Interview with guitarist Cliff Evans
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: August 3, 2014
British Heavy Metal veterans Tank have been going for more than three decades and have released several studio albums, with Filth Hounds of Hades (1982) and This Means War (1983) the ones that people best remember.
Today there are two versions of Tank out there, after the 2007 split between founding members Algy Ward, on one side, and Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans on the other. The Tucker/Evans Tank has released two studio albums thus far, War Machine, in 2010, and War Nation in 2012 (both on Poland's Metal Mind Productions) and are about to start pre-production for their release.
The Metal Crypt contacted guitarist Cliff Evans to ask about the current activities of Tank and, at the same time, cover some of Tank's past. Read on...
Luxi: So, what were you doing before you started answering my interview questions? Trying to figure out what riffs would form the solid backbone for the next Tank hit song, eh?
Cliff: A couple of cold beers after a long week at work. We're not millionaires so we have day jobs to do. I'll probably just chill out and listen to some old albums for the rest of the weekend. Inspiration for new songs.
Luxi: Tank recently visited Brazil and played four shows between the 5th and 8th of June (2014). What kind of experience was it for you? Was this mini-tour as successful as you hoped and will you travel back to Brazil in the near future to do more shows?
Cliff: It was Tank's first visit to Brazil so we wanted to make it memorable for the fans. We've always had a great fan base over there but until now we could not find a promoter who could bring the band over. It took a lot of preparation and a crazy travel schedule but it was worth it. The shows were awesome and it was such a great pleasure to play for and meet the fans who have waited so long to finally see the band on stage. We look forward to returning to Brazil in 2015 and hopefully we can also play some dates in Argentina.
Luxi: The lineup that you toured Brazil with was an interesting one; former Dragonforce front man ZP Theart on vocals, former Sodom drummer Bobby Schottkowsk, Barend Courbois from Blind Guardian on bass and you and Mick Tucker on guitars. Could you tell us how this lineup came together and was the chemistry between you one of the most important reasons why you teamed up?
Cliff: Mick and I were not happy with the rhythm section and decided it was time for a change. We are always trying to improve the sound of the band and keep it evolving into the future. We've known Bobby for a long time and we knew he would one day be occupying the Tank drum stool. He's such a great drummer and a great guy to have on tour. Barend is one of the best bass players in the world. Mick had become friends with him since moving to Holland and played him some song from War Nation. We decided to ask him if he would be interested in playing a few shows with us but didn't expect him to say yes. When he agreed to join us we realized we now have one of the best rhythm sections around today. These guys have added so much to the sound of the band and also we're having more fun than ever. ZP is an awesome front man and vocalist. He can't wait to get on the stage and put 100% into the shows; a real professional. We feel that with this lineup, Tank is now at full power.
Luxi: You have also been working on a new Tank album. How is it coming together? How many songs do you aim to get recorded and do you feel like the album follows the same musical tracks as War Nation, released in 2012?
Cliff: We are writing new material for the next studio album now. Doogie is still involved with the writing and is still a part of the band. This album will be another step forward from War Nation as Tank continues to evolve. We're looking forward to getting into the studio with the new guys, Bobby and Barend. It's going to be heavy. We are currently in negotiation with several labels to get the best possible deal and secure the future of Tank.
Luxi: Is your recording lineup for the next Tank album going to be the same as on War Nation?
Cliff: Obviously, we now have the new rhythm section and we think it's time to feature ZP on the new album. We're very lucky to have two of the best rock vocalists in the world to work with. We'll make good use of them.
Luxi: War Machine and War Nation are the titles of Tank's most recent albums. What's so fascinating about the word "war"? Can Tank fans expect to get at least one or two more war themed album title from Tank? How about "World in Wars?" How does this particular title sound to you? ;o)
Cliff: We have a few ideas for the next album title. Maybe it's time to move away from the war theme. Or maybe not. Wait and see... ;o)
Luxi: Tank's current label, Metal Mind Productions, released a Tank box set, The Filth Hounds of Hades - Dogs of War 1981-2002, which includes 8 albums and a DVD, plus lots of bonus material. It's long been completely sold out, so I was wondering if Metal Mind Productions has any plans to re-release it.
Cliff: I'm not sure what their plans are for a re-release. They did a great job putting the box set together. It was a very good product that was very popular with the fans. It had everything you could want in a box set; all the albums, lots of bonus tracks, a DVD and a great colour booklet. There was also a vinyl edition, which is very collectable.
Luxi: How much work did it take to get all the material together for this box set?
Cliff: Metal Mind contacted me with the idea and needed to find all the recordings to include in it. I gave them the details of the rights holders of the original albums so they could be licensed. I supplied most of the photographs, video footage and some bonus tracks. They put together a really great quality product that gave good value for the money. A lot of time and hard work went into compiling this box set but I think it was worth the effort.
Luxi: How important was it to get this box set released in 2007? Did its release boost Tank's career? What made you to choose Metal Mind Productions to release it and were you satisfied with the final product when you held it in your hands?
Cliff: I think it was a great time to release it. There was a lot of interest in the band around that time. We hadn't played any shows since 2001 and fans were wondering what had happened to us. It wasn't the first time we had taken a long break. Metal Mind approached me with the idea for the release so I felt it could only be good for the band and would keep the fans interested. I was totally happy with the product and above all the fans were happy with it.
Luxi: 2007, the year this Tank box set was released, was when Algy Ward decided to go his own way but continue under the Tank name. What happened in 2007 to cause the three original members of Tank to part ways?
Cliff: Algy really lost interest in the band after the last shows in 2001. It's a shame because we miss working with him but he didn't want to do anything. Mick and I love playing rock and we love to be on the road touring as much as possible. With the success of the box set and renewed interest in Tank, we decided to re-launch the band and bring it more up to date. Bringing in Doogie White on vocals really added a whole new dimension to the band and opened new doors for us, musically. We had always wanted to experiment more and bring the sound and image in line with current bands.
Luxi: How have Tank fans taken to the fact there's now two separate bands working under the name of Tank? Do they find it a bit confusing?
Cliff: It's been nearly 15 years since we last worked with Algy. Most of the fans coming to our shows don't really remember him. They know the old songs but they are more familiar with Doogie or ZP singing them. There are only a few old fans that have a problem with us continuing without Algy but the band had to move forward to survive. Algy didn't want to do it and also had some ongoing health issues to deal with. There is only one Tank currently touring and recording. There is no confusion.
Luxi: Do you believe the three of you might get back together some day and start doing music Tank music with the original lineup? I bet this question is something that you have heard zillions of times before...
Cliff: Unfortunately, I don't think this will ever happen. Too much time has passed and we are doing very well with the current line up. We will only move forward, not backwards.
Luxi: I am curious to know if you have you heard Algy's Breath of the Pit album that he released last year under the Tank moniker? If you have, what are your thoughts about it?
Cliff: I have listened to it. I think there are some great songs on the album but it's badly recorded/produced. I can't understand why he used a drum machine instead of a real drummer. I didn't see much promotion for it and the reviews were not good.
Luxi: Tank is one of the most important cornerstones of the NWOBHM sound, without a doubt. You have seen and experienced a lot, that's for sure. Why do you think Tank has never reached the same level of popularity among Metal fans as, say Motörhead, Judas Priest, Saxon or Venom?
Cliff: We should have been much more successful during that time but a combination of bad management, crap record label and too much alcohol meant we never reached the level of success those other bands enjoyed. We had a bad reputation that was hard to lose (Anvil syndrome? - Luxi). Those days are behind us and we're a much more professional unit now.
Luxi: Back in the day Tank was often compared to Motörhead, which you found pretty annoying, I understand. Also, the year 1983 was tough for Tank as you were without a record deal. Could you share some of your memories about those days with the readers of The Metal Crypt?
Cliff: Tank had the same manager as Motörhead and would often tour in support of them. Filth Hounds and Power of the Hunter were albums that had a Punk-influenced sound, which was similar to Motörhead so the comparison was justified. No other bands had that sound around that time. When Mick joined for the This Means War album, the direction changed and we had a more classic Rock sound. Tank signed with Music for Nations and released the Honour and Blood album just before heading out on the road to support Metallica on their legendary Ride the Lightning tour of Europe 1984. Again, bad management didn't capitalize on this opportunity.
Luxi: How much of that old rebellious punk attitude does the Tank of 2014 still have? Do you believe that the older you get, the angrier you become, which is reflected in your music?
Cliff: It's still there. You never lose it.
Luxi: You also have some history in Killers, as well as Paul Di'Anno's band. What did the years spent with those bands teach you about being a musician trying to make a living playing in a band?
Cliff: I spent 12 years recording and touring with Di'Anno. We released some great records and toured around the world. We've just recently re-released our back catalogue through Metal Mind. Again, they've done a great job and we are planning on recording a new studio album for release in 2015. He's still an amazing vocalist and front man and a living legend, although he can be very difficult to work with, at times.
Luxi: Do you feel the current Tank lineup is appreciated in the world of Heavy Metal nowadays? Have younger generations found Tank?
Cliff: We've gained a lot of respect for our work over the past few years with the release of War Machine and War Nation. A whole new generation of fans has discovered our music and we are in a good position to keep the band going. We have the best musicians, an ever-increasing worldwide fan base and, above all, we are enjoying ourselves more than ever.
Luxi: What can the Tank fans expect from you guys during 2014? A new album, perhaps, and even some shows across the Old Continent?
Cliff: New songs are coming together now. Pre-production will start soon. There will be shows later this year. We have just been confirmed for the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise 2015 and also next years Bang Your Head festival in Germany. More show will be confirmed soon. We want to be on tour as much as possible in 2015.
Luxi: I, for one, want to thank you for your time to getting this interview done, Cliff, and I wish you all the best with all of your future endeavors. The last words are yours...
Cliff: It's always a pleasure to talk about the music I love and respect. Being in Tank is and always has been a great honour for me. I will now crack open another cold beer and drink to the future of Tank. Cheers!
Find Mick Tucker's/Cliff Evans' Tank at the following sites:
|Other information about Tank on this site|
|Review: Honour & Blood|
|Review: Filth Hounds of Hades|
|Review: Valley of Tears|
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