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A week by week personal diary by Jarrad

7th June 2010


Today I woke up to the devestating news that Stuart Cable has passed away.

Growing up as a young musician in the valleys Stuart was a truly inspirational figure, a person who not only had a musical career but also a media career, a person I aspired to be like.

The first time I met Stuart was at Aberdare Road Races, I was with my father who happened to know him much to my shock – to a 16 year old who loved the Stereophonics it was earth shattering to think your Dad knew a rockstar!

Stuart never forgot a face, he always made time to say hello to me if we saw each other out and about, often at gigs or musicians events. He was one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet, always in a good mood and willing to help out in any way he could; he was instrumental in the setup of Amped – providing me with my first interview at the drop of a hat.

I thank him for everything he did for the Welsh music scene, he went beyond the call of duty and did everything with a smile on his face – I’m honoured to call him a friend, Rest in peace Stuart, Wales is a poorer place without you.

30th May 2010

Well Amped readers, this is my first diary update in a long while! I’ve been on part-time Amped duty due to my rather hefty University workload.
However, update time… on the 5th May I was priviledged to witness the one and only KISS live in the UK for the first time in 11 years.

What can I possibly say about the ‘Hottest Band In the World’ that hasn’t already been said? Rock n Roll icons Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have been on the road breathing fire, spitting blood and blowing audiences away for the past 35 years and show no signs of slowing down. The elder statesmen of rock are still putting on the greatest show on earth, culminating in 2 hours of explosive rock n roll glory.

Both Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer fit seemlessly into the KISS fold, Singer a long standing on/off member of the band joined by Thayer, the latest in a long line of KISS axeman. As a long standing Ace Frehley lover I can hand on heart say I was sceptacle on Thayer’s membership, but my doubts were well and truly put to rest!
With a fire fuelled show including such highlights as Deuce, Love Gun, Crazy Crazy Nights, God Gave Rock N Roll To You, Rock N Roll All Nite and their latest anthem Modern Day Delilah this was a show that left every KISS fan craving more!
We wanted the best… We got the best!

7th April 2010

“At some of the really big outdoor shows we have had to warn local airports not to send planes overhead because the fireworks can go up 500 feet.”

Gene Simmons on the latest KISS tour – yet more evidence that those of us who are lucky enough to have a ticket are in for the best tour of the year, Only 4 weeks to go!

I was shocked in the best possible way to hear that Motley legend Mick Mars, has joined the newly reformed Murderdolls in the studio. I hope (however unlikely it is) that Mr Mars will be joining them on tour, it would be a thrill to see The Murderdolls anyway let alone joined by a quarter of Motley Crue.

I’ll leave you this week with one of the most bizarre yet genius cover versions I’ve ever heard – Rock Sugar with Don’t Stop the Sandman.

2nd April 2010

“A sad day when you decided to go, I understand or at least I think so”

The words of the great Adequate Seven, from their single ‘Splitting Up’. A7 were a band that died on the cusp of a great time in Welsh music.

2006 was a grand year, the likes of The Blackout, Kids in Glass Houses and The Guns were circulating in the local scene at the now legendary grassroots venues – Studio Bar, Toms, The Windsor etc.

I was 18 at the time, and every weekend I’d find myself in the deshevelled but beautiful surroundings of the Studio Bar in Merthyr. Friday and Saturday nights were incredible, seeing a different set of bands every week each bringing their own fresh and invigorating sound with them. Sadly it’s something that I and many others took for granted.

Every Thursday night I’d tune into ‘The Guestlist’, Wales’s very own Top of the Pops for the rock scene. It was presented by Colin, lead singer of The New 1920 and showcased the latest and greatest acts to emerge from this prolific local scene. A show that was testemant to the breeding ground of talent South Wales was.

Come 2007 and the Full Ponty was the living embodiement of everything great about Welsh music. It was essentially like a night out in the Studio bar save for the likes of Paramore, Silverstein and of course Lostprophets. Sadly this proved to be a pinnacle which slowly turned into a swandive.

Following the indefinite hiatus of the Full Ponty we said goodbye to The Guestlist, and in turn goodbye to many of our grassroots venues.

On reflection I guess we took our scene for granted, and as the old saying goes “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”

It’s sad that this time 3 years ago I was looking forward to a festival that no longer exists. I hope that the organisers see sense to re-instate it soon and kickstart the local scene again.

25th March 2010

So apart from borderline dying this week (stomach bugs aren’t pretty) it’s been a quiet one musically – however, Kids In Glass Houses’ new album ‘The Dirt’ has been released for your streaming pleasure on Myspace.

‘The Dirt’ sees Kids return with a more developed sound, they’ve honed their songwriting yet again. The album is sure to delight existing fans and pick up new fans along the way. I for one look forward to hearing the new tracks live.

16th March 2010

Bit of an early update this week. As I wrote on Sunday I’m sad to say that John Sicolo, proprieter of the legendary TJs in Newport has passed away. John was a lovely bloke, always gave bands a chance and put on some shows that on reflection are unfathomable, with the likes of Green Day and the Manics played there on their rise to international stardom.

Foreign Legion - Photograph by Colin Scott

Even I played at TJs, twice, back when I was the bass player for veteran valleys punk band Foreign Legion. The band was a mainstay on the South Wales gigging circuit with a loyal following, least of all Colin ‘Cream of the Crop’ Scott who went beyond the call of duty (incidentally he writes one of the best punk fanzines in the UK, if not the world – www.myspace.com/creamcropzinelabel) .

Myself and Charlie Harper in the backroom at TJs - Photograph by Gigsniper

My first TJs show was in support of the UK Subs, a band which I’m proud to call my friends – it’s a strange thing being able to count Charlie Harper, the very definition of punk rock, as one of your mates.

Getting up close and personal at TJs - Photograph by Gigsniper

Getting up close and personal at TJs - Photograph by Gigsniper

The actual show was a blur, a noisy, sweaty, energetic blur. I remember a lot of pogoing which ended in me climbing the PA speakers for the last song and jumping into the front row of the crowd, ironically those at the front had invaded the stage.

Giving it both barrels at TJs - Photograph by Colin Scott

I returned to TJs a few months later to support the Anti-Nowhere League, it was a show that really showcased the diversity of the clubs audience. There were punks, bikers, rockabillies and metalheads all there to witness the chaos onstage. It was a typically in your face TJs show, including the obligatory stage invasion.

I’m also proud to say that I’ve worked on the door, just the once. The Guns were playing a show in the middle of August and I was put in the infamous booth to stamp the punters hands… and there were a lot of hands! The show was ram packed and some recognisable faces were about – Sean Smith / Matthew Davies from The Blackout and Lee Dainton from Dirty Sanchez to name but a few.

I’m sure your could write a book on people’s memories, add the photos and you could probably write an Anthology. I just hope that this isn’t the final chapter for TJs.

12th March 2010

Another crazy week, University is really taking its toll on me lately. We’ve got a new website launched over at http://mycardiff.wordpress.com so a lot of my time is being used to write/produce material for that.

I spent a lot of this week listening to Paul Stanley’s new(ish) solo album Live To Win (Can’t you just tell I’m eagerly anticipating this KISS tour in May?). Paul’s personality really shines through on this album, leaving his Starchild persona behind and producing a really mature and classic sounding effort. Live to Win sounds like something Bon Jovi would’ve written, but with a definite Stanley vibe. It was a bit of an overlooked album when it was released, Paul did a low profile tour in support and only the KISS hardcore took note. If you’re reading this and like old school sounds with a modern vibe definitely check it out – I promise even if you’re not a fan of KISS you’ll enjoy it.

Dressed to Kill - 20 years of Rock n Rolling all night and partying every day!

On a related note, congratulations to my friends Dressed to Kill – the World’s longest running and number 1 KISS tribute. They’re celebrating 20 years together in style and have recently been endorsed by Cort guitars, Gary (Gene) is now playing the official Gene Simmons Axe Bass – what a lucky guy!

4th March 2010

Bit of a late entry this week, it’s been a hectic one! So this week we said goodbye to February and hello to March, with March came my birthday and day one of my work placement at Media Wales. I was immediately welcomed at the Media Wales office and have began working with some fantastic individuals – I’ve got a few musically related things to be getting on with which is pretty exciting!
Also this week KISS played the Islington Academy(ask anyone who knows of my existance and they will tell you I’m just a little into the makeup clad rock gods) and I would have done literally anything to get into the 500 capacity show. Unfortunately due to University commitments and the show selling out in half an hour I was unable to witness this once in a lifetime experience – just look at the video below, I bet the people at the front could see the beads of sweat dripping down Gene’s brow.

23rd February 2010
This week has been incredibly stressful, what with chasing individuals to interview for my University work and trying to find some relevant research materials for my dreaded dissertation!

"GIVE ME SOMETHING TO BREAK!" - Singing a classic Limp Bizkit cover with Signal:Fire

Amongst the agony of academia I enjoyed a brief evening of elation when I visited the newly re-opened Pop Factory in Porth to sample the delights of The Missive and Signal:Fire. As per usual The Missive played a polished energetic set, managing to include a cheeky cover of Ke$ha’s smash hit ‘Tik Tok’. Signal:Fire were equally entertaining, and even invited me onstage to help them sing a rendition of ‘Break Stuff’ and ‘Faith’ by Limp Bizkit.

Later on this week I was shocked and disappointed to find out that Richie Hevanz will be leaving Heavens Basement. I first saw Heavens Basement about 4 years ago under their then guise of Roadstar, they have always proven to be an excellent live act and have songs that wouldn’t be out of place in the back catalogue of many a seasoned veteran. Thankfully the band will go on, albeit with a new voice at the helm. I wish Richie the best and hope the boys find someone worthy of filling his shoes.

Finally I spent my train ride home today listening to ‘The Holy Bible’ by Manic Street Preachers. It’s an album that never fails to amaze me, a melancholic masterpiece. It’s hard to believe that it was released 15 years ago, it still sounds so fresh and ground breaking. Here’s to you, Richard James Edwards!

15th February 2010
Dear reader, when I say the word ‘guitar’ what do you think of? The sleek lines of a Gibson? The practical workhorse that is a Fender? or maybe even the strikingly pointy designs of Jackson, Dean or BC Rich? All these famous names have one thing in common, they’re all American. Well now Wales has it’s very own offering in the worldwide guitar stakes.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of visiting the workshop of Tim Ellis, a luthier from Dinas Powys. His modest workshop is nestled in a quiet unassuming part of the village – about as far removed from Rock n Roll as you can imagine.
Inside a 3 man team are hard at work assembling and setting up a variety of axes, from solid body metal machines to hollow body beauties. The walls are lined with sleek looking guitars, Tim’s take on some classic designs; single cuts, t-styles and v’s amongst others.

Jarrad with a prototype Lemmy guitar and bass

Tim has established quite a reputation and has guitars that are currently being used by Reverend Horton Heat and Phil Campbell of Motorhead. He is also working on a bass for the one and only Lemmy – who was also the inspiration for a limited edition 6 string. Being a seasoned guitar geek I couldn’t resist giving them a run.

I can honestly say that these guitars compete with the best, I’ve played a lot of guitars and these guitars are as good as if not better than the likes of Gibson and PRS, especially when you factor in the modest price tag and incredible spec – a typical singlecut comes with a mahogany body, ebony fretboard and bareknuckle pickups! It’s a LOT of guitar for the money.

http://www.tcellisguitars.com

10th February 2010
Almost forgot to write this week’s entry – It’s been a busy one!
First of all a warm Amped welcome to Raychel ‘Hellraiser’ Harris who’s had her first article published (it’s from December, backdated on the blog for your reading pleasure). Expect more from our answer to Vanessa Warwick (how many of you guys remember HER?)
The new HIM album was released this week – anyone who knows me will tell you how much I like said band. Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice is an absolute blinder of an album, accurately described by Ville Valo as a combination of hair metal and 80s pop. I strongly suggest a listen, have a taster – Heartkiller.

Today I bumped into an old friend of mine called Pete – I did part of my BA with him. Excitingly he’s starting up a brand new night in Cardiff for Unsigned bands. The good news is it’s going to provide a platform for talented new bands and it won’t cost a penny for you to check them out! More news on that as it happens.

2nd February 2010.

An old photograph - I'm wearing my favourite biker jacket with Richey James's tattoo painted on the arm

Yesterday was a significant day for me, it was the anniversary of a musical icon, a personal hero. 15 years ago Richey James Edwards went missing, 1/4 of the Manic Street Preachers and every year I remember his genius. Richey was an inspiration to me on many levels and without the Manics I doubt I’d have developed a passion for rock music. I tend to remember Richey every year, play his music and try to do something positive in his vain.
On this significant date I recieved an email from a large promotions company. The site had been suggested to them and they requested I cover their shows. Needless to say I was excited by this prospect and agreed. Keep your eyes on Amped through 2010, it’s going to be a very exciting year!

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