Tank have been cited as influences by massive bands such as Metallica and Nirvana. The history of this legendary band goes back a long way and is full of great albums, alcohol fuelled debauchery and several line up changes.
Tank were first formed in Croydon, South London in 1980 by former Damned bassist Algy Ward and the brothers Pete and Mark Brabbs on guitar and drums respectively.
Algy's growling vocals, Pete's riffs and Mark's powerful drumming gave them a punky metal edge that soon earned them support slots with the likes of Girlschool, Diamond Head, Angelwitch and Motorhead, and a record deal with Kamaflage Records.
Their 1982 debut album 'Filth Hounds of Hades' was produced by Motorhead's Fast Eddie Clarke and spawned tracks such as 'Shellshock', 'That's What Dreams Are Made Of' and 'Stormtrooper', all of which are still live favourites to this day. The album also earmed the band legions of fans.
It was quickly followed later that same year by the ' Power Of The Hunter ' album. The album included songs such as 'Walking Barefoot Over Glass' and the title track and the band's already strong following continued to grow.
In 1983 Tank became a four piece with the addition of Mick Tucker on guitar and gained a record deal with Music for Nations. Mick had previously replaced Janick Gers (Iron Maiden) in White Spirit when the latter left White Spirit to join Gillan. Lars Ulrich of Metallica later said;
"When they recruited guitarist Mick Tucker, they got into a two guitar style with lots of melodies and harmonies and had such f**kin' strong songs".
Indeed Mick's songwriting and guitar style added much to third album ' This Means War '. The title track, along with songs such as 'Echoes of a Distant Battle' prove Lars' words to be true. Tank had made a major leap forward musically, leaving behind their punky origins to become a true metal band. As Kerrang's Niel Jeffries put it;
"The addition of ex-White Spirit guitarist Mick Tucker for this third album has made a mountain of difference... there's an almost classy touch to the mayhem straining the speaker grills that had me impressed!"
Sadly this 'mountain of difference' was not to be built upon as Algy refused to tour the album. Soon after Pete and Mark Brabbs quit the band. Pete retired from the music industry but Mark went on to play with bands such as Paul Samson's Empire, the Nicky Moore band and for a time moved to New York as a much sought after session drummer. We shall be hearing more of Mark later in the story.
Over the next few years Tank went through a series of drummers, firstly Graeme Crallan (also formerly of White Spirirt) followed by Michael Bettel, Gary Taylor, Bruce Bisland and Steve Hopgood.
A replacement for Pete's guitar playing was easier to find. The first and only choice was Cliff 'The Riff' Evans. His guitar style perfectly matched Mick's and a chemistry was immediately formed which took Tank to another new level on the ' Honour And Blood ' album. Check out the powerful title track and other live favourites such as 'The War Drags Ever On' which Kerrang's Mick Wall described as "a nuclear explosion".
Tank were indeed back on form and back to live performing. When the album was heard by upcoming bay area thrashers Metallica, they insisted Tank accompany them on their 'Ride the Lightning 1984' Tour. This was Tank's finest hour in Europe to date and with new blood in the band they stormed Metallica's fans.
While Algy was the frontman and leader of the band he was also slow to follow up Tank's success and it was three years before the next album came out. 1987's 'Tank' album was for many fans too little too late. Not enough was done to promote the album and the band effectively split up in 1989.
However, the demand from loyal Tank fans continued as the demand to see the band perform live never waned. Such demand called Algy briefly back from semi-retirement and in 1997 with Mick, Cliff and Steve Hopgood they performed shows in Germany and Japan. Recordings of these shows became the 'The Return Of The Filth Hounds Live' album. This record captured the power of Tank live and closed the first chapter in the book of Tank.
Over the following years old Tank fans remained true to the band and its legacy, while new Tank fans discovered the old records for the first time and suddenly it was trendy to like Tank. Kurt Cobain declared himself a fan and recalled that Nirvana used to perform Tank covers in their early rehearsals.
Promoters around the world offered the band gigs, fans requested new material and several Tank fansites cropped up on the internet. Sadly no new material was forthcoming and Algy by his own admission, was "unable to perform live due to poor health."
Meanwhile guitarists Cliff Evans and Mick Tucker kept themselves busy with other projects. Cliff toured and recorded with Paul Dianno's Killers and Mick got involved in session work and song writing for major artists. Meanwhile original drummer, Mark Brabbs had appeared back on the scene and got in contact. Like the fans, Cliff, Mick and Mark still hoped for the return of Tank. After a decade of Algy's inactivity they took the very difficult decision of forming a new Tank without him.
Since the very early days, and by its very nature, Tank had thrived on line up changes to add fresh blood. This time however they wanted things to be right for the fans. Any new singer for the band had to be not only able to perform the old songs but also take Tank up to a new level. Mick had been writing songs for Doogie White's (former Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force singer) solo album and approached him to sing for Tank.
Meanwhile Cliff had been talking to Chris Dale (former Bruce Dickinson bassist) about taking on the bass role in Tank. When the new Tank first got together in the rehearsal studio they clicked instantly. Old songs sounded fresh again and new songs were written with ease. In the summer of 2009 they played festivals in Sweden, Italy and Germany. The fan reaction was incredible and suddenly Tank were back and hungry for action.
So a brand new chapter in the illustrious history of British Heavy Metal stalwarts TANK has begun with a new album set to be released later this year, new touring plans being mapped out right now and a very exciting new line-up ready to rock the nations.
And this year, Tank will be one of the major attractions at the Hard Rock Hell IV festival at Prestatyn on the weekend of 3rd/4th/5th December. This will be Tank's only UK festival appearance this year, however a tour is being planned involving several countries and details will be announced in a forthcoming issue of 'Tank Have Spoken'.
The new official Tank website was launched very recently and there's a real treat for fans on there. A brand new track recorded by the brand new line-up, 'Judgement Day', is streaming now on the site. Click here to listen to the new track.
'Judgement Day' is all set to be included on the band's forthcoming album which is provisionally titled ' War Machine '. The track on the site is a demo version, as the band are planning to sign a new record deal in the coming days and enter the studio shortly afterwards to record the complete album.
Stand by for the biggest Tank album yet and a blinding tour to follow...