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Tiger Army's Nick 13: "'50s rock is so great - it just needs another generation to rediscover it"

Nick 13 of Tiger Army
(Image credit: Lisa Mauceri/FilmMagic)

“It seems people are less interested in classic rock ’n’ roll in America these days,” says Nick 13, the guitar-playing frontman for West Coast psychobilly masters Tiger Army. “There’s interest in country and Americana, but when it comes to '50s rock, you feel like you’re the last of the Mohicans or something, ya know? 

"The music is so great - it just needs another generation to rediscover it. There’s just not much rebellion in the air.”

Retrofuture, the band’s perfectly titled new album, might have just what it takes to get that rebellion ball rolling - and at truly breakneck speeds. While their last offering, 2016’s V•••–, indulged the punk side of Tiger Army’s personality, Retrofuture takes a trip to the land of spaghetti westerns, Wonder Valley expanses, late-'90s Dick Dale, I - vi chord progressions and reverb-drenched late-night clubs and highways.

“There’s a definite Latin influence on the guitar on this record,” Nick says. “I think some of that is coming from living in Los Angeles. It also comes from certain Joe Meek ('60s U.K. record producer) songs that I’ve heard. His work wasn’t very well known in the States. 

"My mom is English and so a lot of things she liked, such as the Shadows, would also be in the mix. I’ve found myself listening to a lot of early instrumentals in recent years and I think that has shown up in my own music.”

I plan to do a second solo country album when I’ve finished touring the new Tiger Army album

Operating as a solo artist and a member of Tiger Army (Nick being the only constant member) begs the question, what’s the difference between solo and band projects? 

“Oddly, the solo record [2011’s countrified Nick 13] was a lot more collaborative,” he says. “The players and producers on that record had quite a bit of influence on how the sound evolved, whereas with Tiger Army I have a specific idea of what I’m going for sonically and what I want the bass lines to be. 

"I plan to do a second solo country album when I’ve finished touring the new Tiger Army album. I already have some songs written for that.”

Gretsch recently honored Nick - a long-time Gretsch maniac - with a seriously cool-looking signature model, the G6128T-N13 Limited Edition Nick 13 Signature Jet, which was produced in a run of - you guessed it - 13. They sold out instantly, but there are plans afoot for more signature models. “I don’t know if any will be made in that exact format, but we do have some things in the works,” Nick says.