Tigertailz: "I think Pepsi would have admired our persistence"

a press shot of Tigertailz

Guitarist Jay Pepper checks in as the Welsh glam-metallers commemorate the passing of their co-founding bassist Pepsi Tate (inset, above) with a one-off charity gig at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham.

Does it seem like a decade ago that Pepsi Tate passed away?

We’ve just pulled together a video for Fall In Love Again from our first album, and most of the available footage was quite old – my God, how the illness [pancreatic cancer] decimated him. So no, I can’t really believe it.

Tell us about the Pepsi you knew.

He was bombastic and full of life, a pleasure to be around. He only had forty-two years but he filled them to the brim. Pepsi and I shared a very silly sense of humour, but he was also very motivated and fun to be with. A really explosive character.

Outside of rock’n’roll, under his real name, Justin Smith, Tate worked for BBC Wales and directed a weekly politics programme called Dragon’s Eye.

Yeah, all of us did different things once the band fizzled out [in 1996]. Pepsi went into video production. He was sharp-edged and creative and he applied that to everything he did. Whenever we did an album, Pepsi would write more songs and lyrics than anyone else.

As the son of Dempsey & Makepeace actor Ray Smith (who played Chief Superintendent Gordon Spikings) could he be ‘showbizzy’ at times?

He had a bit of an ego [laughs]. In the video for Love Bomb Baby [1990], Kim [Hooker, frontman] looks at him as if to say: “Let someone else get into the shot.” It was like being in a boxing ring – but not in a malicious way.

Would Pepsi be shocked to learn that, a decade on, Tigertailz still exist and are into their thirty-fourth year?

Of course he would. I’ve had lots of criticism for the many line-up changes, and there were times when it all became a bit of a car crash, but that’s what happens when you lose key members. With the last album [Shoot To Kill, 2016] we went back to the big production thing, and I know that he’d have loved that.

Given the upcoming special show’s significance, will it feature more oldies than usual?

Yeah, we’ll be pulling out tunes that were either written by Pepsi or that he had a great allegiance to. It’ll be a very warm evening.

Might there be any special guest appearances on the night?

I doubt it. I don’t have much to do with Steevi [Jaimz, singer], Ace [Finchum, drummer] lives in America and I haven’t spoken to Kim since he left the band five years ago.

What’s next for Tigertailz in the grand scheme of things?

How much longer we can go on I really don’t know. But I think Pepsi would have at least admired our persistence against the odds.

An Evening For Pepsi takes place on September 16.

Tigertailz - Blast album review