Jaguar interview (07/2015)
|Conducted by:||Bad English (e-mail)|
After starting the band in the late Seventies and despite several lineup changes and a rather long break-up, NWOBHM band Jaguar are still doing what they do best; play awesome music.
We caught up with founding member Garry Pepperd, and this is what he had to say:
A blast from the past. Jaguar way back when
Bad English: Hello. Hi, my name is Edgar. First of all, thank you for this interview.
Garry: It's my pleasure, Edgar. You are very welcome.
Bad English: I will start with a simple question: the band formed in Bristol in 1979, but you ended up in Luleå, Sweden. How did this happen and how long have you been living here?
Gary: The band formed in Bristol in 1979, yes, but since 2000 no band members have actually been living there; we were spread out around the southwest of England. I came to Sweden in April this year to live with my Swedish fiancee; we now have a home together here.
Bad English: How does life as a musician in Sweden differ from life as a musician in the UK?
Garry: Well, where I am here in northern Sweden, it's certainly different from what I am used to back in England; the whole music scene is much smaller for all live music, not just metal. The quality of musicians and bands though is easily equal to the UK though, if not better. Personally I'm like a kid in a sweet shop, I feel musically born again... lol...!!
Bad English: In the early '80s, how easy was it to play music? Was it like a teenage rebel act or was it something more?
Garry: Looking back now it seemed pretty easy, but that's probably just my memory. Definitely, though, it was much simpler then, without all the technology and media available now to worry about. In our case I'm not sure it was any teenage rebel act; we were just young rock fans having fun, writing songs and playing gigs for our mates. It developed into more than that, of course, but it didn't start out that way.
Bad English: An associate of mine claims that NWOBHM was just a period of time where bands played similar music, rather than an actual style. What does NWOBHM mean for you - is it just a time period or a proper genre with a specific sound?
Garry: Well, maybe he has a point. We were not really aware of any movement to start with, we just seemed to fall into what was happening though, we were just doing our own thing and it sort of came in around us. The term NWOBHM was coined of course by the English music media at the time; it came from Sounds / Kerrang journalists. I think it's special, though, because although it was pretty brief a lot of great bands that have stood the test of time sprang up in that short time frame. Most of the bands are still around and people are still interested, which of course is great, and that surely indicates that the quality of the bands and the music was there in the first place. It was a friendly movement though with bands looking out for each other.
Bad English: The band was broken up between 1985 and 1998; was it easy to bring it back up and start playing again, and was it easy to ask the other members to run it again?
Garry: No, it wasn't easy. The band was put back together at the suggestion of Jess Cox, the then co-owner of Neat Records, to put out a new album as the re-release of Power Games was doing so well. To start with I had to ask myself if I really wanted to do it again and work out if it was indeed possible. I took quite a while to think about if it was what I really wanted to do and eventually decided to give it a go. After much thought Jeff Cox came back onboard, but singer Paul Merrell said he just couldn't sing in the style we needed anymore; he said he was too old, which was a shame but we respected that. We decided, too, that we didn't want drummer Chris Lovell back in the band so we had to recruit a new singer and drummer, which of course took quite a time and was bloody hard work!! Eventually we found Nathan Cox and Jamie Manton.
Bad English: What did you do in that period? Anything musical, or no?
Garry: Straight after we split I formed another band with Paul Merrell called The Arena. The plan was to carry on where Jaguar left off, although I guess the music was more AOR than anything else. That lasted a couple of years but broke up due to partying becoming more important than the music; we were living in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates at the time, which was the party capital of the Middle East! After that I played indie rock with The Flatmates/Sweet Young Things for a while, got fed up with that and moved to Los Angeles. That came to an end when my father became ill and later died, so I came home back to England. The time after my father's death was a very tough period for me personally. I didn't want to play anymore, and only got back into playing a few years later when I joined a covers band, which was great fun and paid good money. When Jeff and l got Jaguar got back together again in 1998, I quit the covers band to concentrate on Jaguar.
Bad English: How was the process of reviving the band different from the process of creating it in the first place?
Garry: Reviving the band back in 1998 was definitely more difficult than creating it in the first place. When Jeff Cox and I put it back together we both had young families at the time so finding the time was a problem, and of course we weren't kids anymore so everything was much more of an effort, ha ha! When the band first started we were just teenagers with no responsibilities or families to take care of so it was all fun and just seemed to fall into place easily; at least that's how I remember it, anyway!
Jaguar - Axe Crazy Live @ Sweden Rock Festival 2014
Bad English: Iron Maiden and Saxon are the two biggest NWOBHM success stories. Why did they become so successful while other NWOBHM bands just stayed in the underground?
Garry: Hmm, quality, timing maybe, and of course having major record labels behind them, just like Def Leppard, too. That said, a lot of major labels signed a token NWOBHM band and they stiffed, so I'll stick with timing and quality... oh, and luck, did I mention that?
Bad English: If the internet had existed in the '80s, where do you think Jaguar would be now, and how big would it be today?
Garry: That's a tricky one because we more or less killed our own career by changing to a more melodic style with This Time, which I guess would not have had anything to do with the net even if it existed back then. If we hadn't changed then who knows..... Maybe the net would've helped back then, but the business would've been totally different, as it is now; we probably wouldn't have fitted in... lol...
Bad English: Is the internet (the legal side) good for music promotion or do you think the '80s were better?
Garry: Of course the legal music side of the net is good because if you're organised you can get a huge promo splash for your band going, and the costs net-wise are virtually nothing except for your time. We are currently re-organising our long-neglected net profile and it's giving us a new lease of life, so yeah, I approve. As I've already said the '80s were much simpler, certainly as regards promotion and stuff, but as to which is better, I don't know; you can't go backwards.
Bad English: What are your thoughts in regards to the dark side of the internet, specifically illegal downloads, and why do you think people nowadays don't buy records as much?
Garry: The problem is, of course, is that there is a whole generation of kids that are used to simply getting their music in a few clicks, sadly without paying for it either. My children, for example, are of this generation and not only do they have no interest in buying CDs, they don't even want to download and store it, although they will on occasion; generally they just stream it as and when they want it. How do you educate them to understand that they can't keep on taking it for free? I tried and they just laughed at me.
Bad English: Vocalist Jamie Manton left last year. Have you had any success with a new one?
Garry: Jamie Manton was fired in September 2014 due to personal issues within the band. We took a new singer on late last year before I left England, but it didn't work out so we have had to start the search again. As of when I write this (mid June 2015), we have not yet taken on a new singer but we are closing in on someone, so watch this space!
Bad English: Do you have any new albums or concerts planned (maybe here in Luleå), or any other future plans?
Garry: Well, because of the singer situation we have had to cancel a lot of shows over the past nearly a year or so, which is annoying to say the least and of course makes future planning difficult. That said, as soon as a new singer is in place we will start arranging shows and we have big plans to bring the band to Scandinavia. So far, Jaguar has only played once in Oslo a few years ago; in fact, we've already started working on the arrangements now. We are going to target northern Scandinavia. As regards a new album, well, that's for the future as our last album, Metal X, has only been out for seven months.
Bad English: What bands inspired you as teenager, and what inspires you now?
Garry: My initial influences when I was young were all the bands I loved at the time: Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Budgie, Iron Maiden, and so on. I loved UFO but I was also heavily into The Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Damned and punk in general; an odd mix, I suppose, but all influences nonetheless. Maybe that is why I like to play fast, ha ha!! The Ramones still inspire me today as does Lemmy, Lips from Anvil, people like that, true survivors. Masses of bands influence me; I am still a huge music fan.
Bad English: Is music today better or worse than when you were starting out? Do you have some favorite ''modern'' bands?
Garry: It is what it is. For me it's the same; there were good bands and crap bands in the early '80s and there are good bands and crap bands now. Personally I prefer bands and artists from the '70s and '80s, but that's just my personal choice. My ears are always open, though, and if I like something I like it regardless. As regards 'modern' bands there are some I like: Disturbed, In Flames, Six Feet Under, Rammstein, and a lot of others, too, actually.
Bad English: Thanks for doing this interview and good luck in the future.
Thanks to Gary for doing the interview and special thanks to ScreamingSteelUS for the proof reading!
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