(taken from ‘This Patch of Land’)
With summer in full swing and the Blu nights into their third month, June 11th 2003 saw the billing of what would become ‘the big three’ in terms of pulling power. Gintis, Jives Room and Junebug were to be the big money spinners for the venue (although the bands were paid in beer vouchers, sometimes with great detriment to the music!).
Jives Room had sent me a demo earlier in the year and faced the legacy of their Tight Pussy song as I kept playing it on my podcast show; yes it was done for a laugh but it did stick until I saw them live for the first time.
‘I fuckin hate that song,’ seethes front man Kyle Lee. ‘We never did it; some fifteen-year-old numpty wrote it to piss his teachers off in high school. As for recording it, it should have never been done. But aren’t we a novelty band anyway? I mean we’ve got a ginger, a fat bassist, a Dave Grohl wannabe and the shoe gazers from Sonic Youth.’
They had already played a couple of chaotic early shows, one supporting Fudged in February 2003 in Prestatyn, where bassist Lewys was worse for alcoholic wear and vomited on stage, he threw his bass at Fudged’s Ben Jackson and ended up in hospital. The band carried on with the show with a stand in bassist; rumour has it Lewys needed his stomach pumping that night.
Jives Room initially started in Ysgol Glan Clwyd (High School in St Asaph/Llanelwy), as Kyle explains, ‘Wayne, Gwynn and Lewys thought it would be funny to start a band. I came back from Australia, realised I was the best guitarist in my school and told them they needed me. Luckily I was friends with them from primary school otherwise I’m sure Lewys would have knobbed me and the rest of the school would have laughed. Alun joined after the demise of Polythene, another Glan Clwyd triumph that never seems to get anywhere.’
A few months on and Jives Room felt good, their songs are well written and really well structured, even their version The Who’s My Generation was passable because they sent it off on a jam-out at the end, (did I tell you my Dad’s cousin was once married to the Who’s late John Entwistle?).
Kyle is a Welsh speaking Australian with the reddest curliest hair you’ve ever seen, he possesses rock star looks in that same odd looking kind of way that Thom Yorke and Gruff Rhys are no oil paintings! With the advent of these bands, Wednesday nights in Bar Blu were rocking!
Steve Sync (of link2wales) said in 2003 that Jives Room are the best live band in Rhyl at the moment. And he was probably right; because when they click (and they usually did), everything slots into place and bang, bang, bang – out come the well structured songs.
I asked Kyle how did they create such a great structural song formula. ‘I didn’t actually realise that we did until you just said. It’s safe to say I write the songs, however I ain’t gonna sell the others short. I write the lyrics and the chords, the others listen to it, fuck about and them turn it into something I could have never ever have dreamt up and then I add a bit of an Oasis solo over the top which usually gets overruled and taken out of the song. I hate trying to sound like another band but I usually try to stick to the Nirvana verse chorus verse structure and sometimes throw in a middle eight, but then other times I cant be arsed and just keep repeating the chorus until Gwynn can’t make up any more fills.’
This is a band with three guitarists – Wayne Jones, Alun Williams and Kyle, and at one gig they had to all be told to turn up after the opening song! Normally, with that many young egos competing (including Lewys Ball on bass and drummer Gwynn ‘Smotch’ Jones) you would expect a wall of sound, instead there is dynamism and style to the songs and delivery.
Although this may portray Jives Room as being a bit timid, like their early anarchic shows, there was always an occasional edge where things might just kick off, like guitars getting rammed through ceilings above the stage and (in complete contrast) refusing to turn down the volume.
This lead to bans from venues, but Kyle has, ‘No regrets. Wish I’d punched Carl [Gintis] when he sat on my face that time, and I wish I farted on Lewys when he got me on his shoulders, but apart from that I don’t give a fuck what happens. It’s good when you’re on stage and you just think of something and do it, but the leaf blower thing was planned. I’d like to say we’ve got more up our sleeves but we ain’t even got a gig up our sleeves.’
I’ve watched this band from their nervous beginnings and those old demos (Tight Pussy!) through to recording an Adam Walton Session [BBC Radio Wales] which, judging by their performances was a little too soon… as time added gusto to Jives Room, although Adam did rave that they were ‘full of the promise of good things to come, like a new box of prophylactics.’
Recorded at Sylem Studios in Betws-y-Coed, and produced by myself, it was aired on the radio on 1st February 2004. Stand out track is Spartacus Mills which is five minutes of jammed out glory way beyond their tender years.
Kyle hated the session, ‘It was shit, I didn’t listen to it until about two months ago when I realised what a great band we could have been. I had such a laugh that day, especially when Gwynn clogged up the shitter and left it in that woman’s house [Andrea from Melys]. Some knob [that was me] thought it would be good to shout “GO GO GO” towards the end of Sega/Tizer, which I now think was a complete mistake. I also really liked working with Gez [Sylem Studio’s resident engineer] although he didn’t appreciate my technical skills on said song where he referred to my pedal antics as “Who ever’s fuckin’ around with the space invaders, turn it down cos it sounds like shit!!!”
Kyle adds, ‘This was also Alun’s first ever recording with us and he and I both know he is capable of much more as he later demonstrated on other recordings.’
Despite these misgivings, Adam Walton was eager to do more for Jives Room, and eighteen months after that initial premature session, he put the word out that he’d like them to perform live on BBC Radio Wales as part of the poorly attended Big Buzz day from Rhyl in July 2005, but for whatever reasons the slots fell to Pipettes, David Wrench and The Heights, and despite being at Rhyl Town Hall, was attended by about twenty people and a dog.
University stretched the members to different parts of the country and although they still got together for the ‘Big Three’ line up gigs in Rhyl, Jives Room fizzled out. Although playing such exotic places like Newcastle unfortunately they did end up being almost exclusively a ‘Rhyl band.’
Kyle could also be found waxing lyrical with an acoustic guitar, taking over Dusty Moo’s opening slot at Blu from time to time, as well as guitaring for Gintis, whom he joined in April 2004, and later for Sona then The Mexican Walking Fish.
At the time of joining Gintis, I asked Kyle what the rest of Jives Room thought about this move, ‘Back in the heyday we were usually stoned so I don’t think they realised until last Tuesday. At the end of the day we all joined Jives Room as mates, we’re all still in Jives Room as mates. A lot of bands have been and gone before us and wrecked friendships along the way. Some of the others have joined other bands and Alun’s side project is fucking beyond this world, but we all support one and other and appreciate that there is more to the music world than the music we create as a five piece.’