Simon Wells Interview #2: Touring The Soviet Union with Snuff in the 1980s

Article by Sarah Williams.

Last year, I was lucky enough to share a pizza and a pint with Simon Wells. In Part One of this interview he gave us the full, colourful history of Southport, going on to explain how his experiences in that band shaped his more mellow solo album Crime Of The Scene.

Many things could be said about Simon, but no one can deny that he’s an exceptionally captivating storyteller. He had an endless heap of anecdotes and entertaining namedrops for us.

I remember meeting Fat Mike and telling him, “The Longest Line is my favourite song.” Mike said, “We were pretending to be Snuff in the studio when we wrote that song!” We both stepped back and I said, “This conversation has gone really weird – I kinda liked it when you were pretending to be me. This is quite bizarre.”

Simon is well known as a founding member of legendary British punks Snuff. Early on in our conversation, Simon realised that when I was born (in 1989) he was already well into his punk career. Snuff Said had just been released and he was touring Europe with the original incarnation of the band: Duncan Redmonds and Andrew Crighton. Here he tells us some genuinely fascinating tales about his experiences of touring the Soviet Union before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

So, Simon… while I was being born, you were in Germany watching the Berlin Wall coming down?

Simon: Actually the story peters out quite badly after that initial ‘you were in Berlin when the wall was coming down’ part! We didn’t actually leave the bar we were in. We were just drinking all night with the US band Victim’s Family.

Were you aware that it was happening?

Yeah, the guy at the bar kept telling us people were going crazy outside. We went out when it was dawn, I believe, and just laid around in the road because we were so drunk.

I do remember touring the Eastern Bloc before the wall was torn down. It was before the EU –  tours in those days were 3 months with 3-5 days off. If you were going out on those tours you’d make lots of money in Germany, France, Holland, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden. The penance for making all that money was that the tour operator would make you go to the Eastern Bloc as a cultural thing. That was the biggest eye opener. Continue reading “Simon Wells Interview #2: Touring The Soviet Union with Snuff in the 1980s”

Simon Wells Interview #1: Southport’s Colourful History and How His Solo Career Grew From It

As a founding member of Snuff and Southport, Simon Wells’ has a world of music experience. He shared it with Shout Louder in this two-part interview.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Simon Wells is a man with a colourful musical history, but he was particularly busy in 2017. He released his first solo album on July 1st, celebrating by playing a release show at Wonkfest. Crime of The Scene is a real divergence to much of his previous material. It’s mostly acoustic with piano throughout, allowing his voice and his lyrics to really shine. It’s gentler and more soulful but there’s still plenty for old punks to enjoy.

Simon’s better known for being a founding member of British punk legends Snuff, recording Snuff Said and Reach with them in 1989 and 1992 respectively, and touring the world with them in their early heyday. After a break, he went on to form Southport: the renowned mod/punk/soul act who’ve had a revolving door of members from different 90s punk bands over the years. Nowadays he’s based down in Hastings, but often pops up playing acoustic sets around the country.

Last year, I met Simon over vegan pizza and a couple of pints. I hadn’t really planned to interview him, so I went in without an agenda apart from wanting to find out more about how his solo album had come to be created. Crime of The Scene, although very different to Simon’s other material, will definitely appeal to old Southport and Snuff fans. There are a handful of reworked songs from both bands, plus new tracks like All At Sea.

In talking to Simon it quickly became clear that Southport’s history was essential to understanding how Crime of The Scene came into being. So when he asked me this, I leapt at the chance to hear more:

“Have I ever told you the story of how Southport started?”

Simon: There was this local pub where I was living in Headstone Lane. It was an Irish pub called O’Flaherty’s in North Harrow – it was an old converted shop. There was a fella who used to sit next to me called Pat. And he had two mates, both called Pat – it was that sort of bar. I sat next to Pat drinking probably every other night for a year; we’d sit there in silence, drink four or five pints each and go home. As you went home you’d acknowledge each other, and that would be it.

After literally a year of drinking next to each other in the pub, Pat said to me, “Did you used to play in a band? Did you used to play in Snuff?” I said yeah. He says, “My nephew plays the drums. You should have a jam with him one day.”

So about three weeks later this 16 year old kid covered in acne, really tall, really thin, wearing a Nirvana t-shirt that was 15 times too big for him walks into O’Flaherty’s. “Are you Simon? I’m Dom. Pat’s my uncle. He said you wanted to have a jam.” Continue reading “Simon Wells Interview #1: Southport’s Colourful History and How His Solo Career Grew From It”

Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017

Shout Louder’s selection of the most raucous punk get-togethers in the UK and further afield.

Article by Sarah Williams.

The only thing better than an all-day punk show is multiple days of punk shows. Festivals are undoubtedly the most important part of my year. You get to see your favourite bands, discover new ones and if it’s a bigger event there’s a good chance that your friends will travel from far and wide to party together. I love how punks from around the UK are drawn to gigs like Manchester Punk Festival or Wonkfest like a big punk rock Mecca; there’s nothing better than weekends spent watching bands, catching up and crashing on mates’ floors.

Admittedly, I’ve only been to a handful of major festivals this year. This Top 5 is intended to be a personal and somewhat self-indulgent recollection of my favourite bigger events of 2017. Hopefully reading it will bring back some positive memories for you too.

#5: Wotsit Called Fest

  • When: September 29th – 30th
  • Where: The Palace, Hastings
  • Festival Highlight: Matilda’s Scoundrels’ riotous set

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2017 saw the second Wotsit Called Festival – a little DIY fest run by a collective in Hastings. It was a wonderful weekend away by the seaside, without a dull moment musically.

Friday was the huge party, serving as Matilda’s Scoundrels‘ release show for As The Tide Turns. They played an absolutley storming set full of dancing, crowd-surfing, human pyramids and all that malarkey. Following them were Nosebleed who caused their usual well-dressed ruckus, including a stage-invasion, getting out into the crowd and generally causing chaos. Getting to witness two of the UK’s best live acts all in one place in such an intimate setting was really rewarding.

The diversity of the line-up was what bumped Wotsit Called into the Top 5 for me. I greatly enjoyed starting the day with some skiffle covers, followed by melodic gruff from The Dead Anyways and then gradually descending into the entropy of Riggots via PizzatrampNatterers and The Crash Mats, among many others. This is still a relatively small punk gathering, but definitely one to watch for next year.

Check out our reviews here: Friday and Saturday.

 

#4: Wonkfest

  • When:  June 1st 2018
  • Where: Tufnell Park Dome and The Boston Arms, London
  • Festival Highlight: The raucous Pizzatramp pit

Wonkfest.jpg

At the start of Wonkfest I was joking with a friend that it might be funny to find the drunkest person at the festival at attempt to interview them. Later in the evening, I reached the unfortunate conclusion that the drunkest person at the festival may actually be me. As such, my memory of the headline bands is a tad hazy (Wonk Unit played, right?) and on the way home I fell backwards over my own bicycle and got trapped in a hedge for ten minutes. I’m not proud, but I did greatly enjoy waking up bruised, broken and covered in gold glitter. In hindsight, perhaps drinking vodka on the train at 9.30am wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.

Although it’s the drunken debauchery that will stick in my memory, the festival itself was as fantastic as it is every year. The gig is split between two stages, running 20 minute sets back-to-back with few breaks. It’s a format that works well, although you do have to skip a band if you want to eat, smoke or drunkenly make out with someone. Matilda’s Scoundrels opened the show with an aggro-folk riot, Spoilers were the closest things to Snuff that you’re going to find apart, perhaps, from Simon Wells playing a sweet acoustic set downstairs. Nova Twins were my highlight for the second year running; they’ve got an unprecedented amount of swagger. Aerial Salad and The Kimberly Steaks played exciting and energetic sets, between them managing to be so close to early Greenday that I felt justified in jeering at all the people paying to watch Greenday at Hyde Park the same night. Finally, the pit for Pizzatramp was one of the most wonderful, enjoyably violent experiences I’ve had all year. We got a huge rowboat, people crowd-surfing on inflatable pizza slices and general elbow-dodging chaos. What an incredible rollercoaster of punk fun. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017”