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(added November 2012)
INTERVIEW WITH CURTIS CLINE
( LEAD GUITAR PLAYER AND SINGER WITH EASY TIGERZ)
by John McVicker
When and how did you form?
EASY TIGERZ formed at the beginning of 2012 with Curtis Cline on guitar and Jason Downes on drums/bass, but we play as trio live with various drummers. I previously performed as a Country/Rockabilly style singer songwriter at London venues such as the Mean Fiddler, Ronnie Scotts and Borderline, but moved to West Wales a few years ago. Jason Downes, is also a singer songwriter, who has played in a number of bands in West Wales. We were chatting one day about rockabilly and decided it would be great to have a jam. Jason originally played drums, but borrowed a slap bass from a neighbour. Nine months later we had an album out.
All the obvious Rockabilly ones: Stray Cats,
Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent,
Buddy Holly and Elvis. On
the country side Hank Williams, Patsy
Cline, Waylon Jennings, Lyle
Lovett, Dwight Yoakam. Favourite band
form the Psychobilly era were The Cramps. But also saw
a lot of psychobilly bands live in the mid eighties Long Tall Texans,
Guana Batz, Meteors, and the
rest and had the peroxide blonde flat-top. I'm also a big fan of early
Psychedelia: Electric Prunes, Thirteenth
Floor Elevators, etc. But I preferred the 3 minute pop songs with
a psychedelic feel, rather than the twenty minute experimental tracks that came
later in the sixties! 55-65 is the EASY TIGERZ main influence.
Hence the band name, we are rock 'n' roll [the tiger side] but with a groovy, early sixties feel [the easy side]. You can hear some of these influences on "Two-headed Tattooed Lover Girls", our debut album.
What was your first gig like?
The first official EASY TIGERZ gig was in a pub on New Years Day 2012. We were supposed to be playing on the roof but it was too wet. So we were in the corner by the toilets and the fruit machines. It went down well. We've played a couple of rock 'n' roll clubs and Psychobilly events, but we soon realised we weren't part of the traditional scene in the UK or the hardcore Psychobilly scene! We're a kind of mutant hybrid, born out of Rockabilly, alt. Country and sixties influences.
What or who first got you interested in
The biggest influence was listening to John Peel on a transistor radio every night between the ages of 10 and 18 (which for me was 1976 - 84). The show was full of Punk, New Wave and Psychobilly, but John would often mix up the playlist with some psychedelic tracks and Blues. And there was still a lot of rock 'n' roll and sixties stuff on mainstream radio. Any record with way too much echo immediately catches my ear - I can't get enough of it. Early on, I brought myself an old WEM tape loop and an old WEM valve amp, and would spend hours experimenting with different delays. I was mainly a singer in the early days, strumming a couple of chords. Then I got my first Epiphone Casino in the mid 80s and started to learn Country and Rockabilly and Blues. Getting the authentic sound and learning the licks was a real challenge. I still try to avoid using any gain or drive now, just the pure sound like BB King, Charlie Christian, Cliff Gallup or Hank Marvin. It pushes you to play in a different way.
Do you guys have day jobs-if so is it hard to juggle the two?
Jason owns a surf shop and I'm a freelance writer and do a bit of work on the interweb. So we juggle. We're both got families so it's not always possible to get in a van and go on a long tour. But it's not hard. It's great fun.
How did you get the deal with western star/how's it selling?
I'd heard a lot of tracks on Western Star. The production was fantastic and there was something original about all the bands he worked with. I approached Alan Wilson (owner of Western Star) to let me go and record a few of my songs with him. Jason came along to play bass and drums. He could tell straight off that I didn't have too much of a clue about recording. But once we started laying down tracks, the early sixties, Nashville and Rockabilly roots shone through. Plus Jason is a great drummer and has almost perfect timing, which Alan spotted straight off. It makes recording much easier. Being a writer by profession, I brought along a file with about 200 lyrics. The music business is all about selling original songs, and that's always going to interest a label.
No idea of the numbers sold, but we've had some kind comments from people who've brought the CD, and some good reviews in magazines like "Vintage Rock" and on the Psychobilly and Rockabilly forums.
Any funny Alan Wilson stories ?
I should leave that to Alan as he is a master of the humorous anecdote! Most of the stories are unrepeatable :-) It's always very entertaining recording down at the studio. He is a genius at the mixing desk, but very passionate about the music and supporting his bands. There's some great shots of the studio on the Western Star facebook page, where you can see his set up - and lots of pictures of the bands! A picture tells a thousand words :-)
What's been your best gig yet and have you played abroad yet?
We had a great gig last night at the Tenby Blues Festival. Blues tends to be quite slow and medium pace, so the audience were lovin' it when the Tigerz started rockin' out with the slap bass. Had a great gig last month with As Diabatz - a terrific band. Can't wait to see them playing in the UK again. We've played in England (which is abroad if you live in Wales). But, we've not played outside the UK this year. We have been offered gigs in Finland and Italy. I work with a few German companies so I have promised to do a gig there next year. EASY TIGERZ use different drummers for live work, so it takes a bit of organisation! We're open to any offers of gigs!
Any plans for the second album?
We're got a stack of song ideas written, which we'll record next year (2013). The usual mixture of 50s and 60s rock 'n' roll, but with a few twists.
What does the future hold for the band?
EASY TIGERZ are doing a small UK tour at the beginning of 2013. Then we'll be looking to play further afield. I love the traditional Rockabilly/Vintage festivals and the hardcore Psychobilly events - but the EASY TIGERZ are somewhere in between and slightly off to one side! I'm finding there are a lot of other off-thE-wall rockin bands in the UK who are in a similar position. So we're hoping to put on a small festival in May with some of those bands. We'll just keep on playing and recording and having fun.
EASY TIGERZ ON FACEBOOK