Welsh glam metal group Tigertailz have undergone numerous line-up changes throughout a career that has spanned over two decades, with bassist and founding member Pepsi Tate tragically passing away in 2007. Following Matt Blakout’s departure earlier this year, drummer Robin Guy has become the latest addition to the band.
An experienced and enthusiastic musician, over the years Guy has performed with the likes of Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson and now completes the Tigertailz line-up alongside singer Kim Hooker, guitarist and founding member Jay Pepper and bassist Sarah Firebrand.
Robin Guy talks about his love of glam rock, his epxerience as a drummer and his future with Tigertailz.
When joining a new group, how do you follow in the footsteps of another drummer and keep the sound that fans are familiar with, whilst also adding your own unique style?
Well, it’s exactly that – you try to keep the song true to how the fans are expecting to hear it, whilst also adding your unique style to it, hopefully bringing it up a notch – which in turn keeps it sounding fresh for the band who have no doubt been playing it 1000s of times! (and by ‘unique style’, I don’t mean adding a million intricate jazz fills to a rock n’ roll track – just cos you’ve been practicing it in your bedroom).
How involved are you usually with the actual writing of a song or do you usually add your contribution during rehearsals?
Well…I don’t know the ingredients for making clay, but give me clay and I’ll make a decent bowl – meaning I’m not really gonna come in with a new guitar riff, but I’m pretty good at song production, arrangement and structures, and can also make a song rage, or mellow, with how I play my drums. A good musician realises the power of the drums, and an ignorant one thinks they’re just a tempo setter.
Having recently joined Tigertailz, was this transition made easier by the fact that Sarah Firebrand was relatively new to the group and how would you describe the dynamics between the members?
It’s kinda perfect really, as Sarah is new-blood #1, yet she’s been in long enough to totally stamp her mark in the ‘Tailz (she has her own fans!!), and I’m kinda new-blood #2, which keeps it fun and fresh for Kim and Jay – they seem to be loving this line-up! As for band dynamics, they are all lovely people and have no silly egos or whatever – it’s a joy to drink err, I mean play, work, create and hang out with them!
How familiar were you with Tigertailz‘s music and would you have considered yourself a fan?
I have both the Young & Crazy, and Bezerk albums on vinyl at home. Or rather, at my parents home, in their loft. I also have a pretty rare Young & Crazy white tee-shirt that Pepsi and Jay signed for me back in ’86/ ’87…nuff said.
What types of music do you enjoy listening to and what are your main influences as a musician?
Jeez, I know it sounds a cop out to say ‘everything!,’ but I do listen to most stuff – be it Ke$ha to Suicidal Tendencies, or Stuck Mojo to Seth Lakeman! If you come to one of my drum clinics, I’ll play along to tracks I’ve recorded from King Blues (reggae/folk/ragga) to Doom Day (blistering hardcore) to Swans in Flight (jazzy skiffle) to GMT (biker rawk) – and I LOVE IT ALL!! That’s all that matters – right?! Next clinic, I might blast out some Tigertailz.Influence-wise, I grew up on The Police, Adam & the Ants, early Madonna and Iron Maiden.
Have you ever had to perform alongside a drum machine or any kind of programming and do you find this a challenge?
Well, I did a tour in ’03 with All About Eve, and they had some stuff on loop, etc. that I had to play along to with headphones, and like all things, I embraced it as a healthy challenge, and got on fine! I thought it’d be a drag when I found out that most of the ‘Tailz gig was ‘clicked-up’ but it’s all worked out from the word go – much better than I thought!!
Regarding joining the band, did you have to audition for the role and what kind of process did you go through before you were hired?
Erm, I got a call from their management, who explained that my name had kept cropping up over the last year or so, and they thought they’d better see what’s up! Then Jay called and we got on like a house on fire, then they sent me the set to learn, so I learnt it, drove to Cardiff, played one song and they said ‘that’s it!.’ We did 1.5 rehearsals, then straight into a hometown show (Cardiff, not Croydon) with Y&T, and we nailed it, despite Jay and Kim both falling into my kit.
What are your thoughts on glam metal and do you feel that your own personal image fits well with that which Tigertailz has become famous for?
As I said – I love most kinds of music, but in my teens, I definitely lived (and died!) for glam metal! In their prime, W.A.S.P. and Crüe were basically religion, mixed with Hard Rock Hairspray. It’s funny seeing bands like Murderdolls getting huge, twenty-plus years after bands like L.A. Guns were ruling the roost! It’s like a million Slipknot fans are now going ‘wow – look – tight leather jeans look cool!!.’
I’ve got a fairly flexible image – and one that I’m totally comfortable with – whether I’m playing in Tigertailz, or a hip-hop, dance, metal, punk or hardcore crew. Tigertailz was the most bombastic OTT band to come out of the UK to rival the Yanks. I think they did it well!
Having recently made your live debut with the band, which songs in particular do you enjoy playing and how would you compare this collaboration to the previous groups you have performed with?
I’d say my faves are TYFHO, Love Overload, Living Without You and Sick Sex. Also, Kim made me a backing track with WWII Spitfires and Churchill’s speech, for my drum solo – that’s lotsa fun too!!
Tricky 2nd part of question – all I’ll say is I love playing, and when you’re rocking your heart out, playing wicked songs to a crazy audience, with some of the best people I’ve shared a stage with, well, that’s what it’s all about.
With your résumé including working with the likes of Bruce Dickinson, what elements do you feel your experience brings to the group?
Nah – seriously, the more people you play with, the more experiences you’ll have, & also the more madness you’ll see, and the more shit you’ll have to deal with and hopefully overcome! We all love things to go right, but you learn the most from the hard times and they are, of course, what the best stories are made of!
I’ve played in/ with about sixty-five bands, so I’d like to think I’m a people person.
>Do you still feel nervous when you step on stage for the first time with a new band and how do you usually prepare for a show?
Nerves – no! But I get a tad apprehensive if there’s not been much time to get sorted – be that soundcheck, or warming up, etc.
Preparations involve as much stretching as poss (hard if the backstage is actually a toilet!), drumming on a practice pad, jumping around, shadow boxing, and stealing Sarah’s make-up and Jay’s beer.
There was an old joke that went ‘What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians? A drummer.’ How do you feel about this negative attitude that some people have about the contributions that a drummer brings to a band?
Without a drummer, the band would have no one to blame, so we’re all pretty used to it! We drummers all stick together, as a) it’s water off a ducks back, and b) we know we’re the most important person really.
Jason Bonham told me this joke:
Q: ‘What’s the difference between a gynaecologist and a drummer?’
A: ‘A gynaecologist only has to deal with one cunt at a time.’
See you on the road!!