He and bassist Pepsi Tate restarted the Welsh outfit in 2004 – but their plans were derailed when Tate was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died in 2007 after they’d released two new albums, Bezerk 2.0 and Thrill Pistol.
Since then Pepper has remained with the band as original frontman Kim Hooker returned then left again, amid a revolving-door progression of other musicians. Yesterday original drummer Ace Finchum announced his second departure, calling the organisation a “bloody mess.”
With bassist Jason Sims having recently dropped, Pepper admits it could be time to “bring the curtain down” – but he’s not yet sure.
He spoke to Classic Rock about the ups and downs of the band’s recent incarnation.
What happened with Ace?
I wasn’t aware of any problems as such, but it seems Ace based his decision to quit on lies our ex-singer Kim Hooker was feeding him about us getting previous drummer Matt Blakout back in. That’s untrue – but Ace, love him, is very gullible. He swallowed it. He thought he’d jump before he was pushed. He also seems to be banging on about contracts and how many records we sold 25 years ago. All I would say is, take it up with Universal Records… and good luck with that.
I’ve never had a problem with Ace – he’s a nice enough guy and not a bad person, and I do have a laugh with him. But he can barely tie his own shoelaces and he’s constantly kicking off about something or other. It gets to the point where you’ve got him ready for school, then out come the toys from the pram again. All this from someone who’s never written one song for this band in over 25 years!! As I’ve said many times, the people who cause the most grief are the people who contribute the least.
When we reformed in 2004 me and Pepsi said we just didn’t need all that grief again, hence the reason we used other drummers. But once Pepsi passed away I was alone in my thinking, and Kim was doing his usual underworld dealings with Satan to get Ace back in the band. Eventually he got his way. I was quite happy with the Matt Blakout on drums – if Pepsi had still been alive the change would have never happened.
Was there a moment you knew it had all gone wrong (again)?
When we finished the last tour with the new line-up at the end of last year. The band sounded great – better than we had in years. But as soon as that tour finished, everyone was looking to me to get stuff going. None of them were really working the band as much as they could: writing songs, booking shows etc.
I’ve seen it so many times where people think they’re joining Kiss with this band. They expect everything to fall at their feet. And that’s just not the way it works in the 21st century. Everyone looks at me as if to say, ‘So what’s happening now?’ rather than being empowered to go out there and exploit the Tigertailz name as members of the band.
Is it all just bad luck?
You can look at it as bad luck – but I saw my mate Pepsi die from pancreatic cancer in 2007, so all this is just trivial bollocks by comparison. I’m 50 years of age and I’ve been fortunate to have some incredible life experiences with the band over the last 30 years. So I consider myself very lucky indeed.
Is it all down to Pepsi’s absence?
Any band would miss someone like Pepsi. He wasn’t really a peacemaker as such, just a well-balanced guy with a razor-sharp mind who I completely connected with. We both had similar outlooks on how the band should be run. I’ve never had a connection with anyone like I had with Pepsi Tate, before or since. Losing him was a massive blow. But that’s the hand life deals you and you need to get on with it. The one thing I’m absolutely sure of is Pepsi would respect my decisions and be behind me 100% in whatever I choose to do with the band. I have absolutely no doubt about that.
Would he have done things differently?
I think he would have handled the personalities and recent situation in much the same way as I have. He was one for not getting too caught up in the emotion: if there’s a problem, you deal with it and move on. But I know he’s pissing himself laughing right now and would see the funny side of all this…What a bunch of fucking chumps!
What happened with bassist Sarah Firebrand and original singer Kim, who both left in 2012?
Our decision at the time to get a female bass player in was probably the single worst decision we’ve ever made. That’s in no way a personal attack on Sarah – she’s a nice person. But it was without doubt the catalyst to all the current problems.
Within a few gigs it was very clear the dynamic of the band had completely changed. We looked great, but from a personal and creative level it all went down
the shitter within a very short space of time. Kim seemed to prefer working with Sarah, so there was no longer any collaboration with us anymore. He and Sarah also had different ideas about how the band should be run and operated. I’m happy to take some of the blame for this as I’m a very driven person and have my own ideas. But I think I’m a reasonable person who’s more than happy to sit down with anyone over a beer and discuss what’s best for the band; if their ideas make more sense then I’m totally cool with that.
But we ended up in a complete meltdown situation where Kim and I didn’t connect any more. The final straw came when we arranged a band meeting – but Kim sent Sarah to talk on his behalf! She came in with written notes and the points Kim wanted to make. I felt really sorry for her. That was it for me. I just couldn’t believe the guy I’d known for over 25 years and looked upon as my friend was sending his ‘secretary’ to talk for him at a band meeting. Spinal Tap be fucked – you couldn’t write it!
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