We watched a Welsh punk band called Yr Anhrefn and a Bangor band called The Paraletics play an open air show on the Rydal School playing fields at Brackley Avenue in Colwyn Bay. The school was a private one and we were no strangers to the place having many a time attempted to relieve our testosterone teenage bodies with a peek into the girls shower rooms.
On Anhrefn, Wayne said, ‘I think we were thrilled to actually find a punk band in North Wales, and the fact that the month we saw them, Peel had them in session. They were the band around North Wales who made an impact, especially the Welsh speaking areas. I loved going to see them, huge following, these days they’d be bigger I guess. I’m not sure what they made of us!’
John Peel certainly did like them, and the Welsh punks had four tracks Action Man, Dawns y Duwiau, Defaid and Nefoedd Un broadcast 4th August 1986, each with a narrated introduction by singer Sion, explaining to the English listeners what each Welsh song was about.
Jez Shea, was the carrot topped guitarist with The Paraletics and recalls the open air gig and meeting ourselves for the first time, ‘I remember the delight of hooking up with some other punks, a fun day in Brackley Avenue when we played to some kind of fete, I had problems with a grumpy clown that, probably quite reasonably with hindsight, objected to me saying ‘fuck’ lots in between songs. We made some noisy mayhem that got the buzz going and personified the chaos that was the time.’
I asked Jez why The Paraletics never seized the opportunity to hang on to Anhrefn’s coat tails, ‘We couldn’t have just tagged along with them for the ride cos they had a very different agenda to us. We were inspired by the English speaking punk scene – Blitz, English Dogs, Exploited, Subhumans, Crass, Dead Kennedys, GBH, Vice Squad, Angelic Upstarts etc etc. For Anhrefn the objective was more about creating a Welsh music scene. That was an integral part of what they were doing. I’m not even sure how much Rhys Mwyn likes music, which is odd being as how he’s been and still is a music promoter, what he does like is an event. He likes a thriving welsh culture but I’ve never been convinced he actually enjoys music or art per se. That’s not a criticism, just the way I think it is.’
Jez continues, ‘Also, the tactic worked very well. I reckon it would be fair to say that the hardcore Anhrefn fans were mainly English speaking and based around the students union of the early eighties to early nineties. I remember ‘discovering’ Anhrefn, they played a gig to no-one but Johnny [Evans] in the Albion, Bangor and he told me he’d just seen Disorder [who were an obscure English punk band at the time] and I thought he was taking the piss. A week later I went with him to see them at Satz [now Rascals, Bangor], it was an ultra cheesy eighties club half full of Welsh speaking cheesy eighties dressed students. They didn’t have a clue what to make of Anhrefn at the time but Johnny and me leapt around all night in full punk garb on the dance floor. It was all very friendly and definitely makes my top one hundred rock’n’roll moments. Sion later said that was a defining moment for them and the first time they had really connected with an audience up here.
‘So although their hardcore fan base was the English speaking alternative crowd, [As shown by the you tube clips of Jez and company storming the Octagon on Welsh TV] they could also access the Welsh kids who wanted to do something in their own language. We could never have accessed that crowd, nor would we have wanted to, being the totally uncompromising punks we were. The combination of the English alternative crowd and the Welsh scene is what made Anhrefn such a success. The other major factor was that Rhys was driven and an outstanding organiser. He made things happen.
‘For us the combination of having no access to the Welsh scene, erratic access to transport, no money, limited number of available venues, small number of potential alternative minded fans, very few organisational skills meant it didn’t really happen for us.’
I bought a copy of ROX fanzine at the event; it was written by John Robb of the maniacal noise band The Membranes of Blackpool. The fanzine leaped out at me as I flicked through the pages, I had seen countless ‘zines in the past, but the anarchic attitude to this one struck a chord. Since leaving school three years earlier I had kept a scrap book of funny newspaper cuttings and I toyed with the idea of printing excerpts of this as a fanzine. Edi suggested that we should do a ragmag type magazine for the Colwyn Bay area.
‘What shall we call it?’ I wondered out loud.
‘Well,’ said Edi with a pause, ‘Crud.’