THE MUSIC MAGAZINE FOR WALES
Ponty’s finest tells us like it is
Kids In Glass Houses, The Unsung Moving Lights, Working Class Heroes, DeadEnd
15 Pages of Live Reviews
Swn ˆ Festival, Oxjam Stereophonics, Funeral For A Friend Super Furry Animals, Killing For Company Alvin Youngblood Hart, Beth Nielsen Chapman
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SONIG YOUTH MUSIC INDUSTRY, YOUTH ARTS & DIGITAL MEDIA Will Be Running An Exciting Series Of Creative Industries Workshops Throughout 2008 Here’s a Taster of What’s on Offer: sessions for Music Journalists sessions for Photographers Creative Industry Surgeries Music Industry Masterclasses/Seminars Film-making Workshops with Zoom Cymru Music Technology/Production Street Fashion Workshops & Showcase Digital Design Peer-led Forum Theatre Break Dancing DJ sessions Music & Performance Showcase Events For further information, contact: Tanya Walker, 01443-490205, firstname.lastname@example.org Liz Driscoll, 01443-490208, email@example.com Anne Hayes, 01443-490239, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contents email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, 2007 was a roller-coaster year for Welsh music. We had a great high with the massive success of the Full Ponty Festival being voted 15th Greatest Gig Of All Time by Kerrang! and winning the Best Live Event at the Pop Factory Awards. A low point was the news of Pennie leaving The Automatic and Kim leaving Miss Conduct — thankfully, both bands have found replacements and are now back recording and/ or touring. We also saw indie radio station Xfm come to South Wales, bringing good music to the Valleys. And not forgetting the launch of our very own music magazine in RCT, PLUGGED IN — we hope you enjoyed the first issue. Let’s see what 2008 has in store for Welsh music fans.
4 Music News a round-up of what’s making the news
6 LostProphets an in-depth interview with the lads
8 The Pop Factory Awards the PLUGGED IN team gets invited
10 The Unsung four guys with a love of grunge
12 Working Class Heroes tell us why they enjoy playing music
13 The Moving Lights find out where they got their name
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14 Dead End follow them on a fantastic journey
16 Live Gig Reviews 15 pages of live music
31 Huw Stephens on our Welsh-language page
32 Kids In Glass Houses Aled talks about an amazing year
33 DeadStar local gig promoters branch out
34 Last 10 Questions with Friends Electric
35 Competition win signed merchandise
MANAGING EDITOR: Gail Griffiths
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Darren Warner
THE TEAM: Abi Jeremiah, Ashley Shelbaieh, Chris Nichols, Danny Dystopia, David Howells, Gary Bolsom, Hannah Browning, Hannah Culverhouse, James Foxhall, Josh Blisko, Kally Pugh, Kayleigh Edwards, Laura Schwormstedt, Laura Williams, Leah Evans, Maria Murphy, Amelia Wingfield, Morgan Bowler, Richard Samuel, Sally Jade Evans, Stephen Lewis, Stephanie Jones & Stephanie McNicholas PLUGGED IN is the creation of Haul Fryn Publishing & Mentoring Services (firstname.lastname@example.org). All rights reserved. All contributions to PLUGGED IN must be original and not duplicated from other publications. Haul Fryn Publishing reserves the right to modify any material submitted for publication in PLUGGED IN. Reproduction of any of the content of PLUGGED IN, without prior permission, is strictly forbidden. The views expressed in the pages of PLUGGED IN are not necessarily the views of RCT CBC.
news New member
When The Automatic announced back in September that Paul Mullen was to join the band, PLUGGED IN was there to hear the news first — and get a pic of the new boy! The band are currently in a recording studio in LA working on the new album.
A news-based DVD from Real Valleys Media, promoting local community projects and businesses, is about to hit 110,000 households throughout RCT. For our part, PLUGGED IN designers Stephen and Danny, accompanied by Liz Driscoll, explained how being involved with a professionally produced music magazine has benefited them. A copy of the DVD will be coming through your door soon! And for those of you who like going online, check out the website at www.realvalleysmedia.co.uk
! t h g i N h c n u a L
Members of the music industry and local bands rubbed shoulders with the PLUGGED IN team at the magazine’s official launch at the Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd, last September. Unaccustomed though he is to public speaking (not!) PLUGGED IN’s Creative Director Darren Warner thanked everyone who helped get the first issue off the ground and said he looked forward to an exciting future for the mag. Team members made sure the guests — who included Rhondda Cynon Taff’s Mayor, Cllr Jane Ward, and George Jones, Director of Environmental Services — had a warm welcome. Entertainment at the party was provided by Working Class Heroes and Alun Reynolds from 12 Gauge Alliance who played a solo acoustic set.
Attack! Attack! played a live set at the Pop Factory Awards Nominations Night, hosted by Col Francies. The PLUGGED IN team was invited along to hear the list of lucky candidates being announced. Turn to page 8 to find out all the results... 04
Who’s stolen Mike’s heart? Find out over the page.
Last November saw the launch of new radio station Xfm South Wales. Tune in to your fave music on 106.8/107.3fm or go online at www.xfmsouthwales.co.uk
... w o n k d you
15th s voted a w . l a estiv gazine ng! ma Ponty F a ll r r u e F K ar’s by Last ye ll Time ig Of A G t s e t e Grea av and nnie, G . Visit o R , j n uct d Be s Cond s joine for Mis or gig news. ane ha r J e g a in m f Em duct new s as the com/misscon . Shiner e c a ysp e www.m mber. st Dece ours. la ig g al av heir fin w ende layed t s in their ne p ll a C Last he boy ck to t e Good lu s st hold Trefore . Check out in r a ock B ndays s. Tom’s R on some Su or date s ig g ttoms f a s h 8 a 1 r r a unde .com/s yspace www.m e n the page o d e t a d up ebsite. gularly as a re community w h IN D E .org PLUGG hape-it www.s
Last November also saw the launch of new Ponty-based record label Mythic Loops. Its first release is the debut album from The Spectaculars UK, available to buy from www.mythic-loops.com
Everyone at PLUGGED IN sends love and good wishes to Tanya Walker and Geraint Brown on their recent marriage — congratulations guys!
Don’t worry if you missed the first issue! For those new readers who didn’t get their hands on a copy of the very first issue of PLUGGED IN, don’t panic — or pinch your mum’s copy — it’s still available to buy from our back issues department. Simply send a cheque or postal order for £2 (£1 for the magazine and £1 to cover the cost of postage and packaging), made payable to PLUGGED IN Magazine, to: Haul Fryn Publishing, 12 Courthouse Street, Pontypridd CF37 1JW. Don’t forget your hard-earned cash is a contribution towards the cost of producing the magazine and will enable us to produce further issues for your reading pleasure.
Cover star Darran Smith reads his mum’s copy of PLUGGED IN
LostProphets Words by Kayleigh Edwards
he wait was finally over. After all the tension and excitement of the past few months the moment had finally arrived. It was the Saturday of Ponty’s very own rock festival, The Full Ponty — and thousands of Ian Watkins and Hayley Williams look-alikes had swarmed into Ynysangharad Park ready to rock their socks like Jelly Tots, Chocolate Drops and whatever the hell else the Emo kids are eating these days. After waiting so long for the moment to come, the excitement of the crowd was steadily rising to boiling point — starting after the first band came on stage to play and continuing to increase at an alarming rate throughout the day, every
Photographs by James Foxhall
performance cranking it up an extra notch. And yet with the atmosphere of the concert being so crazed and hysterical, I was surprised to discover that backstage it was a completely different story. Behind the faces of the screaming fans, behind the pace of the frantic heartbeats, behind the scenes where you’d think the real drama would be, there simply wasn’t any. There was total tranquillity — so much calmer than the mess of hysteria beyond the barriers that it was surreal. In fact if you went even further behind the stage you found a little white tent where some o f
the performers were getting their lunch. And in the quietest corner of all you found the quietest group of people who, ironically, were the main cause of all that commotion going on outside. These were the guys who had the fans making the most noise, the most girls swooning over them, and the pleasure of returning home and playing to their die-hard supporters, to their friends and, most importantly, to their families. These were the LostProphets. Walking into the tent from the gloominess of the pouring rain, the only thing bright enough to lift my spirits was the glittering shine of Ian Watkins’ smile. As I arrived, he, Mike Lewis and Stuart Richardson were having their picture taken with a competition winner who, I don’t blame, looked like she was about to burst into the happiest tears you’d ever seen while trying to conceal her excitement at being so close to her idols. It just goes to show that there’s never anything better at making you smile than someone who looks filled with glee in what they’re doing — and I’m talking about the guys, not the lucky girl. They seemed so proud that they were here, home, doing what they love to do — seeing their families, enjoying being back in their own surroundings, playing to a home crowd — that they went from one task to the next without a care in the world, just huge grins on their faces the whole
time. They were so relaxed in their every move and looked so laidback and fulfilled, but from their point of view they had no reason not to be — these guys are so used to doing this after all. But for me it was actually quite amazing to experience seeing both sides of this mega band in action — going from posing for publicity photos and answering questions one minute to playing a major gig in front of thousands of screaming people the next. For home-grown heroes LostProphets it was always going to be an honour to come back to their home town, after becoming hugely successful rock stars, to play at its biggest music event — but this really was a proud moment for them, a real achievement in their eyes. For the year previous they had been on a worldwide tour that had seen them pick up hundreds of new fans. And as they had actually started the tour in Ponty — at a low-key gig in the Muni in fact — it seemed only right for them to finish it off in the same town as well. The thing about this band is that they wear their nationality with their heads held high. Even though they’ve been jet-setting across the globe and touching new horizons, they’ll never be happier anywhere than when they’re on their green, green grass of home. So when it comes to having some big American bands playing on their turf, sure they’re going to be all too happy to share the stage with them, but they’d sooner push them off to give the Welsh bands the attention. “We consider the Full Ponty festival an achievement in itself, being so well known and filled with so many talented Welsh bands so, no disrespect to the Americans, but we’d rather spend our time supporting who we believe to be better bands breaking through the barriers — they’re just not as well known yet.” You ask them which bands to look out for, which bands they’re looking forward to playing with, which bands they’re most looking forward to seeing, and it’s guaranteed you’ll get the same answer every time. The Blackout, The Guns, Kids In Glass Houses. The list goes on, but every one of these bands are the same as the Prophets. They’re growing up with the hope that they can make it, that they’ll one day be like their heroes and be flying around the world. And that’s the reason these worldfamous guys support them so much. “We really believe there’s so much more talent here in Wales than there is anywhere else, and its just a major pity most of that talent isn’t being recognised — even over the bridge. It’s great to be able to play with such a
lot of talented guys from such a small area." So when events like the Full Ponty happen, the Prophets like to take advantage of them and show these guys off like well-deserved medals — triumphantly wearing the new up-and-coming bands like the priceless wonders they are. They seem to be amazingly proud that there are so many talented acts sprouting through the roots of the Welsh ground that they want to show them they have their support all the way. “Considering Ponty really isn’t that big a town, we see no reason why the festival can’t become an annual celebration, getting bigger every year — maybe even become the Welsh version of the Download Festival. Although if the festival does evolve it shouldn’t be too strict about the genre of music played and maybe even have a dance tent and an ambient set as well as the rock scene.” The Prophets were very impressed by the fuss made over the festival last year, with Ian being seen frequently throughout the week preceeding the big day in smaller venues enjoying the events the Fringe Festival had to offer. He even made a special appearance with
“bands are coming out of the shadows in Wales — there will be a Welsh invasion” The Blackout on the Wednesday that included an amazing performance of Bon Jovi’s Dead Or Alive. It just proves how keen he is on supporting the Welsh scene. “It’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening in the local rock scene — it’s where we were ourselves only a few years ago.” As well as playing with The Blackout, Ian was at the Muni on the Thursday — though this time in the audience for the Head Automatica gig. Such was the importance of this gig that in fact most of the Full Ponty bands made up over half of the audience as it was the American band’s first ever UK show. “It was awesome, and so fantastic it happened here in Wales.” That’s how the Prophets feel it should be though, creating a strong alliance with other bands and supporting them along the way whether big names or not. As their close friendships with Funeral For A Friend and Bullet For My Valentine also go to show, there’s a really great camaraderie between all of the
Welsh bands on the scene at the moment. “With so many other bands coming out of the shadows in Wales, it’s fantastic. We just need to get everyone over the border to notice them — but it will be done, there will be a Welsh invasion. We’re proud of our Welsh roots and we’re not afraid to shout out about it — just ask Mike about his tattoo.” Being prompted by Ian is something I couldn’t ignore, so ask Mike what’s the goss — thinking he’d have a little dragon or something on his arm. I wasn’t at all prepared for him to roll up his trousers and say, “I’m so proud of being Welsh I have ‘I love South Wales’ tattooed on my leg — and it’s not small!” Being so proud of their nationality, it feels superb for them to be home at long last. “It’s great to be on home turf again. Our phones haven’t stopped ringing since we got here.” Coming back to their hometown and playing to thousands of people, some of whom were among those who never truly believed in the talent these boys had to begin with, really gives them a great feeling of achievement. “It’s something we’re really proud of because of where it is — we all used to play in Ponty park as kids. And to those people who didn’t think we’d ever make it as a band, it’s a bit in their face to be the headliners!” With talk of a new album coming out later this year, the boys have decided to finally make use of their singer’s personality to create a completely different sound. Somehow through every album they’ve ever made, every song they’ve ever written, not once has Ian shown his true self in the music, and it’s actually quite hard to understand why he hasn’t. He’s seen as having a major personality and at long last he’s making it known in the new album. “Ian’s really clever and he never puts that across in the songs, but this time he will be,” says Stuart. “The new album is going to be darker, punkier and everything you wouldn’t expect from us really. We can’t wait to get the new single out there — and would love a video of us being turned into Transformers, ha ha, that would be so much fun.” And with every one of their albums so far bringing us a new adventurous sound, this one is probably going to make the Prophets bigger than ever. I can’t wait to hear it! 8 For regular updates on what the boys are up to, go to www.myspace.com/lostprophets J FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF LIBERATION TRANSMISSION GO TO PAGE 35.
t was the highlight of the year for the Welsh music industry when the winners of The Pop Factory Awards 2007 were announced at a star-studded reception in Cardiff University’s Great Hall. It was a night of glitz and glamour with many celebs snapped on the red carpet on their way in and at the aftershow party — where Pritchard from Dirty Sanchez did a bit of impromptu furniture moving! The event was hosted by Alex Zane, Xfm London’s breakfast show DJ, and also went out on Xfm South Wales with live backstage interviews by Col Francies as the winners came off the podium after receiving their awards. Live music during the night was provided by the fantastic Funeral For A Friend and The Wombats, watched by an audience of famous faces — among them Stuart Cable, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, Jonathan Davies, Rupert Moon and, of course, the PLUGGED IN team.
Here is the list of all the nominations, with the winners highlighted in white BEST NEW ACT The Steers, Future Of The Left, Kids In Glass Houses, Attack! Attack! BEST LIVE ACT Manic Street Preachers,
Super Furry Animals, Funeral For A Friend, LostProphets BESt album Super Furry Animals Hey Venus, Funeral For A Friend Tales Don’t Tell Themselves, Stereophonics Pull The Pin, Manic Street Preachers Send Away The Tigers BEST band LostProphets, Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, The Automatic
BEST international artist/export Funeral For A Friend, LostProphets, Katherine Jenkins, The Automatic
Euros Childs, Radio Luxembourg, Sibrydion, Genod Droog BEST live event The Full Ponty, Green Man, Metro Weekender, Sesiwn Fawr
BEST performance on the guest list Lethal Bizzle, Just Jack, The Enemy,
rock & roll excess Dirty Sanchez xfm artist of the year The Wombats contribution to the music industry Martin Hall (manager of the Manics)
outstanding contribution to music Mike Peters (of the Alarm)
face to face
Words by Gail Griffiths
s in all things in life, it was by complete chance that this group of lads met up and formed a band. Drawn together by their love of grunge music, the foursome came up with a name and started playing gigs on the local circuit. And for anyone who hasn’t seen or heard them, they’ll tell you straight that you won’t like them when you do. But of course that isn’t true, as The Unsung have a huge following of fans and regularly play to an enthusiastic crowd at the Fight Night gigs in The Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd. So what are the guys’ thoughts and feelings on these events? Adam: “In my opinion the Fight Night gigs are a good platform for local bands to showcase themselves to an audience of all ages.” Dave: “When we used to go to shows as kids there wasn’t anything anywhere near as professional as the Fight Night productions. This swings both ways of course, the kids going to those shows will still need to get their rock and roll wings somewhere else, but initially those events are a great platform for young kids (and bands) to learn the ropes of playing gigs and how they should go. It’s essential in breeding and encouraging new musical talent in my opinion.” Talking of new talent then, what do you think about the current Valleys music scene? Adam: “In terms of venues for local bands to play in the Rhondda there are certainly less places to go to see live music than a few years’ ago when there was more choice available to both bands and music-goers. In terms of bands there’s a plethora of interesting groups starting to come out of the woodwork. It just seems that since there’s hardly anywhere to play these days, bands are having to travel more to build up followings without having the proverbial home crowd — not that that’s a bad thing...travelling is good!” Dave: “If I’m frank I think it’s dire. There’s no community, co-operation or even common thread linking any bands in South Wales. There are a handful of bands, musicians and others who genuinely do care about music and hopefully soon there will be something more of a coherency among us. I know some things are starting to come together here and there, but these things take time. This issue has been discussed at length, and those of us who have been talking about it and have survived this long and still make honest music have always found the problem being any sort of movement is more like an ‘anti-scene’ which is not superflous to anything constructive. I think in 2008 things may get a little more of a shake up.” With a new year upon us, and a shake-up on the cards, what local bands do you think we’ll be seeing a lot more of? Adam: “Midasuno — I bought their last release,
Photographs by Leah Evans
Songs In The Key Of F**k, the other day and I must say it’s mighty infectious!” Dave: “Midasuno, The Future, Stop Motion Men, Death Of An Icon, Along Came Man. Basically bands who, if the music industry vanished, would still make music because their primary directive is just that — making music they want to hear.”
Dave: “Other than the general themes of apathy, dislike and frustration at its inhabitants... not really... it’s very difficult for me to tell you anything about our songs... you have to listen to them and hear the lyrics. They are very self-explanatory — if you like reading Chaucer! The ideas behind The Unsung and our music are still very young.”
Making good music is what’s brought you guys together, so what influences do you all have which help create your unique sound? Adam: “I think pretty much all of us are postgrunge kids when it comes down to our musical influences, though Soundgarden is a personal fave of mine.” Dave: “Yeah, the late Eighties music scene is definitely where my heart lies. As Adam said we’re all very much grunge fans. I love Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam is another favourite — bands that don’t care about how cool they are, they just want to get together and make music. Contemporary loves of mine are Circa Survive, The Bled, Brand New and At The Drive-in. Anyone kicking up a fuss musically.”
What are the plans for any future songs, do they take a different influence or style? Adam: “We’re concentrating on writing an album at the moment. Personally, it’s interesting for me to see how the music will change since this is really the first time I’ll be throwing my input into the mix.” Dave: “Since Adam wrote with us (we currently have demoed one new track which is the first of three parts) the groove has changed. By that I mean there is just one now. So I personally can see things taking a long jump from where the demo EP is at. Far more considered and articulate songwriting is happening at the moment. You can also expect us to get our sound engineering hats on and come up with many more ways of expressing ourselves live.”
So getting out there and kicking up a fuss yourselves must be fun, but is touring tough in the back of a van? Dave: “For me yes, because I have to take enough food (factoring in the fact the boys will eat it ALL) to last the trip.” Adam: “Tough? No. Loud? YES!” Apart from not having enough to eat, what’s been the best and worst gig you’ve ever done and why? Dave: “Our worst gig was at Mojos in Newport, I’m not going into detail, but there was theft, idiocy and general poorness from the venue. We managed to play 1.4 songs. The best gig for me was the last show we played in Clwb Y Bont to about 30 people.” Being four lads with music on their minds, what’s been the wildest night you’ve had together as a group? Dave: “We don’t do wild. Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll doesn’t exist, and if it does it should be quietly encouraged to die.” Adam: “Well there was this one time with a traffic cone...”
Were you disappointed not to be playing at the Full Ponty Festival last year? Dave: “No, not at all. I got royally messed up that day after working the sound for my very good friends.” Adam: “Yeah, I don’t really remember much from the Full Ponty last year — and I’m glad I can’t from what people tell me!” Can you see yourselves playing the Full Ponty this year? Dave: “No, not at all. I think there is more chance of me eating a beefburger with cheese, followed by a glass of cow’s milk.” What would you ultimately like to achieve? Dave: “Global veganisation. Reaching 30. Making an album that leaves people feeling confused, elated and afraid.” Adam: “To do the robot — sober.”
When can we expect an album or single release from you? Dave: “We are currently collating and writing an album now. It’s going to be an ambitious endeavour and may well kill us. Or you.” Adam: “We’ve recently released a four-track demo called Let History Decide My Name which is available to buy from all our shows, priced just 50p — a true bargain.”
Anything else you would like to tell the PLUGGED IN readers? Mike: “We like people who dance. We’d also like to emphasise that it is not cool to like us. If you think it is, then you’re unfortunately misinformed and thus out of your depth.” All: “Our music is for all the malcontents, the dregs, the hopeless and homeless, the downtrodden, the outcast, the stunned and the shunned. Songs not to sow the seeds but to reap the crop — for all the world who doubts each day. This is for the unsaid and the undone — we are The Unsung.”
Are there any meanings behind your songs that relate to this area? Adam: “Errr...Dave?”
8 To find out where you can see the band play live, or listen to their music, go to www. myspace.com/theunsunguk
FACE TO FACE
Working Class Heroes Words by Kayleigh Edwards
Photograph by Kally Pugh
orking Class Heroes exploded onto the Welsh music scene last year, with their popularity spreading like wildfire every time their name is mentioned. They’ve become one of the most talked about bands in the area, so I decided it was time they revealed their secrets about how they’ve managed to capture so many hearts in such a small amount of time. The name of the band came from the famous John Lennon acoustic protest song Working Class Hero, and the band sight influences ranging from Christina Aguilera to Slayer and James Brown. They’ve all craved music since they were young, Luke (drums) playing since he was 12 — “just because everyone else was learning guitar” — and Kattie (vocals) having been in bands since she was 16. The band slowly got themselves together through love of music and a mutual friendship — after a half-year wait. “I was going to New York for six months, just to live it out a bit, when the night before I went I had a phone call from Kattie and Matt (guitar) asking me if I wanted to join their band,” says Tom (bass). “It was bad timing obviously, so I told them I’d call when I got back. I think they were quite surprised when I actually did!” With a guitarist, bassist and singer now in tow all that was needed was a drummer — so Tom asked Luke if he wanted to join, and then they were on their way. The inspiration behind their songs comes
from their adoration of music and their faith in God, which is something not many young people will admit to — one factor that shows this band’s ability to speak up for what they believe in. And a strong sense of belief is always an advantage that can help one band stand out from the rest, as individuality is what people look for…if they have any taste or idea about music at all that is. Working Class Heroes give it all for the fans and find playing a gig exhilarating and fulfilling to say the least. “It’s a natural thing for us to want and love to play a gig,” they explain, adding, “it’s amazingly sexual and we think there should always be warning signs at our shows saying ‘Caution: Erection’ because that’s just how excited we get about playing them.” Strange bunch aren’t they? Although they’re not all Welsh (Kattie’s English and Luke is half Irish) they still believe the Welsh music scene is “amazingly
cool, considering five years ago nobody gave a damn.” They don’t think, they know the Welsh music scene has a lot of talent — shown in the surge of bands that have arisen from the Welsh soil, and WCH are extremely proud to be a part of it. This band have many achievements they’re proud of, such as supporting The View, The Enemy, Midasuno and The Story So Far to name but a few. The next big thing for them, they say, is to get recording and have an EP out this year — so watch this space and look out for WCH playing near you. 8 To listen to the music go to www.myspace. com/workingclassheroes
ast autumn I went to an Oxjam gig in Cardiff to watch and meet The Moving Lights. The interview didn’t get off to the best start, with the music being a little too loud to be able to have a decent conversation, so after trying the garden outside, which was just as noisy not to mention soaking, we eventually settled on having a chat in the band’s van. How very rock and roll! Geraint (lead guitar), Rhys (bass) and Rob (vocals, rhythm guitar) have been playing together for about three years, with Rhys and Rob knowing each other from school and then being joined by Geraint who lived across the road. They became a foursome a year ago when Robin (drums) joined the team. Then it was time to come up with a name. “That was down to me,” explains Rob. “I had a really boring job working in a service station. I’d be standing behind the till and my eyes would fix on the gambling machines — and that’s how I came up with the name The Moving Lights.” Living in Tonteg and surrounding areas, the band’s musical influences include Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Third Eye Blind, Greenday and Metallica. But although they like these bands, they’re keen to emphasise the fact they don’t consider themselves to be like any of them.
Rhys, particularly, gets quite passionate when talking about this. “It’s difficult to find any band that we sound a lot like, so it’s hard to say which of these artists have had the bigger influence on us musically, because I suppose they all have in a way. Rob thinks if we were to be put into a certain genre, then it would be ‘alternative acoustic’.” Asking about their ambitions for the future, they all agree they would love to get signed but wouldn’t want to get too big or sell out because it would take the focus off what’s important. It becomes clear these boys are silently making a reputation for themselves, they seem to be slowly but surely creeping to success, not trying too hard to impress, but definitely committed to their work. With each of them having full time commitments with jobs and college, they obviously work hard to earn their good name and the respect of the people who listen to their music. “It would be nice to be recognised throughout the whole of the UK,” says Rhys. “But if we were lucky enough to achieve that, we’d like to be able to have some real control over what we do with our music because so many bands lose that control after they get to a certain place. It’s a shame because the
FACE TO FACE
majority of the time they’re really good and they should be allowed to express themselves how they want to. That’s one of the best things about being a musician.” When asked about their wages situation, I’m greeted with rolling of the eyes and laughter. Geraint immediately jumps in to take charge of the story. “We travelled all the way to North Wales one time — that’s 400 miles — and we only got paid £100. We nearly spent that on petrol and food!” And as we sit laughing at some of the stories they tell me, like the time they played a gig in Newport and Geraint had to pay to get in — “I was fuming!” — I find myself hoping this lot will get paid their dues one day because I can’t think of a reason why they shouldn’t. With their new EP out this month, more gigs on the horizon and a catchy style of alternative acoustic music, I think we can expect good things from this band. Add that to down-toearth personalities, a sense of fun and a silent fire that will drive them forward, and I think that not only will success be something which isn’t just a fantasy, but we may very well be looking at local heroes for the future. 8 For details of the new EP, go to www. myspace.com/themovinglights
The Moving Lights Words by Maria Murphy
PLUGGED IN follows the young band to London Main photograph by Laura Williams
to watch them in a major showcase gig Words by Maria Murphy
day in the life
ocal band Dead End (www.myspace. com/deadenduk) first formed after brothers Callum and Elliot were given a guitar and set of drums one Christmas. Good presents for young lads, but combine this with coming from a musical family where their grandfather and older brother were also involved with bands and you have a winning combination. Another early influence was their dad, who was into metal music in a big way and encouraged the boys to enjoy it at a young age. The two brothers wrote their first song for the return from France of their older brother, after which they began a musical journey which is still travelling well today. After playing, learning and practising for a while, Callum (vocals & guitar) and Elliot (drums & percussion) were joined by Mogsy (bass) to complete the band that we’re all getting to know so well on the local music scene. With names like Opium, Unexplained and Made In Wales as ideas for the name of the band, they eventually settled for Dead End. And now, as the boys are making their own way in the industry, they’ve been lucky enough, and talented enough, to be picked up by LostProphets manager Julie Weir, who arranged a showcase gig for them in the Camden Underworld in London at the end of last year. When asked about this, their excitement is obvious and their smiles widen. “We were so chuffed to be given such an opportunity,” says Callum, who is the professional charmer out of the three — Elliot is undeniably the life and soul of the band, with Mogsy being the quieter energy but with a definite spark. “We had a fantastic day, all going up on a specially chartered bus with our family and friends to support us. It was a long day, but worth it for the reaction we got from the London crowd.” The band, all still only in their teens, are working hard to make their mark and earn a good reputation for the future, by doing gigs, going to school and trying to maintain a professional attitude to their work. “We all know how important it is to keep your feet on the ground in the entertainment industry.” With their mother accompanying them to their gigs and managing their workload, it’s not surprising to find these lads are down-to-earth, and their personalities, although all different, somehow gel in a way that definitely comes through in their performance. They complement each other. With musical influences that include Metallica, Slayer, Pantera and local bands Chaos Trigger and Hand Of The Daedra (older brother Liam’s band), it’s difficult to brand their style of music into just one category. “But if you had to,” Elliot insists, “it would have to be not metal, not acoustic, not rock, but sexy metal.” After chatting for almost an hour, and not being able to get a word in edgeways half of the time, I came away with a smile on my face — and I have to say, these lads have definitely got something. There’s no denying that they’re from RCT, their roots shine through their personalities and their accents. With more gigs around the corner and music industry professional Julie Weir from Visible Noise records keeping a close eye on what they do, I think it’s safe to say we may very well be seeing a lot more of Dead End in the future. Possibly another member of the Prophets-inspired Welsh invasion of the world! l Read a full review of the gig on page 30. J FOR A CHANCE TO WIN DEADEND’S EP, TURN TO PAGE 35.
15 pages of live gigs A
major part of what this magazine is all about is the live shows that we can go to see in venues big and small throughout our corner of Wales — and sometimes beyond, when local bands play over the border in a bid for the recognition they so deserve. Music comes in all genres, and a love of music doesn’t stop beyond the age of 25, so we’ve tried to cover as many forms as we can in this magazine and also hope to in future issues. We’ve been lucky recently that world-renowned artists have travelled to Wales to entertain their fans, and for that we should be grateful to the likes of Beth Nielson Chapman and Alvin Youngblood Hart — both featured in this section. But it’s not only live music events that are staged in our theatres, we are also able to enjoy West End shows and operas — and the PLUGGED IN team urge all fans of good live shows to go out and experience as much of what’s on offer as possible. Maybe we’ll see you at one of the coming events! The PLUGGED IN team would like to thank Dave Driscoll, Darran Smith, Julie Weir and Jo Ridout for all their help — allowing us access to gigs and performers, as well as supporting this creative industries project in other ways. Nearly everything you see throughout the pages of PLUGGED IN has been created by young people who have been tutored by industry professionals to take photographs, write interviews or band reviews, and design pages for a high-quality magazine. Everyone who works on PLUGGED IN gives their time for free as a way of gaining invaluable experience of working within the creative industries. Thank you to everyone who paid £1 for this copy of PLUGGED IN — your contribution will go towards the cost of producing future issues and, hopefully, this exciting, enterprising venture will be able to continue.
Gail & Darren
Funeral For A Friend
Cardiff International Arena
Funeral For A Friend Cardiff International Arena 029-2023 4600
Words by Amelia Wingfield & Richard Samuel
t was a frosty December night — cold enough to freeze your pint — and throughout Cardiff busy shoppers prepared themselves for the chaotic days of Christmas. Stumbling through this throng were crowds of music lovers heading towards the CIA — Christmas had come early for them and the gift was Funeral For A Friend. For this was the end of their tour supporting the release of their current album Tales Don’t Tell Themselves, and we were being treated to two great gigs. The previous night the band had played an amazing acoustic set of stripped down and impeccably-performed songs to a select audience at Clwb Ifor Bach — tonight they were going to be full on. The show kicked off with support from The New 1920s, with Col Francies as always being an awesome showman. Kids In Glass Houses performed the most energetic set PLUGGED IN has seen them do to date. Merthyr boys The Blackout showed their future potential by playing their soon-to-be arena anthems It’s High Tide Baby and The Beijing Cocktail. Then the anticipation grew among the crowd as
we waited for Funeral For A Friend to take to the stage. The arena suddenly went pitch black, as FFAF appeared launching into a tight set with All The Rage. There was a sense of intimacy between audience and band at this gig, as the crowd were able to get right up close to the stage and there were no big video screens to fill a gaping void. FFAF tore into an archive of songs that went from their first EP right up to Tales. Songs such as Great Wide Open, Streetcar, Rookie Of The Year and 10:45 Amsterdam Conversations — which all sound fantastic on record, but sounded even better live because of the energy and emotion put into them. Each song flowed from one to another, the six years difference didn’t seem to matter, although each song easily identified the phase the band had been going through. The audience wasn’t interested in starting circle pits, it was more about them being honoured by the presence of such respected home boys. This gig was something special, which PLUGGED IN was proud to be part of and won’t forget in a hurry. FFAF went
off stage to huge applause and the arena lights again dimmed — though people could be heard scurrying in the dark which kept the audience begging for more. As the lights went up again the entire arena was filled with bright colour coming from four Christmas trees and festive lights forming a backdrop to the stage as FFAF reappeared wearing santa hats — with Matt going the whole hog and wearing an entire santa outifit, complete with beard. They belted out Into Oblivion (Reunion), their biggest hit to date, before ending with the crowdrousing History. As Matt sang, “Raise your fingers for one last salute” a sea of hands moved to the emotions felt by the band. A touching, personal performance, which gave everyone there that night a truly unique experience — this was a home-coming gig at the end of a long nine-month tour and it was Christmas. FAFF were home at last, and we celebrated with them in style. J FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF PLUGGED IN, TURN TO PAGE 35.
Cardiff International Arena 029-2023 4600
Words by Gary Bolsom
wmaman’s very own arrived back in familiar territory and you could see that they were happy to be in Cardiff doing what they do best by performing to a massive crowd of people who appreciate their music and are proud of Wales’s heritage. The Stereophonics came on to the stage to the sound of their song Moviestar and quickly burst into recent download-only single Bank Holiday Monday which immediately got the crowd up and pumping to what was going to be a performance that made you wish it was Bank Holiday Monday the following day to recover. Kelly Jones was in fine spirit in the first of three scheduled evenings at the CIA, joking with the audience and chatting as if we were all friends. The Phonics played a strong set from their new album Pull The Pin as well as songs of old. A Thousand Trees was a particular highlight as every person sang the genius lyrics of this chorus, which I think proves Jones is one of the best lyricists of modern times. The songs that went down the best I think, unexpectedly came from the first two albums and included Local Boy In The Photograph, Pick A Part That’s New and More Life In A Tramp’s Vest, but the new tracks were received well too — among them My Friends, Stone and It Means Nothing. Drummer Javier Weyler soon took his T-shirt off as he built up a sweat with his energetic performance and talent for pounding the drums, and Richard Jones was as steady and reliable as ever, while Adam Zindani — the guitarist who comes in to do the live shows, alternating playing lead guitar on some tracks — gave the band a fuller sound. With the back catalogue that these guys now have it’s always going to be hard to play everyone’s favourite track, so Kelly took to the stage on his own halfway through the gig to play a mini solo-collection of past favourites which included Have A Nice Day and Traffic — and this solo spot just blew me away with the power of one man with a guitar and a big voice that filled the auditorium. I must admit two years ago when I saw them play I came away a bit disappointed, but their performance this time round was explosive. J FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF PULL THE PIN, TURN TO PAGE 35.
RCT CULTURAL SERVICES EVENTS
Alvin Youngblood Hart
Muni Arts Centre, 01443-485934
rammy award winner Alvin Youngblood Hart (www.alvinyoungbloodhart.net), hailing all the way from Memphis, took to the stage raring to go. Known as a musician’s musician, having fans that include Eric Clapton, Hart is a giant of a man and on first sight a bit intimidating — but as soon as he started his set you could see how tame this monster was. Playing a whole host of genres including blues, country, rock and ska showed that this is a man of many talents who deserves all the accolades he gets. The Muni had been set up cabaret style, with giant circular tables and candlelight giving a relaxed feeling to the evening that allowed the audience to comfortably sit and watch a truly great guitarist in action. Hart’s love of the guitar was evident on stage through his delicate style of playing a total of six guitars — yes, six of them were used for the gig as Hart didn’t want to neglect one and over-use another. Most of the set was made up of songs taken from his last album Motivational Speaker and the song by the same name was a highlight — a rock song that was reminiscent of a Lenny Kravitz number but of a higher standard. Many people attending the gig didn’t know this guy and were there either by word of mouth or just fancied a night out, but Alvin Youngblood Hart was the name on everyone’s lips that night as they left. The Muni, Rhondda Cynon Taf and even South Wales should be privileged that an artist of this calibre decided to entertain us. GARY BOLSOM
ackstage at the Milton Keynes Bowl about 20 years ago, I met Joe Strummer. The Clash frontman smiled a lot and seemed like a good bloke — and that’s all I can remember… Not much of a story, but I’m still proud I got to meet the man who was an inspiration to thousands. It’s hard to believe it’s 30 years since The Clash exploded on to the music scene, but tonight at the Muni, the 40-and-50-somethings had a chance to relive those amazing times in Paul Hodson’s play. There were no fancy props, just Huw Higginson (from The Bill) and Steve North (from London’s Burning), a Clash soundtrack and some creative lighting. Oh — and a giant backdrop of Strummer, of course. Higginson plays middle-class Nick who meets working-class Steve (North) when The Clash play a Rock Against Racism gig in 1978. Inspired by Strummer, the two men vow to stay true to the political, creative and positive values embodied in that day. As we follow them through their first band — called Infernal Corruption! — unemployment, marriage, divorce and into middle age, Strummer remains the soundtrack to their lives. Nick ends up a soap star mixing in celebrity circles, while Steve settles down and has kids. When he eventually has an opportunity to meet his hero face to face, Steve is so wasted he can barely speak. “You changed my life,” he slurs. Hilarious, nostalgic and performed with passion, Meeting Joe Strummer transported me back to an era when music truly had the ability to change people’s lives. Strummer died of a heart attack at the age of 50 in 2002. Somehow, I doubt that many of today’s frontmen will inspire plays like this in 30 years’ time. STEPH MCNICHOLAS
Meeting Joe Strummer Muni Arts Centre, 01443-485934
Beth Nielsen Chapman
The Coliseum, 01685-881188
he Coliseum Theatre in Aberdare is a throwback to 1930s architecture with an interior to match. It’s this interior that creates the best acoustic atmosphere you’ll find within the local area and the reason why so many class musicians are drawn there. This night is no exception, in fact it’s rather more than that because we find the highly acclaimed American singer/songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman ( w w w. b e t h n i e l s e n c h a p m a n . c o m ) performing in front of a sellout crowd. On a tour that is supporting the gal from Nashville’s fifth and latest double album Prism she soulfully sings through a set that is so enriching it sets your body alight with its purity. Beautifully poetic, lyrically and musically perfected with the most agile backing musicians that you could ever find, this was more than an average gig for Aberdare — this was excellence to a higher state of grace. The performance had humour, sadness and beauty filled with what she regards as ‘adult contemporary music’, it is no wonder that she is a favourite of Radio 2 listeners — but don’t let the Terry Wogan association put you off. This concert was above that, this concert was outstanding. And when she invited Julie Fowlis, the stunningly voiced Gaelic folk singer who had supported her on this tour, back on stage to sing with her and son Ernest in an acapello trio, you could not have been prepared for such an emotive yet haunting piece of music to gently pervade your heart. DW J FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF PRISM, TURN TO PAGE 35.
The Coliseum, 01685-881188
uccini’s La Bohème came to the Valleys thanks to The Mid Wales Opera Company and gave a performance that any audience from around the world would have been privileged to have heard. A more modern approach had been adapted for this story of love, comedy and tragedy, though it still had the same atmosphere that was originally intended by Puccini of his 1830s score. The story takes place around a group of Bohemian people living in Paris, and looking at the stage props it was evident to see that these people didn’t live in good times. As with most operas, the main focus is of love and tragedy and La Bohème has this theme nailed down with the two main characters Rodolfo and Mimi. We see the couple’s relationship flourish from the start but soon Rodolfo’s jealous nature pushes Mimi away, but circumstances bring them back together — but Mimi is a sick woman and tragedy strikes as she dies in her lover’s arms. Christopher Steele and Camilla Roberts portray these two main characters perfectly and it was hard to distinguish if this was acting I was watching or the real deal, which just proves that this opera company prides itself on being an organisation of extreme professionalism. The supporting cast did the story and their characters proud too, and part of what makes La Bohème a fine piece of art is the periphery players that make the performance flow perfectly. The singing was filled with perfect tone and a vast vocal range, making the arias beautiful to listen to, all accompanied by an orchestral score that only added to the dramatic effect of the whole experience. I would advise anyone to go and watch this opera, or any other produced by The Mid Wales Opera Company for that matter, as they set such a high standard. This was my first operatic experience and I was enthralled — so if you don’t think this is your kind of thing I think you should still give it a chance. I can say that I walked away with man points for not letting this tragedy get to my emotions and shedding a tear, but deep down… GARY BOLSOM
Cardiff University, 029-2078 1456
n a rainy mid-October night anticipation ran high at Cardiff University’s Student Union for the home–coming of one of Wales’ most notorious up-and-coming bands — The Blackout (www. myspace.com/theblackout). This was an exciting event for the band as they were going back to their roots to launch their new album We Are The Dynamite. After an amazing performance from Scotland’s Flood Of Red (www.myspace.com/floodofred) closely followed by America’s infamous Pierce The Veil (www.myspace.com/piercetheveil), The Blackout stormed the stage while the crowd chanted “We Are The Dynamite”. Their new video for the single The Beijing Cocktail shows a young boy called Ryan introducing the band, and so this is how they opened their set. Little Ryan stood there in the spotlight and belted out, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Introducing The Blackout.” The roar of excitement from the audience devoured the venue, and the band blasted out Tick Tick Boom Boom while dancing and singing swamped the whole crowd. Starting with favourite songs off their first mini-album The Blackout! The Blackout! The Blackout!, including Hard Slamming and Fashion Conscious Suicide, they then went on to play material from their new album while the crowd went wild. The second to last song was I Got Better Things To Do Tonight Than Die! — their next single — and left the crowd screaming. Sean Smith’s witty humour came through when he bantered with the audience and also attempted to speak Welsh, shouting “I love you guys” — ending up speaking half-English and half-Welsh. Finally they played I’m a Riot You’re a F***ing Riot! which caused a massive swell of people to push closer to the stage as they felt that they were part of something phenomenal. But if that wasn’t enough the crowd demanded an encore, and got one — a cover of Limp Bizkit’s My Generation Blackout-style! Leaving the stage the guys said it had been one of the best shows they’d ever played and for it to be here in Wales was something to make the audience feel proud. A brilliant performance, a totally outstanding band and a compelling night. MATHEW SAMUEL & DANNY DYSTOPIA
XFM Music Response
Pop Factory, 01443-688500
Acoustic Night The Coliseum 01443-881188
s part of the build up to the launch of XFM South Wales and Colin Francies’s Music Response evening show, PLUGGED IN found ourselves treated to a gig by favourite local bands and new ones to the area from across the border. Brilliant locals Mea (www. myspace.com/meaoffical) cracked open the stage and gave a storming performance that said welcome to the Rhondda. Never a band to miss live as they never disappoint. The Novocaines (www.myspace.com/the novocaines) didn’t let the English down with a strong sound that permeated the Pop Factory like an infectious disease. Hopefully back soon. The highly energetic set from Boom In The Diamond Industry (www. myspace.com/boominthediamondindustry) bounced and rocked you with a strong set of pulsing tunes, singer Dave diving around the stage like no tomorrow. Headliners Friends Electric (www.myspace.com/ friendselectricmusic), whose take on music is unique in South Wales, performed a non-stop set which beat a pace that rollercoastered around the old Welsh Hills Works. Reminiscent of early Tubeway Army prior to Replicas from where they took their name, their performance was tight, orginal and, most of all, brilliant. DW
similar event to the Clwb Y Bont Jazz Night (reviewed in Issue 1 of PLUGGED IN) is the Acoustic Night at Aberdare’s Coliseum, held on the first Tuesday of every month. The idea is, your average everyday punter can get up on stage and perform an acoustic song of their choosing in front of an audience, with the reward of a free drink and appreciation at the end. If you’re not a performer at heart there’s still nothing stopping you from going along and enjoying a good chilled out night of folk-inspired songs. As with a lot of folk songs a recurring theme was of a Celtic spirit filled with love, amusement and heritage, but there were songs played to suit everyone’s taste. A standout song for me was an acoustic version of the Bon Jovi classic Living On A Prayer, and the young man that performed this classic gave a whole new take on the song really making it his own. Occasionally, some of the tracks were accompanied by Celtic drums or a bass guitar and sometimes both, which added to the performances. These acoustic nights seem to be very popular as there was a large number of people attending, and this particular week extra tables had to be set up to accommodate everyone who came — some from as far as Brecon! I’m a big fan of acoustic music so this night suited me down to the ground and even inspired me to go home, get the acoustic guitar out and wake up the neighbours with my own unique version of Smells Like Teen Spirit which I’m perfecting for my next visit. GARY BOLSOM
Tom’s Bar, 01443-406666
ell the charity event back in October got off to an interesting start to say the least with the first marriage proposal I’d ever witnessed at a gig (she said yes, by the way). It was really great to see everyone had got into the spirit of Halloween with some pretty crazy fancy dress outfits — the best being a giant baby! The first band on was My Favourite Accident (www.myspace.com/mfaband), who donned the best costumes of the night, with Becka Elis (guitar) in a full skeleton suit. Unfortunately MFA where missing their drummer and had to make do with the other bands’ drummers filling in here and there, making their set very erratic but nonetheless they carried on and still entertained the crowd with catchy songs like The Halo Effect. Next up was the three-piece Audio Canvas (www.myspace.com/audiocanvasmusic) who, considering they’ve only been together since last April, provided a very tight, solid set — although perhaps lacking the connection with the crowd the other more experienced bands had, but I’m sure this will come. The third band on and the most explosive of the night were The NV-US (www.myspace.com/thenvus), who totally threw themselves into the set, taking no prisoners, and played as if their lives depended on it. It was great to see a band who really appears to care about what they’re doing and who command the room to sit up and listen. I’d describe their music as somewhat removed from Emo and rather moving towards fast hard metal. The last band on was Her Portrait In Black (www.myspace.com/xherportraitinblackx) who had a hard act to follow. They have an interesting dynamic, with every band member lending to the vocals, and Jo-Jo’s powerful female vocals over-riding the heavy distorted barrier of noise. It was great to see everyone come out on a Friday night all dressed up and supporting Oxjam. It didn’t run all that smoothly, but everyone was there for the right reasons — for charity, for music, for fun. LAURA SCHWORMSTEDT
SONIG YOUTH MUSIC INDUSTRY EVENTS
elcome to the SONIG Youth Music Industry, Youth Arts and Digital Media page of the second issue of PLUGGED IN. We hope you’re enjoying the latest issue and we’d like to tell you about lots of exciting projects we have lined up for early 2008 which we think you’d really enjoy getting involved in. We’ll be piloting a wide range of music, arts and media workshops and masterclasses for 14 to 25-year-olds at Porth Plaza (next to the Pop Factory) between January and April 2008. We have lots of workshops on offer, including the PLUGGED IN sessions for aspiring music journalists and photographers; music technology classes for wannabe music producers; music industry mentoring and masterclasses for bands, artists and anyone wanting to make a career in the music industry; digital design for anyone who wants to come up with cool designs for myspace or to learn the skills to market and promote themselves through graphics and the web; as well as fashion workshops starting in March with our very own Fashion Rocks show in May. Along with the timetable for Porth Plaza activities, don’t forget to check out the Fight Night Band Night dates at the Muni Arts Centre, and keep your eyes posted on the SONIG website (www.sonig.org.uk) for info about our regular yearly Rock School for 16 to 25-year-olds coming up in an RCT venue in April. For more information, contact Tanya Walker on 01443-490205.
Kick Box Riot
Clwb Y Bont, 01443-491424
work as a gig promoter and my first event for Taste Of Tragedy Productions was at Clwb Y Bont. Far from the event running perfectly as I had hoped, there were many problems — bands turning up late, bands dropping out, we even started late — but I guess these things are expected. Anyway, the night had arrived and we had a line-up of four diverse bands playing. First up was Wave Of The Anvil, a metal band from Tonyrefail who the crowd seemed to like. They opened the night amazingly, with Aaron (drums) getting everyone going by playing the gig in his boxers! Second on were Cuba Cuba (www. myspace.com/cubacubamusic), an energetic band with a KORG, and although they ran late they played great. A lot of their friends were in the audience and gave them an awesome reception. Rhys (bass) went a little mad jumping off the stage and going, well, nuts — but the crowed loved it. Marks Set Go (www.myspace.com/markssetgo), from Newport, gave a different edge to the night with their indie sound, and I could see people enjoying their set, especially one of my friends. The regular guitarist from Tomorrow’s History (www. myspace.com/tomorrowshistory) was out of the country at the time of this gig, so they brought in Tyla Campbell as a replacement, who did a grand job. As usual the band played fabulously, with Leon (vocals) getting better every time and Luc (lead guitar) having awesome skill. Not many people can work six strings like him. Last, but definitely not least, were headlining band Kick Box Riot (www.myspace.com/ kickboxriot). There’s only one word to describe them — amazing! Every single person in that room, including the other band members were down the front going absolutely crazy. All eyes were on them, and rightly so. In the end we overcame all the problems and everything seemed worthwhile. The bands and the crowd had a brilliant time — as well as me, even though I was rushed off my feet. So to everyone who came to watch or to help out, thank you and see you at the next one. SALLY JADE EVANS
The Pop Factory, 01443-688500
alloween saw the first event for young promoter and contributor to PLUGGED IN magazine Amelia Wingfield. The show kicked off with a complete wall of noise from Threat Manifesto (www.myspace.com/ threatmanifesto) who screamed through their set like a pack of banshees. They rewrite the term music their way and created a complete noisefest that was both annoying and enjoyable. Working Class Heroes (www. myspace.com/workingclassheroes) changed the pace with numbers like The End. Kattie (vocals) cavorted around the stage making every red hotblooded male’s pulse race — but this didn’t distract from the songs that were brilliantly played pieces of indie pop. Then the devil reincarnate arrived, taking to the stage in the form of the possessed body of Jamie Todd vocalist for the since-dispanded LastCall. Despite technical difficulties the band’s performance was professional, something that had made them a major force on the local scene — PLUGGED IN was sorry to hear of their split. Like having a big stick repeatly beating you over the head then grinding your mind into the ground LastCall left just enough of your exhausted body alive to witness the ever brilliant youngsters DeadEnd (www.myspace.com/deadenduk). These boys have gigged and played to breaking point, and I don’t mean Callum’s arm, proving that age doesn’t matter when you know how to rock. Songs like Arachnid and Stronger Than All are thrown like boulders from the stage into your face and played with such pace, style and ferrocity you know that they are destined for a higher place. That night DeadEnd used the audience as a sacrifice in the name of music. DW
≠ live performance
ack in the summer we were treated to five bands of varying styles and talent. Elevate (www.myspace.com/ elevate_rocks) were first up and although had talent were let down by first-gig nerves — things can only get better. Over Dunnit (www.overdunnitmusic.com) were punk wannabes in the vein of UK Subs — very loose in places but potiential with practice. Lucky Delucci (www.myspace.com/luckydelucci) were a welcome breath of fresh air. Funky fun with an excellent singer — perfect for a sunny day. Clinical Groover (www. myspace. com/clinicalgroover) took things to a different plane with more adult rock and reggae — excellent but long performance. Headliners Vertigo (www.myspace.com/ vertigorock) whipped it up with a series of excellent covers, including a fantastic version of Green Day’s Holiday that rocked the roots of the trees in Darran Park. DW
Killing For Company Clwb Y Bont, 01443-491424
fter a dull day in Ponty back in the autumn, my excitement was fuelled by a gig at Clwb Y Bont with a line-up exciting as an NME or Kerrang! tour. The first surprise was Along Came Man (myspace. com/alongcameman), having missed them at The Full Ponty. The excitement built in the mixed audience of older and younger music lovers, which included members of The Guns. ACM stormed through a delicious rawk-driven set including Silhouette and Kill Robot Kill. Younger music fans absolutely adored the set and gave some of the older lot a glimpse at Wales’s thriving music scene. Next up were Five Mile Drive (www.myspace.com/fivemiledriveband) who definitely had an older following and seemed to want to teach people like me a thing or two about music. Mixing up elements of punk, huge Hendrixstyle riffs (which were mind-blowing to say the very least), add to that an ounce of mod-rock and on top of that sprinkle a little bit of jazz and you have FMD. It might sound a terrible combination, but it works to an amazing affect. Having been a personal highlight at The Full Ponty, The Guns (myspace.com/ gunsmusic) have a gut-load of attitude and the songs in their locker to back up any doubts. It was the turn of the younger fans in attendance to show what they could do — turning the venue into a dance floor where people were just going absolutely mental. Storming through a set that started with No No Know and finishing with Gordon’s & Lemonade — which includes the lines “We’re drinking and dancing/And we’re out of our minds” and definitely summed up the night for most of the audience — the band came away with their reputation enhanced. They didn’t please everyone though, I overheard someone from the older generation saying, “It’s all about the music [which Alex, vocals, had repeated all night], that wasn’t music at all!” Clearly she didn’t get it, but I’m 18 years old so, hey, what do I know about music. So this left the night’s headliners Killing For Company (myspace.com/kfcband), who have ex-Stereophonic Stuart Cable banging the drums. Anyone expecting any similarity to Cable’s old band would have been very disappointed — long gone are the days of Bartender And The Thief. Cable seems to be much happier smashing the drum skin harder and faster to create a more edgy rock sound. His drumming was phenomenal and ranks up there with the best I’ve ever witnessed. Their music is at the forefront of the fresh new music coming out of Wales and I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2008 KFC will be playing all the music festivals. It was a good night where music fans taught each other about music, showing the spirit is well and truly alive. RICHARD SAMUEL
The Coal Exchange
he XFM gig at Cardiff’s Coal Exchange last September was the penultimate event ever to be held at the established venue — and it was one to be remembered. The line-up was an all-star cast of future stars from the Welsh music scene — Kick Box Riot (www.myspace.com/kickboxriot), The New 1920 (www.myspace.com/ thenew1920), The Guns (www.myspace. com/gunsmusic) and Kids In Glass Houses (www.myspace.com/kidsinglasshouses). Kick Box Riot kicked things off with an enigmatic performance that will put them in a firm position to be regarded as definitely a band for the future. With thumping drums they got the crowd shaking the room at an early stage of the night. Alternating lead guitarist responsibilities brought forth an alternating rhythm and style to their sound. At the end of their set they asked the crowd to show off their dance moves and who did I see dancing like mad men? PLUGGED IN’s very own Mr James Foxhall and Mr Richie Samuel! The New 1920 arrived on stage one by one playing their own instruments in turn and immediately breaking into a personal favorite of mine Two Day Rule which has the most infectious chorus you will ever hear. Col Francies was in an energetic mood as always, trouncing back and forth the stage and then continued to jump off their 12ft amps during Torpedo Libido. For their finale they decided to go one better than Kick Box Riot and get audience members up on stage to dance…and who do you think I saw? Yep — Foxy and Richie again! The Guns took to the stage next and really got to blowing people’s minds with their full loud and raunchy and impeccably-timed set-list. Vocalist Alex Wiltshire was in a talkative mood sharing stories and anecdotes to a captivated audience. In their set they included a firm fan favourite Gordon’s & Lemonade and, in my opinion, this is a song that will soon become an anthem among hardcore moshers and will certainly appear on a mosher’s guide compilation disc. Finally headliners Kids In Glass Houses took to the stage and insisted on tearing the place apart and doing some renovating to the Coal Exchange on their own. The crowd was well up for it too, and for this reason I’ve aptly named them Kids In ‘Smashed’ Houses for this A-star performance. It was pretty obvious the band had had a few drinks — and who can blame them with the success they’ve been having lately — but this didn’t take anything away from their performance. They showed off the energy of actual kids but gave a mature live show as seasoned performers. Songs in their set-list included Tiger Tiger, Skeletons and You You You which all went to show that they have the songs and, judging by the audience reaction, the potential to become a great established act of the future. The Coal Exchange’s era may have come to an end, but this was a glimpse of a great future for Kids In Glass Houses. GARY BOLSOM
The Hot Puppies
Clwb Y Bont, 01443-491424
The Muni Arts Centre, 01443-485934
nce again PLUGGED IN was at the Muni for the latest Fight Night and it seemed the Deadstar Promoters had stepped up a gear, especially with the first band Death Of An Icon (www.myspace.com/deathofaniconband). Probably the best opening act they’ve ever had, this group is an amalgamation of the now-dispanded Panel and Ill System, but already with an identity of their own. The first number thumped into a heavy musical rhythm that vibrated the whole of your skeletal frame. Danny on vocals, unlike many singers who get lost against a wall of noise, stood out and towered throughout the performance — not a group to miss. The Stop Motion Men (www. myspace.com/stopmotionmen) were second on stage, and this trio gave a different approach to their performance — mixing the music with images on a screen that complement each other rather than distract. They built their set to an explosive crescendo that wildly spilled around the old Arts Centre walls. The one local band that has always performed to an 11 on a scale of 10 is Mea (myspace.com/meaofficial) — and this Fight Night is no exception as they enriched the room and excited the crowd with a unique and perfect blend of indie guitar rock. Vanessa is the perfect frontwoman capturing every man’s heart in her grip then squeezing it until they’re gasping for breath. Mea are simply excellent and a group PLUGGED IN will never tire of seeing. The swings and roundabouts of a Fight Night is part of its charm and the mood then darkened to near black as one of the heaviest groups on the scene in South Wales took to the mic — except that Chaos Trigger (myspace. com/chaostrigger) don’t just take the mic, they shove it where the sun never shines. Totally uncompromising, energetically powerful hardcore music they bash you round the head using a blunt instrument. Heavy and proud of it, thank God! Then to the night’s headliners and it was time to lock up your daughters as 12 Gauge Alliance (myspace.com/12gaugeallianceuk) had arrived with frontman Alun Reynolds’ sexy chrisma having a sense of the perverse about it. As he energetically bounded around the stage grabbing the audience’s attention the rest of the band supported him brilliantly. As for the event, long may the Fight go on. DW
ack in October, a PLUGGED IN special gig took place which was headlined by up-and-coming indie starlets The Hot Puppies who have been tipped for greatness by Radio 1’s new music tipster Huw Stephens. To kick the night off local boys Jam With Robina (myspace.com/jamwithrobina) played some soothing melodies that would sound perfect driving a convertible into the sunset. Romano and Mark played off each others’ talents and had everyone in the audience surprised by what a great little gem they’d just discovered. Romano admitted his voice was recovering from an infection, but this just left PLUGGED IN curious to see how much better it would be. It was an amazing performance to start the night off with. Next up were Valley lads The Oratorios (myspace.com/theoratorios), who are heavily influenced by The Libertines. Their set was full of guitar-driven lad-rock which I think Libertines frontmen Carl and Pete would have been happy with. The sweaty and frantic set was a joy to listen to and reminded me of the underground indie revival of 2002. Third on stage were Mea (myspace.com/meaofficial) who played a stripped-down bare-back acoustic set with their own songs and some covers. Vanessa’s voice is absolutely the most beautiful and sexy voice PLUGGED IN has ever heard live. Their cover of Britney Spears’ Toxic made the hair on the back of everyone’s necks stand up — and fall in love with her voice. Although a heckler nearly ruined the night for all, Mea fought back and made him look like an absolute fool. If you see Mea on a flyer check them out — their sound is the cream of the crop from the Valleys scene. So it was up to headliners The Hot Puppies (myspace.com/thehotpuppies) to show why they are hot property right now within the indie world. Imagine glamour meets indie, it’s The Long Blondes meets Howling Bells and Blondie all in one package. The highlight of the set was the single King Of England which captures in three minutes why this band is so highly regarded within the Cardiff scene. Catch them while they’re hot people, because The Hot Puppies are on fire. RICHARD SAMUEL
Xfm Winter Wonderland Cardiff University 029-2078 1458
Words by Richard Samuel
sold-out crowd packed into Cardiff University’s Great Hall to witness what will hopefully be the first of many Xfm gigs inside the venue. A charity gig in aid of Shelter Cymru with a winter wonderland theme, a perfect night to get warm with other gig goers. Kicking off the night in style were Kids In Glass Houses (myspace.com/kidsinglasshouses) who tore through a set which included Easy Tiger and Me Me Me. One of the more energetic performances of the night, it was a shame that most people hadn’t arrived yet to catch them. Next up were We Are Scientists (myspace.com/wearescientists) who took a brief spell out from their own headline tour and supporting Kaiser Chiefs to perform tonight. The quirky indie New Yorkers treated fans to new material and such classics as Nobody Move and The Great Escape with the usual onstage comedy between Keith and Chris. Then one of the bands of the moment The Enemy (myspace.com/theenemy) took to the stage, running riot with all the singles and scorchers of their fantastic debut album fuelled with lad rock. The stand out song of their set for PLUGGED IN was You Are Not Alone. Next up was Duffy (myspace.com/duffy), a singer/ songwriter from North Wales with an acoustic set. As good as the songs
were and as good as her voice was, PLUGGED IN felt the slot on the bill didn’t sit easily — she should have opened the night and left a massively pumped up crowd feeling the buzz off The Enemy. Finally, headliners the legendary Super Furry Animals (myspace.com/superfurryanimals) came on and showed just exactly why they were top of the bill. Gruff Rhys (vocals) came on stage wearing a giant power ranger-style helmet and opened their set with an amazing performance of Slow Life. With an impressive eight albums behind SFA they rolled through major hits such as Rings Around The World, Do Or Die, Juxtapozed With U, the super-psychedelic Show Your Hand and mellow chill out riffs of Hello Sunshine. They were definitely a different standard to the rest of the bands on the bill because you just didn’t know what to expect, but this was SFA after all and a band not to cut corners or compromise on their performance — they are simply unique. The tension built throughout the hour-long set with song after song being played to perfection, culminating in a crescendo of sound with Man Don’t Give A F*** and ending brilliantly on Cosmic Trigger — proving SFA can still cut it after 15 years of success with a powerfully enriching live set.
The Spectaculars UK Tom’s Bar, 01443-406666
he brilliant Tattsyrup (www.myspace. com/tattsyrup) bounced onto the stage eagar to please with their ska-based pop music that could lighten the darkest of moods. Mixing orginal songs with covers of classics such as Gangsters, Night Boat To Cairo and Ghost Town made famous by The Specials and Madness they are so up-beat you feel yourself rising through the roof. As is the way with ska music the vocals and brass intruments took centre stage, but both the flow and rhythm is kept in perfect pace by the drums, bass and guitars — such fun. The Spectaculars UK (www.myspace.com/thespectacularsuk), whose album Vicious Pop was recently released on the new Mystic Loops Label, mounted the stage to an expectant audience. Firing up immediately they cracked through numbers like Hellboy Meets Hellgirl and Frankenstein with the strength of a hurricane-force wind. Played with a slight comic edge, the heavily textured layers of music pulsed around Tom’s like a pneumatic drill on heat. Because they don’t play an obvoius style or genre of music but much more of an ecletic mix of tastes all rolled into one, some people may find them difficult to place — but for PLUGGED IN this is their charm in an area full of Bullet For My Valentine wannabes and also their strengh. Individual and orginal I urge people to see The Spectaculars UK before the UK swallows them and they no longer play our small venues. DW
Subverse Club Camden Underworld, London
t had already been a long day, starting at 8am with a bus journey that brought us from Wales via every wrong turn in London to the Camden Underworld with a half hour to spare. This was Subverse Club, a showcase of talent supported by Visible Noise (the people behind the LostProphets). LastCall impressively hit the stage treating the London audience to the full-on force of Welsh power. They watched in disbelief as Jamie Todd pounded them with his hardcore bluesy vocals, rasped at them in songs like The Kill. Slightly chaotic but impressively performed, this was to be the penultimate gig for the band — such a shame. This was still DeadEnd’s day though, with the youngsters being groomed for greatness. Never before treading a London stage, they set a bomb off that nobody was expecting. The London audience went wild as they pumped out song after song stamping a mark that will never be forgotton. The day continued with the strongly Gallows-influenced Blackhole (www.myspace.com/blackholesound) playing a full-on screamo set, then the playful fun pop of Saving Aimee (www.myspace.com/savingaimee) who made everyone give high fives during their performance, and on to the folk-rock-influenced genius of Lightspeed Champion (www.myspace.com/lightspeedchampion) whose pace slowed the event into joyful climax. Great mix, great bands all. DW
Sˆ wn Festival Cardiff
n a fresh autumn night last year I was looking forward to the Swn ˆ Festival, a whole weekend of gigs in Cardiff organised by Radio 1’s Huw Stephens. There had been quite a buzz about the Swnfest, ˆ and I was curious as to whether it would live up to expectations. With such a contrast between the atmospheres at different venues — Cardiff Univeristy, Barfly, Clwb Ifor Bach, The Point, Chapter Arts Centre — it was difficult to categorise the event, and difficult to compare it to other festivals that come around through the year. Some gigs were packed out completely, to the point of not being able to move, whereas others only had a small intimate gathering. Spread out around Cardiff, the travel aspect of the whole festival added a little spice to it I think, giving it a bit of a rushed feel which some people loved and some didn’t. Friday’s headliners at the Uni were The Cribs (www.myspace.com/thecribs), with support from Those Dancing Days (www.myspace.com/thosedancingdays) and Shrag (www.myspace.com/shrag), while at The Point Zach Condon’s orchestral folk retinue Beirut (www.myspace.com/beirut) followed Welsh folksters Richard James and Cate Le Bon (www.myspace.com/catelebon). The audience at Clwb Ifor Bach saw, among others, The Duke Spirit and Black Cesar (www.myspace.com/ blackcesarrock). Saturday and Sunday’s line up included great music from the likes of The Voluntary Butler Scheme, The School (www. myspace.com/theschoolband), The Bobby McGee’s, The Clientele (www.myspace.com/ theclienteleofficial), Soft Hearted Scientists (www.myspace.com/softheartedscientists), Black Lips (www.myspace.com/theblacklips) and Hush The Many (www.myspace.com/ hushthemany). Every artist I saw was really good and all played really well, each one giving me a different vibe to the last and leaving me with a sense of wanting more. But out of everyone I saw on Friday I found myself being drawn in, like many at the heaving venue, by the magical melodies of Beirut. They captured me from the beginning with a sound that filled you with a feeling of nostalgia that you couldn’t quite put your finger on. Reminiscent of a holiday romance that never even existed. As they got more into it, the songs got heavier and the old church seemed to light up with the Eastern European feel that the band shines with. I was almost disappointed when I had to leave, I could quite easily have stayed for longer, with my martini and lemonade, letting myself be hypnotised by the melodic wonder that is this band. My favourite band from Saturday’s line-up was Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring (www.myspace.com/ theirheartswerefullofspring), who played their orchestral beauty wonderfully and filled the crowd with harmonies that literally sent shivers through you. These two bands were the ones that left the biggest mark on me from the weekend without a doubt. The atmosphere throughout the weekend was indescribable. Because it was new and people didn’t know what to expect there was an air of curiosity, with some people itching for something to criticise, but I think it was an awesome festival and a fun weekend — and I like the fact it was held in the autumn rather than the summer. For me, it gave the whole thing something extra. Huw Stephens has definitely made his mark here, and I really hope he’ll be doing the same again next year. MARIA MURPHY
Fe wnaeth Sˆ wn greu buzz a chyffro o gwmpas De Cymru ac roedd pawb yn edrych ymlaen at yr Wyl. Wyt ti’n meddwl iddi fod mor llwyddianus ag oeddet wedi’i ob’itho? Yn sicr. Ro’n i’n gobeithio bydde fe’n llwyddiant mawr wrth gwrs, ond dim tan i’r holl beth orffen, nes i sylweddoli fod e wedi bod yn llwyddiant. Roedd clywed pobl yn son am Swn ˆ yn ffafriol yn beth da, y gigs yn llawn a’r buzz o amgylch Caerdydd yn wych.
Huw Stephens Geiriau gan Maria Murphy
Ma’ pawb yn gwbod fod miwsig Cymraeg yn dechrau ennill ei blwy’ yn y busnes, gyda miwsig roc yn dod yn fwy a mwy llwyddianus. Oes na unrhyw fandiau wyt ti’n arbennig o hoff o wrando arnyn nhw sy’n dod o’r ardal hon (neu sy’n dod o ardaloedd y de)? Mae wastad llwyth o fandiau Cymraeg yn gneud yn dda. Mae Duffy o gogledd Cymru yn neud yn dda. O ran bandie newydd, mae Truckers Of Husk yn dda iawn ac yn ennill mwy a mwy o ffans trwy’r amser. Mae Threatmantics yn fand hynod o addawol hefyd, o Resolven ac yn byw yng Nghaerdydd. Mae Spencer McGarry Season yn dda iawn, Eitha Tal Ffranco hefyd. Ond pwy a wyr pa fandiau newydd fydd yn gneud yn dda dros y flwyddyn nesa? Bydd rhaid ni aros tan ddiwedd y flwyddyn i weld! Gyda gwyliau cerddorol fel Sˆ wn, Festival 24 ac Oxjam yn dod i Gymru, wyt ti’n meddwl fod hwn yn nodi cyfnod newydd i sin cerddoriaeth gyfoes Cymru? Ar wahan i Sˆ wn, wyt ti wedi ymweld ag unrhyw un o’r gwyliau eraill ac, os felly, be oeddet ti‘n feddwl? Wnes i ddim llwyddo i fynd i Festival 24 achos ron i yng ngwyl bestival y penwythnos hwnnw. Es i i un gig Oxjam, ond fi’n gwbod bod lot fawr yn mynd mlaen. Roedd angen gwneud Sˆ wn i ddigwydd eleni yng Nghaerdydd er mwyn i ni ddechre gneud e yn flynyddol. Ron in teimlo fod angen gwyl yn y ddinas gyda bandiau mawr a bach, o Gymru a tu allan, i gyd yn eitha arbenigol a gwych. Fi’n falch fod e wedi gweithio. Beth a’th symbylodd i drefnu gwyl Sˆ wn? O ble death y syniad? Ron i wedi bod i wyliau fel Sˆ wn or blaen — SXSW yn Texas, In The City ym Manceinion a Airwaves yn Reykjavik. Roedd Caerdydd yn teimlo fel dinas berffaith i neud y fath ma o beth — mae’n itha bach, lot o lefydd da i roi bands mlaen, lot o fandie da, cynulleidfa yn barod i weld gigs a hyrwyddwyr yn rhoi gigs gwych mlaen yn aml. Doedd Swn ddim yn syniad hynod o wreiddiol ond roedd angen gneud e yng Nghaerdydd yn sicr. Yn sgil dy waith ar Radio 1, oes bandiau yn cysylltu a thi er mwyn hyrwyddo’u cerddoriaeth? Wyt ti’n derbyn demos yn aml? Fi’n derbyn demos yn aml iawn — cannoedd bob wthnos. Fi’n trio gwrando arnyn nhw i gyd, i weld be ma nhw fel ac i weld os ydyn nhw’n addas ar gyfer y rhaglen radio. Fi’n ca’l demos o amgylch Prydain i gyd, a lot fawr ar MySpace hefyd. Wyt ti’n meddwl fod ’na unrhyw fandiau lleol y dylen ni edrych mas amdanyn nhw? Wastad! Pwy yw’r cerddorion mwya’ doniol i ti weithio gyda nhw? Mae’n rhaid mai Goldie Lookin Chain ydy’r rhai mwya doniol. O’r foment cyntaf, a dal i fod, nhw ydy’r band gyda mwya o syniadau a mwya o hwyl i weithio gyda nhw. Mae’r
gerddoriaeth yn ddoniol, a’r geirie yn wych. Ond ma nhw fel’na mewn bywyd go iawn hefyd. Fi’n gobeithio na’n nhw gario mlaen i greu cerddoriaeth. Oes ’na unrhyw prosiectau yn cael eu cynnal gan Radio 1 yn ystod y flwyddyn i gefnogi pobl ifanc sy’n trio torri i mewn i’r diwydiant? Gan ddarparu cyfleoedd fel hyn, efallai, neu drwy gystadlaethau ayb? Mae Introducing i neud gyda bandiau newydd yn torri drwodd, ar bron iawn bob gorsaf BBC, yn cynnwys Radio 1 a Radio Wales. ’Sdim cystadleuthau fel y cyfryw achos y BBC yw e. Allwn ni edrych ymlaen i Sˆ wn sefydlu yn Wyl neu ddigwyddiad blynyddol yng Nghymru? Gobeithio. Mae’n digwydd yn 2008 yn sicr, bydd rhaid gweld sut maen mynd ar ol hynny. Ac i gloi, pa fiwsig wyt ti’n gwrando arno ar hyn o bryd? Yr eiliad hon, wrth i fi deipio, fi’n gwrando ar mixtape dubstep/grime newydd. Gartre’ fi’n gwrando ar albym hyfryd Iron & Wine a demo Truckers Of Husk. A mil o bethe erill hefyd, drwy’r amser!
Kids In Glass Houses Words by Sally Jade Evans
ow does it feel to be one of the best new Welsh acts of 2007? Well, Kids In Glass Houses should know as they were nominated for Best New Act at the recent Pop Factory Awards — and won! “It’s really strange,” says Aled. “Even though I’m in a fairly successful band it hasn’t affected my social life massively. I don’t get noticed very much when I go out, though occasionally people will come up to you in a club and say, hey I like your band, which is awesome. Nothing’s changed at all really. If anything I can go out more because I don’t have to get up for anything usually — haha.” Having played the Full Ponty last year, the
Photograph by Leah Evans
boys have gone on to tour with Funeral For A Friend on the last leg of their worldwide tour. A pretty good end to a fantastic year for five young lads. “Yes, it has been a pretty amazing year for us all. Playing at the Full Ponty was a fantastic experience. At the time we hadn’t played Wales for a long time, which was odd because we’d gone from playing Wales every week or so to having played there once in six months. It was great to get back, but we were really nervous about what sort of reaction we’d get. It all went well though — apart from being the only band it rained on! It was our first outdoor show, too, so it’ll be memorable for a lot of reasons. We played with loads
of our good friends and favourite bands and everyone just had a total blast. And playing with Funeral was just awesome, they are such great guys and we had a brilliant reception from the fans.” So, how do you top a year like that? Well, get into the studio and record an album — that’s how. “We’ll be releasing our debut album very soon, which is the most exciting thing we’ve done so far. We just hope to tour ourselves stupid and hopefully get to see the world a bit. I can’t wait for things to get going.” It’s all a far cry from a few friends just getting together to start a band as a way to pass the time. “At the time we formed
INSIGHT we didn’t have any ideas about joining a particular music scene. Wales just had a generally good music scene and it wasn’t about genres and labels, it was just about a big group of friends in different bands playing and having fun together week in week out. We just started the band out of boredom and a love for playing and making music. As hobbies go, you play sport, you play computer games or you start a band. Music is the most important thing to all of us, so it was the most natural thing in the world to do.” Having grown up listening to a wide variety of music all five band members have different influences, but a common theme is the admiration of bands that have a strong work ethic. “We admire bands like Glassjaw and American Nightmare and a lot of hardcore bands. I know they’re in different musical fields to us, but from an attitude and passion point of view we really admire them. There’s an honesty and just total and utter love and dedication for what they do and did, respectively. By the same token, we admire artists like The Police and Prince just for being prolific and amazing musicians and songwriters. Their music means a lot to people and I think every band should aspire to that.” So now that KIGH themselves are a band today’s youngsters are going to be looking up to, what advice can they give to new bands that are starting out? “Practise a lot. Keep writing. Play music you like, not music you want other people to like. At the end of the day, you have to live with those songs.” Getting inspiration to write music must be hard, but this band is one which seems to take the challenge head on. “We just like writing songs we enjoy playing and would enjoy listening to. We’re all into a lot of different music and I think it pans out well when we’re writing because we have different perspectives on things. We take everyday experiences and turn them into songs — like Easy Tiger, which is about drifting away from friends. I think it’s quite challenging to write good melodic music, so it’s quite rewarding when people sing along and remember the words.” The band obviously love what they do, and playing at gigs can be hard work but very rewarding. “We played so many amazing shows last year. The Full Ponty was great as we were back in Wales playing to a home crowd. Give It A Name was also the first huge show we’d ever done and that was completely overwhelming. We got to play some prestigious venues that not a lot of unsigned bands have ever done — Reading was definitely one of our favourite shows. And the headline tour was pretty good too, it was the first time we actually knew people were there for us and it was amazing to see so many people at every show.” Ending the year supporting Funeral for a whole month must certainly have been a high point to a pretty successful year. But what’s it like playing with an unappreciative audience? “Playing with bands like the Manic Street Preachers and the Goo Goo Dolls was probably the strangest gigs we’ve done, because we were sort of fighting a losing battle with 95 per cent of the audience. But I wouldn’t say it was a bad experience because there was something quite fun about playing to people who probably wouldn’t ever listen to your band. It gives you a bit of attitude and determination to win them round. I don’t think we really did though!” 8 For a current list of dates and places where the boys are playing, go to www.myspace. com/kidsinglasshouses
DeadStar Promotions Words by Kayleigh Edwards
Photograph by Leah Evans
ou’ve probably seen the DeadStar boys running around the Muni at every Fight Night, or you’ve at least heard Daniel Parry shouting across the stage, but it’s thanks to local band LastCall that many of you are attending the popular monthly rock show held in Ponty.When playing at the Muni in 2006, three members of the band were approached by Tanya Walker, the co-ordinator of SONIG Youth Music Industry, and asked if they’d like to put on the Fight Night gigs. Andrew Webb, Dwayne Howells and Daniel Parry had already been putting on shows themselves but a chance like this was not one to be missed as it meant a much larger crowd and much more recognition. Ever since the first Fight Night it’s been a major success and “it’s only thanks to the support from every person that shows up that it’s been able to increase every time.” They’ve had a diverse range of bands playing, including Miss Conduct, The Unsung and Dopamine who supported the LostProphets on their 2006 tour, so it really is an amazing accomplishment. They only thing the DeadStar boys can do now is take it further — and with talk of Fight Night in the Park as a mini-festival for sometime later this year it’s obvious how commited and ambitious the boys are about doing this. So with the support of all us music lovers who attend the shows these local events can only get bigger and better. Check out www.myspace.com/deadstarevents for details of other regular events the boys are involved with — such as Blow The Fuse and Versus — as well as dates of all the shows being put on during 2008. But for Fight Night fans, make a note of the next three dates you can see fab music at The Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd — they are 26th January, 23rd February and 29th March. See you there!
Last 10 Questions With... FRIENDS ELECTRIC PLUGGED IN: How was your performance when you played on the TV programme The Guest List last year? Friends Electric: Definitely been one of the biggest performances we’ve done to date. We’d certainly been looking forward to it, and we certainly enjoyed doing it too. PLUGGED IN: You were nominated for Best Performance on The Guest List at the recent Pop Factory Awards. How did you feel about that? Friends Electric: It was fantastic to be nominated — we were really proud and a little surprised. We didn’t win, but we didn’t expect to when we saw who we were up against. At least we got to go to the party! PLUGGED IN: What are your collective thoughts on the present Welsh music scene? Friends Electric: It’s really good. Although there’s not much really going on in relation to our sound and genre, there’re loads of great bands we love out there, and irrespective of their sound they’re all great guys. PLUGGED IN: What would you say has been your biggest event/gig to date? Friends Electric: Without a doubt it would have to be The Full Ponty last year. It was massive for the band and really helped us get our music out there on such a large stage. PLUGGED IN: Any projects in the pipeline or any hot gossip about the band you can fill us in on? Friends Electric: Well to be honest, we’re still recording and working towards completing the first album. At the moment our sound is still evolving, so we’re all still finding our feet. Also we’re working on building up our fan base. Sometimes the songs can just go over people’s heads, slowly but surely it’s getting bigger. PLUGGED IN: I think it’s fair to say that the whole Electronica element you bring to the table is very fresh, and it’s certainly growing. So
who would you say have been your biggest influences to date? Friends Electric: The biggest would certainly have to be Soulwax. Last year we went to see them at Cardiff University. As part of their set with 2MANYDJS they remixed their album, and with their electronic style it was awesome. As where at a rock gig you get the first few rows going for it and the rest just stand around, there it was a front to back job with the entire place bouncing. It was really intense. After that we knew where we wanted to go. PLUGGED IN: Artist wise, who’s currently taking up room on your mp3 players? Friends Electric: Digitalism is a favourite of ours at the moment, and we’re also really big fans of Calvin Harris. Been listening to Daft Punk too, oh and can’t forget the Chemical Brothers’ new album. It’s usually anything with an electronic edge to it. PLUGGED IN: Quick-fire question time — Stereophonics or Manic Street Preachers? Friends Electric: I think it would have to be earlier Manic stuff, but lately definitely the Stereophonics. PLUGGED IN: Another quickie, and a killer — Rocker or Nu-Raver? Friends Electric: We’re on the same wave length as Nu-Ravers, but then again we’re sort of Dancey-Rockers, say an Electrocker! PLUGGED IN: Last but no means least, who would you say is the largest contact in your phone? Friends Electric: Well a couple of us have got Pennie’s number, who must be said is proper legend status. We’ve also got the number of one of the guys out of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. PLUGGED IN: Many thanks for talking to us guys. 8 To hear the music go to www.myspace.com/friendselectricmusic INTERVIEW BY JAMES FOXHALL
! N IO
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ere’s your chance to win merchandise that’s been signed exclusively for PLUGGED IN by your fave artists. There are FIVE mega prizes to win — but you can only answer one question per coupon, so if you want to win more than one thing simply buy another copy of PLUGGED IN and enter again! SORRY — no photocopied coupons accepted.
A WIN one of 4 plectrums and a copy of PLUGGED IN Issue 1, both signed by Darran Smith of Funeral For A Friend B
WIN a copy of Liberation Transmission by the LostProphets, signed on the album cover by Ian, Mike, Stuart, Jamie and Lee
WIN a copy of Pull The Pin, the latest Stereophonics album, signed on the disc by Kelly, Richard and Javier
D WIN a signed copy of Prism, the double album by Beth Nielson Chapman E WIN one of 10 copies of DeadEnd’s EP, signed by Elliott, Calum and Moggsy NOW HERE’S THE QUESTION
What does Mike from the Prophets have tattooed on his leg? (hint — the answer’s somewhere in this magazine!)
Competition — Only One Prize Per Coupon PLEASE COMPLETE DETAILS IN BLOCK CAPITALS — SORRY, NO PHOTOCOPIED COUPONS ACCEPTED
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Postcode................................................................................................. Email......................................................................................................... Cut out coupon and send to: PLUGGED IN COMPETITIONS, Haul Fryn Publishing, 12 Courthouse Street, Pontypridd CF37 1JW. Competition closing date: 15th March 2008. Editorial decision is final.
WHAT’S ON Spring Summer 2008 Rhondda Cynon Taf Cultural Services @ The Park & Dare Theatre, Treorchy - 01443 773112 @ The Coliseum Theatre, Aberdare - 01685 881188 @ The Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd - 01443 485934
WILKO JOHNSON plus support at The Muni Thursday 24 January 8.00pm. Cabaret Style Seating £14.50 IAN McMILLAN ORCHESTRA at The Muni Friday 8 February 8.00pm. Cabaret Style Seating Poet, broadcaster & comedian Ian McMillan dances with composer & accordionist Luke Carver Goss of Szapora , in this sizzling work of words and music. £12.00, Concessions £9.50, students £6.50
THE NUTCRACKER at The Park & Dare Theatre Saturday 23 February 7.30pm. Presented by Ballet Russe Circle £10.00 / £9.00 Concessions £9.00/ £8.00
CHRIS DIFFORD & BOO HEWERDINE at The Coliseum Thursday 10 April 8.00pm. South Wales Exclusive Gig. £14.50
THE MAGIC FLUTE by Mozart at The Coliseum Wednesday 19 March 7.30pm. Performed in English by Swansea City Opera £13.00/ £12.00 Concessions £12.00/ £11.
SALSA CELTICA at The Mun Wednesday 23 April 8.00pm Cabaret Style Seating Salsa Celtica’s high-energy fusion of Latin and Celtic sounds and rhythms makes for an irresistible invitation to hit the dancefloor.. £12.50 Valleys Roots £11.50