Cliff Evans and Mick Tucker, the Tank duo, make a triumphant return to the stage with a timeless performance to commemorate their 40-year journey with the band.

Cliff Evans and Mick Tucker, the tank duo, make a triumphant return to the stage with a timeless performance to commemorate their 40-year journey with the band....

Interview by Mark Lacey

 

 

Formed in 1980 by former Damned bassist, Algy Ward, Tank began life as a pop punk metal band, joining what was affectionately known as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Following the release of their second album, the band hired an additional guitarist, Mick Turner, followed the following year by Cliff Evans, after original guitarist, Peter Brabbs departed. Despite many line-up changes, and an on/off relationship with their founding singer, throughout the last 40 years, the guitar partnership between Mick and Cliff has endured and created a lasting legacy. 2024 sees the band energised with a new line-up, a return to America, and an intimate London show, their first in the UK for well over a decade. Cliff and Mick talk to MyGlobalMind.com.

“In ‘84, we were out on tour supporting Metallica to promote the ‘Honour and Blood’ album, and it should have really taken off from there. They were becoming really huge, but we had no management working for us. They threw us out there on our own. No money, no support, no promotion. That album should have been huge, but it wasn’t. We did that tour with them, and Metallica have done quite well since then, but we disappeared after that”.

 

 

MGM: Tank have been together for over 40 years, but how would you describe Tank in 2024; the sound that you’re putting out and what you want your music to say?

Cliff: We’ve moved forward a lot since the early days, and the original lineup of Algy and the Brabbs brothers. Back then, it was very punk inspired, because Algy was in The Damned originally, and it was always a bit rough around the edges. When Mick joined in 1983 it became a two-guitar band. For the first two albums, ‘Filth Hounds of Hades’ and ‘Power of The Hunter’ the band was a three piece, and punk influenced. Mick came in and it changed to more of a classic rock vibe for the ‘This Means War’ album. Every album has progressed from there, and now we’ve been through many different lineups over the years. We had an American tour lined up, and some European festivals, but Covid hit and that stopped us in our tracks for a couple of years. It’s really just recently that we’ve thought, things are returning back to normal, so let’s get things together again.

Mick: In the beginning the band had a punk edge, and the management, Doug Smith was Motorhead’s management. They wanted the band to get out of that Motorhead type mould, so they got me in because I’m more of a classic rock guitar player and I’m more of a songwriter as well. They got me in to change the direction of the band, which I did, and off we went.

MGM: Were you both familiar with Tank before you joined?

Mick: I remember hearing ‘Stormtrooper’ and thinking, wow, that’s quite a good song. There’s a lot of good songs because Algy was a really good songwriter.

Cliff: Very catchy, with catchy hook lines.

Mick: They were just punk pop songs, really. That’s all the first two albums are. Algy actually said to me he wanted to fill the gap between the rock stuff and Rainbow. He wanted to go the ‘Rainbow Rising’ route. That’s what he wanted.

MGM: What was it that encouraged you both to join at that point in 1983/84?

Mick: I was in White Spirit and that had just split up. I answered an ad in the Melody Maker, and it turned out to be Tank. I went down there. They said, one number, go to the pub, we had a beer and they asked me to join. Apparently, I downed a pint in one go. So, they said, “Yeah, you’re in the band”.

Cliff: That’s basically been it for everyone who’s joined Tank since.

MGM: You both joined the band at a good time for that genre of music. Saxon were riding the charts with Crusader. Motorhead had just refreshed their lineup with Phil Campbell on guitar, Wurzel and former Saxon drummer, Pete Gill, which Lemmy described at the time as giving him a new lease of life.

Mick: I actually auditioned for that. I spent the afternoon in the studio playing Motorhead songs.

MGM: Presumably the audition includes downing more than one pint, if you’re auditioning for Lemmy though?

Mick: Lemmy said “Have one of these. This beer was about 9%. It was quite an enjoyable afternoon.

Cliff: If you’d got that gig, you would have been dead by now, Mick.

MGM: Those two bands in particular were really riding the wave of success. At that time Tank put out two highly respected albums ‘Honour and Blood’ and ‘Tank’. But then you parted company?

Cliff: We didn’t really split. We just had a break because Algy disappeared for a while, didn’t he?

Mick: I had a bit of a fallout with Algy because I found out about some money things that were going on. In 1990, there was adding the Melody maker, saying, blues rock band require pro guitar player. So, I rang it up and guess who’s on the end of the phone? Algy. That was the Nicky Moore Band. I was in that with him for two years, and then we formed Conspiracy, which was the follow-on. And then we put Tank back together for the ‘96 European tour. So, we were always playing together really. We never stopped.

MGM: How did you feel at the time when Tank took that pause? You were doing very well. The albums were very high quality, but the industry had slightly turned away from that style of music by 1989.

Mick: It was all the pussy rock stuff coming, and all that bollocks.

Cliff: We had a lot of problems. Obviously, in ‘84, we were out on tour supporting Metallica to promote the ‘Honour and Blood’ album, and it should have really taken off from there. I mean, we were touring with Metallica as they were becoming really huge, but we had no management working for us. They threw us out there on our own. No money, no support, no promotion. That album should have been huge, but it wasn’t. We did that tour with them, and Metallica have done quite well since then, but we disappeared after that.

Mick: If you look at ‘This Means War’, it’s probably the album that should have really made it. But Algy decided to take a year off. He played one show at the Marquee, and that was it.

MGM: When you got back together in ‘97, you still played very few shows after that. The re-union album ‘Still at War’ is very good, but you’ve been quoted in other interviews, as saying that Algy’s heart wasn’t really in it, and that he lost interest. They must have been quite difficult.

Cliff: When we put it back together in ‘97, we did some European shows and festivals, and soon after that, Algy did lose interest. He had a lot of health issues. He just didn’t want to do anything. Me and Mick had been in the band for quite some time, and we wanted to play. We were ready to work on new albums, and Algy was like, “no, that’s it, we’re not doing anything”. It was a disheartening time for us, really. Algy was always a bit awkward; it was the way he was. A very talented guy, but he could be very difficult to deal with on occasions.

MGM: You both parted company with him some years later. Did that feel like a mutual parting of ways, or was it more difficult at the time? It led to two versions of Tank, in terms of output at least.

Mick: It wasn’t two versions of the band, as Algy couldn’t play live anymore because of health issues. He basically left the band. So, we thought, right, we’ll carry it on. Simple as that. The reason why people think there were two versions of the band, is because he put two albums out, which were demos. He released them, just to get an album out there and to try and spoil it for us.

MGM: One of those demo albums, ‘Sturmpanzer’, was an album that you guys had worked on together, isn’t it?

Mick: I’ve got the actual demos here. I worked a bit with him on that. I’ve got the actual original CD. It’s got some tracks which no one’s heard before. Algy just sort of fizzled out. He wasn’t bothered, really. That was it. We started work on it and it just didn’t happen. Simple as that.

 

MGM: The next incarnation of the band had Dougie White come in, which lasted 6 years, and spawned two great albums in ‘War Machine’; and ‘War Nation’.

Cliff: I spoke to Dougie yesterday. They are doing their tour right now. It was quite a tough decision to continue without Algy in the band. Me and Mick discussed it over quite some time, and then we made the decision that if we were going to do this, there was no point trying to replace Algy with someone very similar. We’ve got to take it much further forward and do something we’ve always wanted to do; which was bring a vocalist in, so we could really expand on what we were doing musically.

Mick: It went exactly the way Algy wanted; ‘Rainbow Rising’ ….. he said that right in the beginning.

Cliff: Doogie’s a great frontman, and he really brought something to the two albums that we made together. It took us in a different direction there. We really built on that and we thought they’re pretty good albums. We’re proud of those.

MGM: You commented earlier on the many line-ups through Tank’s history. You are the only two consistent members since 1984. Why do you think that you’ve seen so much change?

Cliff: It’s always difficult because, when you get these vocalists in, you think, we’ve got a great lineup now, great vocalist, real pro, sounds fantastic. And then Schenker or someone will come along and steal them. It’s like, OK, fair enough. If they can earn more money and they go to bigger things, you can’t hold people back. But it’s been very difficult actually keeping musicians.

Mick: That happened with ZP Theart and Skid Row. He was really good in Tank.

Cliff: ZP’s favourite band has always been Skid Row. So, it was a dream come true for him to join the band. Obviously, it didn’t work out too well in the end, which is a shame because he’s a really good guy.

MGM: You’ve had a bit more change since. Randy, David Readman and Bobby have all recently gone, so who’s going to be playing with you going forward?

Mick: Randy (van der Elesen) went to Vandenberg. (David) Readman, just sort of said, I’m off. And Bobby (Schottkowski) wasn’t interested.

Cliff: It’s a whole new line-up we’ve put together. We’ve brought in Karl Wilcox from Diamond Head on drums. He’s just an amazing drummer. On bass we’ve got Gav Grey, who was with the Almighty and Tygers of Pang Tang. And Mick found a new guy, a new vocalist in Sweden, Marcus von Boisman, who just fits into Tank so well. This line-up’s a bit rough around the edges, so it really suits what we’re doing there. These guys are spot on.

Mick: Now with Tank, instead of just me and Cliff, we’ve got five people pushing in the same direction.

MGM: You’ve recently announced a show on the 20th March at the Cart & Horses, Birthplace of Iron Maiden, and then a few days later you’re going across to Houston, Texas, for the Hell’s Heroes festival on the 23rd March. That’s got quite a pretty impressive line-up including Queensryche, Sodom, Candlemass, Doro, and many others.

Cliff: It looks really good. There are a few bands there I’m looking forward to seeing, and it looks like it’s a pretty well attended festival, with a great lineup. The last time we were there was, I think, 39 years ago. So, it’s about time we made a return. There’s going to be more stuff going on in America. This is really just getting us back in the door there. We’re doing the Cart & Horse show first. It’s just a nice little warm-up. And we fly out the next morning to Houston to do this festival. We’re playing on the Saturday with a good time slot, and it’s going to be great to do it with this lineup as well, so we can really make an impact.

MGM: You’ve not really played any shows since 2019, due to the COVID pause. Those shows centred around the ‘Re-ignition’ album, which saw you re-visit and re-record new versions of some songs from Tank’s first few albums. It looks like you haven’t played any shows in the UK for a very long time too; well over ten years?

Mick: I think it was 2011, the last show we played in the UK, Cliff?

Cliff: We also opened up for Michael Schenker at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 2013. That was the only show. There will be a UK tour coming up later this year.

MGM: What can fans expect from the shows? You’re billed for these two shows as playing a ‘Classic Set’. What does that mean?

Mick: All the best numbers off of the first four albums. It’s a really good set. It kicks ass.

Cliff: The festival wanted us to play stuff from the first four albums so they could say it was the Tank classic set. A lot of fans in America only really know those first albums, and they’re not too familiar with the later ones, so we’ll give them what they want and another time we’ll introduce them to some newer stuff. That ‘Re-ignition; album was a bit of fun. We were still playing several of those songs in our live set when we went out, but they sounded completely different to how they did on the original recordings. So, we thought, let’s go and have a bit of fun. Let’s get in the studio, just bang through those songs how we play them now and release that. That album is just different versions of those songs and it’s gone down pretty well.

MGM: Are you going to play the ‘Re-ignition’ versions of the songs or will you play closer to the original recordings?

Mick: Well, what I’ve done is I’ve re-recorded the entire set, live set, with the new vocalist. We kept it sort of to the original, but not. It sounds better than Re-ignition.

Cliff: This new vocalist, he’s quite an amazing frontman; he’s brought a real new energy into the band. And having Karl on drums and Gav on the bass, it’s going to be a show.

MGM: When you played those last shows in 2019 you performed pretty much the entire ‘Re-ignition’ album, but you didn’t play ‘The war drags ever on’. Why did you choose not to play that one live?

Cliff: It’s such a long song, almost 20 minutes. It takes quite a lot of energy to play. That one went on so long, so now we’ve cut it down so we can do it live.

Mick: It’s five and a half minutes now. We sort of compressed everything and took out half the verses that weren’t needed.

MGM: Was there any other reason why you decided to revisit those songs? And why those songs in particular given that you had four albums worth of material to choose from?

Mick: They were the songs we normally play live. It had changed so much over the years, that we thought it was a representation of the band at that time. The drums were recorded in the studio, but everything else was recorded at home.

MGM: You’ve got Leader of Down supporting you at the Cart & Horses, the band that was initially formed by ex-Motorhead player, Wurzel (RIP). Some fans may know that you, Cliff, played on their first album ‘Cascade into Chaos’, which was released some years after Wurzel death.

Cliff: Yeah, that’s right. I’ve known Tim, the bass player, for a long time. Great guy. They’re a really good band, and Tim’s helped us out a lot. I helped them get their record deal with Cleopatra in America. Tim kindly asked me to play a solo on the album, which is quite a privilege. We’ve always kept in touch with those guys, so it’s going to be great doing a show with them.

MGM: The promotion for the London show mentions ‘Algy Ward 1959 – 2023 RIP’. He passed away in May last year after a period of ill health. How do you reflect on your memories of him? You both played alongside Algy for many years, but you parted ways several times, and history paints an often difficult relationship between you all.

Mick: He was one of a kind, the Oliver Reed of metal, he was. I had some absolutely great times with him.

Cliff: I have some serious memories; good ones and bad ones. He opened doors for you, and then closed them. When he was on form, he was the best. But sometimes when he would hit the bottle a bit hard, there were a few issues. But he was a great guy. He gave us our chance back in the day, to get up on stage and join a big band. It’s a shame that it fell apart and he got into bad health. We never really made up after that, which I really regret.

Mick: We always thought there was a possibility that he’d come back. The door was always open for him.

Cliff: I saw him in Hastings wandering down the road, just a couple of years ago. I thought, should I say hello? I thought he might hit me or something. Now, obviously, I wish I had spoken to him. It’s quite sad. I regret not making up with him.

MGM: Looking forward, you’ve got a new line-up and these dates booked. What does the future look like for Tank? With it involve more music, as well as more shows?

Mick: I’ve got an album ready now. I’ve got 15 songs done. It sounds great, with the new vocalist on there. Absolutely amazing.

Cliff: We’re looking at later this year, early next year, to get it out.

MGM: Rock and metal music seems to be having a bit of a resurgence at the moment. So many of those legacy bands that put out high quality albums years ago are now coming back and playing anniversary tours, including Uriah Heap, Saxon, Judas Priest, Raven and many others. After your own 40-year career, do you feel you’re starting to get recognition and appreciation from new fans?

Cliff: I think so, definitely. These bands that were considered has-beens a while ago, now they’re legacy bands and people want to see them because they’ve got all these great albums, and they’ve still got a few members left in the band. These are the guys selling tickets now, more so than these new bands coming up. These guys are out there. They’re making money, having a good time and playing on a decent level, which is what they deserve.

Mick: Over our career, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but this new line-up with Tank, it’s the best feeling I’ve had about any album, and any lineup ever. It’s like a proper band in the old days, and everyone’s into it 100%.

 

www.tankofficial.com

www.facebook.com/TANKFILTHHOUNDS

About Author

 
Categories
InterviewsNews
EXTREME’S UNMATCHED MUSICAL MASTERY AND ELECTRIFYING STAGE PRESENCE: A DEFINING FORCE IN ROCK HISTORY LIVE AT MARS MUSIC HALL, HUNTSVILLE, AL
EXTREME’S UNMATCHED MUSICAL MASTERY AND ELECTRIFYING STAGE PRESENCE: A DEFINING FORCE IN ROCK HISTORY LIVE AT MARS MUSIC HALL, HUNTSVILLE, AL

EXTREME’S UNMATCHED MUSICAL MASTERY AND ELECTRIFYING STAGE PRESENCE: A DEFINING FORCE IN ROCK HISTORY LIVE AT MARS MUSIC HALL, HUNTSVILLE, AL

Photo Credit: Myglobalmind

Imminence - The Black

Experience the Haunting Sounds of MISTER MISERY’s Latest Single ‘Erzsébet (The Countess)’

Get Ready for Record Store Day: Def Leppard’s Live Leadmill Set on Double Silver Vinyl

Pain – I Am Review

Bywater Call’s Latest Single: “Roll” Canadian Roots, Rock, and Soul Band Releases Uplifting Retro-Soul Number

RELATED BY

G-TQ58R0YWZE