Photo by MiseryxChord.
“Tiger Army never dies!”
That was the world’s introduction to Tiger Army on their self-titled and first full-length in 1999. And from there, the psychobilly band didn’t slow down, blending punk, rockabilly, and horror motifs descended from the genre’s godfather, the Misfits.
Tiger Army gallops through songs grounded in a rhythm section of drums and upright bass, accentuated by Nick 13’s ringing hollow body, tremolo picking, and haunting lyrics. Like a 50s school dance gone evilly wrong.
Nick 13, the only constant member since their debut, uses his position as heart and soul of Tiger Army to focus not only on melody, but also in the creation a different world through music. It’s a world that in many ways looks like our own. But as we gaze deeper that world reveals itself as one of shadows.
Tiger Army’s songs are also romantic stories. Not like the books in the grocery store checkout line, but the kind English teachers talk about. The stories from 19th century, when art explored emotions like fear and horror, uncertain wonder and tragic love. Stories like Frankenstein are romantic. And so is Tiger Army’s brand of psychobilly.
Nick 13 stretches Tiger Army’s sound, and they’ve grown with each of their four full-lengths. He’s pushed them to not only borrow from the Misfits’ horror-rock and roll, but also from the farther reaches of the psychobilly label.
Take “In the Orchard” and its use of the slide guitar.
The song still uses the hallmarks we see in other romantic stories—the elemental lyrics relying heavily on natural imagery and a narrator singing about life’s fleeting nature. But it’s a country song by every musical standard. Other punk bands like Social Distortion have skirted country because of their rockabilly roots, but here Tiger Army fearless takes the genre on.
Tiger Army’s fun, daring, and unique. Those admirable traits coupled with an energetic live show, make them one of those bands to listen to and see every time they come through town. Like the Misfits before them, it’s a sound that appeals not just to punks, but rock fans, metalheads, and the country kids, because in Tiger Army’s music there’s something to everyone.