About Tiger Army
California punk outfit Tiger Army have been honing their psychobilly anthems since the mid-'90s, playing gigs around the Bay Area. Centered on lead singer Kearney Nick Jones, aka Nick 13, Tiger Army built their loyal following with a dynamic blend of hardcore punk, driving alt-rock, and wild-eyed rockabilly. While their pulpy aesthetic is certainly steeped in the influence of classic horror movies, comic books, and mid-century pop culture, albums like their 1999 eponymous debut and 2016's V •••– also evince a wide-ranging love of rock innovators like Roy Orbison and Joe Meek, as well as the classic punk of the Misfits and the New York Dolls. On his own, Nick 13 also displayed his deep love of Americana and country on his eponymous 2011 solo album.
Nick 13 formed Tiger Army in 1996 in Berkeley, California, and quickly found an audience playing all-ages shows at the legendary 924 Gilman Street venue. After recording an initial EP, the band caught the attention of Rancid's Tim Armstrong, who signed the band to his Hellcat Records label. Two years later, Nick, AFI drummer Adam Carson, and Quakes bassist Rob Peltier headed into the studio to begin recording Tiger Army's self-titled debut, which was issued in December 1999. By year's end, Geoff Kresge was added to play standup bass. Tiger Army was finally becoming a band, and in 2001 they issued Tiger Army II: Power of Moonlite. Later that year, Fred Hell joined on drums and Tiger Army hit the road in support of their sophomore effort as an official rock group. They shared dates with Dropkick Murphys, Reverend Horton Heat, and the Damned, as well as Hellcat's first Punks vs. Psychos tour; a spot on the Warped Tour followed into 2002.
As Tiger Army prepared for the recording of their third album in spring 2003, Hell was shot four times during a botched break-in at a friend's apartment. He survived wounds to the back, chest, and head but was unable to physically play in the studio. Drum tech Mike Fasano temporarily stepped in for him while Hell remained present throughout the studio sessions. He made a triumphant return, as did Tiger Army, in mid-2003 for a short summer tour with Rancid. The psychobilly-powered Tiger Army III: Ghost Tigers Rise followed in June 2004. Kresge left the band after they had finished another Warped Tour; he was replaced by former Cosmic Voodoo and Calavera member Jeff Roffredo. Drummer James Meza was added to the lineup before Tiger Army embarked on another tour, this time supporting legends Social Distortion. They spent part of 2005 touring Europe and Australia before coming home and headlining their own tour of the U.S.
In 2006, they began recording sessions with veteran producer Jerry Finn, and the result, 2007's Music from Regions Beyond, proved to be the most diverse and commercial-sounding album of their career. The band went on to promote the record with a tour spanning almost two years, and marked the return of Kresge to the line-up. The year 2008 culminated with Octoberflame, a festival that the group launched in Southern California. The following year, Nick 13 launched a solo career. He released his debut self-titled solo album in 2011 via Sugar Hill Records, heralding a slight decline of activity in the Tiger Army camp. The ensemble, however, returned in 2016 with its fifth studio release, the '60s-influenced V •••–. Tiger Army were back in action in 2019 with the album Retrofuture, which showed the influence of eccentric cult hero producer Joe Meek. ~ MacKenzie Wilson