How long were you a member of the Tygers ?
I was in the band just over 12 years. After Robb (Weir), I’m the longest serving guitarist.
Why did you leave ?
At that time I wanted more from the band including more gigs and I felt my writing ideas were stifled by the Tygers style. I could write typical Tygers style songs but a lot of my songs needed a different outlet – but the grass ain’t always greener and all that. I’ll always be grateful for my time with Robb and the Tygers.
Dean has an impressive list of recordings from his time in the Tygers – Mystical (2001), Noises from the Cathouse (2003), Animal Instinct (2008) and Ambush (2012).
Two live albums, In the Roar in 2003 and 2005’s Leg of the Boot, recorded in Holland. Plus a couple of EP’s, Back and Beyond in 2007, Wildcat Sessions in 2010 and the Spellbound Sessions in 2011.
There was also a compilation album produced in 2003, Second Wave – 25 years of NWOBHM, which included five songs each from Tygers, Girlschool and Oliver/Dawson Saxon.
What was your experience of studio work ?
Everything with the Tygers was fun – studio, rehearsals, travelling and gigs. It all seemed fairly relaxed to me. The days working with producer Chris Tsangarides in his studio was fun and a memory I’ll cherish.
I worked with Chris at a studio in London for the Second Wave album with Girlschool and OD Saxon. Plus we recorded the album Ambush in his own studio in Dover. He was a great guy, up for any suggestions and would give his advice when he thought it was needed or asked for.
His walls were covered in gold and platinum discs by some great inspiring bands, plus a few strange ones – I remember him making a point of showing us the Samantha Fox one (laughs).
I remember him sat at his desk with a guitar in his hand while we were recording, and when we would come back in, he would be playing a version of the riff or wanting to know a part he couldn’t work out. We could have easily spent the first week just chatting, he had some amazing stories.
The best for me was Judas Priest, he talked about how Rob Halford was just incredible and had perfect pitch every session and the music from the metal gods was intense. But he would listen to the band chatting in the studio and their Brummie accents made him laugh.
When did you pick up the guitar & what were your early days like in music ?
I live in the North East now, but I’m originally from London and I got my first guitar when I was around 9 year old from my cousins future husband. At the stag party I pestered my Dad all day for him to buy it, he waited till the groom was drunk and offered him £10. Then he came home with a Zenta Strat copy and a Leo 6 watt amp. It was nice he came to see me in the Tygers years later.
Playing live in bands in the early days was the usual pub and club circuit, then I joined a club rock band where I met up with Craig Ellis (drums) and Brian West (bass). Eventually our friendship took us into the Tygers.
How did the job come about ?
Brian West was the first of us to join the Tygers, who at that time were just Robb Weir (guitarist) and vocalist Tony Liddle. Brian got a call from Tony who he knew and had worked with before. The Tygers had almost completed the Mystical album (2001) and needed second guitar and drums for live work. I came in and played a couple of solos for the album.
When I ran through a few old tracks with Robb in the studio he seemed quite pleased that I had done my homework on the songs. We then booked a rehearsal studio for a week and jammed through most tracks. I’m not sure Robb was that interested in spending time auditioning after that cos basically we hit it off instantly and he was happy with my playing. Gigs were already lined up and Robb wanted to get out there again.
Where was your first gig in the Tygers ?
I always reminded Robb that my second gig I ever went to was the Tygers/Magnum and Def Leppard concert at Newcastle City Hall – I still have the ticket stub. (Wild Cat tour April 20 1980).
We were signed to Z Records who asked us to headline a Z Rock festival in Wigan. Robb had asked if we could be further down the bill with it being our first gig and at short notice, but it was already advertised as a Tygers comeback show.
Our singer Tony was also working in another band and was in Russia while we were in rehearsals. Therefore we only had one day with Tony and he wanted to change the songs and order. It was a shambles – definitely one to try and forget.
(Set list.com have the gig on 26 August 2001 featuring Tyketo, Contagious, Jaded Heart).
Blimey ? Can’t remember the date, somewhere I have a video from the show. I think the gig was at a venue called Maximes, I only remember Tyketo being on the bill, Danny Vaughan is such a good vocalist.
A few weeks later we went to Germany for another Z Rock Festival and that was a lot better. However Z Management were not happy with Tony on vocals, so after two gigs we were looking for a new singer.
Have you any road stories from gigging with the Tygers ?
I’ve so many great memories, and met so many great people. We used to get up to a lot of mischief in hotels, even two minutes before walking onstage there was always something going on.
Once Robb nearly crashed our van in Germany and almost ended up fighting with the other driver because of Craig. Craig and I were always the last to bed and our ‘Tygers Night Game Compendium’ became famous for all the wrong reasons – say no more about that.
Robb, Craig, Gav and Me sat with our trousers round our ankles watching the 50 second beat the clock Babestation challenge as a set up for our Manager and vocalist Jack – don’t think they were impressed !
Were there any songs you looked forward to playing in the live set ?
I liked playing Hellbound and when we put a new album track into the set. Unfortunately never got to play any Ambush tracks live, would have loved to play the song I wrote Rock n Roll Dream.
What are you doing now and do you keep in touch with the Tygers ?
I was playing in top AC/DC tribute Live Wire – The AC/DC Show for a few years after I left the Tygers. I started playing bass and singing in a trio where we rehearsed up a few of my Tygers tracks and wrote new material but it never made it to the stage.
I speak regularly to Craig and Robb, and Micky (Crystal) who took my place in the Tygers. When this year finally gets going again I hope to meet up with the Tygers again at a venue and say hello to the new boy Francesco, be nice if you were there too Gary.
But yeah I’m still writing, mainly lyrics and the odd riff. I have a few old ideas that might rear their ugly heads at some point, you never know.
Finally, what does music mean to you ?
It was an escape. Really, just a way of life.
Interview by Gary Alikivi February 2021
Check the official Tygers of Pan Tang website for a full discography: