Ace Finchum was first introduced to Welsh glam metallers Tigertailz through frontman Steevi Jaimz, whom he had performed with in the groups Treason and Crash KO during the mid-1980s. Following the release of their debut album, 1987’s Young and Crazy, Jaimz was fired and replaced by Kim Hooker, resulting in their breakthrough album Bezerk three years later. Tigertailz enjoyed modest success with their hit singles Livin’ Without You and Love Bomb Baby, before changes in the music industry eventually led to them calling it a day in the mid-1990s.
The band finally reformed a decade later and began to gain a new following, although the tragic death of founder and bassist Pepsi Tate in 2007 threw their future into turmoil. With Sarah Firebrand stepping in as the new bassist and drummer Robin Guy having departed the band earlier this week, Finchum has finally returned to Tigertailz for the first time in over fifteen years to continue where he left off.
Ace Finchum talks about his long-awaited Tigertailz reunion.
The most obvious thing to ask first is why return to Tigertailz after all these years and why did Robin Guy decide to leave the band?
I returned to Tigertailz because they asked me, simple as that. I thought it would be fun and great to get out playing the songs I recorded twenty-odd years ago and give them a new spin, as it were. Regarding Robin, I know they wanted a team player and Robin is involved in so many different projects that it was hard to commit to just Tigertailz, so they made the decision to get me back. That’s all I know, I haven’t asked them anything really.
What kind of projects have you been working on over the last twenty years and do you ever play guitar or sing in these other groups?
Well, the week I was fired from Tailz I had the manage of Asia asking me to come to London and play with the band. I had met him on tour and he had seen me play. But I said I can’t see that working at all. But he insisted it would. Well, when I got there I was listening to a new album they had just done demos for, with Simon Phillips playing drums. And they expected me to learn to the song after listening to it once or twice with them all staring at me. It was a complete disaster, and I had learnt the only song I knew of Asia, which was Heat of the Moment. A couple of the band were just complete pricks and made me feel about as welcome as Bin Laden visiting the White House. After that, I started my own band, Ace’s High, did demos, got nowhere and just played in a covers band. And then later on Gypsy Pistoleros, Wrathchild, Steevi Jaimz, Angel Witch and finally settling into Marseille, with whom I still play.
Did you keep in touch with the other members of Tigertailz and how were you approached about rejoining?
I have always been in touch with Kim. I lost contact with Pepsi and Jay, we all had moved on with our lives. I did track down Jay and tried to get the band back together in, I think, 2000. He met up with Kim and then it just died again. I never got to see any of the guys until I attended Pepsi’s funeral.
With Pepsi Tate having sadly passed away and the rest of you now twenty years older, how different does the dynamic feel between you?
I can’t answer that yet, I have only played with them once and did a photo shoot. That’s it! I will get back to you on that one.
How do you feel now about the glam metal that you were playing during the 1980s and do you still wear make-up and spike your hair?
I believed in it, and was doing it from 1981 on. That’s why this band got together. You have four people from all different areas of the map that believed in putting on a show, looking good and doing whatever it takes to make it. We always got compared to Poison, UK’s answer to Poison, the press would always say. We hated that shit! We were looking like Poison before Poison looked like Poison. We always felt we had more in common with Mötley Crüe. We liked looking over the top, but always liked the metal sound.
Which songs in particular are you looking forward to performing on stage and, with the drummer and bassist working closely together in the rhythm section, did you form an immediate bond with Sarah Firebrand?
Sick Sex, Fight Dirty Too, Tear Your Fuckin’ Heart Out, Dirty Needles. I have played with Sarah and it feels so good. We will never forget Pepsi, he was such a big part of the Tigertailz look and sound. But in Sarah we really do have a special person, and a great player who is a team player, who can “play” and with confidence and attitude in abundance.
Are there any issues you feel you all need to resolve from your early days together and does it feel like any time has passed as you begin jamming together?
I thought there would be problems playing together, as it’s years since and we are twenty years older. But it was as if we just got together after the Bezerk tour in 1990 for rehearsals. Like the past twenty years hadn’t happened. We all have our own persona, I mean not everybody agrees on all the same things, but we realise we were lucky to get another bite of the apple. And we just want to have fun, no egos… just fun. And when it stops being fun, then it’s time to put the Tiger to bed. And I know I speak for everybody on that.
What are your thoughts on the albums that Tigertailz have released since your departure?
I thought Warbonez was fantastic. I had been involved in tracks like Tear Your Fuckin’ Heart Out and I Believe, so I know those tracks anyway. But, in my opinion, it is the second best Tigertailz album. Trill Pistol had some good tracks on it; Brain the Sucker is riff-laden metal.
What kind of music do you listen to these days and will you try to incorporate any of those styles into your new material?
I tend to listen to ’70s music most of the time. But I love Thin Lizzy, Beatles, VH, Crüe, Rush. I think we just want big songs, big choruses, big riffs… it’s the Tails recipe.
There has been talk about returning to the studio to record a new album; has anything been cut with Robin Guy and do you feel you are ready to record with the band once again?
Nothing recorded with Robin I think. But yeah, I’m without a doubt ready to record again. But we need to get some gigs under out belt as a band before that happens. This new album is real important and we can’t settle for anything less that “Fucking brilliant.”