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A Bug’s Life: Getting to know Wales’ cult pop stars

11 Oct 2023 4 minute read
The Bug Club (Credit: Adam Whitmore)

Christopher Evans

Hailing from the small town of Caldicot, The Bug Club have been chipping away and honing their kooky and hooky pop-rock songs since 2016, gaining many admirers in the process.

Championed by the likes of Marc Riley and Adam Walton, in 2021 they also played a live session for the late, great, Janice Long.

Their uplifting pop-grunge-rock sound and quirky lyrics have seen the Welsh three-piece gain a cult following.

Prolific in their output, the band have released three albums in just two years, Pure Particles, Green Dream in F#, and their live album Mr Anyway’s Holey Spirits Perform! One Foot in Bethlehem.

Not a band to rest on their laurels, on top of countless EP’s and singles, the band are also set to release a new album at the end of the month entitled Rare Birds: Hour of Song.

They are currently touring (as they do relentlessly) and are set to play Newport’s legendary Le Pub tonight.

Before the gig, bass player and co-singer Tilly Harris answered some questions for Nation.Cymru in her typically irreverent and jocular manner.

Tell us a bit about your backgrounds, Tilly.

Hello! I’m Tilly. I’m an Aquarius birthed in Newport, south Wales. I started learning flute when I was a nipper, then moved onto Saxophone, then guitar, then eventually got promoted to bass in about 2017.

Sam’s (Sam Willmett, guitar and vocals) a Sagittarius birthed in Cardiff and has been playing guitar since Michael Finnegan hit the charts.

Dan’s (Dan Matthews, drums) a Scorpio born in Birmingham and has been hitting the tubs since he realised a drum set came with a free chair!

When did you start playing together?

Well, me and Sam met in school at about 15 and have been playing together since. Dan and Sam met at university and joined the ranks a year or so after that.

Who are some of your musical influences and/or inspirations?

It changes of course, but our constant faves are Patti Smith, Jonathan Richman, Daniel Johnston, Fanny, Mike Bloomfield, Violent Femmes, amongst others.

At the moment we can’t stop listening to Naked If I Want To by Moby Grape, and Mountains High by Joanna Sternberg.

How would you describe your sound?

Rough and ready and down to shake. The kind of music you wanna chaotically roll down a freshly cut grassy hill on a summer’s day with a wheel of cheese in tow.

Where does the name The Bug Club come from?

It came from Sam’s older brother and his friends when they were in primary school. He’s big into Steve Irwin but he couldn’t find any lizards or crocs in the welsh school fields, so bugs had to do.

Do you feel part of any scene? Or any Welsh music scene for that matter?

I don’t know. We’re just doing our thing and we’re making friends along the way.

Favourite venues you have played?

Le Pub holds a special place in our hearts, being our local venue. It’s extremely well run and the quality of acts passing through shows that there’s a lot of love knocking around for Le Pub.

Brudenell Social Club tells a similar story. Big love to Nath!

Are there any Welsh bands/artists that excite you at the moment?

There’s lots! Our pal, Tom Rees who produces us to make us sound like a legit band with coherent songs is in Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. There is an album coming out soon which is very exciting.

Melin Melyn are our pals and label mates and they’ve been spewing ‘em out as of late.

Alice Low is brilliant, Keys are massively underrated, as are HMS Morris. Pigeon Wigs are ones to watch. I could go on, there’s loadsssss!

You have released three albums in a short space of time. Do you think you can carry on being so prolific?

I bloody hope so!

The Bug Club. Tilly Harris, Sam Willmett, and Dan Matthews

Brexit seems to have made it extremely difficult for younger artists to tour. How are you finding touring in Europe recently?

It’s hard, there’s no doubt about that. Nobody seems to know what the actual regulations are as well, so that’s really really fun when you’re waiting to get your carnet stamped…

What are your plans and hopes for 2023 and beyond?

To carry on doing it as long as people will listen and as long as it is fun.

For more information about the band’s and their tour visit: https://thebugclub.bandcamp.com/ and https://www.seetickets.com/tour/the-bug-club

Click here for the band’s Spotify page.


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David C
David C
7 months ago

These guys are brilliant! Super fun live show, do yourselves a favour and get out to see them.

Stuart Cane
Stuart Cane
7 months ago

They played a great show in Newport last night. Well worth catching!

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