The Iris Interview: Sons of Anarchy’s Kim “Tig Trager” Coates talks Australian tour & final season.

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If you’re a Sons of Anarchy fan, especially an Australian based one, the next few months are set to be a mixture of emotions. Of course, the highly anticipated seventh and final season of the wildly popular FX show is premiering in September, which is exciting but sad at the same time. If you’re just catching up to the final of the last season (where the hell have you been, for one), you’re going to be a bundle of feels. On the other end of the spectrum though, there’s a great deal of hype and excitement building about the upcoming Q&A tour which three of the core cast members will be embarking on around the country next month. Fans are going to have the opportunity to get up close and personal with Mark Boone Jr, Kim Coates and Theo Rossi before the new season starts and finally fire all their questions at the actors who’ve provided some memorable moments in the show as ‘Bobby’, ‘Tig’ and ‘Juice’ respectively.

“We’re like, less than a month away,” Coates says as we chat this morning. “We actually get on a plane in 25 days, isn’t that crazy? We’re coming over pretty quickly!”

The five date tour (dates listed below) will see the cast hit up Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth for consecutive dates and for Coates and the others, getting them all involved for an event of this capacity was more of a coup than we probably think.

“I can’t overstate this, it’s a small miracle when you can get three of us to do anything together.” he laughs. “You know how it is, you’re in the business. I’m starting a huge film about six weeks from now, just before Sons opens. Theo is producing and starring in a movie right now and Boone is always doing something. To get the three of us to commit to a five city tour is like, three cities more than we’ve ever done before. We’ve done a couple of cities, but now five and certainly not in Australia! We’re really excited.”

Obviously, a significant part of Australia’s cultural history involves biker culture and coming from a South Australian’s point of view, it’s not so unusual to see large groups of club members riding through town, nor is it unsual to be confronted with news headlines regarding their behaviour. It’ll be interesting to see the type of fans and the subjects that will arise as the Q&A tour goes on and while Coates is nothing but enthusiastic and excited to get over here and meet the Australia SOA fans, he reasserts that line between fact and fiction (in case anyone was wondering…).

“We’re ready for all of it! At the end of the day, it’s a TV show; I’m not a biker, I’m an actor! I have nothing to do with the biker mentality, I have nothing to do with that however, I do like riding my Harley. I do love supporting the military and the troops. I do love going on Wounded Warriors for my daughter’s charity One Heart Source and I have a lot of charities I support and half the time those are supported by me getting on a motorcycle. For me, it’s all about the freedom of being on a bike. That is what really is amazing to me. One of my best friends is Eric Bana, so I’ll be coming down to see Bana boy and I can’t wait to hang with him for a few days and he rides! He’s a magician on a bike; I’ve got a couple of bikes in my garage and every time we get together, he’s on one and I’m on the other and we just have some great rides. I know that he’ll reciprocate when I get to see him.”

Of course, many fans were left reeling at the end of the last season of Sons Of Anarchy, with key characters involved in huge plot developments and twists. With the final season looking to be more over the top and outrageous than the last, it’s more a case of “Who’s coming out alive?” as opposed to “Who’s being killed off?”. For Coates and his character ‘Tig’, who is a strong favourite with much of the fan base, where does he see his character in what is sure to be a glorious Kurt Sutter penned bloodbath?

“There is part of me that kind of wants to be the guy with a smoke in one hand,” he muses. “My pitbull Bonnie in the other and shutting out the lights of the clubhouse, no matter where that clubhouse is, with my nose. Part of me wants to do that but then there is a part of me that really thinks this last season will be a tinderbox. I think it’s going to be absolute majestic Hamlet violence, I don’t think it’s going to go well. I think there is going to be some retribution to be paid for dealing in guns and dealing in the stuff that we’ve done. Even though there always seems to be someone badder than the Sons of Anarchy, there always seems to be a group of people who are worse than us. We come across as this Robin Hood, dark hero sort of club and yet, if the past six seasons have taught us anything, no one is safe. Not even Charlie [Hunnam]. Not even Katey [Sagal]. I mean this, I think this last season is going to be an absolute delicious boiling pot of ‘What will Sutter do now?’ and ‘How is he going to end it?’. Sutter’s always been good with all of us; if we’re going to die in the season, he’ll tell us before the season starts, it’s not like we’re going to be surprised when reading Episode Six. We all know going into it. He doesn’t have to tell that to anyone anymore, because it doesn’t matter! This is the last season, so he really doesn’t have to say a thing! It’s going to be absolutely riveting to see what happens, for me, for sure.”

There have been some spectacular deaths carried out on the show in awesome storylines; akin to The Sopranos, there is something delicious yet empathetic at the same time about how Sons of Anarchy storylines develop and unfold. The viewer forms connections with these characters, even if they’re mildly sociopathic, run porn companies and are into drug dealing and gun running. For Tig, his character arc has seen many ups and downs, but Coates’ approach to the former Sargeant-At-Arms, especially in the later seasons, has just gotten better and better to watch. On how Tig would be taken out, Coates isn’t sure, but he laughs over the idea of death by ass bite, which seems to have plagued Tig on various occasions.

“How many times can my ass get bitten?!” he laughs. “I’m starting to believe I have real scars back there now, I don’t know what’s going on. My make-up girls…I mean, I pull down my pants whenever I can, I have no problem with that whatsoever. I just zip those things down and my make-up girls go, “Okay, so he’s had a bite here, he’s had a bite there. He’s had a scrape here…” – they know exactly on my ass where these things go! It’s pretty funny. If Tig doesn’t make it, I can’t imagine he’s going to go down easy. In saying that, maybe he just steps into a sinkhole and just disappears! That would be pure Sutter magic. When you think you know where this show is going to go, it never goes there. It goes somewhere else.”

Coates, like various SOA cast members, has a few things in the pipeline following the final run of the show and while he can’t tell me much about his next big project, he assures me it’s going to be huge. On the conclusion of Sons of Anarchy and his working relationship with such a tightknit cast, he reflects on how much the show and everything surrounding it has become part of his life.

“It is riveting to watch and I am proud of that and I’m proud that people will have a really nice library at the end of the seven years and they’ll be able to put it in and enjoy it again. That’s [the popularity and longevity of the show] just a compliment to Kurt Sutter and FX and all of us actors and all the crew! We’ve really stuck together and we really do love one another and I think we’re exhausted, to be perfectly honest with you. I think that any show, just for me personally, I’ve never done a regular on television before. I never really wanted to. I’m so glad I said yes to this guy. It’s been seven years now and that’s a long time, so for the fans to not want to let go, I think that’s awesome. You’re going to have to, because we’re done!”

‘An Evening With Sons of Anarchy’ Tour Dates
Onsale through oztix.com.au and ticketek.com.au

Tuesday 25 March – HQ Complex, Adelaide
Thursday 27 March – Palace Theatre, Melbourne
Friday 28 March – Eatons Hill, Brisbane
Saturday 29 March – Roundhouse, Sydney
Sunday 30 March – Metropolis, Perth