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”

Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part 4: Friday – The Big One!

The final dose of my PRH adventure, featuring 13 hours of bands, lot of crowdsurfing, and some inappropriate jokes about how much I enjoy Propagandhi.

Article by Sarah Williams.

The final instalment is here! And it doesn’t get better than this line-up.

If you’ve only just stumbled upon the review, make sure you also check out:

Kid Crowdsurfing Punk Rock Holiday

Friday

  • Mainstage Highlight: Propagandhi (duh)
  • Beach Stage Highlight: La Armada / Darko
  • Cover of the Day: Straightline – Boom Boom Boom Boom!!

On Friday morning I wake to discover a small lake forming at the front of the tent. Luckily the dam I built with sullied clothes has kept it at bay and, in fact, it’s evaporated a little in the heat. We venture out of the campsite to a makeshift bar on the roadside, starting the day with battery-acid €1 coffee and Slovenian schnapps called Unicorn Tears. It beats an alarm clock.

Friday is the big one. Although the rest of the week has been fun, there’s not a single band on today’s line-up that I’m willing to miss. The Beach Stage is a Lockjaw Records extravaganza of heavy, technical chaos, and the evening bill is knicker-moisteningly intense: 88 Fingers Louie, Snuff and Propagandhi. Propa-fucking-gandhi! Ask anyone earlier in the week who they’re looking forward to seeing: the answer is always Propagandhi. I’m worried I may die from excitement. Or alcohol poisoning.

Sat at the roadside bar we can hear ominous ripplings of thunder from over the hills, and the skies open once again. I grab another tongue-melting coffee and wait for the storm to pass, knowing that I’m going to need to bail the tent out again.

Amusingly, when the rain lets up, I notice a few people roaming around the campsite, foraging for rubbish. Garbage is a valuable commodity at PRH. You pay €10 on entry that’s returned when you hand in a full trash bag: a system so efficient that it’s a challenge to find enough litter to reclaim your deposit. The €1 cup-deposit scheme also means there’s not a single cup to be found on the ground (the complete opposite of many English festivals). On the last day we wind up optimistically searching bins for discarded cups, just to reclaim out deposits – that’s how clean it is!

Beach Friday Punk Rock Holiday

I get down to the Beach Stage early and listen to Corbillard sound checking while dipping my toes in the glacial water. The beach is quiet, with a light mist rising from the river. The water’s no longer clear because the storm has shaken up the silt overnight. As the singer ‘one-two-one-two’s into the mic it booms madly around the mountains, making the strangest echo.  Continue reading “Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part 4: Friday – The Big One!”

Gig Review: Snuff @ The Underworld (19/05/2017)

UK punk legends Snuff with Youth Man and Not Tonight & The Headaches in Camden’s favourite basement.

At 28 years old, it’s entirely possible that I’m the youngest person in the room for tonight’s Snuff show, but you wouldn’t know it from the sheer energy and enthusiasm buzzing through the audience. Down the front I’m rubbing elbows with greying, toothless punks who no doubt know a great deal more about being in a pit that I ever will. While waiting for the band to come on, I get chatting to a guy who is at least 20 years my senior, who is lamenting the fact he wasn’t around to have caught Snuff when they first formed in the late ‘80s. He assures me that it doesn’t matter how long it took you to discover the band, what matters is that you’re here now and you’re ready to throw down.

And throw down we do: enthralled as ever by the magnetism of the mosh pit (why is it so appealing to leap into a brawl of sweaty strangers?) I find myself dancing, jumping and wrestling my way through a high-octane set of shout-along classics, danceable instrumental romps and rarities from Snuff’s extensive back-catalogue.

Continue reading “Gig Review: Snuff @ The Underworld (19/05/2017)”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need to See in May

The best ways to fill your ears and empty your wallet this month.

One week in and May has already proved itself as a killer month with a new release from Gnarwolves and the news that Lightyear are permanently reforming (yes, I did just wet myself a little).

We’ve also been blessed with a flurry of pre/post-Groezrock shows from international headliners like Deftones, Choking Victim and Thrice, although there were a few notable absences (Red City Radio have some serious explaining to do).

The summer season is just kicking in so there’s plenty to look forward to: pre-drinking in parks rather than over-priced bars, getting blinded by sunlight when emerging for a cigarette between bands, and your sweat-and-beer-soaked shirt not immediately turning to ice on the walk home.

Here are the gigs you don’t want to miss in May:

Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need to See in May”