As the scene built around Bar Blu in Rhyl flourished, so was the punk scene with Dave Cox, Ste Cox and Leigh Cox being the catalysts of most things happening. The two factions rarely crossed although there was no anomosity, just different musical tastes. Centred mainly around the Dudley Arms from 2002 onwards The Cox’s Punk In Drublic nights were a huge success.The Cox spearheaded an influx of full on punk bands into the scene, with Gape probably being the most extreme. Emerging from a swamp in 2003 Gape do not hide behind their instruments. Llanfairfechan’s finest (and probably only) hardcore thrashed out punk band promised to deliver and they delivered enough to put any midwife to shame. A guitar amp pushed to the absolute hilt, so loud it kept cutting out in protest at being so blatantly abused by this teenage upstart. And a front man with so much energy like a spastic on speed with a ferret down his pants, this guy could give lessons to any other vocalist in the business. Rhys Mwyn (ex-Anhrefn) would give the young bands he had taken under is wing a Clash live video to study and say ‘this is how I want you to be on stage.’ Something many regarded as a good idea, but now those minds may be changing; in fact, chuck those Clash videos away and come and watch Gape. Musically their live set was to the extreme, like The Electro Hippies on a bad day but that didn’t matter and thye didn’t really care, Gape were not out to please their mums and dads who stood in the audience.
Fuck off mum, fuck off dad.
The Cox also brought with them the punk ethic of merchandise and would have their ‘Full Length’ LP and ‘Nailbomb The Dancefloor’ EP tucked away in their bags if anyone was brave enough to approach them after a show, but it was punk bands from out of the area who showed the locals how to do it, eg. Shatterhand had their CDs, t-shirts, badges and fanzines all neatly displayed and accessible. They call it Networking, and for the bands that do it, it works. Neil Crud ranted,
‘Local bands like Ethergy, Crave, Gape and Six Year Hangover; four bands who all played in the space of a week, and not one CD between them was available on the night, not one anyone could see anyway. Even a CDr sold for a quid is a profit, and more importantly you’re leaving a legacy in someone’s house, something they’ll play, and maybe play to their mates, who may come and see you next time and buy that CD etc. It’s called Advertising, if they don’t know you exist they won’t come and see you and won’t buy your CDs. It all goes hand in hand; spread your disease, sow your wild oats, you’re in a band playing gigs and making music for one reason; you’re in the entertainment business, so stop doing half a job!’
The Cox were a band who wore their full blooded hearts well and truly on their torn punk rock sleeves. This hardcore punk band lasted two years from forming in 2002 after having a jam for a laugh. Rhyl based Leigh Hodson (ex-Floaters Revenge) on guitar and vocals, Ste Ska on bass and Manchester born but Colwyn Bay based and Dave Warburton on drums, the band were all soon to adopt Cox as their surname.
They were industrious with their effort, enthusiasm and output and Steve set up their own Drunk Munkey Records in February 2002 to release the EP ‘You Know Who We Mean.’ An album called ‘Al Bum’ by Jibberish and the Chinese Chicken Balls EP preceded this release. A compilation CD came out in January ’03 called Monkey’s Feces Vol. 1 (complete with spelling mistake!) featuring bands from the UK underground punk scene that they helped promote gigs for at The Dudley Arms in Rhyl.
‘You Know Who We Mean’ was seven rough and ready tracks recorded at Leigh’s house in summer 2002 opening with Drunk Munkee which remained in the band’s set until the end, as did Speak Up. The EP also included two songs that were ten seconds long, plus a version of Elvis Presley’s Falling In Love and ending with What’s The Point (in Johnny).
If you were a full on punk band The Cox would fall over themselves to help you, if you weren’t then you were either ignored or treated with suspicion or even hatred, as John Bowden from the more heavy rock orientated Kobe found out,
‘We had somehow become double booked at The Dudley with The Cox and they were very aggressive towards us and didn’t want us to play.’ Kobe did play the gig but only when it turned out they had a PA with them and The Cox needed to use it. ‘They played first and the place was packed, but as soon as we went on we were playing to an empty room.’
Neil Crud also saw that gig and remembers,
‘Kobe had yet to find their niche at the time and had a pretty awful singer, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that everyone fled like rats off a sinking ship. I saw the same band with a new singer a year later and they were excellent.’
Drunk Monkey had changed its name to Pigtown Records (a reference to the literal English translation of Steve Cox’s hometown of Mochdre) and released Hektor’s ‘Mullet’ EP and a month later The Cox put out the ‘Too Soon’ EP. The label was played down by the band and Dave described it as Leigh’s computer CD writer and a few punk bands.
In January 2004 The Cox released a 4 track single Nailbomb The Dancefloor that turned out to be not only their finest moment, but was also voted Best Single of The Year in the Link2wales 2004 Poll. Neil Crud was jumping through hoops when he first heard the single,
‘I couldn’t believe my ears, its gotta be one of the best singles in my collection, its unbelievably good.’
The vocals were by drummer Dave Cox for this track, who had a far more distinctive voice than regular singer Leigh. It also had probably the best sleeve you’ll ever want to own, having illegally lifted a huge chunk of Disco Inferno for the opening of the song, they also took the Saturday Night Fever picture sillhouette of John Travolta and turned it into their own.
Adam Walton shared Neil’s almost orgasmic enthusiasm but stressed he could never ever play a track on BBC radio that had the line: “Die DJ you fucking cunt.” Determined that this song should be heard by the masses and not by a few hundred punks in a very tight and insular scene, Neil Crud edited the song by flipping the two offensive lines backwards and burnt off a few copies.
Adam immediately played it, and then played it again and again. At least five times, with Neil also airing it on Radio Wales and his own Link2wales show on numerous occasions, and both Neil and Adam tried to arrange the band to record a session for the BBC show.
‘They didn’t want to know because it wasn’t an exclusively punk rock programme.’ Explained a morose Neil. ‘Leigh had a phobia about travelling and wouldn’t even go as far as Betws-y-Coed to record the session.’
That explains why The Cox never played anywhere too far from home, and possibly Leigh’s non-appearance at a Penrhyn Old Hall gig that the band played regardless of his absence. Wayne The Bastard remembered that performance as,
‘…an open mic event, as various folk had a go. After a promising start, it all went a bit pear shaped and they, like the audience, gave up and headed for the bar.’
So The Cox were on self destruct before things got off the ground, and by all intents and purposes, true to their punk rock beliefs. This was iterated when Dave Cox approached Neil at a gig in Penrhyn Old Hall asking his thoughts on the band attempting to sue the BBC for editing their song without permission.
‘I didn’t tell him it was me who did it, but did try to explain about biting feeding hands.’ There was no law suit, and probably never would’ve been as Neil pointed out, ‘They were so tight, they used to charge me to get into their gigs to review them!’
Previous to The Cox, Dave and Steve had plied their trade in Mochdre based punk band Chinese Chicken Balls in 2001 along with Gavin (voc, gtr) and Gorro (gtr), although Dave actually joined later in March 2002 replacing Tom. This band released a demo “Live E.P.” which had eleven rough and ready songs recorded live at the Penrhyn Old Hall 22.06.02. They also had two tracks Since The Start and Three Wise Monkeys on the Munkey Feces compilation, their sound was that of a very young punk band with very flat singer. They changed their name to Hektor in March 2003, but by now The Cox were already a going concern.
Dave and Leigh had already played together in 2001 in Floaters Revenge, who were previously called Superweak then Terminal CC before opting for the Floaters banner. Dave was then a mohican sporting vocalist-guitarist, as was Leigh, and they were flanked by the equally impressive looking ex Sulphur bassist, Gaz White who would end up in Fudged. Jamie ‘Cakes’ Cardno (ex Fathead) backed them on drums and he, four years later would be drumming for Der Bomber. Ex-Infest bassist Matt Pipkin left the band (Sep02) after not being told about a rehearsal and formed Suicidal Mushrooms and then Pledge. They played the MASE shows in Llandudno and supported Carpet in Rhyl before splitting for various reasons in February 2002, playing their last gig at Penrhyn Old Hall.
After seeing Floaters Revenge at the Carpet gig Andy Fatman described them as ‘bad punk rock.’ He was probably right, but what is good punk rock? The clean-cut Green Day playing sanitised chord progressions with millions of kids’ dollars in the bank or the dirty stench driven Floaters Revenge? Not two tosses were given by the band at that opening slot as they strummed up with nothing to prove, the attitude was to just get pissed and make a noise, if the words fit and it’s in time, then all the better.
A lot of these bands have over-lapping dates, as it was quite common for members to be trying their worth in other outfits and offshoots, which quite often become the reason for the main band to split. Dave then decided to give up guitaring,
‘I really can’t play it very well at all! I can do chords (bar chords) but that’s it, I’m not patient, confident or talented enough to try and get good at it so what’s the use? That’s why I tried out drums instead which I’m better at by millions than I am on the “axe”.’
Neil Crud first caught up with The Cox on his birthday at the Fairview Inn in Llanddulas in November 2002,
‘What I was doing in Llanddulas on my birthday beggars belief. And I had to walk three miles home afterwards!’
In his review though Neil could see a potential, more in Dave than the band:
“…In drummer Dave Warburton, they have the making of someone who could play a pivotal and influential role in how the underground scene spans out.
The Cox are messy, under rehearsed (and that’s their CD!) and only 4 gigs into their promising career. They have so many songs that Wayne [The Bastard] suggested their set list would’ve been better written on a flip chart. In fact, their songs are so short and punchy that I went for a piss and they’d played another two by the time I’d given it 3 shakes!
In Lee [Leigh], The Cox have a great front man who is and looks the part with a guitar slung round his neck and a perfect stance, it’s of no surprise that the electric cut out 4 or 5 times during this onslaught of songs.”
The same month as the release of Nailbomb the Dancefloor came the album ‘The Full Length Cox’ which was smattered with politically bent subjects and a few personal attacks, including a pet hate of theirs, Jonny Lantern (of the Llandudno band Lantern) where they refer to him as an impotent nob-head who couldn’t make his girlfriend come! The exchanges went on and on between the two bands and, to the outsider were very entertaining. Dave describes their choice of subjects,
‘We write songs about whatever’s on our minds. We’ve got a few serious songs (about anti-BNP, anti-war, unity, education, failure etc) and a few funny songs (Nailbomb The Dancefloor, I Wanna Be Ron Jeremy, Itchy Pants, Whats The Point In Johnny? etc). In general our songs are about looking out for each other and doing what you want to do no matter what people say or do (and lobbin grenades in discos).’
On his spat with Lantern, and in particular with Jonny, Dave said,
‘I can be an arse wipe so I’m not that surprised when people slag me off and I know for certain that Lantern want me in a box. But, fair enough if people don’t like us or our music or whatever, cos everyone’s different, musical tastes and people’s personalities can clash. Basically, we don’t give a shit if people like us or don’t like us (musically or personally).’
Lantern had replied to What’s The Point in Johnny with their own Jonny’s Song but being a bit more grown up about it with the line: ‘you don’t know me, you don’t know a thing’ (although Dave and Jonny were in college together). And seeing a hornets nest buzzing to be broken Neil Crud asked Dave if he’d review a Lantern gig for his website. He did and wasn’t very complimentary,
‘Its hard to give an un-biased review because my hate for Johnny really makes me want to rip them completely.’
‘The Full Length Cox’ is a slab of 17 tracks of aggressive punk rock exactly how it should be played and showed they did have a conscience for the poor and needy, the country and as they’ll tell you, ‘we’re the voice of an angry youth and we will take no shit from you.’ Recorded this time at The Sty (which was probably Leigh’s house again, in August ’03, it was a pity they never mustered up the funds to make this sound in a proper recording studio as the songs showed true power. Anyone who can sing, ‘Blair is his [Bush’s] poodle, fucking arsehole let’s rip off his nuts,’ deserves to be heard! Dave confirmed this,
‘Yes, everything was recorded in Leigh’s house/garage but Ste thought it was be cooler if we said Sty Studios the sad cunt ha-ha!!’
By now The Cox were a serious force to be reckoned with, but it wasn’t all plain sailing to get to the point where the crowd were chanting songs such as Roxtar and Out of Darkness at their live performances, as Neil Crud pointed out in a review after seeing them in the Dudley in Oct ’03:
“I last saw The Cox on my birthday in 2001, like me, they were sloppy, disorganised and basically out for a laugh, my problem since then is that’s the image that has stuck with me for the last 2 years. I’ve not taken them seriously, it’s like remembering someone from school who was a complete arsehole, you expect them to be the same later in adult life, when invariably they’re not; except of course in my case.
The Cox, surprised and amazed me, expecting that same arsehole from school, I got instead a mature young adult who knew where he was going in life, not quite there but definitely on the right track. This is perhaps not the way to describe a gobbing punk band but The Cox are for sure serious about the way they’re going to have a laugh. With 1.30min punk songs that rip through a set that was too long for their own good, this 3 piece have set out their stall to assault your senses.”
When you’re actually the force behind the hugely successful Punk In Drublic nights held mainly in Rhyl you were going to have ample opportunity to play at as many shows as you could organise, and The Cox (being that force) popped up at almost every occasion, either on the bill or filling in last minute for non-appearing bands. Dave Cox explains,
‘Out of the eleven gigs we put on whilst we were together we only played five, and it would have been less if it wasn’t for the frustration of not being able to play anywhere else, but I do agree we were a bit selfish.’
Because of Leigh’s unwillingness to travel you were almost guaranteed to stumble upon a Cox gig in Rhyl, be it at The Dudley, the Crescent, the Morville and even the more conservative Bar Blu. When Dave was asked if The Breeding Ground had inspired him to take up the gig promoting reins he was pretty vocal,
‘I think the Dudley is a pretty nifty venue to have punk nights. It’s a dirty little pub with a tiny little stage and a low roof, there’s always a good atmosphere, what more do ya want? So it wasn’t the Breeding Ground that inspired us to start promoting punk nights. And in my opinion the Breeding Ground wasn’t even that good, it was just somewhere to go to watch a mediocre band and get drunk with all your mates. Apart from the odd one where there was a decent punk band playing. The last night of “The Stand” was the best, the bit where everyone started breakin’ stuff an goin’ mental was the best part, but we don’t encourage that at the Dudley, oh no! No seriously, don’t break stuff. To be fair though, you can’t please everyone and the DJ [Paul Hammond] at the Breeding Ground was trying to please everyone by playing a bit of everything and getting bands of all styles. It’s a lot easier doin’ punk nights in a little pub.’
Of course it couldn’t last forever and by March 2004 The Cox would play their final gig and it was what many would describe as one the best gigs seen in Rhyl for many years. They said it would be their last gig for a while as Steve was heading for further education and the bright lights and college scarves of Manchester University, but they soon disbanded. Thankfully that swansong was something to be remembered by as a packed out Dudley Arms greeted Rhyl’s local heroes (even though only Leigh actually lived in the town) who were opening for the equally impressive Dangerfields from Northern Ireland and the anarchic slapstick wizardry of Sheffield’s Dead Pets.
Steve Sync said of the gig,
‘They blasted out their first number, and what a fucking great noise it was, loud, powerful, a bollock churning wall of sound pissing over the solid mass of bodies in front of them. Every time I saw The Cox, they impressed me more and more, and they were getting better and better by the gig. They played a great set including everyone’s favourite Nailbomb The Dancefloor.’
In his review of that legendary night Neil Crud wrote:
“The Cox have developed into a crowd pulling, professional tub thumping excellent outfit, epitomised by a packed crowd singing all their songs. This shows if you are genuine, believe in what you do and are hard working, then the dividends do pay off. I’m trying to recall the last time I saw a local band have so much vocal support and probably have to go as far back as the Psychosexual Sex Terrestrials in their heyday (before they tried to be serious) to find anything near what we saw and felt tonight. I have a video of that PSST gig from 1992, the gig was just across the road at The Mermaid, the cameraman had to stand on a window ledge to avoid being battered by a crazed crowd, it was a great show and great fun. Tonight was one of those nights and they don’t happen that often; everyone was out for a good time and that’s what they got and that’s what its all about. Lets face facts, there’s no light show, projections, pyrotechnics or costume changes going on here, this is a punk rock gig in a grotty pub in a boarded up area of town. All there is on offer are loud guitars, excellent music and bags and bags of energy.”
The Cox split up in June 2004 having achieved what they set out to do, Leigh went into recording for Pigtown’s releases, while Dave and Steve teamed up with local punk photography student Milton and formed Boycott UK, who were supposed to make their first appearance supporting the UK Subs at The Morville in Sept ’04 but as Dave explained at the time,
‘We didn’t play that in the end cos there wasn’t enough time for us to play, but we did play a few gigs at the Dudley and once at the Penrhyn Old Hall supporting Munkey Shuffle and Bushcraft. None of us are really enjoying it that much and Ste isn’t around that often (cos of Uni) but we might do a gig or two in the summer.’