‘We supported Girlschool at the Royal Standard in Walthamstow, London. The DJ gave us a big build up, the house lights went down, he said ‘Would you please welcome…Jaguar…..total silence, then one lone voice shouted ‘fuck off’…..I could’ve cried….ha ha’.
Jaguar were formed in Bristol, UK in 1979 and were in the thick of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. The band released 2 singles ‘Back Street Woman’ in 1981 on Heavy Metal Records and ‘Axe Crazy’ in 1982 on Neat. They also released 2 albums ‘Power Games’ in 1983 on Neat records and a year later ‘This Time’ on the Roadrunner label. They also appeared on 2 compilation albums contributing ’Stormchild’ to Heavy Metal Heroes in 1981 and ‘Dirty Tricks’ on the 60 Minute Plus released by Neat in 1982.
Original member Garry Pepperd takes up the story… ’My very first band was at school, as I recall we were named Deadly Nightshade. Then at college I had been putting bands together but they kept falling apart without really getting anywhere. Jaguar was at the time our latest attempt at putting a decent band together, one that might actually stay together long enough to play a gig. I remember watching Van Halen support Black Sabbath in 1978, that was a really big moment – blew me away. Then seeing Iron Maiden play in a tiny club in Bristol to a handful of people, they were awesome. It was moments like these that inspired Jeff Cox, original bassist in Jaguar, and I to want to do it ourselves’.
‘We started gigging in 1980 in Bristol pubs mainly, then we started to go further afield. We got up to Bath, then Somerset, Devon, Dorset and into Wales. There was a UK music paper at the time called Sounds and they had pages of gigs for the coming week, with all the venues and telephone numbers. It sounds incredibly simple but we just used to go through the listings ringing up venues and asking for gigs, it worked. We got loads of gigs that way, some were smaller venues but even so it was great. We would end up driving 150 miles to do a gig on a cold, dark, wet Tuesday night then have to be up early to get to work the next day – hardly any sleep but we loved it’.
Who were your influences ? ‘When I was young the bands I loved at the time, Motorhead, Sabbath, Priest, Budgie and Maiden. I loved UFO but I was also heavily into Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Damned and punk in general. An odd mix I suppose but all influences. Maybe that is why I like to play fast. Ramones still inspire me today as do Maiden. I am still a huge music fan – always have been’.
What were your experiences of recording ? ‘Well I’ve been recording since 1980 when I first went into Studio 34 in Bristol to record Jaguar demos. Then we released two 7 inch vinyl singles before the first two vinyl albums Power Games and This Time, this was in the early eighties of course. We did a BBC Radio 1 session for The Friday Rock Show in 1984 and boy how awesome were the BBC’s studios, even back then, state of the art! We were in the middle of recording the second Jaguar album at the time and didn’t want to go back to our own studio after that !
In the February 1983 edition of Kerrang magazine, Jaguar were interviewed by music journalist Malcolm Dome, and talked about the release of their first single ‘Back Street Woman’ on Heavy Metal Records…’We sold about 4,000 copies in only 10 weeks, which is good going right ? But the company refused to re-press it and never gave us a satisfactory explanation as to why. That’s part of the reason why we left them’.
After a slot on a festival in Holland with headliners Raven, the Neat records label owner Dave Woods was in the audience. The result was their next single ‘Axe Crazy’ was released by Neat Records. Plus the interview in metal magazine Kerrang was a big help in getting exposure for the band…Garry remembers it was all going to plan… ‘Then the Dutch thing started to happen for us so we would spend weekends playing in Holland, quite often with Raven. That was a whole different ball game, bigger venues, lots of fans, great times, luckily we still get to play there nowadays. In 1984 we did a British tour with Girlschool, that was good, we played a lot of gigs supporting other bands and played with Lita Ford, Thor and Vardis’.
But by 1985 the band had run out of steam and were put on the backburner. Garry brings the story up to date…‘After a very long lay off we got back together in 1998 and have been together ever since. The line up has changed along the way, I’ve been the only constant member’. (Jaguar’s present line up is Garry Pepperd (guitar), Simon Patel (bass) Nathan Cox (drums) and Jarvis Leatherby (vocals)’.
‘We’ve been putting out CD albums, about ten I guess, along with some re-issues. Our last Jaguar album we recorded was in 2014. That was Metal X at Stage 2 studios in Bath. That album had a vinyl release too. We recently played at the Pyrenean Warriors Open Air festival in France and the Frost & Fire festival in the USA in October 2017 so we’re still going strong’.
For more info, photo’s and gig dates contact Jaguar on their Facebook page.
Interview by Gary Alikivi September 2017.
CLOVEN HOOF: Shine On, 20th April 2017.
SAVAGE: The Mansfield Four, 8th May 2017.
TOKYO BLADE: Under the Blade, 26th May 2017.
CLOVEN HOOF: On the Hoof, 21st August 2017.