In which, using an unlikely Nick Cave paraphrase as a starting point, we ask various prominent heavy metal people precisely that question…  This time around we question Tygers of Pan Tang frontman Jacopo Meille mercilessly – what does heavy metal mean to him?

Welcome, Jack, and congratulations on the new live album! But enough of the present day, I’m going to ask you to cast your mind back if you would – What initially drew you to heavy metal music, and how has your relationship with it evolved over time? “I was already listening to Queen, Deep Purple, The Ramones and Kiss when a friend of mine passed me some vinyl by AC/DC. Then the Swiss TV started broadcasting rock concerts and I saw Def Leppard, Quiet Riot and Krokus. The first NWoBHM album I bought was Killers by Iron Maiden. It’s still one of my favourite albums”.

Can you describe a pivotal moment or experience that solidified your passion for heavy metal? What was the first heavy metal song or album that blew your mind, and why? “I think seeing Def Leppard and Rock Goddess live in my home town Florence in 1983 was the experience that changed my life forever. The first concert I went to watch on my own – I was fifteen – and it really blew my mind”.

They say you never forget your first! I love Florence – it’s one of my favourite places in the World! But I digress… How do you think heavy metal culture and music have influenced your identity or personal beliefs? How has heavy metal influenced your personal style, or the way you see the world? “Heavy metal made me feel part of a community. I remember I was struggling at school to find people who were so in love with music like me. Everybody my age was either into Duran Duran or The Cure. Heavy metal made me realise I was not the only one with a complete different taste in music”.

Do you have any rituals or traditions related to heavy metal? “I am still today a record collector so thanks to my teenage love for heavy metal whenever I travel I always look for record stores to visit”.

A bug that’s infected us all, I think! What aspects of heavy metal do you find most captivating or resonant, whether it be the music itself, the lyrics, or the community surrounding it? “As I said, the sense of community had an impact on me as well as the powerful sound of guitars/bass/drums that I still look for when I go to a concert”.

How does heavy metal serve as a form of self-expression for you, either through listening to it or creating your own music? “I wouldn’t join my first band if it wasn’t for the fact that I had already a respectable record collection – it was 1984 – and that I could speak English and understand what the songs were about. I became a singer mostly for that”.

Are there particular themes or messages within heavy metal that you find especially meaningful or empowering? “I have to say I always enjoyed the more “let’s have a good time” themed songs rather than the epic ones. Yet I have to thank Saxon and Biff for his passion for history!”

Yes! for me it was Iron Maiden who served that very valuable purpose! I guess the next question could be linked to that answer – In what ways do you think heavy metal contributes to broader cultural conversations or movements? “First of all because it showed such a variety bands all with a different and very distinctive sound”.

What are some of the misconceptions you encounter about heavy metal fans? “The main misconception is that is just “loud” music with no melody. Early heavy metal was melodic. I get it that now there so many different genres and sub genres and that there are bands who took music to the extreme, but I feel there is always great care on writing songs that have a solid structure and in which you can always recognise a chorus from a verse. Heavy metal is a very “descriptive” music, much as some classical music”.

Looking towards the future, how do you envision the role of heavy metal evolving, both for yourself personally and within the larger music landscape? Are you optimistic about what the future holds? “Heavy metal will survive mainly because it has been able to gain interest from younger generations through the years. As far as there is this constant change over, heavy metal will be with us”.

And finally, here’s your chance to say, in one sentence, “That’s what heavy metal means to me”… “Heavy metal gave me the freedom to be myself and express myself”.

Tygers of Pan Tang’s new live album, Live Blood, is out now. Read our review of it HERE and then pick up a copy HERE