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“The point … good question … to explain too much, to dissect rock and roll, to question everything … this is not good! We gotta keep it a secret that everybody can have … the only point is what it means to you … or how it makes u feel … make it your own manifesto …”

Kelson Mathias Ah Ammanford…..the original ‘sin city’, ‘the big smoke’, ‘an ewok village on crack’ (Rod’s made that one up not me)….what can I say…..it was like most post-mining pre-internet appendages off the south west Wales section of the M4 during the mid to late 90’s…. fucking boring.

Apart from drinking and smoking, the only other activities included walking everywhere in the rain, mainly to find shelter so you could drink and smoke.

We all met at school in Ammanford, where I guess like most schools, if you were good at stuff they pushed you….if you weren’t then they pushed you aside. Myself and Rods were in the same class and bonded over a love of comics initially…then bondage. A few years into school life, I found out Rods and a gang of friends started a band called ‘septic eyeballs‘, they drew comic strips at lunch time in the library and everything! The ‘eyeballs’ had like 15 members and basically included everyone in school that was shite at sports, wore orthodontic appliances, and looked different to everyone else.

“The announcer for the bands couldn’t for the life of him remember what they were called. He kept saying ‘the name of the next band is……’ ‘umm the name of the next band is…..’ over and over. So Rods (generally a quite guy in the classroom) took the mic and shouted ‘the name of this band is JARCREW’.”

After a few more years had past, I randomly went out to a rugby club in Ammanford which was holding a ‘battle of the bands’ night….after witnessing some truly fucking horrid indie lame ‘cast/ocean colour scene-esque’ piss…I watch Rods along with Rich, Tom and Ben take to the stage….the announcer for the bands couldn’t for the life of him remember what they were called. He kept saying ‘the name of the next band is……’ ‘umm the name of the next band is…..’ over and over. So Rods (generally a quite guy in the classroom) took the mic and shouted ‘the name of this band is JARCREW’.

I stood there with wide eyes and open mouth as they played fast punk-ish songs that blew me away. Every other band that night was playing downbeat, melancholy, middle of the road tunes, while guys from my school/class played warp-speed songs with titles like ‘I dream of skulls’. I wasn’t 100% sure what I witnessed but I knew I wanted to see more.

The following week I traveled with another friend to see them play at another horrid battle of the bands type gig, with, as you guessed it ….loads of shitty 90’s indie band wagon stench….I waited and waited and chain-smoked my way through the bile of audio that was spewed my way until the boys took to the stage…And that’s right……..they were fucking awful!

Rods was blind drunk as he hated waiting ages to play so decided drinking ‘worthington cream-flow’ would speed things up. During a song called ‘smoked salmon’ he sang over a beat played via a keyboard that he ordered from a Kays catalogue and unfortunately/fortunately he fell off stage.

After that memorable evening I asked if they would like to practice at my parents house.

That was in 1998…

…and I’ve still made no money.

As a band the influences were all over the shop, not just music but film, comics, TV, art etc. Everyone brought different ideas and nobody really played the policeman and said ‘no’…so everything went into the songs…….like everything. As a band we never wrote for an audience….mainly due to the fact that there was never anyone watching us! I believed at the time that if we just kept practicing and playing live…people would just surely follow. That was 1998…and I’m still waiting.

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I think we stole a few guitar leads and maybe a tuner pedal once……Rods tried to steal a floor tom from school and failed. I think we used that lyric and tagline on t-shirts to add mystery…..that was in 1998 and….

“As a band the influences were all over the shop, not just music but film, comics, TV, art etc. Everyone brought different ideas and nobody really played the policeman and said ‘no’…so everything went into the songs…….like everything.”

We recorded Deathcar around that time I think, it was the first time we (as a 5 piece) went into the studio….along with a few other songs (opakow [played on Radio 1], bill carson [which we still play]). It’s the first song I ever sang and recorded, I remember as I was hungover…..hence the reason I sound like a fat James Hetfield.

The whole sample thing was Rods, we were all big fans of Beastie Boys and early hip-hop records….Rods basically recorded stuff from films, TV, conversations at pubs etc…It’s funny, myself and Hywel are currently moving all the old samples from minidisc to an actual sampler for these shows in November……listening to all the random stuff Rods has recorded is literally bending our brains, we just heard the theme song for ‘cheers’.

We had a keyboard (previously mentioned Kays catalogue classic) made by casio called the ‘DJX’ and it had a ribbon bender which Rods would randomly assault…he then looped it for ‘Komputer’.

[The thrash track on ‘breakdance’, just before ‘money shot’] That was actually Rich (Spud) singing. It was an old recorded practice which happened in Rod’s aunty’s shed around 1997 I think. A few things like that appear on the record, for example the ‘Hey Barbarella’ bit before ‘Bill Carson’, was me and Rods jamming in his bedroom, played on a crappy guitar and combo amp.

We always wanted to look the same on stage, playing in our normal clothes looked basically cheap and nasty……mainly because our clothes were cheap and nasty. We wanted to look like a gang….like the ‘Warriors’ but crapper. We originally wore white laboratory coats, then boiler suits (pre-slipknot), then the red shirt/tie combo (post-kraftwork), then all black (pre/post every band) then during a visit to a military store (as you do) we settled on the jumpers…..can’t remember where the skulls came from? And yes….they were horrid to play in…and they stank…badly…..

I think we were just excited that people were actually at a show….We’d played so many shows at that point to tables and chairs that the sheer prospect of playing an actual gig tipped us over the edge. We never intentionally made it into a performance, that naturally happened over time and the band grew in confidence and ability.

James McDonald Any memories from touring? Travelling with Biffy, or Million Dead?

Kelson Mathias Yeah….we blew them away……all of them.

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Breakdance Euphoria Kids

jarcrewGoodwin Sands
Unreleased Demo
2002


I think in total it took us maybe a week to record? It was recorded in Pembroke in the nice clean studio, run by this really friendly (but slightly fucking scary) German dude who hated mess. We went together like carrots and dog shit. I have great memories of the entire experience and I’m still super proud of that record. I’m totally biased but I still think it sounds a little ahead of its time, not that that was the plan. I prefer the original low-fi version as I think it sounds like ‘Pavement’ getting it wrong.

‘sad french death metal’ and ‘boy wonda’ were recorded in a separate session in the same studio, but only four of us were able to make it….Rich and Tom were in full-time University at the time and unfortunately Tom was unable to be there. I don’t think we recorded any other songs during that session, however a track was left off the album from the original session called ‘Goodwin Sands’…

When we signed to Gut, we had some songs for the second album ready, waiting to be recorded. It was the label’s idea to re-release/mix ‘breakdance’ as they believed it needed a bigger push etc. As a band we didn’t feel that move was needed as we were super happy with the original recording. The only benefit I guess was that release enabled us to tour the UK both headlining and supporting.

“Why would you sign a band on the basis of the first album when we had an eight minute instrumental song about a fictional cowboy?”

The ‘cool hair’ bit Rods was uncomfortable with so it was lost, other changes were made by us, generally attempting to make it sound bigger/better. Only half was altered as we felt the original mixes were essentially fine, like I say…..not our idea to remix.

[The ‘second album’] wasn’t all recorded, we’d been playing new stuff and jamming ideas for the years following ‘breakdance’, I guess the main fundamental problem was the label didn’t really get what Jarcrew were about….We gave them numerous recordings of songs which we felt showed not only a progression but also better song writing ability, using the same weird method but with better hooks. For them I guess they wanted 15 versions of ‘Paris and the new math’?

Why would you sign a band on the basis of the first album when we had an eight minute instrumental song about a fictional cowboy?

It was a shame as I think it took the shine away from us as individuals, and started the beginning of the end.

The recordings are still around on individual laptops and minidisc etc…..we have muted the idea of recording it from scratch and one day releasing it….but life is busy….it took me 5 weeks to answer these questions (much to the annoyance of the interviewer![1]).

As a band we would have 19 different versions of the same song…we could never finish a song for some reason….I blame ADHD.

The voicemail at the end of the Gut LP, that was an actual message left on Rod’s house phone…

…I have no other answers…

…I hate it…

…it scares me shitless.

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[1] Sorry – JM.

Jarcrew play their first show in a decade at a benefit gig for Le Pub in Newport on November 8th, complimenting Mclusky. A week later they hit Clwb Ifor Bach.