ROCK FROM A HARD PLACE with Paul Laskey from rock band Cloverhill

Burnley blues/rock band Cloverhill are a vehicle for the songwriting of Paul Laskey. He was keen to talk about recording and plans for the future, but first I asked him about crowdfunding…I think that it is a good thing but maybe tends to get a bit over used and puts people off. As long as you understand that there is no guaranteed return and you are doing it for the love of the music, then more power to it. The ability to maybe give a break to talented people and the right causes is a good thing. We would look at it under the right circumstances.

25659814_2065856833701599_2433353712766431140_n

How did Cloverhill get together ? It started when I was playing at a festival in France where I met another musician playing on the bill, Grant Henderson. Grant is a drummer and producer with a studio in the Leeds area. We got on really well and I asked him if I could use his place to record some of the songs that I had written over the years – so that is how Cloverhill was born. We got in a bass player, Vince Rycheck, and a couple of ladies from bands that we knew to do backing vocals. I played all guitars and recorded lead vocals. Grant added drums, percussion and keyboards.

Were you pleased with the album ? The studio is our blank canvas – I love it. We go in with basic ideas and hopefully a fully fledged work of art comes out. It’s called 7 of One and 2 1/2 of the Other. Named after the settings on the old Fender amp that we used with one of my guitars, a 1980s Kramer. We wanted to get a kind of retro sound to underpin a lot of the album.

Due to funds and time available the album took a while to make, but was completed at the end of 2016 and released in 2017. It was mastered by Tony Dixon at Masterpiece in London, with the brief of  ‘as loud as **** please’.

Any gigs planned for Cloverhill ? The plan was to go live in 2018 as 3 piece with stripped down versions of the songs but, unfortunately, the bass player pulled out at the last minute. He was unable to commit to gigging for a variety of reasons. That threw us up in the air a bit and it took us a long time to find a replacement but we now have one. Marcio Couto, a fantastically talented and funky bass player originally from Brazil, but now living close to me in the North West.

With his introduction we are now on the second round of recording for the new album, which is generally taking us in a more funk/blues Southern Rock direction. It is a lot more stripped down and is probably reflective of a mixture of my real roots and where I am today.

20664583_2002386983381918_8206016026163541416_n

When can we expect any new songs from the band ? A new single, Love You To Pieces will be out by March. Funnily enough, this is probably the most ‘pop’ song we have done and will probably be a bit of an oddity on the album but we felt it would make a good single.

What are the immediate plans for Cloverhill ? The plan is to go live during 2019 once we have all got some sessions out of the way. In the meantime, you can find Marcio and me jamming with friends at The Shift Cafe in Burnley.

 Contact Paul at https://www.facebook.com/CloverhillRock

 Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2019.

The Benidorm Roller with entertainer Martin Weavers

Making a living as an entertainer can be hard going with most people having another job to support their family…. A few year ago I was working as a Health and Safety officer but got made redundant so decided to get a full time job in a school to work alongside the music. This worked really well and my wife and I saved enough money to get to Benidorm and make a singing career out here.

I hope to make our band The Rollermaniacs the best tribute to The Bay City Rollers. The line up is Nick Carter on  rhythm guitar, Xavier Bravo on lead and me on vocals. The Rollers use live guitar and vocals unlike some tribute bands in Benidorm. I’m also planning some solo shows and currently in CoCo Benidorm every Saturday afternoon. Why not pop in ?

51311763_10218668933055053_5271786564421156864_n

What is your background and when did you first get interested in music ? I’m originally from Suffolk and moved to Essex via three marriages. My first memories of music where when my mum used to listen to the forces sweet hearts programme on the radio every Sunday. I first listened to Slade and then the Bay City Rollers came along and I was hooked…I know it’s cheesy but it’s true.

My first gig was as a comedy vocalist in 1993 at the Sudbury Bird Cage Society Christmas dinner. When I was in a comedy double act we had a gig at The Pavillion Theatre in Eastbourne and my partner thought it was a good idea to go to a fun fair after the sound check. After being thrown around on the waltzer I was so sick I nearly had to cancel – but the show had to go on!

Did you see being an entertainer as a full time career ? I’ve also done TV work as an extra on Lovejoy, The Chief and acted in Insiders with Bill Nighy. That went out on BBC1. I was on the pilot episode of Britain’s Got Talent, also the Barrymore and Des O’Connor shows. Always kept busy. From listening to performing, music has given me enjoyment all through my life and over the years I’ve made loads of friends and followers.

What does music mean to you ? I can live the rest of my life knowing I have helped people get away from their normal day to day life, and through the music relive some of their past.

 Interview by Gary Alikivi February 2019.

ONLY A NORTHERN SONG in conversation with Tyneside songwriter John Clavering

What projects are you working on ? I’m in the studio writing and arranging with musician Cortney Dixon. Cortney is like a creative soul mate we have a lot in common the way we work. She is also working with a writer called Jim Lowe – Grammy award winning producer whose worked loads with bands like Stereophonics and the Charlatans. So the songwriting is really coming on and she plans on releasing something this year. I also play keys for her live.

51286867_1541843769279409_567609327217541120_n

On stage with John and Cortney Dixon.

It’s really interesting stuff as Cortney is not interested in pop or the girly image. She’s interested in making an album with 2 sides, the cover, the whole product you know. Really old school. I’m enjoying that stuff. She has management who benefit her with contacts and wisdom as they’ve been around a long time.

A couple of year ago when I was engineer at The Customs Space Studio in South Shields I was working with Martin Francis Trollope who is engineer there now, Cortney and Jade Thirlwell who went on to be in Little Mix. Obviously Jade went through the whole TV route while Cortney went opposite to that but they are both talented and great singers. It’ll be interesting to see where Jade goes after Little Mix and the crazy pop world that she is in. Cortney has been offered that route, she met the Cowells and all of them you know but she didn’t want that. I’m proud that she’s took her own path. Quite a punk ethic really.

What is your background in music ? I was in a few bands in the 80s and 90s. One was 3 Kicks a Newcastle based funk/pop sort of band then The Ghosts of Soul. For that band we done our songwriting, gig’s and video all funded by playing the workingmen’s clubs. We would have a different name doing the covers, make some money then put it all back in and do some recording. I remember how hungry we were. We would of done anything to make enough money. We were at college when Ghosts of Soul were about so we had a grant but that wasn’t enough. We could use the studio gear at college which was great but to be a travelling, touring musician can be expensive.

Were you making a living as a full time musician…..I don’t think you can make a career out of it you’ve got to be lucky to play more than a couple of gigs a week. But if you get a couple of corporate gigs you can get paid £600 for a nights work. In my experience some people aren’t interested in creative stuff when they do covers. Unfortunately people don’t see you as a real musician in the industry.

How do you think live music is seen now ? I worried a few year ago that it was going to be everybody singing along to a macbook (laughs). But it hasn’t gone that way, it’s gone back to bands. There has been a huge resurgence in the sales of classic guitars, Fender, Gibson and old analogue keyboards. As a keyboard player and music technologist that really interests me. But still can’t afford the buggers (laughs). As a 80s/90s musician it feels good that it’s going back to that as it worked really well. It’s fascinating.

51353613_605663463192647_6888177087996231680_n

John 2nd from left and Cortney (in blue) with the live band.

There might not be the financial returns from music but it’s still valuable….Yes like you with film and video you do it because you want to do it. It’s a need. You get an idea in your head, you create it and put it out there. The only way you can justify your existence is by people saying that’s good and that’s a kind of ego rubbing there. But I find it sad that in this commercial world so few people can make their way by just being an artist. A lot of artists I know have another job. People don’t pay for stuff now with Spotify, and on You Tube there is visual tours of art galleries now. So they don’t have money for new art.

There are original bands out there who use the internet as their only outlet. A lot of niche stuff getting heard on Soundcloud and Spotify. They’re not playing live so not making any money at it.

But there is nothing like standing in the front row of a gig. You will never get that feeling from watching You Tube on your phone (laughs). I love going back and watching the 70s/80s stuff that I missed like Led Zep. That’s all great but seeing stuff live like Sam Fender is amazing. Sam is a good friend of mine from North Shields. He is a singer/songwriter. He has a really good band, it’s exciting, he’s touring again this year. Some of his songs have a strong meaning and tackle things like suicide. He get’s it across well. Really visceral with hundreds of students at the gig jumping around. Me standing there like an old fart but it’s really great. On stage it’s all live. There is no tech running. Just guitar, bass, drums, singing.

Sam has built a following with drip feeding a few original songs on-line, and with good management he has been guaranteed live gigs, TV stuff. He was on the Jools Holland show a few month back. He is very media friendly and I think you will see a lot of him. It’s very interesting watching his career develop.

51308616_597862860641441_8872661689116393472_n

What does music mean to you ? Music is a huge part of my life. It’s kept the wolf from the door in a financial sense but creatively it’s my steam valve. I feel really good when I write a song. It’s a soul thing, part of my make up is to be making music.

Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2019.

TWO YEAR LATER…. Alikivi blog in the news.

A 2 year milestone for the blog is four articles which featured in local newspaper The Shields Gazette in the last few weeks. Included in the articles are extracts from some of the interviews I’ve done with musicians.

https://www.shieldsgazette.com/lifestyle/nostalgia/hair-raising-adventures-of-a-south-tyneside-musician-1-9573698

https://www.shieldsgazette.com/lifestyle/nostalgia/hanging-bed-sheet-from-south-shields-bridge-to-promote-gig-1-9560464

https://www.shieldsgazette.com/lifestyle/nostalgia/how-guitar-present-led-to-a-life-of-music-1-9547817

https://www.shieldsgazette.com/lifestyle/nostalgia/when-south-shields-had-a-thriving-rock-scene-1-9535098

Gary Alikivi  February 2019

 

CUSTOM SONGS in conversation with South Tyneside musician & studio engineer Martin Francis Trollope

We had John Gallagher from Raven in the studio the other week. He came in to add vocals and bass for something Steve Thompson was putting together. (Steve is a North East songwriter who featured in a post June 27th 2017). It was amazing. I only heard of Raven when I went to a Slayer gig last November with Anthrax supporting them. They said it was great to be in Newcastle where Venom and Raven came from. A few month later here he was hanging out in the studio. I listened to the album and I could totally see it. When John came in and put the vocal down he could still do it. He was screaming and held a note for about a minute and the bass, well he was flying all over the place. Yes he’s still got it.

Steve was putting these songs together for his publishing company and he was having such a good time it’s ended up for an album. He’s done about 15 songs. He like’s it here so just kept coming back. A lot of people do return, we get reviews on social media saying the studio is just nice and relaxed atmosphere.

36002541_1869003436491732_4830522217135603712_n

Who else have you had in the studio ? Lately we’ve had Newcastle musician Afnan Prince in the studio, also Connor Pattison from Durham. They have an Arctic Monkeys sound. After some recordings here the file of individual tracks of bass, snare drum, vocals etc get sent to another engineer who put’s a sort of extra shine on the mix you know and get’s it played on the radio.

We had some kids from Sunderland doing like indie rock which is a big thing. We had a band called Tank Engine in doing a real thrashy rock. They are from Washington and used to be in a band called Your Code Name is Milo who did fairly big thing’s in the 2000s. The drummer is in a band with tv’s Hairy Bikers. They are releasing stuff in Spring and I’m really looking forward to it, really interesting band.

I’ve done a lot of rap, so I was producing some beats and people were coming on and rapping on them. There was some acoustic stuff like with singer/songwriter Trev Gibb who has branched out on all sorts of sounds now.Most of what I do now is the finished product. Radio play, You Tube and Trev’s is for an album.

Most of what I record here end’s up on Radio Newcastle at some point. Some end up on BBC Radio 6. One was for a 15 year old called Tom Smith. He played on all the instruments and we sent it in and Radio DJ Tom Robinson loved it and played it. Just this Saturday I had 4 songs produced here on BBC Newcastle so that was good.

Sounds like the studio is getting a reputation… Yes it’s building up. Only in the last couple of years it’s started to happen as this has been here about 15 years. First off it was based around a youth club which was a great idea when it was 50p to come in and record. I wouldn’t have started recording if it wasn’t for that.

About 10 years ago Daniel Clifford and I were in a band called Squares and recorded a few EP’s with original engineer John Clavering. We picked up how to record so we made an album. We didn’t know anything about EQ or compression (laughs). But we learned and I ended up getting a job here.

Do you think there is much original music out there and venues to play ? As far as I know there is some amazing stuff in the North East. I catch up with it by listening to BBC Radio Newcastle on a Saturday night 8-10pm. That’s their introducing show run by Nick Roberts. All you have to do is load an mp3 to the introducing site, they have a listen and your song can go to your local radio or if they really like it a national show like BBC1 Extra.

For venues there is still The Cluny, or The Riverside which is good. The Head of Steam is still going. These are Newcastle but as far as I know nothing in South Shields. You can hire out The Customs House but you’d have to already have a following to do that. Most pub’s are focused on cover bands because that’s what get’s people through the doors. I think The Queen Vic were trying out bands but don’t know how that worked. Bands I record haven’t mentioned playing in Shields.

I’m working on putting a funding bid together to organise a live music event mainly for a student audience. Just need to fine tune it.

004.jpg

With home recording made easier why would musicians use this or any studio ? I love that you can record at home. It’s what I used to do for demo’s and singles. Had some good sounds recorded in the house. But if you pay what we charge £15 per hour you get access to excellent industry standard microphone’s, guitar amp’s, drum kit to make a big noise which you wouldn’t be able to do in your house. Plus my years of experience which all counts.

Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2019.

 Contact Martin on 0191 456 3917

The Customs Space, Captains Row, South Shields NE33 5AS

THIS FLIGHT

Steve Straughan guitarist with UK Subs got in touch about an ongoing problem of instruments damaged by airlines. An issue that he feels all touring musicians should be aware off…In 2015 the headstock on my Gibson Les Paul Classic was smashed off while in a hard, solid flight case. The guitar was actually in two pieces. This was the second time it had happened on two different airlines. This was when I decided to take action.

50995032_2178191062202713_5128868048723247104_n

I took to social media and loads of people replied offering good advice. I got in touch with Air France and at first they told me they would not compensate me. Their reason being that the guitar case was not damaged but the guitar was. So I sent an email directly to the CEO of the airline and I started receiving offers of compensation from their staff. Eventually I was compensated but it took a long time.

But this was only due to all the good people out there. All the messages of support really helped. It felt like I wasn’t going through the whole process alone. This is why I set up a facebook page to help others who find themselves in the same unfortunate position. We can take on the big companies if we stick together.

What do you think is the main problem in transporting your instruments ? On top of the lack of storage issue there is the on-going problem of the instruments being smashed by the baggage handlers and left in the airport or even sent to the wrong airport. It’s also a hard fight to get any compensation for damaged instruments. It’s becoming very difficult for musicians.

Airlines have lost my guitar twice. There was one concert in Budapest and another in Spain where I had to use another musician’s guitar. I often get messages saying it’s happened to them.

48386640_2470372222978243_3395874991332392960_n

Is this being addressed by the airlines and can you see it becoming a bigger problem ? More airlines now are refusing to take guitars on board planes and store them in the overhead lockers, or any other lockers. Some airlines are now even stating that you must give them advance warning for guitars to be stored even in the hold. It’s a big ongoing problem.

What do you think is the future for musicians who use airlines ? I’m starting to think that it’s gonna have to be down to promoters to supply guitars and other instruments. A lot of musicians find it hard using guitars other than their own because most have them set up to the way they like them. The sound can also be quite different. The unfortunate thing is I see no other way.

39496777_670905779942649_8486989225256812544_n

If you are a touring musician that uses flights and your instrument has suffered damage or has been lost by an airline please share your story. I’m trying to get musicians from all over the world to act on this and voice their outrage and concerns. The more the better. All of our voices could possibly help you get justice. It worked for me. Nothing is required apart from our anger, frustration and voices.

 If you have experienced any problems contact 

Airlines Smashed Or Lost Instruments group page on facebook.

Interview by Gary Alikivi   January 2019.

ENTER STAGE RIGHT interview with former Tygers of Pan Tang vocalist Jon Deverill

thumbnail

Fred Purser and Jon Deverill.

Jon has just released a new album, Square One with former Tygers guitarist Fred Purser…Square One was recorded in the early 1990s. After the collapse of the Tygers in 83 guitarist Fred Purser and myself decided to continue our partnership. I have huge respect for Fred. He’s quite simply the most talented man I’ve met. On the album he wrote, engineered, produced and played all the instruments, except the drums.

We both shared the same vision and were completely on the same page. Our musical tastes are very similar. Fred has his own recording studio so the facilities were there to make the album. I love the songs.

When was your first experience inside a recording studio ? I had formed a band called Persian Risk with my good friend Phil Campbell who later joined Motorhead. We went into a small studio in Cardiff and recorded four songs. I loved it. I’ve always enjoyed recording. Creating something is very exciting.

How did you get interested in music and who were your influences ? I used to sing along to records in my bedroom and watched Top of the Pops religiously. I discovered that I could actually sing the songs so formed a band in school. My early influences were Alice Cooper, Robert Plant, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel and David Coverdale.

My first band was called Pageant and I formed it with some friends in school. I was fifteen. We played in church halls before progressing to pubs in South Wales. We took it very seriously and wrote our own songs. At that time I decided I wanted to sing professionally.

p1

What led you to getting the job with the Tygers ? I was gigging around South Wales with Persian Risk and saw an add in Melody Maker about the Tygers looking for a new singer. I’d seen the band at Reading Festival earlier that year, 1980. They were great and I very much wanted to join them. I got in touch and came up to Newcastle for an audition and got the job. I was on cloud 9. My life changed forever. A once in a lifetime chance and I still can’t believe my good fortune.

In the space of a year I went from playing small pubs in South Wales to Hammersmith Odeon. I was with the Tygers for six years in total. We played in Europe and Japan. To promote The Wreckage album we toured America, plus of course all around the UK.

My first gig with the Tygers was at the legendary Marquee Club in London. Gone now of course. Oh yes I was living the dream !

tzfpigf

1982 was a good year for the Tygers with a UK tour for new album The Cage, a slot at the Reading Festival in August and appearing on TV show The Tube in December. What are your memories from that time ?  I remember Reading Festival and The Tube very clearly. Reading was amazing. 57,000 people. Our biggest gig ever. We were the last band on stage B and the first to use lights that day. Iron Maiden closed the day on stage A.

The Tube was great too. It was a good gig for us and went out to a big audience. We were on with Twisted Sister who I feel stole the show. They got signed by Atlantic Records after their performance. Iggy Pop was also on. He was frightening. Really scary. God knows what he was on!

Hellbound – Spellbound Live album has just been released. What can you remember from those times ? The live Tygers album was recorded at Nottingham Rock City in 1981. It was my first tour. I loved it. So exciting and I’ll never forget it. High energy and quite literally Crazy Nights! We were promoting Spellbound which is an album I’m very proud of. I think it’s the best Tygers Of Pan Tang album. I still enjoy listening to it.

After a successfull album The Cage, you worked with songwriter Steve Thompson again…..Even though we released The Wreckage and Burning in the Shade as Tygers records. They were really more like my solo albums. I loved working with Steve Thompson. He’s a very talented songwriter and we hit it off instantly. We wrote those two albums and I’m proud of them.

Your next move was into acting. How did the change of career come about ? I’ve always wanted to be an actor. It’s something I’ve done all my life so returning to it made perfect sense. In 1989 I auditioned and got in to The Royal Welsh College Of Music And Drama and spent the next three years training to be an actor. They were three of the best years of my life. I’ve been working as a professional actor ever since. Never stopped singing and I’ve done a lot of musical theatre. A highlight being Blood Brothers in the West End. I’ll continue doing it.

Music and acting – what do they mean to you ? Music and acting is my life. They mean everything to me. Being creative and expressing myself is life to me. I have to act to live. I love what I do and continue doing it till the end. They say you’re a born actor. Yes. Totally!

With the Square One album out on the shelves where does it stand with your Tygers work ? I’m very proud of it. It’s by far my best work. I’m so delighted that it’s finally been released. We never lost faith that one day it would be.

4zqsivkz

Contact the band https://www.facebook.com/sparechaynge/

Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2019.

 

Recommended:

Micky McCrystal, Road Works Jan 3rd 2019.

Fred Purser, Square One Dec 30th 2018.

Robb Weir, Rock City Live Dec 19th 2018.

Robb Weir, Doctor Rock Nov 5th 2017.

Richard ‘Rocky’ Laws, Tyger Bay Aug 24th 2017.

Micky McCrystal, Cat Scratch Fever Mar 17th 2017.

Tygers of Pan Tang, Guardian Recording Studio May 3rd 2018.

Ian Penman, Writing on the Wall, Aug 1st 2018.

Steve Thompson, Godfather of New Wave of British Heavy Metal June 27th 2017.

200 NOT OUT

With the blog hitting over 50,000 views and 199 posts so far, a milestone 200th post comes from a piece in local newspaper The Shields Gazette. Journalist Peter French writes on his page about the post of 14th January 2019 where I featured the music scene in South Shields during the 90s.

002

The Shields Gazette 14th January 2019.

Link to full piece:……https://www.shieldsgazette.com/lifestyle/nostalgia/when-south-shields-had-a-thriving-rock-scene-1-9535098

Thanks to all readers of the blog so far I’m looking forward to adding more interviews  including former Tygers of Pan Tang vocalist Jon Deverill, Burnley blues/rock band Cloverhill and a feature on the issue of instruments damaged on airlines with UK Subs guitarist Steve Straughan.

Gary Alikivi January 2019.

LAST GANGS IN TOWN

 

The title reflects the original music scene in South Shields during the 1990s. The town had countless numbers of venues booking bands who played their own music. But it isn’t the case today. Looking through some photographs I took then, I wondered what the bands thought of those times ?

Iain Cunningham, (Cripplin’ Jack) The 90s was a great time for music. In Sunny South Shields by the Sea the original music scene was thriving. There were original bands with lots of venues willing to give them a stage to hone their craft. Whether it be a Sunday night in the Ferry Tavern, Wednesday night was spent in Porters and The Vic was a Monday night downstairs or Saturday night upstairs. There was always somewhere to watch original music.

 

It felt very much like a community and I’m surprised none of the bands actually cracked it and broke through to the mainstream. It was a great scene to be part of. The nights had great crowds, a cracking atmosphere and cheap beer promotions, which usually lead to hangovers and regret.

45822212_2074535359271871_2773578816197492736_n

Cripplin’ Jack in 1996. Iain Cunningham on the right.

Crippling Jack were formed in 1995 by Ian Maxwell, Dean Walsh, who was later replaced by Paul Westgate, Richard Gardner, Christopher Charlton and myself. We went on to play all over the North East and recorded our demo John Woo E.Q. in the Underfoot studios with Dave and Pete Brewis, who themselves, are enjoying a great career in music with their band Field Music.

Davey Mac was a supporter of the music scene. His rehearsal rooms were legendary and, if they could speak, would tell some stories. I think we still owe him a small fortune as we always ended the rehearsal shouting back up the stairs to him ‘We’ll pay you double next week!

Actually Crippling Jack reformed in 2009 and went on to play more gigs around the town releasing 2 more EPs. After nine years apart, vocalist Ian Maxwell summed up the bands feelings as he stepped up to the mic and declared… ‘It’s good to be back’.

Iain Robertson, (January Blue) This band had many incarnations, and it all started with me and vocalist Woody who were mainstays throughout January Blue and later New Rising. We first played a gig together in April 92 at Cleadon Village Hall with another band called Agadoo Factory. This gig featured the first song Woody ever wrote called Die Forever ! We wanted to keep going and little did we know that we’d be still playing together 8 years later, frequently visiting London having gained a record deal with London records.

313387_222328291159263_1307504854_n

January Blue in 1994. Iain Robertson at the top.

We’d heard Pete Edmonds the manager of Porters bar in South Shields, would pay £300 a gig if you managed to pack the place out. So we hit every bin in King Street with a flyer and our piece de resistance was at 6.30am hanging a bed sheet on both sides of Westoe Bridges to catch the rush hour traffic coming in and going out of town. We got an ear full (and rightly so) for plastering one flyer on the arse of the war hero Kirkpatricks donkey statue in King street, which in hindsight was disrespectful but hell – we had a gig to promote.

Needless to say, Porters was full, we got our £300 quid and Pete Edmonds was bouncing around and grinning like a Cheshire Cat. He booked us again and we were definitely in a good bargaining position for the next gig’.

 

Newts Newton, (Cloud 10) On reflection, I didn’t really enjoy the 90s in general for many reasons but musically, I detested all that ‘mad for it’avin it’ laddish bollocks. It seemed like every new band had curtain haircuts, walked like chimps and stood onstage like tins of milk, wearing tracker tops zipped up to their noses, all while strumming mindlessly with faces like a smacked arse. Trying to be ‘edgy’. Aye right, fuck off man.

Meanwhile, the band I was in at the time, Cloud 10, were writing kitchen sink drama style songs that moaned about all and sundry, while we marched about in overcoats and quiffs thinking we were the fucking Clash, glowering at everyone (laughs).

311185_221431381248954_98958188_n

Cloud 10 in 1996. Newts on the right.

Locally, plenty bands were springing up and yeah, we in Cloud 10 pretty much sneered at them all. Not that we had much to be smug about mind, we were arrogant and nothing special really.  Looking back, being brutally honest, it was a waste of time as our band were better at talking about things, instead of actually getting up and fucking doing them. Although one night, two of us did go out and do some promotion work with two roller brushes and 10 litres of minty buff emulsion paint. But ultimately, it was all pointless.

Interviews by Gary Alikivi December 2018.

ROAD WORKS with Tygers of Pan Tang guitarist Micky McCrystal

Since we last spoke in March 2017 Micky McCrystal has in his words ‘been a bit busy.’ Guitarist for Tygers of Pan Tang is Micky’s main gig but he also teaches guitar here in the North East and has recently been touring with Marco Mendoza ……This past year has been crazy because I’ve done a lot of touring with Marco Mendoza (ex Blue Murder/Ted Nugent/Whitesnake). We played nearly 100 shows together within 6 months. A lot of the shows were in countries like Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania as well as a lot of shows in Germany and the UK. With the Tygers we played around 30 to 40 shows in 2018.

49112305_2199630153586949_1349838771511623680_n

Our last shows of the year were in Spain, Japan and the UK. Japan was amazing, the Tygers fans are super passionate out there similar to South America where they’ll figure out which hotel you’re staying in so they can get a photo and get albums signed etc. They’re super polite and kind and would bring gifts for us, however as soon as we hit the stage they lose their minds and sing every word and guitar lick (laughs). Our tour schedule was surprisingly quite relaxed for Japan. We flew out there and had a day off. The gig was the next day headlining our night at 7pm. We had another day off then flew home. I’m hoping when the next album is out we’ll go back and play some other cities too.

How did the Tokyo gig come about ? I’m not 100% sure but I know we received a message from our booking agent who’d been talking with a promoter of a festival out there. We got an email saying ’Do you want to play in Tokyo’. Simple as that really. To be honest I leave that stuff down to our agent I just get told where and when to turn up with my passport and guitar (laughs).

Can it get tiring doing long journeys on the road ? Yeah often depending on the tour schedule but there’s little distractions now which I guess people didn’t have years ago, you’ve got everything in your phone now, camera’s, music, internet etc. I tend to find I’ll listen to music, read or work on things music related to try and occupy the time. Believe it or not the Tygers Spain tour was more tiring than Japan. We had shows everyday with 8 hour drives and the stage times at the earliest are midnight so by the time you’ve signed merch and talked to the fans your lucky if your back at the hotel by 3am then hit the road at 8am and repeat. (laughs) Don’t get me wrong though I love being on the road and the fans were amazing in Spain.

How did working with Marco Mendoza come about ?  I was at the 2017 NAMM show out in L.A. demoing for various companies. We met out there and found we had a few mutual friends. We stayed in touch and later that year we did a 6 week European tour. This year we’ve toured Europe in February, March then May and June. They’re intense tours, very much show after show back to back which I love and to be honest I prefer that. Sometimes having a lot of days off gives you time to think and I end up missing my fiancé and family. Depending on what country you’re in you can go sightseeing but others can be dangerous… certain areas of South America you don’t wander about without knowing where you are or you can get yourself in some serious trouble. (laughs)

49428998_2126133187696802_900563107628187648_n

Playing live with Marco we would play everything from rock and blues through to fusion and some latin stuff too. He’s big on improvisation and would give us cue’s on stage ‘go to the bridge’  ‘chorus’ or Micky solostuff like that. Structure of song’s would change every night so you had to be on it, but it keeps you on your toes and it’s fresh and fun. I loved it and have learnt a lot from Marco, he’s a mega talented guy.

Is there a new Tygers album soon ? We’ve got an album’s worth of material but we just need to fine tune it. I’d say it’s heavier than the last album. I feel like the last album was quite diverse but I spoke to the guys about us focusing on more of a hard rock album for the next one, I felt songs like ‘Only The Brave’ on the last album were such a success with the fans that we should focus on that hard rock vibe.

13912587_10154415477593967_2290939721224062050_n

In the studio do you work with a producer ? On the last album we had Mark Broughton producing the album with us. He works with Andy Taylor (ex Duran Duran/Power Station). He gave us input and had some great ideas. We also do that with each other within the band. One of us might say ‘maybe that’s not working, try this,’ and we’ll work together to try and get the best possible result. For myself I find that really helpful and Craig (Tygers drummer) has a great ear for melodies so I’ll tend to run a lot of ideas particularly my solo ideas past him first.

Working like that do you come across any happy accidents ? The main riff in Glad Rags from the last album was me literally messing about in a rehearsal and I played it as a joke. The guys said ‘What’s that?? It’s good’.  Sometimes you’re not the best judge of your own work and you need someone to say that’s the take or that’s the riff or else I would sit in the studio until I’m a skeleton (laughs). For the Tygers, I try and write solos like a composition within a composition. In my mind I always think of guys like Randy Rhoads who’s solo’s are like a song within a song.

What’s in the diary for 2019 ? There’s an album’s worth of Tyger songs nearly ready and it’ll probably be the same team that worked on the last album. Søren Andersen (Glenn Hughes) mixing and Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) mastering. Once the album is released we’ll be following it up with a tour. I’m also looking to release a few more guitar lesson products through Jam Track Central in 2019.

For Micky’s latest lesson package releases go to…http://www.jtcguitar.com/store/artist/micky-crystal/

and for the latest Tygers of Pan Tang news go to…http://www.tygersofpantang.com/official/

 Interview by Gary Alikivi December 2018.