Ahead of the appearance of legendary Newport Indie pop band The Darling Buds at Manchester’s Gigantic All-Dayer later this month, Andy Howells chats to Andrea Lewis of the band.
Andrea along with Chris McDonagh, Geraint Farr and Richard Gray formed The Darling Buds in Newport during 1986 “Newport is where we hailed from, with TJ’s and all that going on,” recalls Andrea “We were a tiny bit before the Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and Stereophonics but I think we were one of the first with the indie sound. Recently I saw an old fanzine that someone gave me at a gig; we did something like 220 gigs in one year, we were just gigging all the time. There wasn’t a lot of interest back in Wales in the very early days, although there was a scene going on in Newport around TJ’s. Promoters were getting in a lot of the Seattle and American bands and we supported the Butt Hole Surfers at Newport Leisure Centre once but we just got in a van and went wherever people wanted us to play.”
“Looking back, it feels like a previous life,” continues Andrea, “I was 18 when the band started and 25 when we split up. It was a massive part of growing up; we did three albums, loads of gigs and lots of touring. We loved it. It was a bit of a shock to all of us when it did end but it felt it was time to wrap things up.” In the years that followed Andrea turned her talents to acting and radio presenting as well as starting a family with her husband, the actor Jamie Jarvis.
The Darling Buds reformed briefly for Newport’s TJ’s In the Square event in 2010 which paid tribute to legendary TJ’s owner John Sicolo. “We really wanted to do that,” recalls Andrea, “we thought we were only going to do that one show but afterwards we thought it’d be nice to do a few more. Then, a few years ago the promoter Grant Holby of Mute Elephant called me of the blue and asked would we do another one-off thing which always amazes me because I think who’d want to come and see us?”
The 30th anniversary of The Darling Buds formation has seen the band back out on the road with Andrea and Chris McDonagh now joined by Matt Gray, Chaz Watkins & Erik Stams. Among their recent shows have been a sell out anniversary show at London’s 100 Club, Newport’s Le Pub and a fabulous acoustic set for World Record Store Day at Diverse Music.
<img src="https://entertainmentsouthwales.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/f49cd-img.jpg takes place on Bank Holiday Saturday May 28 at Manchester Academy. Doors will open at 1.30 pm. All ages are welcome but under 14s must be accompanied by an adult aged over 18. For further details on the event visit facebook.com/giganticindiealldayer and to stay in touch with the latest news from The Darling Buds visit their Facebook page.
- A version of this interview appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on May 13, 2016.