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Start Something: The Story of South Wales Rock

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:34 UK time, Monday, 10 May 2010

Tonight Radio 1 delves headfirst into the world of Welsh rock. Bethan Elfyn examines why the South Wales valleys have provided Wales' biggest bands of the last 15 years and talks to many of the leading lights, including Lostprophets, The Blackout and Kids In Glass Houses.

Find out more about the programme: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00s9wj3M

Watch videos of some of Beth's interviews for the programme: https://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/music/sites/rock/pages/sw-rock-doc.shtml

Speaking to the Western Mail, Beth said, "I was interviewing fans at gigs and they were saying, 'we love Welsh bands' - fans that might otherwise not know the first thing about Wales.

"All the bands we have seen in the last two decades have been incredible ambassadors for Wales by being so individual.

"They are very strong in their Welsh identity and they have helped people understand what it is to be Welsh - from the Manics and Stereophonics onwards.

"I wanted to look in particular at bands like The Blackout and bands from the Valleys as a whole because they look after each other a lot more than those from other parts of the country.

"They all travel and tour together and, in particular, bands like Lostprophets have taken others from the Valleys out on tour. It's a very unique, very supportive community and that's very, very rare in music.

"I think that is what has helped Welsh bands become so visible."

I've seen that for myself. Following the Welsh rock scene for many years, and talking to bands from Wales and elsewhere, the level of camaraderie and mutual support is far from universal. Likewise the sheer work ethic and desire to succeed.

It doesn't always work of course, and Welsh rock is as littered with nearly-men as any other scene. But the mutual support makes it more likely that bands have access to the infrastructure to make things work. Some of it is born out of necessity. If you come from a band in the middle of nowhere and there's another band locally, why not try to organise transport together? Or if you can share a van cost and drive to a London show, minimising outgoings and helping each other lug those bass amps around.

It doesn't all come down to practicality, however. Friendship, common ground, shared politics, mutual influences and more all contribute to bands just hitting it off and deciding to play shows together, tour together or record a split EP.

In the case of the bands featured in Beth's documentary, it's been one band - Lostprophets - who through their popularity have been able to bring their friends - most notably The Blackout and Kids In Glass Houses - along with them, capitalising on their status as the standard-bearers for the Welsh rock scene since 2001.

But look underneath that level, look at gig listings around South Wales and you'll see a cabal of bands, the next generation, all playing shows together in various mutations: Attack! Attack!, Caesar's Rome, Save Your Breath, I Am Hope, Tiger Please, Reaper In Sicily, All The Damn Vampires, Straight Lines, Town, The Guns, Exit International and many more.

A scene of mutual support is inherently exciting. The documentary tonight gives a snapshot of the scene at this very moment. Let's hope that the new generation will make a similar programme in five years' time possible.

What are your favourite new Welsh rock bands?

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