“I always get depressed at the beginning of the year and I thought this would be something to do and take my mind off it." Tiger Moth Tales and their A Song Of Spring

Tiger Moth Tales
(Image credit: Rob Reed)

Peter Jones has been making elegant sounds as Tiger Moth Tales for almost a full decade, but on his sixth album, he decided to go back to basics with a more of a traditional prog rock approach. Here, he discusses the upbeat A Song Of Spring and the perils of setting tight deadlines.

Peter Jones is a self-confessed musical hoarder. Writing his own music since the age of 10, the multi-talented Tiger Moth Tales leader has religiously stored away recordings of those tentative sound experiments and will occasionally revisit them for inspiration when cursed with occasional bouts of writer’s block. 

“There are tracks on this album that have parts on them which are quite old,” he explains. “I used to try and write prog when I was really young and in my early teens. I’ve still got a lot of that stuff and I quite often call upon that if I’m struggling for a bit of inspiration. Even going back as far as being seven or eight I would literally just sit at the piano and just improvise for 10 minutes. I would get to the end of it and think, ‘There’s a song.’ I mean some of it was pretty awful and those tracks will never see the light of day. I never throw anything away so sometimes I can get inspired by something which I probably wrote about 30 years ago.”

Tiger Moth Tales

(Image credit: White Knight Records)

Formed in 2013, with debut album Cocoon appearing a year later, Tiger Moth Tales is essentially a solo project, with Jones responsible for writing and performing the material. This latest release, A Song Of Spring, follows on from 2020’s Still Alive, an album that generally took a more stripped-back, song-oriented approach. Although generally welcomed by his fanbase, Jones is aware that the stylistic alteration may have alarmed some of his listeners. Indeed, in the accompanying press release for this latest album, Jones refers to A Song Of Spring as being a return to form, perhaps openly admitting a lack of satisfaction with its predecessor. 

“What I meant was that maybe it was more to do with other people’s expectations,” he argues. “It was a very deep album for me and drew on a lot of my own experiences. I don’t know. Maybe it was just too personal and a lot of that really came from the heart. With it being so stripped back, I got the impression that some people might have thought, ‘This is a bit different and not what we expected.’ I may be making all of this up but I thought it was time to come back with a full-on prog experience. To have a bit more bombast, a couple of epics and be more true to what Tiger Moth Tales was traditionally about. I wanted to pull out all the stops with this album. You can be torn: on one hand, you don’t want to end up doing the same thing every time because then people will say that it’s just the same old stuff. But then if it’s too different, you will lose the people who liked what you did before, or you will confuse people. It’s a tricky one. Personally, I just like the variety and I hope enough people like it as well.”

Writing originally began in February 2021 and Jones had set himself the somewhat restrictive – and arguably preposterous – target of writing and recording in just four weeks, potentially releasing the album shortly afterwards. It’s a feat he’s achieved on a previous album, but as the writing and melodies developed, it was apparent that he wouldn’t achieve that goal. 

“Yes, the idea was to do the album in a month and then have it ready by the beginning of March and maybe put it out in April, so it would still technically be in the spring,” recalls Jones. “I knew at the time that it was a tall order but knowing that I’ve done it once before I was sure that I could do it again. Obviously, whatever happened that first time around, the stars were not aligned this time. It got a lot more complex and had a lot more layers to it. In the end, we got the album finished by the end of June, so there was a lot that went into it plus I got a few other people involved as well. It always takes longer the more people that you get involved. I still wanted to put it out in spring, so decided to sit on it and wait until this year.”

Tiger Moth Tales

(Image credit: Rob Reed)

Thematically, the record follows on from 2017’s The Depths Of Winter, and is part of his ongoing ‘four seasons’ set. As readers may expect, the spring-oriented album has a generally uplifting tone. Indeed, songs such as Spring Fever, Mad March Hare and Light are as spiritually heartening and triumphant as their titles suggest. But aside from the desire to ensure that there was a musical connection to the optimism of the season, Jones also reveals it was an antidote to his own depression that often strikes him in the throes of winter.  

“I always get depressed at the beginning of the year and I thought this would be something to do and take my mind off it and everything else that was happening at the time. Things were looking dark one way or the other and I thought, ‘Let’s get into something positive.’ I suppose it’s a well-trodden path, you know, the joys of spring, and it’s a pretty obvious thing to do really. I did want it to be largely a celebration album and I think at the time lockdown was still happening and there was a lot of uncertainty. But I don’t want the whole album to be the same. There is a lot of cheery stuff on this album with a lot of nice happy tunes but then there are those dark moments as well. I like that contrast.”

Away from Tiger Moth Tales, Jones has been a member of Camel’s touring band and as a result of that relationship, the album’s closing track, Light, includes a contribution from Camel guitarist Andrew Latimer. It’s something that notably delights Jones when he recalls his work with them and his evident pride at Latimer’s distinctive sound being added to one of his albums. 

“Andy’s such a great guy and we have talked about maybe getting him on one of the albums for a while now,” says Jones. “That has really been down to timing, and we had talked about it for previous albums. With this [one], there were a couple of tracks that I had earmarked and I thought we could just leave long spaces that could allow him to really do what he wants. In the end, he contributed to the song Light, but that was probably a good thing. It’s such a fantastic solo and with it being the end of the album I think it’s a highlight, and it’s really effective. I’m a very grateful that he took the time to do it and it’s an honour.”

Given his prolific work rate and the myriad side-projects he’s involved in, can we expect to see another release this year?

“I’ve actually already written a track for the ‘summer’ album, but now I’ve also got potentially three or four albums knocking around in my brain,” he says. “It’s really a race to see which one gets out there first. I’m actually working on a new album now but it’s not a seasonal one. So I don’t know is a short answer. I had also started the Storyteller series and so far there has been a Part One and a Part Two. I just kind of leave it hanging to see if there will be a Part Three and that will happen when it happens. And right now, I think that the Seasons album series is the same. We could even do that one this year but we will have to wait and see. Ultimately, it’s all rewarding and I’ve had so much fun with many projects and bands over the years. I’m a very lucky lad.”