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

Friday, March 28, 2008

CITIZEN FISH: live in a dive

With a little bit of help from Blind Destruction, Gagged (South Wales’ very own anarchist newsletter) put on yet another blinding benefit gig. Again, the Legendary TJs was again chosen as the venue.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that you did not need breathing apparatus to use the gents; obviously the venue is looking to upgrade its reputation. Then again, on exiting the bog we discovered a huge bin in the middle of the dance floor to catch the rain that was coming in from the ceiling (presumably travelling through the three floors above before getting to the nightclub), so the clever dumb balance was once again restored.

For someone who prefers to watch live music out doors, I am being very picky here… lets get on with the review…..


Kilnaboy were on early, maybe it was their desire to keep away from the water on the dance floor, in case they had to either A) drink it neat or B) wash in it (sorry lads and lass, couldn’t resist it). Their sets definitely seem to be getting punkier every time we see them, now sounding like a punk band that play folk, rather than a folk band that play punk. They have been getting up and having a bash at just about every opportunity for quite some time now, turning up everywhere like some sort of anarchist stalker (are they really MI5 in disguise?). All that practice is starting to show, no matter how drunk they get they still somehow manage to put on a show that gets everyone moving, from the old heads staffing the bookstalls to the young guns looking for some fun. Tonight is no exception and the dance floor soon becomes a Temporary Autonomous Moshpit.


Spanner don’t get quite as much practice as Kilnaboy but they still manage to improve every time we see them, which is quite a feat considering how good they were the first time we saw them. Charging over the river Severn, eager to show solidarity with comrades in arms, they bombard the gathered clans with high-octane ska punk, diluting the rain on the floor with the sweat of the bodies thrashing about. When they hit the stage they start with a rallying call… “Get involved with South Wales Anarchists, they are doing some serious work and having a good time while they are at it”. Ditto Spanner. They know exactly what has to be done, they don’t shirk from doing it, but they also know that you can have a laugh while you are at it. Spanner… serious fun!


If you wanna talk about practice, hard working Citizen Fish put everyone else to shame. Averaging about 200 gigs a year for the last 18 years, not to mention the fact that half the band also tour as The Subhumans, you have a seriously polished ska punk machine. Ramming their songs with pretty astute social observations and anarchist critique, it is almost a shame to put them to music so intense and high energy, but as singer Dick puts it mid set “look, if you wanna know what this song is about, go over there, buy the CD and read the lyrics. Mean time, lets dance!” Like a whippet running rings around a police dog, Dick charges around the stage putting kids half his age in the crowd to shame. The music, although played at break neck speed, is precise and polished. Citizen fish, in a pond of their own.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


a couple of images that tickled me......

and the funniest of the lot...........

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

CAMDEN: A bit like Glastonbury.. i.e. not as good as it used to be

Had to go to london today. Had some time to kill so went to Camden, which was within walking distance of where i had to be. I used to love Camden and i have had many happy hours there. Its been getting more and more plastic over the years but still had a bit of character.

Today though, I really struggled to find anything of interest. Now that a huge part of the market has burned down I fear for what is left, no doubt it will just turn into a town like every other, full of chain stores.

Mornington Crescent Station was the only thing i felt like taking a photo of. They don't build em like that anymore..... and they dont often name games after em!


Sunday, March 09, 2008



For the first time since 1927 (when they one the final)
Cardif city are on the way to Wembley
for the semi final of the FA cup. It was never in doubt after going ahead in the first 9 minutes. They dominated the game thoughout and dumped Premiership outfit Midelsborough with ease, final score 2 nill to City.



Inner Terrestrials’ website proudly proclaims that they are ‘London’s most havin’ it punk band’. A bold claim maybe, but one that would be difficult to argue with. For 15 years they have been bombarding gigs, parties, squats and festivals with their sonic arsenal of punked up ska dub and folk. Their politics are every bit as uncompromising as their music and they do their best to shake the system as much as they shake dance floors.

In February 2008 the I.T. battle bus rolled into Newport, we managed to catch up with guitarist and vocalist J to discuss the current state of the ‘underground’, both musical and political. Check the PEPPERMINT IGUANA WEBSITE for full interview


Saturday, March 01, 2008

UP YOUR'S RICHARD BRANSON: A rant about the music industry

For the music 'industry', these are the only notes they care about

I have been thinking a lot lately about the music ‘industry’. Despite the fact that I live for my music, it seems that the ‘industry’ live on a different planet to me. A good example would be to take a look at the recent Brit Awards. 2008 and Take That win not one but TWO awards.. What the hell is that all about? The judges really need to get out more.

Although, perhaps it is a case that they are out too much, being wined and dined by the ‘industry’, everyone slapping each other on the back, lining each others pockets and laughing all the way to the bank after another good year of ripping off the spoon-fed record buying public.

I always have trouble with this, these artists sell millions of records, am I an elitist snob, deliberately liking outsiders purely to demonstrate how cool I am? Do I have the right to criticise what other people want to buy?

I don’t think I am a snob. Look in my record collection, you will find Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, the Stone Roses, Paul Weller, Goldfrapp, Groove Armarda… all mega selling artists. If something is good, I will buy it. But the vast majority of crap shoved down our throats by the industry is at best a watered down and sanitised version of what is going on out on the ‘street’; at worst, manufactured, plastic tripe.

The problem for me is that music is an art form, NOT an industry. Music comes from the heart; it is an expression of emotion. Music can make you want to dance, lie down, laugh, cry, make love or get up and fight someone. All the ‘industry’ is interested in is making you put your hand in your pockets. The heads of the big record labels are not interested in creating a piece of art that will be remembered for years, they are business men and want to create something that lots of people will buy.

I recently read ‘Rock Stars at Rockfiled’, the story of the legendary Welsh recording studio. I enjoyed it, there have been a lot of class acts that have passed through the doors and it is only a few miles up the road. It gave an insight into how some of the records in my collection were created, with the added bonus of (for me) local interest. But it struck me how much influence the record labels had in the making of some of the albums. There were tales of bands spending months making an album, sending it to the record company only for them to send it back saying “wrong, do it again”. How can it be wrong? It is what the musicians wanted to make. Obviously it is wrong because the record company don’t think it will sell, artistic merit counts for nothing.

The irony of it all is that no new music trend has ever come out of a record executive’s office. Artistic imagination comes from the street. Soul, jazz, punk, reggae, techno, drum ‘n bass, hip hop… you name it, it came from kids coming up with ideas themselves and making music themselves in the garage, the shed, the bedroom, the local church hall. Only after it has been designed and tested on the street will the ‘industry’ touch it. They are out there all the time looking for the ‘next big thing’ and occasionally try to create it (remember Cool Britannia and Cool Cymru?) but executives sat in the boardroom will never understand what it is really all about.

More often than not when the ‘industry’ gets hold of something they quickly milk it to death and it becomes so sanitised it completely loses its meaning. ‘Indie’ music, on a major label… what’s that all about?

Suicide Bid, mates making music for the fun of it.... and making it well

What IS it all about then? Well for me it means being in a sweaty little club experiencing a band up close and personal, where the boundary between band and audience is broken down; listening to music created by musicians who are more interested in making music than making money; bands being original and experimental.

It is about networking and making friends. I have put on gigs with bands like New Model Army. I was paying them a substantial wage for the night, but they did not even talk to me, I had to deal with their manager and they whinged about everything from the ryder to the dressing room. I have put on gigs with bands like the Tofu Love frogs, PAIN and Inner Terrestrials, they did not complain about anything, they crashed out in my house after and are now big mates that always make a point of saying hello; they have put me on to other bands and promoters helping extend the Iguana circle. That is what it is all about.

It is NOT about paying through the nose (if you can get a ticket) to sit down ten miles away from the stage, being ripped off for drinks and t-shirts, pushed about by bouncers to watch a band through binoculars. It is NOT about boring derivative music created by people who will do whatever they need to do to become rich and famous with the music being an after thought.

Good music can become popular, not all big names are plastic, but that is more by accident than design; it is the exception rather than the rule.

Is this all snobbery? Does ‘keeping it real’ mean putting up with bands that are only ‘underground’ because they are crap? Quite simply, NO. Just take a look at the Peppermint Iguana website, or Organ, or any number of webzines and you will find hundreds, probably thousands of wicked bands doing it themselves for people like themselves. Yes, among all the brilliant bands there are shed loads of crap bands, but at least they aint ripping you off.

That’s another thing… even if a band are crap, they are usually real people and if you are all rammed into some crappy little dive you can find yourself having a laugh at the bar with the band, the DJ, the promoter or whoever, they tend not to lock themselves away back stage. I once had the ‘honour’ of doing some back stage work with one of my all time favourite bands, Stiff Little Fingers; what a bunch of premadonas, I have not spent a penny on them since. The camaraderie on the DIY scene makes up for the musical failings of any of the bands, the bands are growing up in public, everyone has a good night out. As far as I am concerned, you can stick the industry up your arse.



Is he checking the song writing credits, or the price tag?
The undisputed largest personal record collection in the world went on sale recently. Containing 3 million records and 300,000 CDs making a total of more than 6 million song titles. Unfortunately, the collection is pretty shite.

In an interview with Mojo Magazine he stated. “I catalogue most majors. I don’t seek out punk or indie unless it’s local, but most major stuff I’ll save”. Granted there will a few classic albums in there, but by ignoring punk and indie he has left a MAJOR gap in his collection. Would I swap his collection for mine? No.

The fact that he is selling it says a lot, obviously not a real music lover… or maybe he has finally realised himself it’s a crock.