myself.
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve obviously been part of a couple of albums with the band. Which one would you be the most proud of?
Matthew Blakout: Well, I think that ‘Blast’ was good. My memories of doing ‘Blast’ was that it was comfortable and we worked hard to get it to where I wanted it to be. We had our own type of studio set up by then. The precursor to ‘Blast’ was ‘Knives.’ On that EP , there were a couple of great songs on there. There was no pressure. I really enjoyed doing those songs on the album and the subsequent videos we did for it. The first album I got involved in is called ‘Thrill Pistol‘  when Pepsi was still alive. It was a difficult one. That was the first full album I did. I did a bit of the ‘Bezerk 2.0’  which was the comeback album. My first full album would have been ‘Thrill Pistol.’ It was a difficult one but good memories for different reasons. But for full pleasure of an album, certainly ‘Blast’ was great.
Tigertailz‘s “One Life” video (from Knives EP):
Sleaze Roxx: How come Tigertailz has been kind of silent since ‘Blast’? You haven’t really released any new music. I know you have a new single that just came out but for the last five years or so, I haven’t heard much from you guys. What’s been going on there?
Matthew Blakout: Well, two of those years were covered off by Covid, the pandemic that closed down the world, so you have three years really. I think it’s just the case of… I mean, things just… Jay had some trouble with his hearing so the band kind of slowed down until he got on top of that issue. We would do the odd festival, the odd gig. But it took awhile to remember why those three years were quieter then you would expect. I think we were always looking to do an album but people’s priorities may have changed a bit. I think people sort of fancy things slowing down and going into Covid, which took 2 1/2 years which took big chunk out of every life.
Tigertailz‘s “All The Girls In The World” video (from Blast album):
Sleaze Roxx: Obviously you’ve been in the band for a long time. Since then, there’s been changes with the lead singer for a little while. What are your memories working with Kim?
Matthew Blakout: He was the singer through the band’s most successful period. We had great fun. He’s a lovable rogue which is the best way to describe him. But yeah, we had some great times. We played some fantastic festivals. We made some incredible memories together. We played with all of the biggest bands — Mötley Crüe, the Scorpions, Whitesnake, Europe — we played festivals with all of those bands. KISS, we played with several times. We toured with Ace Frehley in the UK. We did some amazing things. KISS. that meant a lot to us. It was a great unit at the time.
Sleaze Roxx: I think that there was a change in lead vocalist while you were out of the band in 2012 when Kim was replaced by Jules Mills.
Matthew Blakout: Yeah, that’s it. So the band kind of became fractured then. There were some issues internally and things change and people change. We brought in another bass player. We wanted to try and get a permanent bass player but it’s difficult to replace Pepsi so we brought in another person and that made the situation worse and the band less functioning. The band kind of went into a spiral then which was difficult to come out of with other members coming and going. The idea was to get the original drummer back in. Not the original Tigertailz drummer but the most successful drummer [Ace Finchum] within the period of the band. And then, the way that he band was set up then, Jules being from Australia, which is just a ridiculous thing to even consider in my opinion….
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Matthew Blakout: However that came to be is just incredible but Jules came in to the band then and the band continued for awhile. I think they did a bit. Nothing really. They just did some things. The band became fractured again so Jules went out again. Rob was on the bass so Rob took over on lead vocals. That fit in quite nicely I think. And then when I came back into the band, then obviously, things changed again and Rob had switched to lead vocals and it all turned out ok.
Sleaze Roxx: Ok. How was Rob’s tenure in the band?
Matthew Blakout: Yeah, we had some good times. We did lots of gigs, festivals. We did some big festivals in Europe with Twisted Sister. We achieved lots of things. There were no bad times at all. I have great memories of all of those moments as a unit with Rob, Berty [Burton], Jay and myself. We were really strong. We did some great things and we did the ‘Blast’ album, which is a fantastic album. I think Rob’s creativity, working with Jay and everyone else, worked really well. It fit well with the band. We had great reviews for that album.
Sleaze Roxx: I know that the reason that we are speaking today is that there was a Sleaze Roxx article where Rob indicated that [in an interview with the 80’s Glam Metalcast podcast] he had left the band but had never been fired by Tigertailz. You took exception to that so what’s the story with Rob leaving Tigertailz? Was he actually fired?
Matthew Blakout: Yeah. Rob was dismissed categorically — twice in fact. The circumstances — and it’s ironic that people say they don’t want to air their dirty laundry in public but then they say things that are completely untrue. Don’t get me wrong. I respect Rob and think he’s a great person but I am also very honest and truthful about certain factual things and I think people tell a different story or there’s three sides to each story isn’t it? My side, your side and the truth.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Matthew Blakout: And the truth really is that Rob was dismissed categorically. There’s a text conversation between Jay Pepper and Rob Wylde that concerns that and I would be happy to publish it if we’re pushed to do so.
Sleaze Roxx: What were the circumstances that led to his dismissal then?
Matthew Blakout: Well, the circumstances were that we were booked to play some shows in France. One was a festival, and one was a club gig, and Rob told the band that he had Covid and he couldn’t do it. So, we had already committed. We had paid for flights and crew. We’re a professional band. We commit so we’re gonna do it. We committed to that. Rob came in and said he had Covid. OK. There’s just nothing that you can do about that. That’s unfortunate. But then Rob played within a weekend later. Rob played gigs / shows in the UK at the same time that we were due to be in France. Putting aside the money that the band had spent, and letting people down is just inexcusable — many people in France were looking forward to us coming over — it’s inexcusable. Really, being untruthful to your fellow bandmates — inexcusable. Putting a different spin on it, that’s inexcusable as well. Playing shows when we were supposed to be in France, miraculously getting better… If he felt unwell and couldn’t do it physically, that’s another story but obviously, he felt good enough to do the shows in the UK when we should have been in France.
You know, Tigertailz as a band, does not let people down. If we commit to do something, we will. Don’t get me wrong, there are ex-members of Tigertailz that will say that the controlling element of Tigertailz, that is Jay Pepper, is difficult to work with. I can tell you categorically that is not true! I’ve never had a cross word with Jay Pepper and neither has anyone else who is in this band. We work towards the good of the band and we never had a cross word with Rob. Rob was pulling in the same direction you know. But that set of circumstances just made it, pushed it into a corner that there was nowhere else to go. It was a case that something had to give, and Rob made his intentions quite clear. His priorities were elsewhere. That’s not a way to run a band. So there we are. That’s the truth of the matter. Like I say, we have that conversation in writing if we’re pushed to put that out there. So, it’s as simple as that.
Sleaze Roxx: And what month and year did that occur?
Matthew Blakout: Oh God! I’m terrible with dates. You can probably search / google “Tigertailz dates in France” to get the name of the festival. It would have been coming up at the end of the Covid thing so it must have been September or October of last year maybe? Something like that.
Sleaze Roxx: The gigs that Rob was playing in the UK, were they with Midnite City?
Matthew Blakout: No. They were just his tribute band I think. It’s just club gigs for his tribute [band]. I don’t know. I’m not sure on that one.
Sleaze Roxx: I’m going to play ‘devil’s advocate’ with you on this one but if Rob has Covid, he obviously can’t get out of the UK to play shows in France but he can probably still stay in the UK without any issues right, and play a gig. If he had Covid, he probably wouldn’t have been able to travel from the UK to France. Does that make a difference?
Matthew Blakout: No. If he had Covid, he would have had a chance to prove he had Covid and wouldn’t have been able to go. When he did those gigs though, he told his band that he didn’t have Covid so he was either lying to us or lying to them. Possibly, that could have possibly been true. We don’t know if he had Covid or not. So we’ll never know.
Sleaze Roxx: You mentioned that Rob was fired two times so what was the second time?
Matthew Blakout: Well, that was the second time and final time. The first time I think was a case of we kept getting put up against the wall with Rob’s other commitments or things that he was doing. I think it was a case of Jay and the rest of us deciding that it was just not functioning. You can’t have a band functioning when one person in the band is always doing something else. You know, he was always busy with something else. I think at that time, Rob was asked to leave and that was as simple as that.
Sleaze Roxx: I know that you’re not great with timelines but are you able to tell me when the first firing happened and how Rob got back in the band?
Matthew Blakout: It was just a couple of weeks before then. I think the Covid thing was the last draw really. It was close to the final firing. It wasn’t a long period of time before that. He simply talked his way back into it. He just talked about dates. He said, “I could do this. I’m into it.” You know, he seemed keen to give priority to some things with Tigertailz so it was as simple as that. I think that he was just given a chance to sort of make that work.
Sleaze Roxx: I know he has his other band Midnite City which has released a lot of albums in the last couple of years. Did that conflict with Tigertailz at all?
Matthew Blakout: Oh sure, yeah! I mean, Tigertailz only does things if it’s worthwhile doing. We don’t do a lot of things. We are not a touring band. We’re certainly not as busy as other bands out there. We will do the odd thing and make these things really worthwhile. So even with that said, and that in mind, it was difficult to get anything moving at all. And Rob plays in a tribute band as well so yeah, I think that it was becoming really difficult [for him] to give any time at all to Tigertailz. You really have to rehearse. You have to get things going. You have to do pictures and all that kind of thing. It was proving to be very difficult to get anything to move.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s fair enough. And how did [new singer] Ashley [Edison] come to be in the band?
Matthew Blakout: When we were looking for a replacement for Rob, we sort of put it out there and we had the usual suspects of people that I would expect to apply. We could have come out with another guy with long blond hair or long black hair singing the songs and doing an adequate type of job. But we thought we need to check outside and we owe it to ourselves to get the right guy and get a guy that could do justice to what we want to do, pick it up a level and give it a standard. That kind of thing. So one of the people that came up was Ashley. Ashley comes from a completely different era and genre of music, which was completely alien to our fans possibly and me. So we took it pretty genuinely in regards to Ashley coming into the band. We could hear him on YouTube. We could hear his voice but how would he sing our list of songs? How would he cope with us?
So we invited him up, put him in the studio and we heard him sing. He had to learn a couple of the songs. It was just undeniable when he sang the songs. I just thought if Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Queensrÿche need a singer, this is the guy you know? He can sing anything in the right key. He just blew our socks off. Blew everyone’s socks off really. It just became undeniable. His enthusiasm — bear in mind, he is touring America and Japan this year with his other band Power Quest. He’s got his own band as well. So he’s a busy guy but the commitment that he’s given and the time that he wants to invest too make it work is just fantastic. So it’s been a bit infectious really [having] Ashley coming in. It’s made us all — it’s reinvigorated the band. And hopefully we have some great things to announce in a couple of weeks.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! What made you decide to release a re-worked version of “Sick Sex”?
Matthew Blakout: Well, it was a case where we wanted a familiar song. We thought if we have a new track, people will hear him singing that and think, ‘That’s fine.’ But there’s no benchmark of his vocal ability. We wanted to demonstrate that. If we put out an older song that people are familiar with, they would be familiar with the vocals previous to the vocal performance on that song maybe, and that would surely demonstrate how good Ashley was and is singing that song compared to before. I think it’s worked you know. We’ve gotten negative comments with regards to Ashley’s vocal performance or actually being in the band. So yeah, it’s worked really well.
Tigertailz‘s “Sick Sex” video:
Sleaze Roxx: What’s the status with respect to new material?
Matthew Blakout: Yes, we have some material but it’s going to be — it’s a case of demoing what Jay has. He wants to get together with Ashley and understand Ashley’s spin on what he’s done and how we would like to go forward with that material. So I think definitely towards the end of this year, maybe next year, hopefully we’ll release some [new] Tigertailz [music]. You know, there is just so much that we could do. I personally would like to do a ‘Best of’ re-recorded with Ashley and get that out there because there’s so many great Tigertailz songs in the catalog and sometimes, the production on things, or this wasn’t right on certain songs, I think there is so much that you could do now. It’s just about timing really. We just want to get out there and play gigs. We want to record. It just all takes a little bit of time. Now, hopefully we’ll get something out anyways.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you have any shows lined up for 2023?
Matthew Blakout: Yes, we do. We are working on some. There will be some announcements shortly hopefully. Just waiting for the go ahead on a few things. So, there’s definitely going to be some announcements for festivals. We were a little bit late coming to the party for festivals this year in Europe and the UK but next year, we have the nod to go ahead on those so you will soon see a lot more of us. It’s quite exciting.
Sleaze Roxx: I don’t want to end the interview on a somber note but you were there when Pepsi passed away. How did that impact the band and how did the band recover from that to keep going?
Matthew Blakout: Well, it’s just devastating. It’s just devastating. You know, last night, yesterday, I was watching this music thing about rock in the ’80s and it had a segment on there about [Metallica bassist] Cliff Burton being killed on tour — I think in Switzerland or Sweden — how do you recover from losing such a massive member of the band? Pepsi arguably was a bigger part of Tigertailz than anyone who’s ever been [in the band]. He was the creative driving force image wise, music wise and everything else. So yeah, it was very difficult. It was a very difficult time. It’s another reason that we never replaced Pepsi when we had people come in to play bass or do gigs, but it was never a replacement. We felt he was irreplaceable.
But as time goes on, you feel that you need to do the right thing so we wanted the band to continue and not have — when we did photographs, there were three people in the photographs and everyone knew that there were four people. We felt we gave it enough time to bring a fourth member into the band and that’s what we did. But yeah, it’s absolutely devastating. Every day, everything we do that involves Tigertailz, we hope that we do it in the spirit that Pepsi would have wanted and I think we have. I’ve spent enough time on it and I knew him enough to understand where he was coming from and the fun that he brought into everybody’s life. [He was] such a larger than life character both physically and his whole personality was just huge. I think that we have done him justice and anything we’ve done, it is the standard that Pepsi would have wanted. You look at the cover of ‘Bezerk’, it’s just a massive investment as to photographs, colour, the whole thing. We hope that we carry on with that with everything we do, whether it’s t-shirts, album covers, everything. Whatever it is, it has to be in honour of what Pepsi would have done at the time for sure.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything that you haven’t mentioned that you would like to cover?
Matthew Blakout: I don’t think so. I think that we want to put the past aside and we want to move forward but we need to correct the things… You know, we are not villains. People in this band are not villains. Everybody is pushing to better the band and get the best of the band. We need four people to be in that. People have to be invested in doing that, which we believe we are so like I say, we are not out to make anyone like a criminal but we don’t want to be associated with things that are wrong and not the truth so there we are. So that’s the reason that we wanted to speak to you and and speak to Sleaze Roxx. Hopefully, we have added some balance to that conversation.
Sleaze Roxx: That sounds good. Thank you very much for your time Matt!
Since Sleaze Roxx‘s interview with Matthew Blakout on January 20th, Tigertailz have released a series of videos in February 2023 titled The Asylum Interviews: