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A chat with Tailgunner

Tailgunner the band whose spirit is set to be the fuel which keeps the torches alit for the older sound of traditional Heavy Metal, imbued with their own signature virtuosity, the legion is set to release their debut album next year 2022, as well as unveil their first single and video, ‘Guns For Hire’. So till the day arrives where we are graced with their music, I hope you, the reader can gain enjoyment from the conversation ahead, may its words awaken a spark that converts you towards the league of Tailgunner!

Hello and welcome to the realms of Metal Digest, firstly, how have you been? For the new readers and soon to be potential fans, would you mind giving us some insight upon the conception of Tailgunner, what was the desire and drive to construct this new beast? Also what’s the band’s main motive when it comes to the music? We are most eager to know!

Hi Justin, Craig here from Tailgunner, nice to meet you, I’m doing pretty good thank you.

So it all started quite a few years ago actually, me and Tom were following each other on Instagram and I remember thinking what a really great bass player, anyway we started chatting about music and bands and that kind of thing and finding out we like a lot of the same stuff.

Tom mentions he is starting up a new band with elements of Thrash Metal NWOBHM and Power metal which sounds amazing and is right up my street, so he sent me a song he had been working on called ‘’Guns For Hire’’ which I recorded some demo vocals for and we just went from there really, once we had two guitar players, Patrick and Zach, we had a meetup and jammed together through a few covers and a few of the songs we had been working on, which was going great but we still needed a drummer, and at the time me and Sam were in a band called Midnight Prophecy, but after a few months after that first Tailgunner practice, Midnight Prophecy disbanded, so it was just really natural for Sam to join Tailgunner, which felt great when we had the full band line up.

As for the drive and desire, I think I speak for all the lads with this, but we just love creating music and having a great time doing that, but also, we want the songs to get out there and for other people to enjoy them as well, hopefully. But most of all were really looking forward to getting on a stage together and playing as a band, it’s been a rough two years with covid for everyone so it would be nice if we can put a few smiles on people’s faces or headbang with their fists in the air in a few venues across the UK next year.

Feel free to keep me honest here, but from listening to your debut single, ‘Guns For Hire’, to me it seems you all are very much influenced by the older days of NWOBH (New Wave of British Heavy Metal), I am most keen to know, what about that particular era called to you…attracted you? And to you personally, what does that style of music means to you as an artist, for in my opinion, it is bands like you all who keeps the flame burning when it comes to that particular genre.

I would say so yes. We all have different influences in Metal music but honestly, I don’t actually know, for me its what I was brought up around, my family were pretty much all rock and heavy metal fans, there would always be that kind of music playing or someone wearing an 80s metal t-shirt with some awesome artwork on it, so yeah it’s rooted in me I guess from an early age.

As an artist now it’s raw and it’s real, and it just sounds like people having the best time creating music, and I think that comes through on a lot of songs from that period, just from the raw energy. And thank you, it would be an honour someday to carry that flame.

Your debut album arrives on January 22 nd , 2022, which isn’t too far away, so…could you give us some needed insight into the creation of the album? From the inception to the recording process? How was the energy during the recording from the band members as seeing as this is the material which represents your work…your brand, how does it finally feel to have that effort and talent be born into a physical form?

Actually, the album is scheduled for January 2023, but we will be drip-feeding singles and content throughout next year. It feels great though, having these songs we’ve been working on for so long to finally get out there, for the writing process I didn’t have a lot of input to be honest, I would normally chip in with lyrics and vocal melodies but at the time it was a hectic and busy time for me, however, Tom’s lyrics and vocal melodies for the songs are absolutely brilliant and as a singer, they are a joy to sing. There was a song I wrote that will be the last track on the album that was going to be a Midnight Prophecy song but never got round to being recorded before the band split. I think it came up in conversation at a practice one time and so we all listened to it, everyone seemed to like it, and now it’s made its way onto this album. 

We did a bunch of pre-production as well for the album as in recording demos for each song and even altering songs, cutting back what we didn’t need and adding bits, so some songs have gone through a few different versions to what you will hear on the album.

We all had a great time when it came to recording the album, we converted an old chapel into a sort of makeshift home studio for a week, so it was a really cool vibe, and we had the freedom to record whenever we wanted to, plus having the full band all in one place to hang out together was pretty rare for us as we’re from all over the country.

Going back to your single, ‘Guns For Hire’, you recently also shot a video to accompany this, and from what I can gather, the location was used for screen tests for the movie, Hellraiser, besides that tidbit, you also utilized some Western Imagery which blended rather well into the visual aesthetic of the video, I know usually there entails allot of work in order to produce a music video of good quality, so how did the idea for these visuals come about? Can you also walk us through the shooting process and how long did it take to all come together?

Yeah apparently so, pretty cool. So, the ideas for the video came about just from the general meaning of the song I guess, and what imagery and themes we can pick out to create something strong, the idea was that we were a gang of outlaws in a post-apocalyptic world, plotting to bring down a corrupt establishment, so naturally, we went with dark and gritty, that was the overall vibe of it anyway. The video took a full day to shoot pretty much and we also did a photoshoot that day too, so massive props to the guys in Redvisuals for putting in a massive effort, they also edited the video together and they did an amazing job.

My next question deals with the vocals, the range is quite incredible especially where the high notes are concerned! Was this a talent that arrived naturally, or are you a trained singer? In conjunction to that, who were the vocalists that sparked that fire that made you decide to pick up a mic? Another question I’m most curious is to do with the mindset of performing, when you are singing those words, hitting those heights, what is the zone do you usually get into to prepare yourself mentally?

Thank you, it’s definitely not a natural talent, I spent a good few years learning everything I could before singing in front of anyone, so I wouldn’t say trained but more self-taught, and then I had a few vocal lessons to make sure everything I was doing technique wise was healthy. That’s a really good question and a difficult one to answer because there are so many great singers, but they weren’t what made me want to get into singing myself, what drove me the most was going to smaller local shows watching the bands and having this urge to get up and give it a go myself. And then as my singing developed I learned to appreciate all the singers I had heard growing up, now and then there are a few voices that stick out as being really special, a few that I’ve really looked up to since I started singing would be Russel Allen, Roy Khan and Jorn Lande.

I wish I had a cool and unique answer to that last part, but honestly, I’m usually really anxious before a gig. I’ll do a little warm up and see how my voice is doing, but I’m usually focused on making sure I stay calm and collected so I can give the best performance possible. After the first song, I’ll get more into the zone and interact with the crowd, and the overall energy and atmosphere lets the nerves disappear, which is when I can really enjoy performing and giving a great show.

Even though you are about to release your first full length album, what is it you see for the band in terms of the future, obviously I know you aren’t able to look into the crystal ball ha-ha, but in terms of the vision or the map of Tailgunner, where is it or what would you like to do in the years to come?

My crystal ball says that if you want to find out, you’ll just have to stick around and find out for yourself.

So I usually direct this questions to bands who have weathered through countless years in the world of Metal, but…to you, who’s journey is beginning to unfold, this is still a big achievement, for not many bands even reach a first album, yet alone even make it out of the ‘practice-stage’, so that’s a feat to be most proud of, so if you were to impart any advice upon new bands, those who are even thinking of getting started, whether it be the inception phase or recording, what would you say to the hungry artist?

I’m probably not the best person to take advice from but the best advice I could give out is to make sure music is what you really want. A lot of people underestimate how much hard work being in a band really is. It is super time consuming and very expensive, and it takes a lot of hard work. But if you love music, and you’re passionate about it, then master your craft, be the best you can be and take the risks, because it is really rewarding and there really isn’t any other feeling like it.

In ending with this interview, I would like to express my many thanks for having this short conversation, I wish you all the best of luck on the road ahead wherever it may take you, may the journey be most adventurous! I would leave the final words with you…is there anything you would like to say to the readers?

Thank you it’s been a pleasure. To the people who have read and come this far thank you for taking the time to have a read, it’s really appreciated. Keep a lookout for Tailgunner and see you at a show real soon!

Craig Cairns – Vocals
Zach Salvini & Patrick van der Völlering – Guitars
Tom Hewson – Bass
Sam Caldwell – Drums

Follow the band from Jan 1st on all social media under TailgunnerHQ!

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Metal Digest is an online music magazine specializing in rock and metal. It is aimed at the mobile market, who can get their fix whilst on the go. Whether you walk, drive, fly, sail or teleport make sure you do it with Metal Digest, bitesize heavy metal rock and metal news, reviews and interviews for when you’re on the go.

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