Regime, one of the hottest bands in Wales, drop into one of the newest live venues in the valleys. The hills were alive with the sound of anticipation and expectation.
The Cwmcarn Hotel has been around for years, but in the last twelve months it has been taken over by new owners who are looking to create something more interesting than your typical valleys pub with covers bands, tribute acts and karaoke. If they are going to book bands like Regime, the signs bode well.
As the snows around South Wales slowly thaw, news comes in that Surplus Festival is being put on ice for 2018.
A statement from the organisers said:
“As some of you know, Surplus Festival has lost it’s site. We’ve been trying our best to find a suitable alternative but unfortunately we haven’t been successful. With the time constraints and some other issues we’ve had to make the difficult decision to put things on hold”.Continue reading SURPLUS FESTIVAL NOT ‘APPENIN’ IN 2018→
Got into a chat about possibly the most famous gig ever to have taken place in Aberdare this week, so I thought I would use this as an excuse to blog about my memories of that infamous gig.
It was a benefit for the National Union of Mineworkers, who were at the time a few months into the soon to become historic year long strike against pit closures. The headline band was the legendary Crass.
It was to be a gig that would go down in punk folklore. Indeed it was a night I would never forget, but not for the reasons you might imagine.
So let’s go back to 11th July 1984
I went up with my mate Mike, who just happened to be a striking miner, all be it from a different valley, and his lady at the time, Sandra. Sandra drove.
We arrived nice and early because there were several bands on the bill we wanted to see – Flux of Pink Indians and Annie Anxiety. Tickets were a snip at two quid and the doors opened at 6pm.
We handed over our treasured tickets and looked around the Colosseum.
“Where’s the bar?” enquired Mike.
“There is no bar”, replied the NUM dude on the door doing his impression of a masonry toilet.
Mike and I exchanged glances, no words were needed. Pub. We wanted to see Annie Anxiety, but with a drink in our hands. So if that was not possible, a retreat to the nearest hostelry was in order.
A swift half pint soon turned into a swift half gallon. Ish.
We figured that Crass and the Flux would do the maximum of an hour set each, so calculating backwards from the time all civilised gigs end, 11pm, if we got back to the gig by 9pm we would catch the main event.
Of course this calculation was based on the fact that the hundreds of gigs we had previously been to were all in venues with a bar, and those days stop tap was 11pm – so 11pm was when the gig would finish.
But this venue did not have a bar. Our calculations for when the gig would finish were therefore based on a false assumption.
“What do you mean the gig is over?” Says a genuinely disbelieving Mike when we arrived at our pre-planned 9pm.
“I mean it’s fucking over, what did you think I meant?” asks the genuinely disbelieving brick shit house.
We then go through a conversation that started off with a demand that the band comes back on, quickly downgraded to a demand for money to be returned, then a bizarre debate about it being a gig for striking miners and Mike pointing out that he was a striking miner. I think he wanted more than just his two quid back.
It has to be said about Mike, he was not scared of anyone and more often than not, he did not need to be. There were occasions though when, actually, perhaps he should have been scared. This was one such occasion. He wasn’t though. Luckily for him I am a lover not a fighter and managed to calm the situation down and we headed back home, light of the two quid ticket money – this was 1984, you could get pissed on two quid back then. But unlike all the punks that had gone to the gig, we were lubricated. Compensation of sorts.
We returned to Blackwood the same united unit that had left a few short hours previously. Unlike Crass. They split up in the van in the way home. Karma is a bitch.
A few weeks later I spotted the aforementioned man mountain that had been on the door that night knocking out a police horse with one punch on a picket line. Mike was lucky to have a lover like me as a friend.
Blackwood’s most famous sons, the Manic Street Preachers return to the scene of their riotous gig in the Blackwood Little Theatre to film a video for their latest single, ‘Distant Colours’.
Whilst the band can sometimes appear to be a little aloof and media shy, it has to be said they have stayed close to their roots in the south wales valleys, often offering a helping hand behind the scenes with various artistic projects.
This can be demonstrated by this video which includes scenes shot in Mid Wales, the heads of the Valleys and in Blackwood itself.
It would be a little bit egotistical to review a gig we have promoted ourselves, so here is a blog post about the first Peppermint Iguana gig for fourteen years.
It started out as a simple enough idea, Peppermint Iguana were going to team up with the Green Gatherings Campaign Crew (well, Tom Fowler) to put on a show case of some of the artists than have been found performing on the ‘open mic’ that the Campaigns crew host at the annual green gathering in Chepstow.
We started off with booking the amazing Tarantism Folk Disco, who have blown minds at the last two Green Gatherings. Then we started talking to some of our other mates who had also played our stage. It was not long before we had a list of bands that, frankly, was quite ridiculous for one night. But hey, we aint nothing if not one big happy family and we could not chuck anyone off the list (we just had to stop Tom inviting anyone else when he was pissed).
To celebrate five years of ripping up stages all over the UK, Lacterilla teamed up with local promoters Pity My Brain to put on a party with a stellar line up in the legendary Clwb Ifor Bach.
When Wales play rugby at home, the streets of Cardiff can often resemble a scene out of a Zombie movie. And tonight was no exception. Navigating Westgate Street to get into the car park at the end of Womanby Street was a challenge to say the least. I pity the livers, never mind the brains of the numpties wandering around oblivious to traffic. I have seen cattle on Llantrisant Common with more road sense.
We eventually managed to get to Clwb just in time to catch Not Since The Accident say goodbye and thank you. We can’t comment on how good they were, but the already respectably sized crowd seemed to be happy with their shift.
The early kick off for the rugby meant that a good crowd had assembled by the time the first band came on and some of them were sufficently lubricated to be making plenty of noise.
These guys are big favourites of ours here at Iguana HQ. Whilst their sound is definitely rooted in classic seventies rock, they are named after a song by welsh legends Budgie after all, they put a modern twist on things. They are anything but a retro metal band. They groove and they grind and they rock. They shake their thang in a way that allows us to forgive them for having long hair.
Tonight they are on form, its pedal to the metal all the way, they leave nothing in the tank and leave us wondering how on earth any band could follow that.
After break to recover and get fresh air, Cybernetic Witch Cult are up. They are a plutonium rock band from the Gagrakacka Mind Zones – AKA Cornwall. They often step in when Disaster Area are unable to play the Restaurant at the end of the Universe.
Mixing tripped out psychedelic spaced rock with back projections of scenes from science fiction B-movies, they manage to take an art form that can all to often venture into embarrassing pomposity and keep it real and keep it fun.
They manage to pick up the baton passed to them by Milk and keep the gathered masses happy and keep the freak flag flying.
And then – the reason for the gathering – Lacertillia.
We have been catching these guys live since day one and it never fails to impress how they just keep improving every time we see them. The have drive, passion and energy. They are loud, they are in your face and relentless.
If the Cybernetic lads provide the soundtrack to the end of the universe, Lacertilla are the house band in a sleazy post-apocalyptic biker club. Not quite Mad Max, more Mad Taff.
Their usual intensity has everyone shaking. But then things take a turn towards the exotic when two scantily clad young ladies climb up on stage and shake their booties, sending some of the crowd crazy with lust.
The boy Fry does his usual trick of walking into the crowd to break down all the barriers between crowd and band, but on this occasion, pulls something out of the PA and we lose vocals. He climbs back on stage and the band Fire up the Engine of God, but without the usual vocals. At first it seems odd, but the lack of vocals just drive the boys on to give an added intensity to the number to make up for it.
For a finale we get the band one by one surfing their way out over the crowd as the party comes to an end, we wander out into zombie land, which suddenly looks quite sane.
It’s quite possible that many of you will have seen Ninjah perform live and not have realised it. He is the dude with the white dread locks often seen around Cardiff city centre playing random objects, such as bins or benches, with his ever present drum sticks.
Question: What do you get when you put a shed load of Cardiff’s most unhinged creative types in a room together? Answer: Clusterfuck. And this is their latest release. Thirteen slices of deranged floor fillers.
The biggest problem with ‘techno’ (or whatever you want to call it) is that many artists find their killer beat and just rework it time and time again resulting in – erm – repetitive beats. Clusterfuck can never be accused of falling into that trap.
What we have here just shy is fifty minutes of phat beats and dope breaks that get ya ass shaking and head spinning, with each track taking you in a new direction. The common denominator is that the bass lines are deep and heavy throughout, causing involuntary bobbing up and down but the BPM counter always manages to stay below the red line of ‘gabba’.
It helps to fend of the repetitiveness by bringing in a host of ‘special guests’. Efa Supertramp, Keef It Real, Captain Hotknives and Donald Trump are just some of the crew that help this paddle this album down the crazy river. Their irreverence and cheeky sense of humour also prevents this becoming just another boring techno record. Nothing is too serious, too hot or too heavy for these guys.
Drugs, death and Swansea are just a few of the topics covered here. They somehow manage to demonstrate that they are anti-establishment without really saying it. They are probably anarchists but don’t even know it, cos they are too busy having a party to contemplate shit like that. Which is how it should be really.
Get it on, bang a gong, get it on – ow – get it on.
One day, in the dim and distant future, Efa Supertramp will sit down, take a breather, or even possibly sleep. Until then, she is gonna run around fuelled on adrenalin with fingers in all sorts of pies, like this latest project, Killdren.
This ‘Selected highlights of 2017’ show is a bit unique, having been broadcast not once, but twice!
“How can that be?” we hear you cry. Well, it was first broadcast on Tuesday 28th November, but after the show finished we managed to break the station and loose the recording. Normally we would just shrug our shoulders and move on. But this was a reflection on some of the year’s best choonage with a rather splendid play list. So we decided to do the show again with the same play list.
On 21st November the legend that is Captain Paranoid joined Peppermint Iguana in the studio for a very special radio show.
Pick a few songs we said. The next thing we knew we had a massive thirty eight track play list and he could not make up his mind which ones to loose. He was even arguing with musicians he has collaborated with over which version of his own songs to play.
We were well over an hour into the show before we finally worked out what the play list was going to look like. But hey, this is what happens when working with people who are all consumed by music and are filled with passion and emotion. It was memorable. To say the least.
To listen to the show again click on the cloudcast below – and below that is what we think the play list was – even now it is hard to keep up with what went on!
Capitol Radio two: BY THE CLASH
Lust for life: BY IGGY POP
Naked: BY TERRORIST BALLET DANCERS FROM HELL
Fight the power: BY PUBLIC ENEMY
Intergalactic: BY THE BEASTIE BOYS
Masses: BY CHARLES BUKOWSKI
Sex and bombs: BY CAPTAIN PARANOID AND THE DELUSIONS
Revolution: BY GROUNDNATION
Typical girls: BY THE SLITS
Words of advice for young people: BY WILLIAM BURROWS
Snake eyes: BY CAPTAIN PARANOID AND THE DELUSIONS
Five and dime: BY CAPTAIN PARANOID AND LARRY LOVE
Doves cry: BY BE GOOD TANYAS
Another girl another planet: BY THE ONLY ONES
The war song demo: BY SUCKAFISH AND CAPTAIN PARANOID
On 21st November, legend of the Cardiff music scene, Chas, AKA Captain Paranoid, will be joining Peppermint Iguana on the decks for a mind bending special radio show.
Expect tales of The Terrorist Ballet Dancers from Hell, Captain Paranoid and the Delusions, Grass Roots Café, hanging out with The Alabama Three and who knows what else. All we need now is for Chas to whittle down his play list from 63 tunes to something a little more manageable.
Get it in your diary now, it’s gonna be mind-expanding.
Live on www.dapperfm.co.uk from 8pm o’clock on Tuesday 21st November. Expect the unexpected.
With their third album, Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) remind us that concept albums do not need to be about Topographic Oceans or operas about pubescent mods coming of age. This album looks at the social impact of the fall and rise of an industry on the local community.
PSB’s modus operandi is to create funky instrumental music with occasional rocky outcrops, then layer over the top vocal samples. In the past that has included public information films (hence the band name), audio from NASA and specifically recorded interviews.
For Every Valley the focus is very much the south wales mining communities, how the coal industry provided hope, dreams of a job for life, and provided the glue that held a whole community together. It also document’s the decline and the death of the industry – and how the sole of the community also goes into decline when the main source of employment is ripped out of it. Continue reading PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING: Every Valley (PIAS Recordings 2017)→
Their first album, ‘Push’, laid the foundations. This second album, builds the walls and puts the roof on. Regime are the complete package, reggae, hip-hop and rock, all tightly delivered with conscious lyrics laid over the top.
They groove better than many strictly party bands, and deliver a message with more style than any other band we can think of.
Whilst many rappers concentrate on rattling off their lyrics at a million miles an hour, very often you can’t actually understand what they are banging on about. Not so with Regime, the lyrics are crystal clear and thought provoking.
The album opens with ‘Hard Work’, a tale of what some people have to do to keep a roof over their head, and a salute to those that make and build the things the rest of us take for granted. The lyrics are laid over a dubby vibe that induces involuntary skanking and foot tapping.
‘Robbing Us’, follows up with a harder, bouncy edge – often used to close their live sets. Who’s robbing us? ‘The Man’, obviously. Taxing us for the things we need, but also for things that we neither need nor want. “Schools and roads, yes we need those, but what kind of mother fuckers build torpedoes?”
It’s not all serious shit, ‘Fatman’, is about loving your body, no matter how it is built. “You might be big, but you still got it going on. He’s a fatman, he’s a fatman skanking”.
‘No Beef’ is probably the funkiest ode to veganism ever recorded, all with a sixties style funky wah wah vibe going on in the background.
‘Yes’, is a positive uplifting number about making the most of life, a declaration that, ‘Yes’ we are feeling good, feeling creative and yes to fighting back, with an appropriately upbeat in ya face soundtrack.
If it is not fair trade and workers are not paid, then Regime ‘Won’t Buy It’. If we prop up these companies that exploit workers and the planet by continuing to buy their shit, then they will just carry on regardless.
At all times the music is tight, funky and has you either slowly grooving or jumping up and down – sometimes in the same song. The addition of the conscious lyrics will always be a plus here at Iguana HQ. But more so with hip-hop, a genre where too many bands fall into the trap of sexist, homophobic or racist lyrics. Take note lesser mortals out there. Being right on is way cooler than being gangsta.
On 29th April thousands of music lovers marched through Cardiff under the banner ‘Save Womanby Street’. What’s that all about and why should we care?
In this globalised world it is increasingly difficult to tell apart different town and city centres. High streets are dominated by chain stores and local pubs are becoming a rarity, with corporate bars with names like the Slug and Lettuce becoming the norm. Whetherspoons rule the world as the bulk buying power of identikit chains force old skool family pubs out of business.
The towns and cities that are interesting, the ones that are worth visiting, are the ones that have their own character and home grown culture. Culture is the beating heart of a city, without culture the city dies. But culture cannot be manufactured. It has to grow organically from the grass roots, with its foundations in the local community.
Music, art and culture have for decades led the way for the regeneration of run down communities. Previously ignored districts suddenly become vibrant places where people want to live.
Ironically, vultures are never far behind, swooping in to develop properties in areas that are now suddenly sought after and ‘gentrification’ kicks in.
Can’t wait for the festival season to start? Fear not, this fifteen track sampler from the Surplus Crew will help blow those winter blues away.
Given that most of the best bands on the underground festival circuit have played at Surplus, an album put together by the crew would inevitably be worth a listen. “Of course it will be good”, we thought to ourselves. But then – “Hold on – who are this lot?” Yes, fair play to the Surplus Crew, they have managed to dig out some bands we had not come across before – and boy is this album a belter. Continue reading VARIOUS ARTISTS: Surplus Fest Sampler Volume 1 (Surplus 2017)→
1. Red flag: BY BILLY BRAGG
2. Ironmasters: BY THE MEN THEY COULDN’T HANG
3. When will be paid: BY THE STAPLE SINGERS
4. Dog scratched ear: BY HENRY’S FUNERAL SHOE
5. Peterloo to Orgreave: BY MATT ABBOT
6. Reactions: BY TRACEY ISLAND
7. Union man: BY THEE FACTION
8. Strike occupy resist (Flappsandwich re-rub): BY COSMO
9. Current affairs: BY THE UPBEAT SNEAKERS
10. UK arms trade: BY MARK THOMAS
11. Know your riots: BY THE CHOMSKY ALL-STARS
12. Modern day burn: BY DOLE AGE
13. Groovy train: BY THE FARM
14. Get up stand up: BY BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS
15. Half the world away: BY OASIS.
For twenty five years, from 1985 to 2010, South Wales had a music venue that was quite literally known around the world. Newport’s TJs. Local lad Nathan Jennings is now in the process of putting together a film documenting the history of this slice of rock and roll history.
It is fair to say, TJs was a bit of a toilet. But that was part of its charm. It seemed to mutate almost every time you went there. It expanded and shrunk, the stage kept moving around the venue and the toilets were like an open cesspit. It had started out with the walls covered in some strange wire and concrete concoction to make it look like you were in a cave. As modification were made bits of the cave were removed but they seemed determined to leave bits of it on the wall. On one occasion I recall watching Citizen Fish whilst there was a huge wheelie bin in the middle of the dancefloor to catch the water that was leaking from upstairs. Whether or not it was rain water or a burst pipe I never got to find out.
But despite the venue being a shithole, it did have a few magic ingredients:
1. John Sicolo: the owner. An ex merchant navy cook who was larger than life and made the place open house to anyone who wanted to put on a gig. Whilst he was no musician, without his generosity and faith in the young guns of Newport, the South Wales and even the UK music scene would look very different today.
2. Bands and promoters: Looking back it is hard to believe now, but the likes of Green Day, Oasis, Fugazi, Offspring, Joe Strummer, The Manic Street Preachers and Primal Scream were regularly turning up in this tiny little club in one of the most unfashionable towns in the country. On top of that local bands such as 60 Foot Dolls, Dub War and Novocaine (to name but three) all cut their teeth there. At one point I the 90s the venue was often jammed with record company A&R men looking to sign the next big thing.
Key to all this were the promoters. Whilst Peppermint Iguana put on a few gigs with the likes of New Model Army, Tofu Love Frogs and PAIN, a very special mention has to go to Cheap Sweaty Fun, the boys that turned TJS from a local live venue to an internationally renowned venue that was an essential stop off for any band on their way to the top.
3. The people of Newport: The Port has always been the poor relation to neighbouring Cardiff. But in some ways, that is what has made Newport what it is – staunchly working class, tough, uncompromising and unpretentious. If a Newport crowd took to a band they would be passionate and enthusiastic, making a TJs moshpit a place few cage fighters would dare to step.
If you have any stories from TJs, why not get in touch with the makers of the film and share your experiences of this unique piece of rock and roll history.
To listen to an interview with Simon Phillips, the man behind Rockaway Records and Cheap Sweaty Fun promotions, listen to our cloud cast from the Peppermint Iguana Radio Show
After getting rumbled trying to steal a JCB in Cardiff, two sisters, Clare and Lisa, do a runner in the middle of the night and find themselves lost in the Black Mountains of South Wales. When they run out of petrol they steal a car from two other sisters, ‘The Wilding Sisters’ who are on their way to a poets’ retreat in the mountains. They then take on the identity of the Wilding Sisters at the retreat and pretend to be the much revered poets.
As part of the retreat, the participants go camping in the mountains for inspiration, but the whole trip seems to centre around which of the female poet wannabees will win the affections of Richard, the shy, handsome hunk poet on the retreat. Continue reading BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS→
A THOUSAND SUNS Destroycreate EP (2007) With so many decent ‘rock’ bands around in South Wales at the moment it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. You could be original, well there is nothing spectacularly original about this lot; you could be heavier than anything that has gone before, well they aint gone down that route either; or you can just outshine everybody else with your talent.
Now then…. this is where these boys stand out. Nothing too fancy, nothing pompous, nothing excessive, they have just taken a tried and tested formula of slightly metallic rock, filed off all the rough edges and polished it so you can see your face in it.
It is adventurous enough to be interesting and although we have already said it is not particularly original, it has to be said they do have thier own sound and don’t sound like anyone else. It is slightly understated but then they don’t need to scream and play at a million miles an hour to prove anything.
You get the impression though that if they really wanted to they could be an air guitarists wet dream. Nice chunky rhythms to get you grooving with slick guitar licks over the top, complimented by vocals where you can actually understand what the vocalist is signing. Not normally our sort of thing but we would be more than happy for this to sit on our shelves.