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

Saturday, June 27, 2009


If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise

Shortly after The Tofu Love Frogs reformed, back in 2007, Paddy came up with the idea of a festival featuring the Frogs and any band that featured ex-Frogs. Given the number of people that had done time with them, this opened up the possibility of a fairly big bill. A field in Devon was sorted and word was spread through cyber space. Unfortunately Jupiter, Uranus and the local constabulary all aligned to make sure the motley gathering did not happen.

Jump forward in time for another crack at it. Frogstock 2009 is announced on ye-olde interweb.

Yep - you guessed it - Frogstock is coming! They begged them to play at Glastonbury but the Tofus want to play a free party in the woods instead. It promises to be one of the greats - so change whatever plans you had, put on your stomping boots and prepare for a night (or few) of mayhem and madness.

Free up the 27th of June and be prepared to settle in for a party that promises to last for days. More details about the exact location will be released closer to the time - but you’re looking at a half hour train ride from London in a kinda north easterly direction and a water taxi to the party location (taxi charge £2)

There’s a field for camping and the music is going to start around 9pm so arrive early to give the ferry a chance to get you all there, and to set up your canvas abodes (more details about best times to arrive as they become available)

As I was due to be in London on the 30th anyway, and the unions were paying for my rail fare, and I had annual leave to take, it was a no brainer, I was going. I waited with baited breath for more details. Then eventually….

Get to Harlow Mill Station. From the station, walk to the river and then walk up the river (north, so that the river is on your left) for 15 minutes or so until you reach the site. It’s inaccessible by road, if you prefer not to walk up the river, you can get the river taxi up there which will be running all afternoon. Bands will be on from 9pm so arrive early to set up your tents beforehand.

Can you bring a van/bus? If you do you won’t be able to stay in it because you’ll still have to walk up the river to the site.

Dogs (and free range kids) - this is important!!! The place is right next to a railway line and the fence is pretty much non existent, so don’t bring them for their own sake! It’s just not safe for them there. So if I hear of anything happening to them after I’ve warned you I will personally visit and kick your arse.

Who’s playing? Palm Tree Club, The Paisanos, Nutty and the Blazers, Chicken Shed Zeppelin, The Tofu Love Frogs, … and plenty DJs after and between

Last minute notes: BRING A TORCH!!

So, I emerged from the railway station and headed off in search of the river. Being a bloke I did not bother asking, I just wandered. After ten minutes I decided that I was getting to wet too worry about things like being a bloke and asked someone where the river was. I then turned around and headed in the right direction instead.

Paddy had already text me to say that the ‘water taxi’ had broken down, so with a purposeful step I headed north, with the river on my left. I pondered on the location. The theory was that the plod would not have time to muster enough boats to raid the place and it was unlikely they were going to walk. As the purpose in my step diminished, I could see why the old bill would not be up for raiding it on foot.

Beautiful houseboats were moored along the banks of the river, generally far enough apart for them not to be able to intrude upon each other’s space. My mind drifted off to a week spent on the Norfolk Broads. Eventually I spied an armada of houseboats, or whatever the collective noun is, moored up together. These were less beautiful and had the look of a scrap yard about them. I guessed, correctly, that this was the place. The boats belonged to Paddy and his mates and before mooring up for the night had transported all the gear that was to be used for the party up the river.

Three blokes ambling in the other direction advised “When you get to the woods, take a right by the big gas bottle”. I was not sure if I should be flattered or insulted that they had recognised me as a party head.

As soon as I turned right into the woods, I had to negotiate a ditch about twenty feet wide and five feet deep. A rope for people to hang on to indicated that this was not a wrong turning but the easiest way to get to the party. I followed the sound of laughter till I reached another ditch, this time about fifteen foot deep and thirty feet wide. From the tarps stretched between the trees above and the sheets of plywood at the bottom I guessed that this was what passed for ‘the main arena’.

With the reflexes of a cat I managed to avoid being garrotted by the ropes holding the tarps up and found my way to the bottom of the ditch (sorry, to the dance floor) without a slip, trip or fall. I decided that rather than relax after my seven-hour train journey, the best plan of action was to strive on a little longer and get my tent up. Besides, there did not really appear to be anywhere to relax that did not involve rain or mud.

Kel (Tofu Axe Hero) was doing something roadie-like with the PA but took a few seconds out to say hello and point me in the direction of the huge slippery embankment I had to climb to get to the ‘camping field’. After conquering the south face of the camping field with only one near death experience, I surveyed the terrain to decide which patch of nettles I was going to pitch my tent on, then proceeded to erect my canvas abode; well, nylon actually but that does not have the same romantic connotations. Last summer came rushing back to me as I remembered what it was about my tent that was broken. The pole that holds out the mini-awning. No matter, I was going to be dry.

I then took a bit of a long cut, back down to the tow path then in past the gas bottle again; a tricky route, but considerably safer than abseiling down the wall of the dancehall. The worrier in me was trying to work out what the odds were of me getting through the night without going apex over base into a ditch (very good odds actually). I also wondered how long it would be before I walked straight into a tarp rope in the dark and if I could go twenty-four hours without having a shit (did I mention the absence of toilets, water, fire extinguishers or anything remotely health and safety related?).

I bumped into Paddy who looked like he was on a mission to do something technical, although it was not exactly clear what. I asked where the bar was. “Its down there Clint, where those dogs are fighting”. He paused for thought, “How many times do you have to tell people? But they don’t listen. Those dogs are going to get run over by a train before the weekend is out”.

I forgot to mention, the side of the site that was not bordered by the beautiful river, was bordered by the very same rail track that helped those Stanstead Express trains on their way.

I followed the sound of fighting dogs. I have to say, if these dogs had wandered onto the tracks, I would not have fancied the train’s chances of coming out unharmed.

I purchased my cider from the lean-to that passed for a bar and found a log to sit on next to the campfire. It was still raining so went for a wander to ‘explore’ the ‘site’. It came as no real surprise to discover that I had actually already seen all there was to see. In the grim reality of daylight it looked like the sort of party I would imagine results in the piles of cans by the side of the river I often find when going for a walk on a Sunday morning; but with a PA, which had yet to kick into life. I convinced myself that it would look better in the dark, even if it did mean the tarp ropes would be more dangerous. I decided to retire to the tent to read until it got dark; or stopped raining.

As darkness descended and reading without a torch became impossible, I headed back to the arena. I was right, it was starting to look more like a party now, more people had arrived, more tarps had gone up, more fires had been lit and a party atmosphere was descending; even if the PA was still showing no signs of life. It reminded me a little of the old Casbar parties in North Wales. There was a healthy contingent of veteran festival heads and aqua-crusties with a sprinkling of the local chavs up for a party. No security trying to charge a ‘door tax’, no dodgy dealers, no one with an attitude, just people out for fun and looking after themselves.

I spotted a rather dodgy looking bloke in a top heat serving hotdogs from a trestle table and kicked myself for not getting food when I was still in civilisation.

More wandering. More cider. I sat by a campfire and started chatting with a young girl. “I wish I had brought a torch with me” she commented. She asked my name. “Clint? Not Clint Iguana is it?” Fame at last! “I am Jenn”. It soon clicked, this was the Tofu’s webmistress; not quite as famous as I thought then.

“Should have taken your own advice and brought a torch then!” I quipped. We chatted for a while about the Tofus, Oxford and Bristol, then went our separate ways.

I was starting to get hungry now so asked dodgy chef guy if he had anything vegetarian. “The hot dogs are vegan”, I was advised by one of his assistants. Whilst I had no reason to doubt her, it was dark, she was pissed and they were serving food in the open air in the rain. She fished the packet out of the bin for me to prove their provenance and I handed over my cash. As I was waiting for the food to be delivered a young lad, who I assume was dodgy chef’s son, performed a free magic trick. The food was nice; I handed over more money, had another vegan hotdog and watched a young lad make an eyeball disappear.

The PA kicked into life, all be it intermittently. The party went up a gear. I went back to the ‘bar’. By now they had sussed my favourite tipple.

I bumped into Ade, erstwhile Tofu bass player, who informed me he was looking forward to watching the band from the audience for the first time, although he was intending to get up and sing at some point. Kel informed me that the guitarist with the first band had not turned up so the Tofu’s would be on in ten minutes. It seemed an odd set up, the main band coming on first, but it was late already and it meant I would not have to wait till sunrise to see the band I had travelled all this way for.

This was the moment we had all be waiting for. Under a leaky tarp, with electric plugs under water, with a broken bass guitar, on a sloping stage in the bottom of a ditch, in a wood miles from anywhere, the most hardcore folk band on the planet ripped into an hour and a half of no nonsense punk. New bass player Mikey was having trouble with his guitar, but with his charity shop suit on he looked like Isaac Hayes. Paddy, also in a charity shop suit, looked like Albert Steptoe. Kel was in metal mode and the set was rough, spiky and edgy.

You had to be there to appreciate it, but it suddenly all made sense. Who needs the ‘alternative’ bits of Glastonbury when you can have the Tofu Love Frogs playing at a free party in the woods? It don’t get much more D.I.Y. than this.

Ade got up and did his bit, then slowly the Tofus morphed into Ade’s new band Chicken Shed Zeppelin and entertained us all with their own take on bluegrass punk. Everyone enjoyed, even the local chavs were happy, despite the lack of repetitive beats. I slipped off into the night and fell asleep to the chunky-punky sound of the Passianos (or at least I think that is what they were called).

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I love travelling by train. A lot of people criticise the various train companies, making out they are late all the time and the service is poor, but I have not experienced any of this. Yes, there are occasional problems, but by and large they are efficient, comfortable and convenient. Today I am headed to Harlow Mill, just north of London and train is my transport of choice.

I sit on the train, which is on time, open my book, ‘A Year of Festivals’, and drift off to Roskilder with the author, Jarvis Hammond. You can’t get lost in a book when driving, well, not legally anyway. I manage to detach myself from my surroundings and drift away to the festival with Jarvis as my guide for almost one hundred miles. Then I notice we are just outside Reading. I look out of the window, then get back into the book. Roskilder comes to an end and we start heading for Latitude. I look out of the window again. We are still just outside Reading. We have not moved since I last dipped into reality. A voice that appears to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time announces that there are passengers are on the line, but soon corrects himself to say trespassers. I slip back into Jarvis. Well, more precisely, his book. My faith in the rail system is still in tact, its not First Great Western Trains fault that some Muppet has decided to go walk about on the track. For a moment my humanity slips and I think to myself that it would serve them right if the train just ran over them.

You can’t just stop and start trains when you feel like it. It’s not like the motorway; you have to fit in with the schedule of other trains. But because it was not their fault, I decide not to blame First Great Western for the train arriving in Paddington a full hour late. It is not as if I had any deadline to meet anyway. I stroll the length of platform one to get to the tube station, only to hear the tannoy announce that the Circle Line is being replaced by a bus due to engineering works. Well, you’ve got to work on the track sometime I suppose, it can’t be helped. Although walking back the way I just came, carrying my trusty rucksack and tent down to the other end of the station to jump on the Hammersmith Line was something I could have done without.

By the time I got to Liverpool Street I decided a cold Strongbow was in order, after all, I had plenty of time to get to Harlow. It did not take long anyway, it was a warm day and it went down so quickly I hardly had time to savour the refreshing apple taste. Then it was off to the machine to purchase my ticket. It was only when I had my ticket in hand that I realised that I did not know which train I needed to catch. The helpful lady at the information desk soon put that right. “Well, you really need to Cambridge train, but you just missed it and there is not another one for an hour. Your best bet is to get the half past express train to Stanstead but get off at Harlow Town, then get a connection to Harlow Mill”. The advice sounded fine to me so I took it (although I did wonder if it should be called the express train if it was making stops on the way).

I considered stocking up on refreshments for the festival but decided to get something in Harlow, thus avoiding carrying it any further than necessary. Then I sat on the ‘express’ train and opened up Jarvis again (you have a dirty mind you know). He was just landing at Stanstead Airport. An omen I thought, this is the train for me. The carriages soon filled up with weary travellers on their way home and excited travellers about to start their holiday. Then another voice from everywhere and nowhere announced signal problems directly outside the station, which were causing a delay to all trains departing from platforms one through to ten. I looked out the window. Platform seven. Never mind, Jarvis and I were having fun. The train started to fill up with people that had technically missed the train, or would have if it had been on time. Forty-five minutes later we started moving. The train had emptied a bit by now, some had already decided they were going to miss their flight and had resigned themselves to another night in ‘The Smoke’. I was not too concerned; I had been spending quality time in Spain (Latitude was history now). I was at Benicassim, soaking up the rays; this brought a really big smile to my face as I had recently purchased tickets for this year’s event! Then I remembered the ticket was for daughter number one, not me. We raced out through the north of London and out beyond the M25 and soon I was deposited in Harlow Town.

I had not been to Harlow before and was not sure of the geography. I considered walking to Harlow Mill; it could not be that far away. Then I remembered my 24 hours lost in Falkirk, purely because I got off at the wrong railway station, mistakenly thinking it was only a village. I went in search of the platform I needed for my connection to Harlow Mill. After wandering for ten minutes (no mean feat on a station as small as Harlow Town) I came to the conclusion that I needed to wait for the Cambridge train that was due to leave Liverpool Street on the hour. If I had waited I could have taken my time on another pint of big boys happy apple, instead of standing on the platform of a station in a depressing looking town reading the Samaritans sign wondering if I was in need of conversation.

It started to rain. Not any old rain, but old skool, hardcore, biblical rain. It was accompanied by thunder and lightening. Jarvis could not distract me from questions in my head about what shape my tent was in when I packed it away. I had a nagging feeling that there was something wrong with it, nothing that would stop me camping in on a beautiful sunny day, but might put me off camping in a monsoon. It stopped raining. I don’t recall seeing hail this late in June before, but now I was seeing it. Thoughts of my wellies back at home went through my head. The thought of changing platform and getting on the ‘express’ train to Liverpool Street went through my head.

Eventually the Cambridge train rolls into town and transports me from one end of Harlow to another with the speed only an hour late express train can. The hail has subsided back to just plain rain. A quick squint around the area reveals a trading estate, an Indian Restaurant, and a pub from a famous chain and a tool hire centre. No sign of an offy. I had no intention of getting soaked in a search for an off licence that might not even exist so I headed for the river. There had been a promise of a water taxi, but I had already been alerted to engine problems. This was not a good day for public transport. I headed ‘north, with the river on my left, for about 15 minutes’.

Perhaps it is about time I let you in on where I am headed.

Shortly after the Tofu Love Frogs reformed Paddy came up with the idea of Frogstock, a festival that would feature the Tofu Love Frogs and bands featuring ex Love Frogs and bands that had a remote connection with the Frogs. It did not happen in 2007. It did not happen in 2008 either. Paddy is never one to give up on a good idea (or a bad one), 2009 is to be the year of the Frogstock, all be it slightly scaled down from the original plan. And this is where I am headed.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009


Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, I give you ……. Cue drum roll. We have a new issue of Peppermint Iguana Zine!
After several nights burning the candle at both ends we now have issue seven of the zine in our hands. We have a bit of partying to do this weekend, but as soon as we get back we will be looking to upload the contents onto the iguana website.
We will, as usual, be getting them out and about at festivals gigs and stuff and putting them in some local record shops. if you have difficulty getting hold of one, leave a comment and we will get back to you.
UPDATE: 29:06:09... zine available from All Ages Records in Camden, probably the best punk record shop in London


Sunday, June 21, 2009


On a bit of a roll now. Have managed to get an edited version of the Powersteppers interview typed up and laid out in the zine. Looks like we might be on target to get the zine out before next weekend.

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Friday, June 19, 2009


Had a day off today to do something, which ended up not happening, so have been cracking on with Iguana stuff. Managed to sort out the Sonic Boom Six interview that, again, has been sitting on the Dictaphone without being typed up for an outrageous amount of time.

Done now … or at least a zine version is… and it is a cracker, really pleased with it. Laying it out for the mag now, will get it on line once the paper version is in the bag

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Tonight Clutch rocked. Official.

Halfway between Download and the French Hellfest the Clutch tour bus rolled up outside the legendary TJs and they served up a dose of the finest American Blues rock to a packed house.

I don’t often go to gigs where beards and plaid shirts are the order of the day. And I don’t think I have seen bouncers who have clearly had one to many steroids swinging from the PA determined to make sure no one got over excited and enjoy themselves. Not in TJs anyway. The plaid shirts were not going to be put off by the roiders and merrily got on with their crowd surfing.

I don’t think the band were too impressed though and stormed off without an encore. An anti-climax to an otherwise wicked gig.

For those of you that have never heard Electric Worry, and those of you that have....

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Gordon Bennett. Just finally finished transcribing an interview I did with Dick Lucas last year. It has taken me ages. Boy can he talk! Boy does he have a lot of things to talk about! The Stupid Humans, The Subhumans, Culture Shock, Citizen Fish, The Clutton Brothers, Bluurg Records…. He has been one busy bee!

The interview was intended for the book, but I am now going to filter it down to go in the zine, which will basically involve cutting about 4,000 words (yes, that’s 4,000). Here goes…..
while you wait, here is another interview with him that is NOTHING to do with us...

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Monday, June 15, 2009

OK are OK!

Things have not quite gone to plan tonight, just about managed to get one review written up. However, it is a bit of a juicy album. Colin Powerstepper has kindly let us get our mits on a demo of a band that he is managing called OK.

They are pure 80s pop, in the style of The Smiths, Housemartins, Prefab Sprout, that kind of thing. Not normally what appears on the Iguana menu, but a tasty and refreshing change. We love it. The review can be found here.
And here be the video for the new single which is out today, available from i-tunes and all that malarkey

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Just downloaded the Hilight Tribe's 2008 album Trancelucid

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Billy Bragg is playing Blackwood tonight. I like Billy Bragg. Tickets are £17. I don't like him that much. I am not going.


Sunday, June 14, 2009


Molara interview edited and laid out for the zine now. This was something I did quite a while back over the phone. Because I was making notes rather than taping it I had to write it up fairly quickly before I forgot what was said, but only now have I got it laid out in the zine.

An extended version of this interview, combined with an interview with Colin Powerstepper, will probably make up a fairly substantial chapter in the book when it eventually comes together.

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Well, progress is a bit slower than we would have liked, but we now have a version of an interview conducted with Cardiff’s very own Kilnaboy typed up and laid out. It was conducted in a very noisy pub in Cardiff on 23rd May, after the Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair, and before a benefit gig for the same.

Its not word for word, cos I could not make out half of what was said, but I am sure they were too pissed to argue with any of my quotes. Will put a version on line as soon as I have the zine sorted.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009


Taking photographs of railway stations at sunset. One of many things I have been doing when not getting on with the zine

Its that time of year, festivals are around the corner and I ought to be thinking about another zine. Given that I have settled on producing one zine a year, you would think it would be a simple task. I have a knack of making the simplest of things difficult though. I spend a year conducting interviews, accumulating CDS to review and reading books but I still end up rushing the zine together at the last minute. Every year I think to myself, “I will write things as and when they happen so next year it will only take ten minutes”, but it never happens.

This year, things have been complicated by the fact that I have started writing a book on the DIY music scene. The interviews have been much more detailed, and I have been collecting anecdotes from the past, jotting down memories from bye gone years as and when they return to my addled brain. My ‘other’ life (work) has been pretty complicated to say the least, with lots of travelling and long hours. Oh, and I have travelled the length and breadth of the country watching the famous Cardiff City FC.

All excuses really, it is not as if I have not had the time to sit down and knock out a few CD reviews, it is just my brain has been elsewhere. I suppose this is down to me being born in the year of the Water Tiger (any old excuse).

So, time to knock out a zine in double quick time ready for the festival season … which makes my decision to resurrect this blog all the more strange, but I am back. Hold tight, here we go!