Interview with Robb Weir from Tygers Of Pan Tang
We got to chat with Robb from the long-running NWOBHM band Tygers Of Pan Tang to talk about their time in the scene and their upcoming album Ritual.
Hi Robb, the band’s name comes from the strange fictional world of Moorcock’s “Elric of Melniboné.” Do you ever plan to pay tribute to this world again?
Hi, and thank you for your questions. I’ve never been asked that before, great first question! I guess the answer is no. We were lucky enough to get our name from this fantastic novel but that’s where it ended. The name has stood us well for the last 41 years, and hopefully more years to come.
How important is the stability of the Tygers lineup to you? In stark contrast to the band’s early years, there hasn’t been a change in six years now, and two of the guys have been with the band for fifteen years or more.
It’s always good to maintain stability and continued connection with everyone. The lineup is probably the strongest it has ever been. The standard of musicianship is fantastic and we all respect each others talents.
Prior to working with Mighty Music, who is releasing your new album and put out your last one, every album going back to Mystical has been on a series of different labels, with no two repeating aside from the series of reissues that Night of the Vinyl Dead Records did. How did your deal with them come about and what does it mean to you to have consistent label support for the first time in a long time?
Our manager Tom brokered the deal with Mighty. We were playing in Rome at the Jailbreak and as we were playing on stage I looked out into the audience and saw the Tyger’s original manager from the late seventies. At the time we were self-managing which wasn’t ideal. After the show I asked what he was doing there. It turns out he wanted to see us play live as he hadn’t been to a Tygers show in years. As the night moved into the early hours I asked him if he would manage us again and the rest as they say is history! The first thing that happened was to get the band a concrete record deal and that is exactly what happened.
Your first three full-length albums were released in the span of fifteen months. Was there anything about working at that pace you preferred?
Absolutely not! 3 albums in that time frame was madness. We didn’t really have a chance to tour them properly. Crazy Nights didn’t have the production on it that the band wanted and we felt we let all the fans down because it wasn’t as good as we knew it could have been.
What’s more important—a great live performance, or great studio material? How do they tie together for you? Can great live performances be had without great studio material?
To have a great live performance you have to have material you believe in to perform. So even if you haven’t recorded your first album yet but you have a great bunch of songs you believe in it’s so much easier to deliver them with great conviction and make your audience believe in you.
Are there any members from the ’80s that you wish you could have played with more, or that you’d want to reconnect with now?
I’ve loved everyone who has been in the Tygers. Each and every one of them has added a little bit of history to the band and for that I thank them all. Sometimes you get a chance to hook up with past members and in fact the new recording of “Don’t Touch Me There” has Fred Purser playing a guitar solo on it. It’s actually the ‘B’ side of our first single, “White Lines.”
You’ve re-recorded quite a bit of the early material with your current lineup. Is there anything left that you feel deserves to be revisited?
Yes, I still want to do the Cage sessions, which I hope we can achieve next year when we get a minute. Shows are pouring in all over the world for 2020 so it’s when we find time. I’d also like to record a live album with this lineup as well.
With each new album you’ve done, has it become tempting to phase out material out of the live sets in favor of new songs? Is it a challenge to continue to slot in crowd pleasers from the first couple of albums?
It’s SO difficult to play everyone’s favorite song. If we were to try and do that we’d be on stage for hours! There are certain songs that you HAVE to play and then you have to put the new numbers into the live show to promote them of course, but not too many as people aren’t so familiar with them.
What distinguishes Ritual from your other recent albums?
Huge production and every song is a monster. We are so pleased with the sound Soren has achieved, he is shaping up to be the new Mutt Lange, that’s for sure.
How did your headlining slot at Ragnarokkr in 2016 go? Any plans to return to the USA for some more shows?
We loved playing that festival in Chicago and are very keen to return to the states, but of course it’s not that easy or we’d be there every week! Our agent looks for shows in the US all the time so hopefully it won’t be long before we return.
You played Japan last year. How was the experience different from when the band made it over after The Cage was released?
Japan is a fantastic country, and to get the opportunity to play there is amazing anyway! The people are lovely and the fans are super enthusiastic, what’s not to like? The first time we went we played 5 shows in 4000 seaters and sold them all out. This time we went and headlined a festival which on our night was sold out. It was just as fantastic 38 years on!
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about, both Tygers-related and beyond?
I’d like to thank anybody who has read this for their time and ask them to consider buying the new album, Ritual. If you like hard rock music this one is for you…I promise!