The Mangledwurzels played on BBC Somerset Sound's Live Music Friday with Jo Phillips on 17 February 2006.
You can listen back to the interview, together with a live performance of The Rat Song, by clicking on this audio link:
Who are The Mangledwurzels?
Hedge Cutter (aka Kev) on lead vocals and percussion; Seth Pitt (aka Dave) on guitars, bass drum and vocals; and Jethro Tool (aka Frank) on keyboards and vocals.
Where in Somerset are you from?
We are based in East Somerset. Hedge is Shepton Mallet born and bred, Seth was born in Farrington Gurney and now lives in Midsomer Norton, while Jethro lives in Hinton Charterhouse, near Bath.
When did you form?
That first-ever practise, when we sat around in Seth's front room singing Wurzels songs, took place in January 2005.
That would be the start of the band proper - our first gig was four months later, on Friday 13 May, at the Weston Inn in Bath supporting The Glambusters.
We went down a storm then, and have never looked back.
How did you get together?
One day Seth and Jethro wuz muck-spreading down on the farm, and Jethro says: "Seth, why don't we'z form a band to impress the milkmaids?"
Seth agreed that this wuz better than muck-spreading, so they decided to ask the local village idiot, Hedge, to come along too. And the rest is local history...
Not entirely true, but the reality is only slightly different.
Dave and Frank weren't really muck-spreading. Dave was trying to teach Frank to play guitar - Frank was trying to cover up the fact that he hadn't been practising, and the idea of a Wurzels tribute band came up in the resulting conversation.
To complete the lineup, Dave borrowed two members of his blues band Dressed to Kill. Things didn't work out with the drummer, but vocalist Kev (a prime candidate for village idiot, should a vacancy come up!) proved to be a natural.
The band's debut was on Friday 13 May, 2005.
How would you describe your music?
Hedge Cutter and The Mangledwurzels is a three-piece Scrumpy and Western tribute band, celebrating the works of the Bard of Avonmouth, Adge Cutler and The Wurzels.
The Mangledwurzels play Wurzels songs, old and new, blended with self-penned titles and pop standards, which are mangled in true Wurzels tradition.
How did the band gets its name?
The original Wurzels took their name from a mangold-wurzel, which is a root crop used for cattle fodder. The word comes from 'mangold', meaning beet (from middle-high German, mnegolt) and 'wurzel', meaning root (although in German, a wurzel has also become a nickname for a vagabond or tramp).
So, using a variation on mangold-wurzel seemed a good starting point, and as the band are also happily mangling songs in true Wurzel-style, calling themselves The Mangledwurzels seemed doubly relevant.
Hedge Cutter is a clever spoof on the name of The Wurzels' founder Adge Cutler, while Jethro Tool is a much-less-funny play on the name of Jethro Tull - the 17th century English agricultural pioneer (rather than the rock band of the same name!).
Seth Pitt is a reference to that important part of the rural sewerage system, although Seth insists he was so named because - like him - the waters are still, dark and run deep.
Incidentally, we have discovered a baseball player from East Carolina called Seth Pitt - poor chap!
Who are your musical influences?
Obviously, the music of Adge Cutler and The Wurzels are at the core of everything the band does.
The band members' own tastes cover most musical genres. It's surprising what sort of songs have proved to be easy to mangle - the prime considerations tend to be a good thumping beat, a catchy chorus, and the ability to add 'scrumpy' and 'cow dung' into the lyrics!
What is your most memorable gig so far?
Hedge: me most memorable gig would 'ave t'be at the Charlton Inn in Shepton Mallet. It is only a mangold throw from the house, so I wuz really pleased that the band went down well on my own doorstep. We'd been getting changed in the skittle alley and we had no idea 'ow many folks had turned up 'til we strolled into the bar, and the whole place erupted with cheering and clapping. We knew we couldn't fail that night - the place were packed and rocking all night.
Seth: for me, I think it was the performance at the Farrington Gurney Memorial Hall in March 2006. Apart from the gig being in the village where I was born and raised, the audience contained a lot of people who I had grown up with - old schoolmates, my Sunday School teacher and my mum! There was even a fellow who had been in The Scrumpy Bashers (the first band that I joined while I was still at school) and who performed original Adge Cutler and The Wurzels songs in those far-off days, before the current Wurzels had achieved their chart success! It was nice to disprove the adage about a 'prophet not being received in his own land', because we went down brilliantly - especially when I sang the song Farrington Gurney which I'd written specifically about the village.
Jethro: I would say that our first proper Mangledwurzels gig, at the Somerset Wagon in Chilcompton, is probably my favourite. We had played a couple of times before, but only short sets supporting other bands - this was the first headliner for the band, and the first time we played as a three-piece. We went down a storm - the audience really wouldn't let us go and the encores went on for a good half-hour. We also had the now-legendary crowd-dive incident. Normally the band would dive into the crowd, but we had one old chap who managed to fall headlong into the band - probably due to the cider! Despite keyboards, mic stands and band members flying in opposite directions, we managed to keep going. The whole incident was captured on mini-disk and we still use this as part of our demo CD!
Where would you most like to play?
Hedge: anywhere there's a crowd that is ready and waiting to have a night of fun. The new Wembley Stadium? Madison Square Gardens? Maybe we could be part of the half-time interval entertainment at the American Super Bowl? If they calls us, we'll give 'em due consideration.
Seth: I suppose the obvious one is the Glastonbury Festival. Hedge and I played there in 2000 with another band, but it would be nice to go back as The Mangledwurzels. We have already performed at Worthy Farm at the newly renovated Pilton Tithe Barn, which is next to Michael Eavis' new house (Eavis Towers), so it's the next logical step to play at the Festival!
Jethro: whilst playing Glasto would be cool, I would like to play one of the local folk-festivals like the Trowbridge Village Pump or the Priddy Folk Festival. I have always considered Adge Cutler's songs to be properly modern Somerset folk-music, not just joke songs to be laughed at. It would be good to perform his songs (and a few of ours!) in front of a discerning folk audience.
Finally, tell us some interesting facts about yourself
Hedge: t'other two in the band don't like to admit it, but they drafted I into the band as the sex symbol - a bit of eye candy for the ladies. I got they two to thank for our radio coverage on that Jo Phillips' radio show on BBC Somerset Sound, but if they was only a bit more photogenic we might get a bit more interest from the telly people too.
Seth: it was during a chat to the current Wurzels manager, Sil Wilcox, that an interesting fact came up about my ancestors - I realised they included the whole gamut of country folk, from pig-man to poacher! My father's side included gamekeeper (my great-granddad) and poacher (my granddad). Now I think about it, my family has had its share of characters, including one great-uncle who managed to blow a hole through his hand by putting it on top of his own (loaded) shotgun, whilst climbing over a gate. Another uncle did himself a good deal of damage by running over himself with his own tractor and trailer, and I remember my dad telling a story about how he was on a hunting (in other words poaching) trip with my uncle in the family's Morris car. Dad was in the back seat and my uncle was driving, with the front windows rolled down. Dad, shotgun in hand, saw a pigeon on a post by the side of the road and told his brother to pull up as he took aim. The resulting jerk of the car stopping caused dad to miss the pigeon and the post, but not the car windscreen! - I think I feel another song coming on!
Jethro: before we started the band, I used to work over in Bristol where I was one of the founding fathers of the online entertainment listings company Ents24. Three of us set up the company back in the days of the dot-com boom, and I am proud to say that it not only survived the dot-com bubble bursting, but also - thanks to a lot of hard work - is now going from strength to strength. And here I am on the other side of the fence, sending our gig details to Ents24 instead of receiving them from other bands!