Alpha Tiger interview: "Judas Priest or Iron Maiden will go on pension someday and it's important to have a new generation which can replace them someday"

28/01/2013 @ 12:50
Alpha Tiger is another very promising young band in the vein of the classic 80s power metal. Their brand new album "Beneath The Surface" proves to give them a great potential for their future. had the chance to conduct an interview with the guitarist, composer and lyricist, Peter Langforth, who talked about their new record and the importance of making up their own style, but also about their influences and their upcoming touring plans.

Peter, congratulations first of all on your new album.
Thank you, thank you very much, I hope you liked it.

I liked it a lot. Classic 80s metal, but still fresh.
Yeah, thank you, thank you very much.

Alpha TigerA lot of changes occurred since your first album. A new drummer, a brand new label and a different sound. How do you see all these changes?
It was a big step for us to change our label to Century Media, but when we changed the label we had already finished working on our new record.  So we went to Century Media with the finished brand new record and the label was not too important for our new sound. But it sounds a little bit different to the first album "Man Or Machine", because it was a progress for us. We wanted to go some step forwards and not backwards and we wanted a sound that was not too modern, but also not too old-fashioned, so I really like the sound or our new record.

If someone would ask me which elements of your music I stand out, that would be speed and melody. Do you agree with that?
Yeah, they are very important for our songs. A lot of songs are very fast, but the hook lines and the melodies are always important for us.

How easy is to combine these two elements?
It’s our style, so when I compose a song, it’s always important to put some catchy melodies in it. I like very powerful songs, but also some ballads or slow songs. We have a huge range on our songs. There are songs which begin very fast and powerful and in the middle parts there are some clean guitars and some melodies.

Alpha Tiger - Beneath The SurfaceYou have chosen to create long, epic compositions instead of shorter and maybe catchier.
One of the main critics of our first album was that the songs are a little bit too long, so we wanted to write some shorter songs, some simple songs. It’s very hard for me to write a short song, a very simple song so we had again songs like "Eden Lies In Ruins" which is eight minutes long, but we have also some short songs like "Along The Rising Sun". I think there are long and short songs on this record.

The cover artwork made by Peter Tikos brings to my mind -as the press release mentions- the work of Ed Repka, mainly with Megadeth and Death. Did you really want something like that?
A lot of people have said that the cover looks like Ed Repka. I really like most of the covers of the old thrash bands of the 80s and Repka did a lot of these covers. It was not our main attention behind this cover to look like an old Repka cover, but it’s cool when you think that it looks like this.

Also, you wanted to represent the lyrical themes with the cover art.
Yeah, a little bit. But the cover should belong to our music. When you look to the cover you should see that we are a heavy metal band, you know.

It is very clear that lyrically you concentrate on serious matters. How important are the lyrics to your music?  
The lyrics are very important to me. I wrote all of our lyrics and I’m very interested in political stuff, in conspiracy stories and all the things that are going wrong on this world. I wanted to write about these things in our lyrics, because I can’t write fantasy lyrics or lyrics about metal, war, all this Manowar stuff, so I like to write about serious topics and that is very important for me. It’s also very important for me to put some of own experiences in our songs or to write some very emotional songs. Not all of our lyrics about political stuff, as there are lyrics about love and reincarnation and some UFO stories like "From Outer Space". All these topics are very important for me.

Alpha TigerThe title "We Came From The Gutter" describes yourselves in a way?
Okay, I didn’t came from the gutter but...

Well, metaphorically.
Yes, metaphorically of course, because we write about a simple man and the main attention behind this song is that you don’t have to have lots of money to have a happy life or to be satisfied and that money is not important.

What is your comment about the debt/financial crisis in Europe these days?
It’s a very, very difficult topic. I can’t give you a right answer. I’ll have to talk for hours if I try to discuss this topic with you, but I think that a lot of things went wrong in the past. The Euro and things like these are very difficult.

Alpha TigerLet’s go back to the past. A few years ago you had changed your name from Satin Black to Alpha Tiger. Why did that happened and what does the name 'Alpha Tiger' stand for?
We started in 2006, end of 2006, beginning of 2007. When we started I was the singer and I played the guitar and we did some Metallica cover songs, I guess like every young band in the beginning. We had our first gig after three rehearsals and we needed a band name, so we decided to name our band Satin Black, but we never set aside with this name and we had a lot of member changes in the last years. We had our drummer leaving the band, we had a new singer too, we changed our style and at that point we thought that we needed a new name. So, we got Alpha from "Sonic Attack" in 2010 and we thought that this was the last chance to change our name because it was a huge step for us to get signed by a record company and that was the last chance to change our name. So, we decided to change our name to Alpha Tiger. Alpha Tiger means for me a very powerful thing, because we needed a name which everybody would relate to this kind of music that we play. When you hear the name Alpha Tiger you know that’s a heavy metal band and Satin Black was not in this direction. Satin Black could be a black metal band or a death metal band or something like this, but Alpha Tiger sounds like heavy metal and we needed a very powerful energetic band name, so I think that it was the right decision.

Peter Langforth (Alpha Tiger)It is obvious that you have chosen to reproduce today the classic metal sound of the 80s.
Yeah, I like the sound of the 80s, but we don’t want to reproduce the sound because we don’t to want to be a copy or a replica of an 80s band. We want to create our own style, our own direction. I know it’s very hard today to find your own style, but I think that we make a progress from album to album. When you hear "Man Or Machine" then you can hear our influences, you can hear the Iron Maiden song, you can hear the Queensryche song. But on our second record, "Beneath The Surface" that’s not so clear. So we mixed up our influences to our own Alpha Tiger style and that was very important for me.

There is an ever growing scene of new bands playing old school heavy metal. Do you consider yourselves as members of that scene?
Yeah, there’s a big scene today of new bands, of new great bands which sound like the old school bands, like Skull Fist or Enforcer. It’s a new generation of heavy metal and that’s really cool because the old bands like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden will go on pension someday and it’s important to have a new generation which can replace them someday. So I think it’s very important to support young bands because it’s the future of heavy metal and I’m very proud to be a part of this new generation of heavy metal bands.

You have also chosen an image as a band with the clothes that you wear coming straight from the very 80s.
The image is very important for a band. It’s not enough to have some cool songs, it’s important to look cool when you’re on stage. You can’t go on stage with normal clothes, with normal jeans. Our outfit with the tiger pants and the clothes in the color of yellow and black, stands not for Stryper, it stands for the tiger colors.

On the deluxe special edition of the new album there are two covers: One of Loudness' "S.D.I." and one of Riot’s "Flight Of The Warrior".
That’s right.

Alpha TigerThese happen to be among your favorite classic heavy metal bands?
Yeah, I really like Riot and Loudness. Especially Riot means a lot for me because they are one of my most important influences. Last year we got an offer to go on tour with Riot. It was like a dream come true for me and we said 'yeah, of course', but you know what happened. Mark Reale went to a coma and died. We are really sad about this loss. I wish I had a chance to meet Mark. So we decided to play "Flight Of The Warrior" as a tribute to him when we played at the Rock Hard Festival last year. That was a very emotional moment for us and we decided to record this song as a bonus track for next record, for "Beneath The Surface".

Which are apart from Riot your other big influences?  
When I started to play guitar and listening to heavy metal my main influences were the big ones: Iron Maiden, Metallica, Motorhead, Judas Priest. But before we started to compose songs of "Beneath The Surface" I listened more stuff in the direction of Queensryche, Crimson Glory, Fates Warning, Riot and I went deeper and deeper into the old school heavy metal scene, so these bands were very important for me when I wrote the songs for "Beneath The Surface". But now, I want to spread my influences and I’m listening to bands like Queen and Pink Floyd and bands like these. The next record is another progress for us.

Alpha TigerCould you name your favourite metal albums from the 80s year by year from 1983;
1983: Culprit - Guilty as Charged!, Metallica - Kill Em All, Queensryche - EP
1984: Queensryche – Warning, Omen - Battle Cry, Metallica - Ride The Lighting, Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry
1985: WASP - The Last Command, Lizzy Borden - Love You To Pieces, Icon - Night of the Crime, Exodus - Bonded by Blood
1986: Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian, Crimson Glory - Crimson Glory, Heir Apparent - Graceful Inheritance
1987: Toxik - World Circus, Obsession - Methods Of Madness , Sanctuary - Refuge Denied
1988: Helstar - A Distant Thunder, Chastain - The Voice Of The Cult
1989: Helstar – Nosferatu, Savatage - Gutter Ballet

You did a mini tour with W.A.S.P. a couple of months before. Also you have played in some notable festivals. Which are your memories and impressions of that?
The tour with WASP was very cool, because we had the chance to play every night in front of more than one thousand people. It was a great audience and we had good reactions from the people. But maybe you can imagine it is sometimes very exhausting to be on tour with Blackie Lawless! There were very strict rules, for example it was not allowed to us to drink beer on tour and we had to sell our merchandise for very expensive prices, we had to sell a shirt for €25 which is very expensive. It was a great time, we had a lot of very important experiences on this tour, it was great. The festivals were on our tour last year. We played on Hellfest in France and we played in Rock Hard Festival in Germany and it was awesome to meet our idols. We played often together with Kai Hansen of Gamma Ray and Helloween and we talked together. Both were great gigs with good reactions from the audience. In one month we’ll play in Up The Hammers Festival in Greece.

Peter Langforth (Alpha Tiger)That would be my next question. What are your expectations of Up The Hammers?
We are very excited about this! We got an offer one year ago, in March last year, to play at the Up The Hammers Festival and we know this festival. Like the Keep It True Festival in Germany it’s the Up The Hammers. There are many great bands and we’re very happy to get the chance to play on this great festival. It will be cool because we know a lot of bands which have played there. We are very excited and looking forward to play in Greece. It will be an adventure.

Are there any other touring plans at the moment apart from Up The Hammers?
We’re playing next week our record release shows, we’ll play some shows to support our new record, "Beneath The Surface". We’ll play some shows all along Germany and in April, we will do our own Metal Hellbound tour with a cool package in the whole Germany and maybe in Europe. It depends all to the reactions of "Beneath The Surface". If the people like it, it will be a huge tour and I hope so.

How do you imagine the future of Alpha Tiger?
Next year, for sure a lot of fun. Next year, we’ll play on Wacken and Bang Your Head Festival, a lot of huge festivals and we’ll make a lot of steps forward. But the great goal for us is that we can make our passion to a profession, to know that we can pay our bills with the band and this is very hard today or then. But yeah, it’s a goal for us to live for and with our music.

Last words from you, Peter...
Thank you for this interview and regards to all the Greek metal fans. We are very excited to play at the Up The Hammers and I hope to see a lot of guys there, it will be cool.

Thank you too, Peter. See you in March at The Up The Hammers.