Introducing Interview: The Bug Club

Following support from the likes of BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley for debut single ‘We Don’t Need Room For Lovin’, Welsh trio The Bug Club have now shared recent single ‘Check Mate’ ahead of the release of their debut EP Launching Moondream One later this month.

Delivering their uniquely uplifting, frenetic brand of garage rock, The Bug Club provide the perfect soundtrack to these increasingly sun-filled days. Propelled by a vibrant, driving energy, ‘Check Mate’ oozes a playful sense of euphoria as gloriously scuzzy hooks race alongside blissful harmonies.

We caught up with bassist and vocalist Tilly to find out more…

Hi The Bug Club, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Hi, thanks for having us! We’re a three piece based in Caldicot, South Wales. Dan is actually from Kidderminster but the rest of the band is based in Caldicot so we just say that. I (Tilly) play bass and vocals, Sam plays guitar and vocals and Dan plays drums. My favourite colours are orange and green, Sam likes orange too and Dan likes yellow and blue. Our special skills are: I’m good at losing things, Sam’s good at guessing the time and Dans good at getting his car stuck in the mud. 

How did you initially decide to start creating music together?
Me and Sam weren’t enjoying Uni so we decided to pack it in and start a band. we have been playing on and off since school but our shit time at Uni really gave us a kick up the arse to start doing something we actually wanted to do. Sam and Dan attended the same Uni so that’s how we drafted him in.

You’re about to release your debut EP Launching Moondream One at the end of this month – are there any particular themes running throughout it? 
We decided to name the EP after the last song on it. Ben’s (Mr Ben and The Bens) art is really cool so we thought it would be good to give him free rein and let him do whatever came to mind when he heard the words Launching Moondream One. I guess the theme stemmed from there and became quite spacey. 

We love your jangly, uplifting garage-rock sounds, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Ideal band/musical scenario at the moment is Patti Smith and Jonathan Richman on lead vocals, Peter Paul and Mary on backing vocals, Mike Bloomfield on lead guitar, rhythm section from the Violent Femmes and they only ever play ‘It’s Only Life’ by The Feelies.

You’re from a small town in Wales – in ‘normal’ times, how is the music scene down there? Do you get the chance to see much live music? 
There’s a bunch of good bands but it’s too small for any venues so we all just go to Newport, Cardiff and Bristol. We’re sandwiched between all those places so we get to see a load of bands when we’re not skint.

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
We’ve been laying pretty low and luckily managed to record between lockdowns to get this EP done. The connecting will hopefully start happening now the world is feeling better. Marc Riley has been really great to us though and has showed some strangers our songs which we are eternally grateful for!

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times? 
We have quite enjoyed being able to write a bunch of stuff with no real reason or aim of doing anything with it. There is only so many times a walk to the old windmill stays fun though so.. Beans on Toast, the hit live Saturday morning TV show is our new favourite thing. It’s made by a bunch of the people involved with Bingo Records and has no business being that good and funny. Go find it on YouTube!! 

How do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
I like to think that if you try and make stuff that you think is good, be nice and when you’re ready try and reach out to people that you would genuinely like to work with, then things will probably work out alright. If you want to get noticed that is. I think being in a band feels mostly the same at whatever level you’re doing it at. You’re playing the same songs with the same people so don’t put too much time into the other bit. But who the heck am I!?

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming bands that you’d recommend we check out?
There’s so many we love at the moment I can’t think on one we wouldn’t recommend! Also with the lack of gigs lately I’d happily watch any person make any noise for about £6 at the moment. Melin Melyn, HMS Morris, Potpourri, Twin Stranger and Sub Cultures will all blow your dick off though. 

Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for The Bug Club? 
Well we’re hoping to retire off the earnings from this small EP and live expensively in Devon perhaps. But Plan B is to release another something later in the year and play live as much as possible until then! Our biggest dream is to go to Margate and play a big gig with everyone at Bingo Records, that would be heaven. We can only dream.

Massive thanks to Tilly for answering our questions!

Mastered by Eddie Al-Shakarchi, Launching Moondream One, the upcoming debut EP from The Bug Club, is out 30th April via Bingo Records. It will be released on a 7” orange vinyl and comes with the added extras of a comic book, a packet of ‘moon dust’ and secret bonus downloads that differ with each copy.

STILL SPINNING: The Joy Formidable – ‘The Big Roar’

Our “Still Spinning” feature focuses on records that we consider to be iconic – whether that’s for popular, or personal reasons – and celebrates our enduring love for them. Get In Her Ears Co-Founder & Features Editor Kate Crudgington talks us through why Welsh alternative trio The Joy Formidable’s debut album The Big Roar, released in January 2011, is still one of her most influential listens today.

 

At the tender age of nineteen, I discovered The Joy Formidable through a crush who I was trying to impress, and my ears were introduced to a whole new world of music outside of the charts. It’s this priceless personal affiliation with the songs on their debut album The Big Roar that has kept me listening to it for the last decade.

Formed of Ritzy Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd & Matt Thomas, The Joy Formidable dropped The Big Roar in January 2011, two years after their debut EP A Balloon Called Moaning, and twenty year old me fell head over heels in love with it. It was one of the first albums I owned on vinyl, but before that I’d been listening to it on CD. I’d bought the limited edition boxset which included a pin badge, a CD of live recordings and a piece of Ritzy’s smashed guitar. I worked part-time in retail on minimum wage back then, so it took a hefty chunk out of my pay-check, but it was worth every penny.

As the title suggests, The Big Roar rips and roars with vital, visceral urgency; plunging listeners into overwhelming waves of sound before allowing them to resurface and breathe again. The record was already littered with singles I knew – ‘Whirring’, ‘Austere’, ‘Cradle’ & ‘The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade’ – so listening for the first time flooded me with both familiarity and excitement. I thought it was a bold move to open an album with a 40 second cacophony of indiscernible clacking noises, but after repeated listens it’s something I’ve grown to appreciate. It laid the foundation for spiralling opener ‘The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie,’ which rushes the ears with its swelling riffs and urgent vocals. This track, along with ‘I Don’t Want To See You Like This’ both brim with cathartic guitar wails and commanding beats, encouraging listeners to be “courage’s child” and break away from the past.

The stomping rhythms of ‘The Magnifying Glass’, ‘Chapter 2’ and ‘A Heavy Abacus’ were already known to me because I’d heard them live. I remember turning up to The Garage in Islington in 2009 to see the band headline, and afterwards having an overwhelming feeling that I’d just seen something that was going to change my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but watching Ritzy Bryan shredding her guitar, singing lead vocals and thrashing her white-blonde hair around the stage with her bandmates galvanized my idea of what a guitar band should be, and quite frankly – who I wanted to be. I wanted to be just like her.

When I used to frequent the dancefloor at The Pink Toothbrush on a Saturday night – one of the only alternative clubs in my home county of Essex – DJ Darren B would play ‘Whirring’ in its entirety, so my friends and I could thrash about to it at the beginning of the night. Its thudding drum beats and punchy lyrics have kept me stomping on numerous floorboards for hours. The track’s enduring power stays with me for this reason, and because its epic disorientating outro differs to the version that’s on the band’s 2009 EP. ‘Cradle’ and ‘Austere’ blitz by in a whir of thrashing guitars and catchy lyrical refrains, and were also numbers DJ Darren B would treat us to on a night out.

The ear-swelling ‘Buoy’ is one of the bands strongest anthems. From the subtle allure of Ritzy’s opening guitar riffs, to Rhydian’s dense buzzing bass lines; it’s an all-consuming aural blur. I love the way they spit the last lines “And you should have talked / and you should talk too / ’cause in twenty years / you’ll be a fucking mute” – their urgency complimented by dizzying riffs and Matt’s relentless percussion. My ribs still remember the thrill of being hit by the sound from the speakers after the ferocious drop in when I heard this live at Kentish Town Forum. Gentle interlude ‘(Maruyama)’ provides a moment of respite on the album following this belter.

Bassist Rhydian takes the vocal lead on ‘Llaw=Wall’, which like ‘Buoy’ has a colossal drop in. I’ve been miming “spit on the window is what you are” into the mirror since 2011, but a quick Google search just informed me it’s “spilt” – which brings me on to another TJF song I’d been singing incorrect lyrics to. The opening track on A Balloon Called Moaning, but the closing one for The Big Roar, ‘The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade’ still sounds as shadowy and hypnotic today to me now as it did back in 2009 when I first heard it. I thought the chorus opened with the line “Destroy this…” but it’s actually “This dream is…” but who cares about technicalities like that when you’re swept up in the layers of frenzied guitar and Ritzy’s tender vocals. It’s been a song that I’ve turned to at so many different points in my life that my heart overflows with nostalgia when I hear it. “This childish heart won’t wait / it dances, keeps me awake” is my favourite (correct) lyric, and I cherish this Joy Formidable track above all others.

After penning such a passionate essay about The Big Roar, it might surprise you to know that I didn’t review the record when it was first released. When I looked up some reviews of the album by respected music publications, one labelled it as a “brit-pop” revival record. The only nineties influences I can hear are grunge and shoegaze, but these comparisons are all tiresome rhetoric, distracting us from the most important thing – The Joy Formidable just sound really fucking good on this album. Getting weighed down by the technicalities of “who” or “what” a band sound like is tedious. It’s much more enjoyable to just shamelessly fan girl over their record instead.

Listen to The Big Roar on bandcamp or Spotify.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: HMS Morris – ‘Partypooper’

Having previously beguiled our ears with singles such as ‘Poetry’ and ‘Babanod’, as well as wowing us with their live show at The Finsbury a couple of years back, Welsh indie-psych outfit HMS Morris have now shared an exuberant new track.

Sounding as wonderfully wacky as the name suggests, ‘Partypooper’ is a response to the mental highs and lows of being a musician. Offering an uplifting brass-led fusion of sounds alongside front woman Heledd’s quirky playfulness and vibrant energy, it’s a colourful, latin-infused cacophony, set to bring some sunshine to the dreariest of Autumn days. Of the track, Heledd explains:

A great deal of us struggle with a little internal partypooper, a malignant imp who likes to wait until we’re at our happiest before screwing up her mean little face and blowing mightily on her shit-horn of doubt and regret, leaving our ears ringing and our confidence in tatters as she skips gleefully away.”


‘Partypooper’ is out now via Bubblewrap Collective. 

 

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Track Of The Day: HMS Morris – ‘Poetry’

‘Poetry’, the new single from Welsh electronic-psych band HMS Morris, tackles the frequently written about subject of unrequited love in a uniquely refreshing way. The song reflects the sliding scale of madness that results from unreciprocated, obsessive love in quite a candid manner.

Beginning with some light-hearted, hypothetical quasi-stalking, singer Heledd Watkins then moves through self-criticism, recrimination, and finally a full-on banshee-wail of desperation. All the while, ’70s-esque guitar and layers of almost operatic backing vocals swell behind her, building and building to great effect. This talented group of musicians somehow manage to get the balance of retro psychedelia and forward-thinking electronics just right.

Structurally, the track was designed to be a ‘Bolero’ for the modern ages, packing the build-up of sound that ‘Bolero’ composer Maurice Ravel spent close to twenty minutes building, into a punchy four-and-a-half-minute single.

 

‘Poetry’ is out now on Cardiff based Bubblewrap records. The band were due to play a series of shows this summer, so keep an eye out for rescheduled dates.

Ellie Ball