The first SWN festival we played was in 2007 – and I believe it was either straight after, or slap bang in the middle of a 5 night residency we played with The Sex Pistols in London. All sounds very glamorous, but in reality that entailed effectively living on some god forsaken rain-soaked retail park in Wimbledon for a week, with little else to do but eat dinner at the same Frankie and Bennies every night, and watch our welcome fruit baskets become less and less welcoming with each passing day. We were also facing unpredictable and sometimes hostile audiences, running the gauntlet each night but facing the challenge head on. Ryan had taken to wearing a very garish, billowing shirt that once belonged to Johnny Thunders as a talisman so we were gonna be alright.
Basically, we were ready to cut loose. We were excited to have the SWN show booked as we were headlining and it was a new festival, so everyone was feeling really good about it as we got the hell outta Wimbledon. I remember being physically very drained and falling asleep on the drum riser during soundcheck (obviously not the best place for a restful slumber), and waking up to find the mischievous girls from Those Dancing Days laughing and snapping pictures of me in my unlikely cocoon. Our show had a killer line up (something that SWN has become known for, I might add), with the aforementioned Those Dancing Days, and our good friends and recent touring partners Shrag opening up. It was a really good, positive atmosphere in Cardiff’s Great Hall that night, especially contrasted with Brixton’s partisan punks, and I remember that all 3 bands had awesome shows. Shrag’s Riot Pop was blistering and set the mood for the evening, Those Dancing Days charmed the hell out of the room with their infectious pop songs, and we were so tightly wound after the boot camp of the Pistols shows that we were on top form.
After the show, we found out that genius ex Sub Pop poet/performance artist/punk The Legend! was playing down the street in a rare UK performance. We had played with The Legend! once back when we first started out, coincidentally in Cardiff, and raced over there with Shrag to try and catch the show. Obviously we got there late, so just stayed for the club night. Other vague memories include trying to buy The Legend! a drink, not realising that he apparently downed a bottle of vodka as part of his show, and then someone from Shrag puking. When reminiscing people like to say “It was a more innocent time”…well, it was a less innocent time, and all the better for it.