Tiger Army has been able to forge a particular sound influenced by the roots of early American rock ꞌnꞌ roll and now, more than twenty years since they first played in public, their music continues to engage new audiences. They’ve just released an EP on Rise/Luna-tone Records and it includes a new single which happens to be a cover of Dark Paradise by Lana del Rey. We spoke with Nick 13 who talked to us about this cool new cover, the changes he’s seen in the music industry, that beautiful rockabilly song he sings in español and its connection to… Liverpool? Find out more…
Bold and sultry, Nick 13’s vocals and style perfectly embody some of those vintage rock sounds first experienced down South. The culture around that music is currently reflected in rockabilly, psycobilly and “Razabilly Boogie” events, fan clubs and gatherings across the US and it’s paid tribute to through much of Tiger Army’s music, so expertly done it easily attracts a broad and growing spectrum of listeners.
Among Tiger Army’s discography are more than five studio albums, multiple compilation features and they have now added Dark Paradise to their growing list of EPs. Dark Paradise includes the brilliant rockabilly version of the Del Rey cover, a seductive surf track via Enchantment and ends in a twangy surf-pop instrumental titled Pipeline. We definitely recommend this on vinyl. (We also recommend listening to Nick 13’s song Carry My Body Down to experience another side to that masterly voice.)
In a phone call from Los Angeles, we spoke with Tiger Army lead vocalist Nick 13.
On Dark Paradise
What called out to you about this particular Lana del Rey song?
There was something about it. Even though the arrangement was electronic, which is definitely something not Tiger Army, in the original there was something about the melody of the song and the lyrics that just kind of spoke to me. The idea of doing it as a rock and roll song popped into my head not long after I started listening to it.
After touring this EP you’ll be headed into the studio to work on new music. Do you go into the studio knowing exactly what you want to hear or is it more of a general idea that comes to fruition once you’re all there?
The writing is definitely evolving. You know, I have a few songs written for this next record and there are also a number of songs that are in different phases of completion. But as far as the overall sound, I’m still not exactly sure what I’m going for. It’s still kind of evolving, still up in the air.
Will it be released on vinyl as well?
Yes. The new EP is actually on vinyl and our new album, when it comes out, which I’m guessing will be sometime next year, will be on vinyl as well.
On Hechizo de Amor
Now, feel free to not comment on this if you wish, but, if you’re in the US you may have probably seen and heard some of the harassment toward people speaking en español. At any point when playing Hechizo de Amor, your Spanish is pretty flawless by the way, has there been any negative pushback about it?
No. We ne’ve never experienced any negativity and while we don’t really comment on political matters we’ve probably played that song more in the last year or so than any other time and I think probably people can tell where we stand on that.
Where did the idea come about for this song and was it a one-time thing or will there be more and in other languages?
I think in a way it was inspired by the Beatles. They had some versions of some of their singles in German. I Wanna Hold Your Hand is one of them. I always thought it was cool to record a song in a different language. I would say at some point there will definitely be another song in Spanish. I don’t know if it’ll be on this record or not, because the song would have to be right, but it’s definitely something I want to do again in the future.
On The Music Industry
You’ve been working in music for so long, what is the biggest negative or positive change you’ve seen in the industry?
Gosh, so much has changed since our first record. People are not buying music as much more anymore.
I think moving to the streaming model is one of the big things. It also seems like live music… that you can’t download. I mean, you can watch it on your phone, but, it’s not the same as being there in person. I think that something that’s never going to go away.
Have you found you’re more hands-on now than before?
It’s always been a DIY thing for this band. I’ve always been involved in all the aspects of what goes on and I like it. I like it that way.
On Life Outside Music
So, when you’re not on stage or rehearsing, or on tour or in the studio – what are you doing?
Let’s see. I like taking road trips and exploring out of the way places, you know places that are kind of not touched by redevelopment. Where you can feel like you’re in another place, another time. Places left like they originally were.
Sometimes I collect vintage items from flea markets and things like that. What else? Oh, yeah, I do go to a lot of live shows. I find that inspiring. I’m also into the underground tiki scene so I like going to places like that.
(Note: They’ve recently added more selections to their merch and you can definitely see more of that tiki vibe.)
On The Ramones
Tell me, what do you respond to those fools who say The Ramones are not, and never were, punk?
(Long pause). That’s the craziest thing I’ve heard. (Laughs).
I mean, to me The Ramones were 100 percent the modern punk band. I mean, it’s a style that evolved from rock and roll. There were important bands, 60s garage bands like The Stooges and New York Dolls… but that buzzsaw guitar sound, that to me was the birth of modern punk.
The Ramones are still very important to me, in my music. I think it’s because they had aggression but they also had a sense of melody and a connection to the history of rock ‘n’ roll which to me is a big part of punk, not to everyone, but that connection between punk and original 50s and 60s rock, well it’s something I really value in their music and it’s important in my own music.
Did you ever to get so them perform?
It was one of the first shows I ever saw when I was a kid and still, to this day, it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.