About rock music in Wales - part two

Funeral For A Friend

We continue our look at what's been driving the burgeoning Welsh rock scene since 2000.

Bullet are the most heavy of the 'big three' of Welsh rock: their riffs are fast, technical and crunching, their drumming furious and their clothing none more black. Their debut full-length album, The Poison, is flying high in the rock charts and Columbia have high hopes for them worldwide.

The Blackout

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Here are some of our tips for Welsh bands who are rockin' out at the moment.

It wouldn't be sensible to suggest any cause-and-effect between Bullet For My Valentine and other bands, but there is certainly a taste for increasingly heavier music in the UK's current rock scene.

While BFMV's metal is highly polished, Wales is still providing its rough-around-the-edges hardcore metal thrills with the likes of Shaped By Fate and Dignity Dies First. Both are carving niches for themselves, but it's difficult to see them achieving the sales figures of the Big Three. So what makes Lostprophets, Funeral For A Friend and Bullet For My Valentine such commercial propositions? Let's go back to Rae Alexandra of Kerrang!: "Each of those bands, to varying degrees, has taken a standard rock formula and made it a lot more distinctive and appealing for a wider crossover audience, by using their punk rock and hardcore influences, in very different but compelling ways.

"It's just a lot more interesting to see bands mixing up the genres. Why it's the Welsh who seem most inclined to do so is hard to say, but it's certainly something to be proud of."

The crossover appeal of those three bands is plain to see: they gained a great deal by taking their formative punk and hardcore influences and fusing them with a keen melodic sense that's just right for radio and, especially, music TV. NME and Uncut journalist Louis Pattison believes there's another factor which has helped them.

"They don't appear to be held back by that classic rock dilemma of 'selling out'," he says. "That's not to say they've sold their art down the river, but they're not afraid to court the mainstream by making heavy music that nonetheless boasts clear rock hooks, populist emotional sentiments, and conquer-the-world attitude."

Daniel Lane, the deputy editor of Kerrang!, has his own thoughts on the impact of geography on Welsh rock music. "I guess the Welsh scene was born out of boredom and frustration that Wales hasn't really been on the main touring circuit for the last decade, so the kids have had to make music for themselves. And for some it's really paid off."

Does he think there's an attitudinal link at all? "Stereophonics, Lostprophets, Funeral For A Friend, Bullet For My Valentine, Skindred - all very unique and different sounding bands. The only thing they have in common, aside from geography, is their immense drive and passion for what they do."


Lane stops short of stating that Welsh rockers have an attitude suited to succeeding, but Midasuno's Scott Andrews claims "a lot of bands simply want to get out of the crappy towns where they live or grew up, and writing great songs and touring is one way of doing that. It's a passionate desire to succeed and do what it takes to do it."

Matt Hughes of Visible Noise, home to Lostprophets and Bullet For My Valentine, agrees: "Both bands on our label have worked damn hard to be in their respective positions as the leading lights not only of Welsh but UK music. I think it's this loyal, smart and hard-working ethic that has seen both bands succeed in the UK and internationally."

But Hughes also believes it's the opportunities to market Welsh bands within their home country that helps a great deal: "Many towns or areas have so many bands coming up through to the mainstream with other bands being brought up by them later. Wales has been producing great music and great bands for such a long time based around this same idea.

"If you can find a strong band with a strong fanbase, then you have to give them a chance. Having a whole country as a potential fanbase is massive! The media of the whole country will stand proudly behind Welsh export bands, much more so maybe than the rest of the UK, where the sense of identity is based on towns rather than nations."

You can factor in attitude, geography, press and media, but you can't explain the raw talent of Wales: "Who knows why so many quality artists have come out of Wales in recent years?" asks Daniel Lane. Matt Hughes concludes, "Without a good record or good songs, it doesn't matter where you're from - you ain't gonna do nowt!" Perhaps there really is just something in the water...

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