The House of Blues will be home to the psychobilly band Tiger Army on April 6. This will be the band’s first show in San Diego in four years and they told us they are very excited to make a visit to the San Diego music scene.
The opening act will be Sweet and Tender Hooligans, a Morrissey and The Smiths tribute band.
Lead vocalist of Tiger Army Nick 13 chatted with me about his upcoming show.
Samantha Tollin: How did the band come up with the name Tiger Army?
Nick 13: The name popped in my head a number of years ago during a visit to Germany and seeing the psychobilly music scene firsthand. The name represents the spirit of individualism and how tigers are solitary animals. The name Tiger Army is about people who share the spirit of thinking for themselves.
ST: How did you meet the other members of the band?
N: At that time, there were not a lot of people playing stand-up bass; they were either jazz players or only playing traditional rockabilly. We mix a lot of styles, including heavier styles, and the big challenge was meeting a bass player who had similar music ideas.
ST: Why the name Nick 13?
N: I’ve been going by this name for a long time. The first real band I was in was called Influence 13. When I moved to Berkeley, there was another guy named Nick and I added the “13” so we wouldn’t get mixed up.
ST: Why did you want to launch a solo career?
N: Tiger Army’s music is a combination of punk and rock mixed with rockabilly and some older roots styles. Roots music is something I have listened to for a long time. My first exposure to hillbilly music was when I was a teenager and it was one of the building blocks for rock and roll music. In 2008, I had the epiphany that making a solo record was something I actually needed to do and it took a couple of years to get it off the ground. It came out last summer and I toured for about eight weeks in the states. It’s something I have really enjoyed doing, but neither one of my projects has priority over the other.
ST: How was your experience performing as a solo artist at the Stagecoach festival?
N: It was my first live gig and it was pretty nerve-wracking. I played right before Ray Price and Merle Haggard and it was nice to get a warm reception from the audience.
ST: Can you tell me some of your inspirations for your songwriting? What artists do you look up to?
N: My songwriting has always come from somewhere inside that is almost subconscious. I will record something on my phone and grab a guitar to capture it and not lose it at that moment. As far as lyrics, I feel like my influences have been more literary than other songwriters.
ST: Have you ever performed at the House of Blues before?
N: The last time we played in San Diego was four years ago.
ST: Why has there been such a long break?
N: Unfortunately it’s a matter of geography. We were always playing larger festivals in Los Angeles or in Orange County. But San Diego is a great audience for us. I’m looking forward to playing in San Diego again and we have had some of our best shows there.
ST: Tell me a little about your tattoos…how many do you have?
N: I lost count a while ago. Most of them are in American traditional style. Sometimes the subject matter is a little darker than what would have been in the ‘40s or ‘50s, but I have definitely watched tattoos become more widespread.
ST: Can you talk about the tracks on your most recent album and how they differ/compare to the songs from previous albums?
N: Song-wise, I think in some sense it’s really true to our original sound that we had in the early days with some faster and more aggressive songs like “Hotprowl” or “Afterworld,” but it pushes sounds forward and experiments with different sounds, like in our song “As the Cold Rain Falls.” I really like this album and it’s very special to me because the producer was a good friend of mine and he passed away a couple years ago.
ST: If you were to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
N: Perfectionist. I think the drive to have things be as good as possible is definitely a big thing with me. A lot of artists settle for things, but that’s just not me and I am still motivated to play my best show yet.