BACK STAGE AT PEPPERMINT IGUANA HQ: Gigs, Festivals, Parties, CDs, Books, Protests, travels, photography and Cardiff City FC

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Peppermint Iguana Radio Show Number 12: what's coming up on the dirty dozen?

Yep, it’s a Peppermint Iguana Tuesday this week.

Two weeks is a long time in the world of rock and roll and we can confirm that the rift between John and Clint over the play list mix up is now almost healed. The problem is, he was as a little ‘tired and emotional’ (wrecked) when he gave Clint this weeks play list to sort out and he was shouting numbers instead of words – so if there are any mistakes this week, it will be his fault.

Clint’s Play List – will include US pre-punk legends The MC5, a new track from the forthcoming The Skints album, prolific DJ/Producer Gaudi, New England's Indie/West-African Psychadelic Funk darlings Barika, an interesting remix from Subsource, me usual ‘old skool punk’ slot, me ‘when indie meant something’ slot and a new ‘music from the movies’ slot.

Silver John’s Play List – will include festival legends The Tofu Love Frogs, the band that launched a thousand flat tops - Theatre Of hate, Joe Strummers pre-clash pub rock outfit The 101ers, Reggae from Big Youth, soul from The Impressions and his ever so clever ‘original and cover back to back’ slot.

Of course, this is just a taster to whet your appetite, there will, as ever, be loads more treats for you heads hearts and feets

So, log on to from 8pm on Tuesday 6th March, set fire to the telly, get naked and dance like nobody is watching.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

RADIO SHOW NUMBER ELEVEN: "I didn't bloody want that song!"

Irony of ironies, after going to great lengths to keep the songs on the play list short so we could actually play everything, for technical reasons we don’t need to go into, the show before us ended early, meaning we ended up having to waffle to pad the show out for an extra three minutes. But hey, which ever way you look at it we finally got to play 28 songs.

Actually, that is not quite the whole picture, that should mean we played 14 each, but in fact due to a break down in communication, one of Johns songs turned into one of mine, in that there was a misunderstanding about which Flowered Up track got played, so we played my favourite, not Johns. The playful banter nearly turned into full on fisticuffs behind the scenes. Oops, sorry john,

Anyway, other than that the show went swimmingly and Vince, our Dapper FM virgin of the week, thought it was groovy.

To find out exactly what we did play GO HERE

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's coming up on show number eleven? (a teaser)

Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the Brithish Empire

Clint will be running with one of his irregular themes this week, in the shape of a play list where every band has ‘and the’ in the title. Artists will include Slaughter and the Dogs, Doctor and the Medics, Booker T and the MGs, Sexton Ming and the Diamond Gussets, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine and many more. Clever eh? Tune in to see if you can guess some of the other bands he has chosen (Note - do not expect to hear Dianna Ross and the Supremes)


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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Peppermint Iguana Radio Show Number 10: THE WANDERER RETURNED

The wanderer returned this week, after skiving off to watch Cardiff City secure a place in the league Cup Final two weeks ago, the silver one was back at the controls (well, sat near a mike anyway). After several weeks of arguing about the pros of playing long tracks (and the cons of not playing them), we came up with a play list that allowed us to play 27 of our 28 track play list. Yeah!

Unfortunately, we need to apologise to Spiderbait for forgetting to tell people it was them covering Black Betty, and we own an apology to Chaz’s son Hunter, for referring to him as Chaz’s little girl. Other than that it went like a dream. The full play list, together with links to find out more about the bands can be found here

Included in the links you will note links to Efa Supertramp’s soundcloud, where you can download a shed load of her music for nout and if you go to the Sonic Boom Six website and join their mailing list, you will be able to download their acoustic EP, again, gratis.

Oh – and thanks to captain paranoid (Chaz) for donating some radio artwork for the website. You is a diamond geezer

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Sunday, February 05, 2012

What's coming up on show number ten?

Well folks, as the winter finally lands, the ‘Artist Formerly Known as The Ginger Peppermint Iguana Radio DJ’ returns to the fold after his week off to watch the Bluebirds fly, to warm the cockles of your hearts. And yes, you heard that right; we are ten shows old this week!

Clint’s Play List
Bands to feature in my play list this week include; Spiderbait, The Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, Sick Note, Captain Paranoid, Baka Beyond and Sonic Boom Six.

Now, despite considering myself to be an old punk, amazingly, nine shows in and I have not played any old school punk yet. I will be putting this right this week with a new ‘old school punk rock’ segment and will be kicking it off this week with Manchester’s Satan’s Rats. I will also be kicking off a new ‘When indie meant independent, not some vague style of guitar music’ segment with The Pale Fountains.

John’s Play List
Meanwhile, our part time presenter, Badly Drawn John, will be digging out his usual collection of oldies, including The Wailers (60s American garage band not in the least connected with Bob Marley) Richard Hell and the Voidoids, John Cooper Clarke, The Shamen and R Dean Taylor

As usual, you can tune in by logging on to from 8 till 10pm. With night time temperatures due to drop to -5C on Tuesday night*, what better way to spend the evening than in front of the computer with ya hemp rug wrapped around you and a glass of mulled cider in your hand?

And of course, the full play list will appear on a few hours later.

*NB – this forecast only applies to our UK listeners – our fan clubs in Bulgaria, South Africa, Colombia, Greece, Franc, Australia and Sw**sea will have to check their own bleedin forecasts!

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Too Hard Basket

Ok - its dating back to 2001, but Witts reposted it today and it is the first time we have heard it. Awesome - Iguana HQ is rocking to it today!

It is a solo project from Spiderbait Drummer Witts
Too Hard Basket

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

RADIO SHOW NUMBER NINE: Ginger John's stunt double unveiled

This week’s show was a little bit different. The Artist Formerly Known as Ginger John went to watch Cardiff city secure a place at Wembley for the league Cup Final, so we had a special guest stunt double type bloke drop in – in the shape of Pete ‘the punk’ Crews, Branch Secretary with Rhondda Cynon Taff UNISON.

Why did we pick him? what did he play? Answers to all of these questions and more can be found here

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

A taste of peppermint.. What's coming up this week

Yes folks, 2012 is finally with us. There are various interpretations as to what might happen this year. Some believe the world will come to an end; some believe the Earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation and that 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era; some believe that Cardiff City will be promoted to the premiership. The only thing that is certain is that the Peppermint Iguana Radio Show will carry on regardless – even if the world comes to an end.


Clint will be taking a break from his themes this week and will be catching up on some recently released tracks and a few gems that you may have missed in recent years that your life will not be complete without (and if the world is coming to an end we better get them in quick). His selection will include the blues rock of Aberdare’s Henry’s Funeral Shoe, funky 12 piece brass from Renegade Brass Band (playing a benefit for the Kebele Social centre this week), militantly work shy drum and bass (literally) from Sick Note, Colombian latin dub in the shape of Frente Cumbiero (thanks to our Colombian listener Gareth from bringing these to our attention), some old classic grunge rock from Clutch and Pitch Shifter and a special Balkan treat for our mate Tom who has been ill in Bulgaria since our last show.

The Artist Formerly known as Ginger John will be sticking with the tried and tested formula of classic hidden gems including reggae legends Steel Pulse , the Stranglers (need we say more?), ex Last Shadow Puppets and Rascals front man Miles Kane, classic PP Arnold, and the wacky Sultans of Ping FC, plus few newbies - including a demo hot off the mixing desk from The Bleeding Noses.

We will also be keeping you updated with the scores on the doors with Cardiff City Carling Cup Semi Final first leg against Crystal Palace – yes folks, that is how committed to you we are, we will be missing the game to keep the show coming at ya. Our man Blue Mist will be texting direct from the terraces (if we are feeling adventurous we might even risk a phone in!)

To listen to the show go to … we will be on from 8pm (that’s GMT for our international listeners). If you fancy tuning in a bit early though Steve Goodie, a fellow Cardiff City fan, will be playing some ‘bangin’ dance choons’ to warm you up from 6pm

For past play lists and stuff go to

IGUANA RECCOMENDS.. Friday 13th January, Black Swan Bristol - Renegade Brass Band, the Sporadics (punk/dub) and a French swing funk outfit called Fantazio (benefit for Kebele Social centre, Bristle)

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Peppermint Iguana Radio Show number 7 : THE ONE THAT WENT PEAR SHAPED

Well it had to happen sooner or later. After several weeks of being trusted to run the show without anyone else in the studio looking over our shoulder, the wheels finally came off – big time.

It started so well, we managed to get in to the studio without getting stuck up the chimney, we uploaded the necessary music in record time, the show was going like a dream then all of a sudden, with no explanation, it all went pear shaped and the computer started playing five different tunes at the same time before grinding to an unexpected halt. We still do not know what went wrong.

Eventually Eggy managed to get his pants back on, pull up his trousers and rush down to the studio to get things back on track – but only after going through a re-boot of the entire system (when we mess up, we mess up big time!).

We did manage to play over an hour of music before it went wrong, Clint continued with his theme of mates and John joined in the theme idea, playing a strictly reggae selection.

This is what we did play….

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Peppermint Iguana Radio Show number 6 THE INVITE YA MATES ROUND FOR A PARTY SHOW

With the winter solstice almost upon us, this week Clint decided that he would be running with the theme of ‘invite ya mates around for a party’, and only played tracks by bands he knows personally. John, on the other hand, stuck to the tried and tested old skool favourites


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Peppermint Iguana Radio Show number 5: THE STRIKE SPECIAL

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: Yes folks, the country ground to a halt this week as two million public sector workers refused to go into work, manned picket lines, marched through town centres and did a bit of Christmas shopping in defence of their pensions. We here at Iguana HQ kicked things off early with an eve of strike radio show on Tuesday night and the track listing is as follows

This week we flew solo for the first time, with our illustrious studio manager and technical adviser needing to have a lie down following a hard day drinking and chasing ‘ginger birds’ at a funeral. it wont be long before we are totally self sufficient!


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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The traditional difficult third show

SHOW NUMBER THREE: Tuesday 1st November 2011.
Despite dodgy headphones and a misplaced confidence to twiddle with knobs we should not be twiddling with, show three still managed to sound almost competent. A more disciplined approach to play listing meant we only had to cut two tracks of the show this week, but they will be slotted in to the next show.

We kicked off with a little tribute to John Peel who passed away seven years ago last week. Without him, all our play lists would be very different. We also paid tribute to him by making lots of technical mistakes in the show.

Play list here

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Well folks, that’s two shows under the belt and everything is starting to come together like a well oiled jigsaw. 'Learning curv'e is phrase of the week. A bit more rabbit between choons resulted in half a dozen tracks being lopped off the play list as we progressed, but lessons are being learnt – although John is still forgetting to shut down the mikes after the music has started.

Don’t know about you, but we are enjoying it and starting to wish we were doing it every week. Too many tunes, too little time and all that. We have some interesting requests in that we are going to fit into the show over the next few weeks, but they are going to have to fit in with the stuff we want to play, that is after all why we are doing it!

If you check out the radio page on the Iguana website, you will see we have already uploaded the play list from this week, which contains links to find out more about any of the bands featured.

I am going to try to start concentrating on unsigned/self released stuff, whilst John is going to stick to playing from the archives. Although I am sure temptation will result in the odd variance from this.


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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Peppermint Iguana Radio Show launches

PEPPERMINT IGUANA RADIO SHOW SUCCESS SHOCK. Well, nobody expected that, the Peppermint Iguana Radio Show burst into cyber space on 4th October like a drunk coming out of a pub, stumbled, got up then ran and ran sobering up as it went. We managed to break the station record for listeners (no, not the least listeners, the most) and we ended the evening with a big high five (although Eggy messed up the news link at the end - amateur) Face book is dead, long live having real friends!

Was this a one off though, with people tuning in just cos it was the first show? Will people come back or be scared off? Will it sky rocket and get head hunters from big radio stations looking for us to sign us up, or will we have head hunters from Penywaun looking for us to beat us up?

SO WHAT DID WE PLAY? We now have a page set up on the Peppermint Iguana website that gives details of when the next show is and what we played on the last show and answers all the other questions you might not have. Go to

THE NEXT SHOW IS THIS TUESDAY (18th October) FROM 8pm TILL 10pm. We are a little more organised this time and the play list will feature, among others, Dubrovnik, Tarantism, Tattsyrup, Bleedin’ Noses, Joe Gibbs, Major Lance, the Ethiopians, the Damned, King Blues, Crisis and Dub Trio. With first night nerves over and done with, we might even talk to each other. If you have any gig dates you want us to plug, let us know before Tuesday. Or failing that, e-mail us during the show

CAN’T WAIT TILLTHE 18TH? We are not the only show on Dapper FM you know, drop by and show some love for other DJs

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Monday, August 01, 2011

Cosmo's strikes again

Oh! To Be In England (Now the EDL's in Town)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Goldie Lookin Chain Strike Again

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Captain Ska Strikes Again!

Captain Ska strikes again with his third anti-cuts single. This time he looks back to the last Tory government and has a feeling of dejavu.

For those that have missed, his previous singles are here

follow him on TWITTER

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

40 ODD OF ANOTHER KIND: Otway and Barret hit Cardiff

In 1977, Polydor released ’20 of Another Kind’, a sampler of the then new phenomenon of punk rock – or new wave at it was then sometimes acceptable to be called. Hidden amongst bands like 999, the Lurkers and Sham 69 were two tracks by a gangly misfit known as John Otway and his then sidekick Wild Willy Barret.

The two tracks were the A and B side of the single ‘Really Free’ and ‘Beware of the Flowers cos I’m Sure they’re Gonna Get You’. This single sky rocketed into the charts, back in the days when the charts meant something, to the giddy height of number 27.

Although this was a punk compilation, Otway and Barret were hardly from the classic punk mould – although the spirit of rebelliousness, originality and rule breaking seeped from every chord. The single had ‘novelty record’ or even ‘one hit wonder’ written all over it and it was clear this was not going to be a ‘band’ that would last – or was it?

Punk rock came and went. Then we had post punk, mod and ska revivals, rave, grunge, brit pop, jungle, big beat and all manner of music trends that came and went, scrubbing the decks of the good ship rock and roll clean before setting out on their own voyage. Yet through all of this the unlikely pop star that was Otway clung on to the mast and weathered all musical storms that were thrown his way. He has never given up and has been touring constantly – although the name of the bloke that stands next to him on stage has changed several times.

Never quite equalling that early chart promise he steadily built up a cult following that eventually decided to give him a second hit for his 50th birthday by all appearing on one of his singles singing backing vocals and then getting their families to go out and buy it – thus hyping it into the charts.

Tonight, 34 years after that first hit and 40 years since his first gig, he is back with his old partner in crime, Wild Willy, and touring the nation once more.

As we enter Cardiff’s Globe, we find them both, not quite propping up the bar – but very close to it. After a quick introduction we head backstage for a chat bout the mad mad world that is Otway. We talk of crazy publicity stunts - like going around peoples houses to perform his single Frightened and Scared, getting his fans to vote his lyrics as the seventh best lyric of all time, and an attempt to tour the world taking his whole fan club with him in a chartered jumbo jet.

(Interview to be uploaded to Iguana website shortly).

After some more bar propping up and dealing with autograph hunters, he and Willy eventually take to the stage to entertain the gathered masses.

It is difficult to classify an Otway show. Part pop concert, part comedy show, part cabaret act – the whole thing just rips up the rule book and takes the audience on a death defying thrill ride.

The return of the prodigal Wily makes for a special vibe. He is the ying to Otway’s yang; his dry cynicism and lack of respect for Otway’s genius is matched only by Otway’s own self depreciation; his rack of many instruments, including balalaikas, banjos, guitars, fiddle, bagpipes and a wheelie bin, make up for Otway’s acoustic guitar and a Theremin; his nonchalant take everything in his stride attitude counters Otway’s undiminished child like enthusiasm and his mastery of any instrument he cares to pick up nicely compliments Otway’s – erm – enthusiasm.

The on stage rapport between them is pure comedy gold, Willy’s straight man bouncing off Otway’s court jester. It is such a good match it is difficult to comprehend how Otway has managed without him – although it has to be said he managed quite well – hence the cult following.

Tonight Barret manages to impress with fret board trickery, amaze with playing guitar and bagpipes at the same time and amuse with sawing a guitar in half and smashing it with a hammer – while still playing it (even Hendrix had to stop playing his guitar down when destroying it). Oh, and there was the wheelie bin thing – but I don’t want to spoil it for when you go to see them.

Of course Willy is only half the act. Despite the self depreciation and jolly japery, Otway is something of a lyrical genius - who else could come up with “Natasha you're a smasher but you're working for Russia" - and despite the comic approach to everything, what he does with the Theremin is actually very clever. You don’t get to fill the Albert Hall if you are crap as he makes himself out to be – which he aint.

There have been books, rock operas (Cheryl) and fan club trips to Dunkirk. What next? Otway the movie (we kid you not). Watch this space.

*Please note, no microphones were headbutted in the making of this blog

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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Martin Harley Band - Drum rolls and green rooms

Our first encounter with the Martin Harley Band was six or seven years ago, late at night, at a festival. The Larmer Tree was shutting down for the night, all the stages had closed down, the last of the revellers were off to bed and we were sat watching the food stalls closing up trying to squeeze what we could out of what was left of the night. Just as we were coming to the conclusion the night was over, three buskers turned up with a guitar, double bass and a cocktail drum kit. For the next hour we were served up a healthy portion of delta blues that made sure we went to bed happy.

Little did we know, this impromptu busking session would be the first of many gigs we would catch and that the Iguana CD collection would soon have to find a new section for the MHB.

Fast forward to 2011 and we are in very different circumstances – the plush and arty surroundings of The Courtyard in Hereford, where the latest incarnation of the Martin Harley Band are to entertain the local bohemians. We arrive early to interview the band are invited into the green room to chill with the warm and friendly Martin.

We talk of slide guitars, living in cars, surfing in Australia, touring by bicycle, playing the highest gig in the world, touring Mali, chilling in Barbados, stoner rock, independent record labels and playing the Rive Cottage for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. He is down to earth and ego free. While we do the best to squeeze as much as possible out of a night, he is squeezing as much as possible out of life – and doing a pretty good job of it.

Then its time for the show. I use the word ‘show’ deliberately. The bar and the auditorium are separate – with no drinks allowed while watching the band - mobile phones must be switched off and the seating is ‘cinema’ or ‘theatre’ style. There is even a planned intermission. A ‘gig’, this is not.

This sort of set up is probably the most sterile way of seeing a band and in the past we have refused to put up with this sort of thing. It’s unnatural – like sitting down to watch football. However, it does tend to focus one’s attention on the stage and when you do that, the MHB reward you with a finely balanced serving of roots, blues, soul and jazz.

Sat down, often with his slide guitar on his lap, Martin and his band are able to create a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. Most of the songs are personal tales and the audience are invited into the world of carefree globe trotting with a surfboard in one hand and a cup of tea in the other.

Between numbers we get chat and an interaction between band and audience that adds to the intimacy of the event. I have to grudgingly admit that the fact that everyone is sat politely adds to this atmosphere.

We get a selection of numbers from throughout the bands back catalogue and as the show progresses some of the more rebellious audience members get up and shake their thang in the isles.

Whilst it is the Martin Harley Band, the rest of the band are not exactly extras. Pete Swatton occasionally ditches the drums to play the balalaika (yes, a drummer that is also a musician) and Jay Carter has a rest from propping up his double bass to play guitar. Both add backing vocals throughout and the chemistry between the three makes the band much more than the sum of its parts.

Finally we get a version of Voodoo Chile that is both a nod to Martin’s love of heavier sounds and a demonstration of what can be done with a slide guitar. Even tea loving buskers can be a power trio when they put their mind to it.

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Creation Records - the movie

If you grew up in the 1980s and early 90s, liked guitar music, read the Melody Maker or the NME (ah – the good old days, when the NME was a publication worth reading) or paid the slightest bit of attention to what was going on beyond the mainstream; then you knew about Creation Records.

They certainly weren’t the first indie label, they probably weren’t the best (although that is open to debate), but they were definitely one of the most successful. Many of the bands on their roster would never become household names or get day time airplay, but with few exceptions they all had a devoted cult following.

With an A&R policy of signing bands that were good, as opposed to potential money makers, there was always a danger that catastrophe was only around the corner. But somehow Alan McGee, founding director, had the fortune of signing many of the era’s defining bands. Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, House of Love, Sugar, Super Fury Animals, My Bloody Valentine and eventually the colossus that would become Oasis, were all products of the Creation label.

Upside down, the story of the label, features interviews – both contemporary and archive – with all the movers and shakers in the Creation story. We also get live footage from the days when Indie actually meant Independent, rather than a style of guitar music.

Run, on the whole, by amateur music fans who just wanted to have fun, get laid and take lots of drugs, they achieved success despite – rather than because of – their passion for music and no time for compromise. Based in a nondescript office in north London, day to day life was more like a 24 hour party than a business and new bands were generally stumbled upon when out on the pull.

This warts and all documentary skips through the history of the label, from the formation, the early releases and the growing successes; through the glory years as the mainstream embraced the underground and Tony Blair embraced Brit Pop, to financial melt down, drug excess and the realisation – as Oasis played Knebworth – that the removal from the real world that comes with mega stardom aint all fun.

Tonight, as the film gets it’s welsh premier in Cardiff’s Chapter Arts, McGee drops in for a Q&A session. He comes over as a passionate music lover that has been through the industry ringer and come out older, wiser and with his feet re-planted firmly on terra-firmer. He is entertaining, witty and contented with his lot, having now settled in Hay on Wye.

As the evening closes, we top it off with free drinks in the foyer – no need to withdraw from the highlife completely!


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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Generation Xerox - london Zine Symposium 2011

If there is one aspect of underground culture that personifies the DIY ethic, it is zines. Since the dawn of punk and beyond, enthusiasts have been writing, laying out, publishing and distributing their own publications totally outside the traditional mainstream channels. The London Zine Symposium, therefore, seems like the perfect opportunity to get back into the habit of blogging (again).

So, this morning, with the sort of head you can only get when up at the crack of dawn the day after a gallon of Taffy Apple celebrating a Cardiff City victory, I delicately climbed into the Iguana-mobile and headed for the bus station. After a quick flick through my in car CD collection, I opted for the Desperate Bicycles, the quintessential DIY punk band, as the sound track to my journey – very appropriate for the day I thought.

A few short hours later I was stepping out of Aldgate East tube station and heading in the direction of Brick Lane. Deep in the heart of the East End, brick lane is like walking down the curry equivalent of Amsterdam’s red light district. The street is full of curry pimps trying to entice you inside their restaurant, desperate to convince you their food is the best in town. Many have signs outside like ‘once featured on a TV programme about good curry houses’, or ‘winner of the best restaurant ever to have been opened at 84 brick lane’.

Twas not always thus though. It was once the centre a centre for the weaving, tailoring and the clothing industry, and played host to a large Jewish community. Today I would have the opportunity to link both these strands of the area’s past, the Zine Symposium was being held in a former rag factory and in the afternoon they would be hosting a walk around Brick Lane’s radical history, taking in sites where Jewish radicals and anarchists had risen up in rebellion.

I had to find the place first though. Having not been to an event (quite) like this before, I anticipated lots of literate punks hunting down punkzines like Sniffing Glue or Maximum Rock and Roll – all I had to do was keep an eye out for a stream of punks heading into a rag factory.

Fortunately there were signs at the end of the alley pointing me in the right direction, because there was a distinct lack of punkyness about attendees, in fact, most did not look in the slightest bit ‘alternative’. Then again, sporting a full beard and a ‘built for comfort rather than speed’ physique, it is a long time since I looked alternative.

Entering the old factory, the first stall I came across (after the home made cake stall) was run by the Last Hours posse – quite possibly the best zine I have come across in the last ten years. I interviewed the main man, Ed, a few years back as research into the DIY scene. He was not around though and the stall was being run by two charming young ladies that were much better looking than him. They had a nice selection of zines and some interesting books, including ‘Soccer –v- State’, which I would end up purchasing before the day was out, despite the American terminology for the beautiful game.

As is the way with these things, I was determined to suss out exactly where everything was, then slowly work my way around again spending more time on the more interesting stalls. This did not take long though, as the event was a little smaller than I had expected – although big enough to have a nice mix.

Zines come in many shapes and sizes and cover a huge range of topics. Most of the zines that have caught my attention in the past have been music related, with the odd footyzine chucked in – but today, football and music were in short supply, the stalls around the old workshop being covered in everything from anarcho-feminism to art and cookery, from wordy books to graphic novels, from photocopied pamphlets to professionally printed limited editions.

Active Distribution were in the ‘hood, with their awesome selection of books, zines and music, along side a myriad of zine distros that seem to have been born, grown up, started a family and been thriving quite nicely without me ever having head of them.

I mingled, swapped a few zines, strategically left a few peppermint Iguana’s lying around, went back and bought the football book, filled up on a falafel in the Anarchist Teapot kitchen, treated myself to a slab of chocolate orange cake and hung about to attend the ‘Throwing Zines at Thatcher’ workshop – which was cancelled. The twisted hand of fate led me in the direction of a zine about the Desperate Bicycles, which had to be bought – much to the surprise of the guy running that particular stall.

Eventually, rather than hang about for the ‘Radical Brick Lane’ thing, I took it upon myself to explore the area on my own. On a Sunday Brick Lane is home to several markets – a sort of mini Camden town, but with more street cred and less tourists – this is after all, pwoppa east end.

Nestled in the old Truman Brewery is Rough Trade East, the bigger of London’s two legendary Rough Trade shops. Starting out as a ground breaking independent shop, then moving on the become a respected independent label, the fortunes of the Rough Trade have been a roller coaster ride through cult status, bankruptcy, being bought out by BMG and becoming an Independent again.

Rough Trade East opened in 2007 and is more than just a shop, they sell coffee, put on gigs and it is generally a place where people want to hang out, not just buy music. It is clean and modern and – well – to put it bluntly, trendy. CDs and books are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. They do have a half decent selection on sale, but it is a far cry from the old DIY ethos. It’s a dog eat dog world though, so if this is how they have to survive, good luck to them.

Down at the other end of Brick Lane, next to the Aldgate East tube station, is the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Today the main exhibition is something that appears to be made out of broken doors and the floor is littered with lovelies waiting to watch someone prance around the sculpture. I opt to head upstairs and check out an exhibition of photographs of old Brick Lane from the 1970s, around the time the Jewish population were starting to be outnumbered by Asians.

When looking around the gallery bookshop, I find a section dedicated to DIY art, street art and such like. Ironically, most of the books are of a size that would threaten the legs of the sturdiest of coffee tables, and a price tag that compares to the national deficit. Clearly, no matter what the motives of those producing DIY art, there is no shortage of people wanting to exploit it and even attempt to mainstream it – which is sort of missing the point I think.

I can’t leave Whitechapel without popping in to see the posse in Freedom Press, London's leading anarchist bookshop. The place seems to go from strength to strength every time i visit, “We do quite well on a Sunday,” Andy informs me. “The gallery is open so we get lots of silly fuckers coming in to buy postcards and talk about how quaint anarchism is.” Quite. I steal some postcards and talk about how quaint art galleries are – then head for home.

For antother review of the event, with lots more pictures, go to Amelia's Zine

While we are at it, just found the story of rough trade on Youface, so here it is for your entertainment




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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Under the Pavement

"Under the Pavement" is a community radio station based in Manchester that reports on direct action and grass roots resistance in the Manchester area. Although we aint Mancunians, for the last few weeks we have bee walking around listening to their podcasts on our MP3 player, soaking up interviews with the likes of King Blues, the Autonomads, Chomsky All Stars, Zounds and many more.

They have been on a break for the summer but will be back on 2nd September with Steve Ignorant, of Crass fame. Tune in, turn on and throw shit. Go to

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Baka Beyond Interview

Since 1993 Martin Craddick and his wife Su Hart have been deeply involved with the Baka people of Cameroon. They have sampled them, made music with them, made music inspired by them, recorded them in the rain forests and created an amazing back catalogue of genuinely afro-celtic music. In the process they have helped the Baka, promoted their cause, built a music house with them, helped them build a school, taken them on tour and put on a festival in Cameroon.

Baka Beyond, the musical project that has grown from all this, is undoubtedly unique. Not just doing the odd benefit for the Baka, helping the forest people has been the band’s Raison d'être for seventeen years. But they are not just people with a good heart, they are also bloody good musicians who put on a damn fine show. We sat down earlier this year for a chat with Martin. It would be impossible to cover everything they have done in the last two decades, but we hope it will whet your appetite and set you off on a journey to find out more.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Billy Bragg Interview

Blogging presents a bit of a conundrum. To have anything interesting to write about, you need to be doing things. But if you are doing things, you don’t have time to blog. Hence this 'ere blog being dormant throughout the summer. If we get a chance we will try to upload some post-dated tales about some of the major things, like festivals, cars breaking down and trips to Wembley. In the mean time, we thought we should let you know we have today updated the website with an interview with Mr Billy Bragg.

Now Mr Bragg is not someone we have paid a lot of attention to in recent years. Back in the 80s we regularly went along to gigs and bought his music; he was a breath of fresh air, he was original, he was funny, his heart was in the right place and he was – well, a good bloke. Over the years though he sort of drifted from being ‘alternative’ to being ‘mainstream’. I don’t particularly recall a point when we stopped listening to him, we just did. One minute he was doing miners benefits in pubs for a fiver and getting played on John Peel, the next he was doing sold out shows in art centres for considerably more than a fiver and appearing on Question Time.

Now there is nothing wrong with art centres and Question Time, it is just that it is territory we don’t usually hang around in (well, not much anyway). Being involved with trade unions and left wing politics he has never been far from our consciousness though. Comrades in the union that rarely go to gigs make the effort for him and whilst we don’t go to see him any more it is easier to have a conversation about Billy Bragg than it is the Tofu Love Frogs.

Earlier on this year we went along to see ‘Breaking Rocks’, the film about Bragg’s project, ‘Jail Guitar Doors’, which takes guitars into prison as a tool for rehabilitation. Our interest in the man briefly went up a notch. Clearly he still has a heart and is interested in developing new talent and helping those less fortunate than himself.

Then there was the election, and he seemed to be turning up all the time talking about the BNP.

Then he turned up at UNISON conference to talk about defending the public sector, fighting the cuts and the possibility of a Robin Hood Tax. We just cannot get away from the bloke.

As it happens, we were at UNISON conference working on some press stuff for the Wales region. Just after he had spoken to conference the press co-ordinator came into the room and asked if we would like to interview Billy, she had arranged for him to be available, but had not arranged for anyone to interview him.

And so it was, we found ourselves sat in a corner of the Bournemouth International with Billy and about a dozen other UNISON amateur journalists. We were told we could have a maximum of one question each and I began to despair when the first question was ‘if you could bring in one law, what would it be?’ Amazingly though, he managed to respond to what we snobbishly thought was a pretty unimaginative question with an extremely imaginative answer. And so it went, no matter how boring the questions, his answers were always articulate, thought provoking and entertaining.

It is easy to see now why he gets invited to speak about a wide range of subjects that one would not normally consider to be matters you would want a ‘pop star’s’ opinion on. The guy is far deeper than we had given him credit for and is an all round nice bloke. How could we not give him space on our website?

Go here and check the man out. Find out more about the Robin Hood Tax, love Music Hate racism and Jail Guitar Doors.

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Monday, April 26, 2010


Banksy is a sell out”. So reads the graffiti scrawled across the wall. Is this true? Well, he has certainly progressed from being an unknown street artist to an internationally renowned (all be it still anonymous) street artist that can put on sell out exhibitions, shift books by the shed load and – now – make his own films.

Exit Through the Gift Shop is, on the face of it, a documentary made by Banksy about a guy that tried to make a film about Banksy but messed it up so Banksy made a film about him. There is no point getting too bogged down in the plot because to be honest, it is difficult to tell if it is a genuine documentary or if it is another one of Banksy’s magnificent pranks.

Narrated by Rhys Ifans we are taken on a journey through underground street art with a host of graffiti artists, guerrilla stencil painters and pranksters. Whilst Banksy is the highlight of the film, it is clear he is not alone with numerous creative subversives making an appearance in this roller coaster ride that has you grinning, admiring, and on occasion down right laughing, for 87 minutes.

Whilst this is based in ‘underground’, DIY, street art; many of Banksy’s pranks are clearly not cheap. Some punk with a spray can he is not. We get telephone boxes bent in half, giant spray cans and exhibitions with live elephants painted like flock wall paper. Where the money for all this comes from is never explored. A trip to across the Atlantic to do a bit of graffiti is taken for granted, as if it is the most natural thing in the world.

Most of his antics are clearly beyond the pockets of 99% of street artists, but does that really matter? His blend of satire, art, humour and subversion has simultaneously given the art establishment and street art a kick up the rear end. Art is supposed to be about originality, so we don’t want loads of copy cats, but if it inspires kids to do a bit more than just inane tags on bus stops and brightens up our streets then surely that is no bad thing.

Fair play to him though, despite his global fame he appears to have stuck to his roots. His website declares:

"Banksy does not endorse or profit from the sale of greeting cards, mugs, tshirts, photo canvases etc. Banksy is not on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or Gaydar. Banksy is not represented by any form of commercial art gallery. All images are made available to download for personal amusement only, thanks."
These are not the words of someone who has sold out

What impact this thought provoking film will have on movie making is difficult to tell, but at the moment that is not important, all that matters is that it does what all good films should do, entertain, inspire and agitate. If you don’t leave the cinema after seeing this film eying up a bit of blank wall you have no soul.


If you like Banksy, you will love Mutate Britain, the latest project from the Mutoid Waste Disposal Company. And they be coming to Newport in August!!

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Italy's mighty DJ Farrapo has some new tracks you really ought to check out. Here at Iguana HQ we love his funky mix of deep house, latin sounds, nu-swing, drum and bass, balkan beats and .... just check them out and make your own mind up

Here be a player where you can listen to some of his newest stuff for free, gratis, nout .... but i am sure he wont mind if you decided to buy.

(Oh, and the last track is an awesome twenty minute mix you can download for free, bung on your MP3 player then get strange looks as you dance down the road).

Latest tracks by DJ FARRAPO

for more info he can be found on Myspace at


Friday, April 23, 2010


Every now and again I hear something that grabs me by the scruff of the neck and I gets me gagging to hear more. It could be background music on the telly, something a DJ is playing in a club, something on the stereo in a shop, grooves belting out of a passing car, or something that pops up in the middle of a mix tape. Sometimes it drives me insane and it takes weeks, months, even years to find out what it is.

Sometimes it is easy. The radio is probably easiest because usually - though not always - someone tells you what it is when it has finished. I have lost count the number of times I have sat in the car long after I have reached my destination just to hear the DJ tell me what I have been listening to. In a club it could be easy, but going up to ask the DJ is just not cool; although there have been occasions when cool has gone out the window and I have been compelled to ask.

The interweb has made things easier; if it is a movie soundtrack you can Google it and if there are lyrics you can punch random bits of lyric you remember into a search engine. Obviously the latter does not work with dub, techno, foreign language stuff - or eighty percent of punk rock.

Sometimes it just leads to disappointment. For instance, Chaiyya Chaiyya Bollywood Joint was recently tracked down via the internet after watching the film Inside Man. I had hoped this awesome track was going to lead me to similar stuff but it is totally unrepresentative of Terence Blanchards work - the trail ended there.

Then again, sometimes it can be the start of an amazing journey. When I first heard John Peel playing Zion Train’s A Passage to Indica I had no idea that it would lead to me interviewing the band, getting to be mates with them, going to see them live all over the country and them introducing me to a host of other contacts that I now consider to be close mates.

Another journey started off innocently. In the summer of 1990 a haunting sound seemed to follow me around every festival I went to. It was a simple sound, just an acoustic guitar and a didgeridoo (this was before every man and his dog on a string got into didges). It seemed to be playing in cafes and on PAs everywhere. Then, walking though a field in Bala at a travellers free festival I heard it coming out of a ghetto blaster so walked over to the campfire and asked what it was. Thus I discovered Outback and fell in love.

Sadly the love affair was doomed to fail, Outback split in 1991 after releasing just two albums.

Graham Wiggins, the Oxford born solid-state-physics lecturer who had been responsible for Outback's antipodean vibe, went on to form Dr Didg and released seven albums under that guise before going back to teaching in Boston.

Meanwhile guitarist Martin Craddick and his partner Su Hart, inspired by a TV documentary, visited the Baka tribal people of the Cameroon forests. So inspired were they by the magical rhythms and melodies of the Baka people, that they recorded an album "Spirit of the Forest" under the name Baka Beyond. This was closely followed by “Heart of the Forest” an album featuring the music of the Baka Pygmies themselves, recorded by Martin on a Sony Discman pro.

Baka Beyond did not just take inspiration from the Baka, profits from the CDs were used to help the tribes people back in Cameroon. This in itself was a pretty unusual, but it did not stop there. The band became a permanent set up playing festivals and gigs all over the world and eleven albums on they are still feeding the profits back into Cameroon.

Originally made up of British musicians the band soon expanded to take in musicians from Brittany, Cameroon, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Ghana, creating what is truly an ‘Afro-Celt’ sound.

Since that first visit in 1993, Martin and Su have been back to the jungle many times and have become part of the community. They have helped with many projects, including building a music house, putting on a UK tour for the Baka themselves, and organising a festival, Under The Volcano, to coincide with the end of a rally by the Adventurists.

Now they are back in the UK and touring. With band members spread all over the world getting the full band together can be expensive, so they now have several line ups. Tonight, in Pontardawe, we have a five piece line up including Molara - ex Zion Train – small world ! (although I would not like to paint it).

Molara was actually good enough to set us up with Martin for an interview before the gig. Interviews can be awkward on times, often we find ourselves hanging around for ages whilst sound checks are done, beers are drunk, old acquaintances renewed, noses picked and eventually, hopefully, an interview will happen. Tonight there is no such messing about; we land, Molara hands us a beer out of the ice bucket and we wander out into what is left of the sun and chat with Martin for half an hour. We hang on every word, fascinated by tales of music, forests and travel. We might have had an interesting journey since first discovering Outback in a sunny field in Bala, but Martin has been on a journey that we could only dream about.

Oh, and then there was a gig ….. review to follow.

Expect the interview to appear on the Iguana website soon. For Peppermint Iguana's Molara Interview click here

Baka Beyond website
Baka Beyond on YouTube
Global Music Exchange - charity set up to support the Baka tribe

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TJs closes door for final time

The world famous music venue, Newport’s TJs, has closed its doors for the final time. Following the death of owner John Sicolo recently, his daughter has decided that it is not financially viable to keep the venue open.

For the last two decades or so it has been an essential stopping place for touring bands on their way from the gutter to the stars (and occasionally on the way back). The Buzzcocks, The Beat, Catatonia, Chumbawamba, Clutch, Conflict, Cornershop, The Cranberries, The Damned, Echo & The Bunnymen, Elastica, Fugazi, Goldblade, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Green Day, Inner Terestrials, The Lemonheads, Manic Street Preachers, Misfits, Mogwai, New Model Army, NOFX, No Means No, Oasis, Offspring, P.A.I.N., Primal Scream, Rancid, RDF, Selecter, Shed Seven, Skunk Anansie, Snuff, Joe Strummer, The Subhumans, Supergrass, Test Department, Therapy?, The Tofu Love Frogs, UK Subs, Voodoo Glow Skulls and The Wedding Present are just a few of the touring bands that have set foot on the TJs stage.

On top of that you can add literally thousands of local bands like The Cowboy Killers, Dub War, 60 Foot Dolls, Novocaine, Flyscreen, Rectify, Four Letter Word and The Terrorist Ballet Dancers from Hell.

Legend has it that Kurt Cobain went down on one knee and proposed to Courtney Love in the club when she played there with Hole in 1991.

The walls of the ‘John Peel Bar’ area of the club are covered in photos of many of the bands that have played there. Pride of place goes to pictures of owner John Sicolo picking up an award at the Brits.

Apparently the club had been in financial difficulty for some time, and solicitors dealing with the estate have advised his daughter Rachel to sell.

It would be a cliché to say that Newport will not be the same without TJS… but the fact is, South Wales will not be the same without TJs and Newport will be a poorer place for its loss.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


"If you walk down street Oxford Street, you do not see niche record stores among the chains. We warned Mr Todd [Spillers Records] that he is standing in the way of progress. The rent in their present location will at some point be unaffordable." The words of Michael Brown, Investment Director, Helical Bar, the owners of the land on which Spillers records stands. This was back in 2007 when he was trying to shut the place down. Fortunately it has had a reprieve following a high profile campaign which had support local politicians, pop stars - and you.

Shame on you Mr Brown. You are the epitome of money grabbing capitalist development with no concept of individuality; you are symptomatic of the mentality that has led to town centres from Lands End to John O Groats being filled with the same chain stores selling the same goods in high streets that look exactly the same. You suck the soul out of towns and leave them bereft of character.

It’s not even a concept that makes commercial sense; if all towns are the same, what unique selling points do they have to attract consumers? Why would I go to Cardiff rather than Newport, Sw*nsea or Bristol? Why even bother with a town, why not an out of town shopping centre?

In fairness, there are many that love the world that the likes of Mr Brown is trying to create; Cardiff is now ranked as the sixth most popular shopping destination in the UK. The humongous St David’s Two development is responsible for this. It is a huge glass and steel cathedral for those that want to worship consumerism, filled with chain stores, dominating the city centre and making the old Hayes Island now feel quite claustrophobic. It was completed some time last year, I have yet to set foot in it, I have no intention of setting foot in it, it puts me off going into the town centre, it leaves me cold.

In the shadow (literally) of this twenty first century shrine to mammon lies Spillers, the oldest record store in the world, marking the entrance to one of Cardiff’s Victorian arcades, full of non-chain niche stores. This is why I rather shop in Cardiff than Sw*nsea or an out of town retail village. It defiantly stands in opposition to the malignant expansion of malls (and the sort of people who use the word mall)

.I am not adverse to a bit of downloading or internet shopping, but at the end of the day there is no substitute for standing in a decent record shop rooting through the racks looking for something and happening across something new.

I look through the dividers marking out the bands with back catalogues, then sift through the CDs by lesser bands simply filed under letters of the alphabet. If I am after something in particular I might have to check under different categories in case I disagree with the shops definition of punk, reggae or whatever.

The Ruts, for instance, may have split thirty years ago but even though I bought everything when it first came out I still cannot help having a quick shufty through the Ruts rack in case something rare or unreleased or dubbed up has been released without me knowing.

Now you could argue that you could do this in HMV, but then you have to cope with rack upon rack of tripe and you won’t find anything that is not selling by the skip load. If you want anything a little bit different, it has got to be an Independent.

As you go through the door of Spillers, for instance, turn right and you have several racks of ‘local and self released’ CDs. The chains are not interested in selling Kilnaboy, PAIN, Sick Note or the Clay Statues, but Spillers lap it up.

Independent record shops deserve support if only for that reason; they support local bands and therefore help keep music interesting. Today I supported my local record shop by buying CDs by local bands; Cardiff based welsh language dub/hip hop vetrans Llwyber Llaethog (Mily Way) and Pontypridd based ska heroes Tattsyrup (which is not actually welsh, it is apparently something that was on sale in the local shop for local people in The League of Gentlemen - yes, they are all ex-students)

And another thing …… strike up a conversation with the staff in Spillers and you might discover a new band, learn about new releases, hear about an upcoming gig or just spend five minutes talking to someone who shares your passion. Talk to the staff in HMV and you will be lucky to find out the time of day – as for the staff on the record counter in ASDA……….

Independents are a dying breed though. Downloading, high rents and supermarkets utilising their buying power to sell the mainstream names at outrageous discounts have all led to a drop in the footfall through these emporiums of sonic delights.

Three years ago Chris Brown, employee of the independent record store chain, Bull Moose, located in Maine and New Hampshire, conceived the idea of International Independent record Store Day. Now, once a year, all over the world record shops put on events with in-store performances, DJ sets, sell special Record Store Day releases and t-shirts and generally make it (even more) fun to call into an independent for the day.

Spillers joins in the fun. This year we have DJ sets from Bullet for My Valentine, Bethan Elfyn, DJ Rascal, Gary ‘Twisted by Design’, plus Spillers regulars Ben and Sam. There are also in-store performances from The Automatic, Christopher Rees and Cosmo. Before the shop had even opened people were queuing to get into the niche shop that Mr Brown thinks has no place in the Town Centre.

I don’t do queues at the best of times. I certainly do not do queues outside shops. I was, however, determined to support my local record shop today so timed my visit to coincide with an appearance by my favourite tame hippy. Some people say he changes his underpants every week, whether he needs to or not; and rumour has it he once appeared the National Lottery live. I don’t know if this is true, but I do know his name is Cosmo.

Whisking into the store at the last minute to avoid being mobbed by his fan club, he quickly plugged in, tuned up and got down. Browsers tapped their feet in the right place, nodded in agreement with the Anti-BNP song and giggled at the Oi Mush Song. With a few brief songs he agitated, educated and offended in equal measure. The gig was like a flash mob (but without the mob). One minute he was not there, then he was, then he wasn’t again. Surprise surprise, he then went to the pub and bummed drinks of his fan club – and waxed lyrical about how people who hang out in record shops are a bit nerdy - so get we get our own back by telling you where you can download his latest album for free

But remember folks, you cant skin up on an MP3

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