Interview: Nick 13 of Tiger Army — Solo
Tiger Army guitarist and frontman Nick 13 discusses his new self-titled solo album, which recalls the sounds of vintage honky-tonk and classic California country.
Greg is probably better known as a steel player than a six-string guy, but he’s amazing at both. The legendary steel player Lloyd Green is on three cuts as well. He played on The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo and the amazing "Little Darlin’"-era Johnny Paycheck stuff, among many other things, and he still sounds great!
Where did you record the album and how?
The album was mostly recorded in and around Los Angeles, but I did go to Nashville to get Lloyd Green and Eddie Perez on the record. The tracking and mixing studios all had vintage Neve consoles. The recording process was fairly drawn out due to constant session work and touring on the part of the producers and players, but the results were worth it.
I know you own several vintage guitars, including a 1955 Gretsch Rancher. What others do you own, and which is your favorite or most-prized guitar? Are you generally a Gretsch fan?
Definitely. Solo, I only play acoustic and leave the lead duties to someone else, whereas Tiger Army is a three-piece. I have a ’57 Gretsch Duo Jet and an early ‘60s Double Anniversary, both of which are used on the new album. Another favorite is a refinished ’56 Fender Esquire. I have other Grestch Anniversary models and a ‘60s Rickenbacker 330, among other things. Someday I’d like to add the right '50s Les Paul Junior and early '60s Mosrite.
Which guitars did you use on the album?
Acoustic-wise, the ’55 Rancher is definitely on quite a few cuts. The other main acoustics used were a 1940s Martin D-18 and a '50s Gibson J-45 that belongs to Greg. And while I didn’t play electric, several of my electrics were used, including the Gretsch Duo Jet and Anniversary I mentioned before, as well as the Fender Esquire.
Josh Grange used his ’64 Gibson ES-335 on “Someday” and a few other cuts. We borrowed a ’52 Tele from my friend Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham of Social Distortion. Greg had a '50s Gretsch Fire Jet that he used for some overdubs, his own '50s Tele and a vintage Jazzmaster that he played on “Carry My Body Down” next to the Gretsch track that Josh had played.
How about amps and effects?
Between Greg, myself and some of the players, we had an arsenal of vintage Fender amps. Some of the main ones were a '50s tweed Harvard, my ’64 blackface Deluxe, Greg’s blackface Princeton and a silverface Deluxe. A vintage reverb tank (also courtesy of Mr. "2 Bags") was used on some of the tweeds. Most of the effects came directly from the amps, reverb, vibrato and so on. A '60s Gibson Falcon was also used here and there.
What’s your typical setup with Tiger Army?
Live, I generally play a ’57 reissue Grestch Duo Jet run through one or two Fender Tone Masters. I’ve been using a lacquer-finish White Falcon for some songs in recent years. I use a Boss DM-2 analog delay and occasionally a chorus pedal if the song calls for it -- usually an Ibanez CS-9 or a Boss CE-2.
What’s your summer touring schedule like? Do the Nick 13 shows coincide with Tiger Army shows?
I’m mostly focused on touring and promoting the solo album this year, but it is the 15th anniversary of Tiger Army so we had to do a couple of shows; we play the Orange County Fair on July 30 and Tempe, Arizona, the next night. That may be it for the year. Solo, I’ll be on tour in the States for much of the summer and well into the fall. My solo Facebook page is a good place to view the dates.
Is there a new Tiger Army album in the works?
Not officially, but I never know when a melody will pop into my head, then I’m grabbing the nearest guitar and recording device, my phone or whatever. I’ve definitely got several TA songs written that I’m excited about; that’s also true for solo. I can’t say which one I’ll head into the studio with first at this point, but I can say that the future will bring another solo album and another Tiger Army album.
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