Geoff Kresge: Stand-up Bass/Vocals
James Meza: Drums
For the devoted who tattoo the lyrics and “TigerBat” logo on their bodies, Tiger Army is more than a band – it’s a way of life. Nick 13’s songwriting channels the frustration, loneliness and despair into a triumph of perseverance, buzzing with power and dark romance. The loyalty of the band’s following is evident on their Facebook page and website, where hundreds of photos of Tiger Army related tattoos can be found.
The worldwide psychobilly scene owes an enormous debt to the Southern California trio, whose four albums and relentless touring have infused the genre (a blend of punk and rockabilly with dark elements) with the interest of countless new listeners, particularly in North America where it was virtually unknown before the band’s first release.
Tiger Army embraces its psychobilly roots but transcends the genre with nuanced introspection and a staunch stance against novelty. They follow the example laid down by The Beatles who always maintained a connection to their first musical love, the rockabilly of artists like Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins, even while expanding and redefining it – in some cases beyond recognition.
Tiger Army’s most recent album, Music from Regions Beyond, spawned the band’s first radio single, “Forever Fades Away,” which went to #1 on L.A.’s influential KROQ FM. The video for the track was seen on MTV2 and Fuse TV, as well as being performed on their first live national TV appearance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show.
The group’s back catalog continues to inspire their legion of fans. 13 says, “accomplishing something like selling out the Wiltern [Theatre in Los Angeles] two nights in a row when Regions came out felt great, but what was even better was that the audience didn’t just know the words to the song with radio play, they knew every song.” This a testament to the band’s slow, steady climb that’s owed far more to the grassroots, word-of-mouth support of fans than media hype.
Tiger Army has transformed into an international phenomenon as the band grew from handpicked direct support for acts like Social Distortion, Morrissey and AFI to headliners in their own right. It’s a groundswell that has seen the band sellout multiple night stands in cities as far away as Helsinki, Finland. Tiger Army’s following stretches across the world: London, Tokyo, Sydney and beyond. They’ve performed at Reading & Leeds, Groezrock and several other festivals.
Tiger Army’s draw in greater Los Angeles exceeds that of many nationals who’ve received many times the airplay or had major label dollars behind them. In addition to their multiple headlining runs, including the “Razor’s Kiss” and “Dark Romance” tours, the band has sold out mutliple night stands at the House Of Blues in Hollywood and Anaheim before launching their own annual Southern California event – Octoberflame.
Now four years strong, Octoberflame spans several nights before Halloween featuring a variety of support acts curated by Nick 13 from across mutliple genres and related scenes, all headlined by Tiger Army with set lists that span their deep catalog and influences.
Tiger Army played their first show in 1996 at the Bay Area’s legendary punk collective, 924 Gilman Street, known as the venue where everyone from Green Day to Rancid got their start. Despite lacking a full touring lineup at the time, Tiger Army signed a deal with Epitaph imprint Hellcat Records strictly on the strength of Nick’s songs and vision. The first album followed in late 1999 and the fledgling psychobilly scene in North America took flight shortly thereafter. Songs like “Nocturnal” and “True Romance” presaged the dark palette that would paint much of underground music in the coming decade.
Now based in Los Angeles and featuring a full lineup, Tiger Army embarked upon eighteen months of touring in support of II: Power of Moonlite, including trips to Europe and Japan and sharing stages with Dropkick Murphys and UK punk pioneers The Damned. Two sold-out record release shows at the House Of Blues on the Sunset Strip marked the June, 2004 arrival of III: Ghost Tigers Rise before another year of touring. The years that followed saw accollades from outlets from The New York Times to Entertainment Weekly and continued worldwide touring.
The organizers of the Stagecoach Festival and Hootenanny invited Nick to appear as a solo act at both events before he had even recorded a note of music for his debut. Nick 13 released his self-titled debut solo album with Sugar Hill Records in 2011. The record’s earnest mix of California Country and the midcentury Nashville sound with a contemporary twist earned Nick appearances at Austin City Limits and SXSW, as well as performances on several shows for Nashville’s WSM radio. While recent years have seen more focus on his solo work, 13 is emphatic that Tiger Army will return at full force when the time is right. Not a single year has passed without the band performing live.
Tiger Army remains Nick 13’s vision and mission. At a time when much of contemporary rock music has been reduced to meaningless theater performed by pretenders, Tiger Army is an antidote, bracing in their authenticity.
Tiger Army Never Die!