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Meet the Welsh band signed to one of the world’s most iconic record labels

10 May 2024 6 minute read
The Bug Club (Credit: Adam Whitmore)

It’s the record label that was at the forefront of the grunge movement – releasing peerless era-defining records from the likes of Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden.

Sub Pop was founded by Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman in 1988 – the independent record label based in Seattle.

The label is often associated with ‘grunge’ but in later years has released records from such well-known US artists as Sebadoh, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Shins, Iron and Wine, The Postal Service, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, Sleater-Kinney, Beach House, and Father John Misty.

Now you can add to that impressive history and roster The Bug Club – from Caldicot, who as you can see below are chuffed to bits to sign to one of world’s most iconic labels in a worldwide deal which will see the label release new music from the band in 2024 and beyond.

A statement on the Sub Pop website reads: ‘The way you’re saying it, “prolific” isn’t the right word for The Bug Club. You’ve got to say it with the trademark Welsh lilt and pay due homage to this inimitable band’s origins in the renowned hit factory of Caldicot, South Wales. Do that, and you’re about right with how to summarize a group who’ve released ten singles, two albums, two EPs, three things nobody knew how to describe, and an album under a different band’s name, all since 2021, and while playing 200+ gigs a year.

‘The Bug Club is Tilly Harris (Bass, Vocals) and Sam Willmett (Vocals, Guitar). Their first offering for the label is “Quality Pints,” a track that deals with the pressing concerns of any conscientious touring outfit, taking to heart the rule of the three R’s as penned by renowned fellow pints fan Mark E Smith of The Fall: repetition, repetition, repetition. If it’s that important, which it is, it’s worth saying again.

‘Initially comprising the songwriting core of Willmett and Harris with Dan Matthew on drums, The Bug Club started plying their trade in 2016. They were signed by UK label Bingo Records in Autumn of 2020, and their first single, “We Don’t Need Room For Lovin’,” was released in February 2021. It quickly established The Bug Club as the tongue-in-cheek and live-focused antidote to the previous year’s penned-in pandemic drudgery. BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley was an early champion, hammering the single, booking the band in for a session as soon as it was allowed, and rightfully praising songwriters capable of singing the whole alphabet in a two-minute song and making it work.

‘EP Launching Moondream One came next, complete with 7”, comic book, and free jingles (radio stabs are something of a forte for the band), followed by Pure Particles, whose vinyl release included a board game brimming with cult references. Fed up with the conventional approach, they then released “Intelectuals”: a standalone track that was actually a five-track ‘song suite’ like some kind of streaming-model-snubbing, Telecaster-bashing answer to Bach. Highbrow musos took a lyrical beating for the ages. Second standalone release, “Two Beauties,” marked release number two for 2022 and built up to the appearance of debut album Green Dream in F# by October. Lead single “‘It’s Art” encapsulated The Bug Club’s ethos good and proper: they’re only in this for fun, “you’re not supposed to feel it.” But they’re self-effacing because everybody does feel it. And it feels great.

‘The following January, they decided to pull their fingers out, get some disguises, and support themselves on tour as Mr Anyway’s Holey Spirits. A live album documented this, then they got abstract with titles and put out picture disc Picture This!. By the autumn of 2023, it was time for forty-seven-track, poetry-infused double album Rare Birds: Hour of Song. Their most ambitious realisation of The Bug Club’s creative world so far, typically smart and surreal wordplay (as well as their standard enthusiastic obscenity), met with everything from raucous punk to gentle anti-folk. Ivor Cutler seemed to have left his surreal stamp somewhere — the fully illustrated picture book included with the record helped suggest that — but they’d never heard him until somebody else made the comparison. Happy accidents abound.

‘Things went pair-shaped with Sam and Tilly in 2024 after Dan swapped his sticks for his gardening tools and a quiet life in the countryside. During a trip to America, they caught the eye of Sub Pop. And guess what: new music is hurtling towards their ever-growing loyal fanbase, who can look forward to a year for The Bug Club with stuff going on constantly. Who’d have thunk it?’

The Bug Club will support their upcoming Sub Pop release with a series of UK and European tour dates. The dates begin tonight in Wrexham at Focus Wales. They will also play a pair of special shows at The City Arms pub in Cardiff on Monday, May 27.

The Bug Club tour dates:
Fri. May 10 – Wrexham, UK – FOCUS Wales
Sat. May 11 – Birmingham, UK – The Castle & Falcon
Sun. May 12 – Brighton, UK – Komedia (Matinee)
Sun. May 12 – Brighton, UK – Komedia (Evening)
Fri. May 17 – Clitheroe, UK – The Grand
Sat. May 18 – Sheffield, UK – Get Together
Sat. May 25 – Bristol, UK – Dot To Dot
Sun. May 26 – Nottingham, UK – Dot To Dot
Mon. May 27 – Cardiff, UK – City Arms (Matinee)
Mon. May 27 – Cardiff, UK – City Arms (Evening)
Tue. Jun. 04 – Bristol, UK – The Fleece *
Wed. Jun. 05 – London, UK – Electric Ballroom *
Thu. Jun. 06 – London, UK – Sebright Arms
Wed. Jun. 12 – Madrid, ES – Siroco
Thu. Jun. 13 – Barcelona, ES – Sala VOL
Sat. Jun. 15 – Andoain, ES – Andoaingo Rock Jaialdia
Sat. Jul. 06 – Usk, UK – The Weekend Rumble
Fri. Jul. 26 – Rock, UK – Rock Oyster Festival
Fri. Aug. 02 – Pikehall, UK – Y Not Festival
Fri. Aug. 30 – Brighton, UK – Brighton Psych Fest
Sat. Aug. 31 – Hull, UK – The Adelphi
Sun. Sep. 01 – Edinburgh, UK – Edinburgh Psych Fest
Thu. Nov. 07 – Bournemouth, UK – Bear Cave
Fri. Nov. 08 – Margate, UK – Lido
Sat. Nov. 09 – Bedford, UK – Esquires
Wed. Nov. 13 – Newcastle, UK – The Cluny
Thu. Nov. 14 – Hebden Bridge, UK – The Trades Club
Fri. Nov. 15 – Leicester, UK – The SoundHouse
Sat. Nov. 16 – Norwich, UK – Norwich Arts Centre
* w/ Shellac

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