The Bug Club
Sat 17 Feb 2024
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Three groovy peas in a far out pod!
The Bug Club’s name does a good job of introducing the band and their music: a tight-knit, collaborative effort focussed on telling tales of the everyday that we often take for granted, shot through with humour and riffs-a-plenty.
Comprising the creative trio of Sam Willmett (guitar/vocals), Tilly Harris (bass/vocals) & Dan Matthew (drums), The Bug Club formed in 2016 in the little-known rock n’ roll hotbed that is Caldicot, Monmouthshire.
Initially championed by BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley, along with Adam Walton and Huw Stephens on Radio Cymru, The Bug Club have since earned the support of DJs, fellow artists and press worldwide.
Sold-out tours across the UK and in Europe paved the way for 2023 which will see the band play further afield to an ever-growing loyal fanbase. This year will see the band release their highly anticipated second album, Rare Birds: Hour of Song, from which singles ‘We Can’t All Play Saxophones’ and ‘Marriage’ were BBC 6 Music play-listed.
Listen to The Bug Club on Spotify:
For fans of: Yard Act, Holiday Ghosts, Sports Team, Personal Trainer, DEADLETTER, Pale Blue Eyes, English Teacher, Porridge Radio, The Goa Express, Pip Blom, BODEGA, Dry Cleaning, NewDad, Snapped Ankles, Melin Melyn
So far, these singles offer a gentler side to the band. Albeit a gentler side that’s all too eager to remind us all of our musical inadequacies. Fortunately, the band don’t seem to have any such inadequacies of their own, and this single sets the tone for an upcoming album packed with memorable Bug Club nuggets.
Vocalist Sam Willmett strikes a plaintive tone as he gets busy telling us what we all can’t play, do and be. But it’s a tone that only half-masks the usual dose of self-effacing humour. The prolific 3-piece make their way towards a guitar solo on the calmer end of The Bug Club spectrum, showcasing the breadth that justifies the whopping track list that makes up Rare Birds… At least we can all enjoy The Bug Club.
‘We Can’t All Play Saxophones’ is the third track to be revealed from The Bug Club’s second full-length album. Rare Birds: Hour of Song caps off a year that has already seen the band put out a live album (of new, one-off tracks) and an EP. And, what’s more: it’s a double LP which clocks in at an hour and four minutes.
Now then, what could you possibly have to say that takes two records to spit out? Pay attention to this and learn. It’s The Bug Club’s Hex Enduction Hour. South Wales’ Double Nickels On The Dime. It’s The Faust Cycle for people with shorter attention spans.
Their eighth release since joining forces with Bingo Records in summer 2020, ‘Rare Birds…’ is a culmination of a year spent relentlessly touring. But it’s not one of those hackneyed road records. It’s about birds, to an extent. Well, it is, and it isn’t. And it is 47-songs long, featuring 23 Cutler-esque spoken-word tracks that weave through the music telling a surreal story to accompany the band’s usual witty, taut garage rock. Oh, and it comes with a fully illustrated, 32-page book.
Vocalist and guitarist Sam Willmett kind of attempts to explain: “All the songs were written in our summer holiday lull before we went away to tour (debut album) Green Dream in F♯ last year. Then we picked the lucky winners to go on the album when we got home around Christmas.
“We just wrote every day we were home, mostly in the garden. That’s probably why it’s vaguely about birds. All the songs are in the order they were written apart from the last two which we swapped around.
“I only actually remember writing one song. ‘Passionflower, Paperbacks and Woodlice’ which came about as I was sat by a passionflower when a woodlouse crawled over my paperback. I thought it looked and sounded nice.
“We wrote the wordy bits in one hit around the songs once the record was nearly done. One big story. We think the record is like a fall asleep relaxation tape with the cartoon ‘burd’ narrating and guiding you.”
Need to know more? Spare us an hour and four minutes. That’s what we’re asking of you here. It’s a big ask, these days.
But if you do, you’ll find yourself entrenched in an immersive world of The Bug Club. The other records – with the sardonic and surreal, the riffs and the obsession with outer space – were a run up. With Rare Birds… Sam, Tilly and Dan have created an expansive environment in which we can all bask in a cocktail of garage rock, poetry, nonsense, wordplay, sentimentality and fuck-offs. Ivor Cutler’s come round to play with Gordon Gano and Kimya Dawson in a semi-detached in Caldicot. They’ve made something you’re going to really like.
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