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THE WELSH CLASH!
The Welsh Clash, apparently, although the Sex Pistols is an equally viable comparison. And very good they were, too. Not for them the mindless thrashings of hardcore, these guys wrote proper songs, with tunes. Playing fantastic melodic punk and only ever singing in Welsh they achieved a degree of stardom and popularity unthinkable now. Who knows how far they could have gone if they’d sung in a foreign language?
Anhrefn were one of the very few Welsh-language bands to find widespread success outside of their native country, Anhrefn (Welsh for ‘Disorder’, thereby avoiding confusion with the Bristol crusty punks name!) are often now cited as the band that put Wales on the guitar music map, preceding popular ’90s bands such as Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics and Super Furry Animals.
Formed in 1980, the Gwynedd-based outfit were founded by bass-player Rees Mwyn, who set up the record label Recordiau Anhrefn in ’83, later gaining distribution from The Cartel/Revolver. Their most solid line-up throughout the ’80s was completed by Sion Sebon (vocals/guitar), Hefin Huws (drums) and Dewi Gwyn (guitar).
They released their debut single, ‘Priodus Hapus’, in 1984, and included tracks on various compilation LP’s alongside other Welsh bands over the next couple of years. In ’86 they featured on the debut release for Newport-based punk label Words Of Warning (who would later become home to popular acts such as Blaggers ITA, Oi Polloi, Cowboy Killers and Terminus) – an EP entitled The First Cuts Are The Deepest – with the song ‘Action Man’.
The following year they became the first Welsh language band to sign an international recording deal when they were picked up by Alternative Tentacles subsidiary Workers Playtime. The label released the band’s debut LP, ‘Defaid, Skateboards A Wellies’ (‘Sheep, Skateboards & Wellies’), which was generally greeted with favourable reception – notably by DJ John Peel, for whom they would subsequently record a number of Radio One sessions.
With the record’s fresh-sounding brand of melodic punk, blending hints of hardcore, metal and goth, the band soon became underground favourites of the UK punk/hardcore scene, their name seemingly adorning every alternative music fanzine cover of the period. Around this time they began making a name for themselves overseas, playing gigs throughout Europe and the United States.
A follow-up LP, 1989’s Bwrw Cwrw, delved into the realms of dub reggae, while a split LP with Last Rough Cause the same year saw them treading more traditional old-school punk ground, including a cover of The Ruts classic ‘Staring At The Rude Boys’. It was the following year’s ‘Dragons Revenge’ set, however, which stands as their most impressive work, incorporating elements of traditional Welsh folk blended with solid, tuneful punk rock anthems.
The record was produced by one Dave Goodman, noted for his work with the Sex Pistols (it was released in Germany as ‘The Dave Goodman Sessions’), and, continuing the Pistols connection, the front cover art – a tongue-in-cheek concept depicting the Welsh dragon trampling over St. George – was designed by Jamie Reid, the man responsible for that now-classic pink and yellow Never Mind The Bollocks.. album sleeve. Sadly, this was to be the band’s last official recording, although they continued playing for the next two or three years.
In 1993, Rhys began working for Crai Records (the local label who had released the band’s third LP), and briefly stepped in as manager for Catatonia, who recorded a couple of EP’s for the label in the mid-‘90s before going on to bigger and better things. He later took over the running of Crai after Anhrefn officially split in ’94.
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Anhrefn Records here
great article here from Louder Than War ‘Futile Gestures…ex Anhrefn bassist Rhys Mwyn looks back at his efforts to influence Welsh culture’ here
Anhrefn Wikipedia here
Facebook Anhrefn-Fan Page here
absolutely brilliant biography of the band and an interview with Sion here