How did you hook up with Hellcat Records?
Nick 13: Basically we just sent them our demo. I knew Tim [Armstrong] a little bit from the earlier days of Rancid. We didn’t hang out or anything, he was more of an acquaintance. But he got hold of the demo and gave us a call.
Were you surprised at his reaction to the demo?
N: I was really surprised and really happy, needless to say. We had just lost our bass player and I told Tim that I didn’t have a band at the time. He asked if I wrote all the songs and lyrics, which I did, and he basically said “Let’s do it.” He wasn’t worried about who played on the album, said we could get people just for the album if we have to.
Were they just studio musicians or are they part of the band now?
N: Adam [Carson, drummer] is a friend of mine and we have played in the past. He did a lot of the early live shows, played on our 45, so he’s kind of like an “honorary member.” The bass player, Rob, just came in to do the recording.
Will you be playing live with this line-up?
N: No, we’ve done some shows already since the record came out with a new lineup, and that went great. Geoff Kresge (ex-AFI) played stand-up, which he’s been playing for about 3 years now and has gotten quite good at, and a guy named Joe Fish played drums. Geoff and I will hopefully be playing again soon. Joe’s a great drummer and a great guy, but it looks like I’m moving down to LA to do the band, and he’s up here in Northern Cali. We have a new drummer down there who I’m very excited about playing with, but I won’t say who he is for now, I don’t want to jinx anything.
When I heard the album, I was like “Whoa, this is the Misfits playing rockabilly!” Are you a big Misfits fan?
N: Yeah, definitely. I’ve been influenced by the psychobilly out of Europe, but the Misfits are right in there. It’s not like I try to hide that, but I guess it’s pretty obvious.
The lyrics are like old B horror movies. Are you into those movies?
N: I’m partial to older horror movies, black-and-white stuff. The original Dracula, White Zombie, anything with Bela Lugosi… Hitchcock’s Psycho, Ed Wood movies like Plan 9 From Outer Space. I’d say generally the horror movies from the 1930’s until the fifties or very early sixties are what I’m into more atmosphere than gore.
Tell me about your old band.
N: That was Influence 13. That was with Geoff Kresge and Jay Puget who is currently in AFI. The band lasted from ’91 to ’93. We never released anything or really went anywhere with it, but it taught me a lot about being in a band.
So what did you do from Influence 13 until Tiger Army?
N: When that band broke up in ’93, I knew I wanted to go more in a rockabilly / psychobilly / rock & roll direction. So I stayed in school and looked for people I wanted to play with, but it wasn’t until late 95 that it started to come together.
My buddy Liz told me about your Thundercats tattoos…
N: Thundercats? The cartoon from the 80s?
Um, yeah. (Damn you, Liz!!!)
N: No, but I have a couple of tiger tattoos.
Oh, because I’m getting a tat of Lion-O with the Sword of Omen on my back.
N: Really? That’s cool… Yeah, I have a lot of tigers and other cat tattoos.
You’re a cat person, too?
N: Definitely. I was born in the Year of the Tiger (1974). I’m a cat person all the way through.
Me too, I have four cats.
N: I had to leave my cat with my parents. My apartment is just too small.
How far do you want to take Tiger Army?
N: I love playing music and writing songs more than anything, and I love making records. I basically want to take it as far as I can. I want to be doing this for a long time and make my living from it. I’m not so worried about huge mainstream success, I guess my goal would be to be a big cult act, like the Cramps, Danzig, Morrissey… Artists who exist on the edge of the mainstream, but keep their musical integrity. They last for many years and when they make a new record or come to town to play, people still care. That’s the way I’d like to be.
Anyway… Sharks or dinosaurs?
N: On land or water?
All things in the environment must be equal. Figure outer space.
N: I’m going to have to go with dinosaurs then. A T-Rex is a lot bigger than a shark.
Yeah, but not prehistoric sharks. Those things were HUGE!
N: That I did not know.
What’s your favorite food?
N: In ‘n’ Out Burger.
N: It’s a burger chain out here in California, kind of like White Castle by you, I guess.
Ugh.. I hate White Castle. It’s so greasy and slides right through you. Is that why they call it In ‘n’ Out?
N: Oh, ok, it’s not like that then, In n’ Out’s really fresh and really good… I love it.
Tiger Army’s self-titled CD is available on Hellcat Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026. Set your browsers to here for tour dates, merchandise, and news. Write to Tiger Army at P.O. Box 29880, Los Angeles, CA 90029-0880