In today’s personal geography, we speak to Dan Barnett of Cardiff band Samoans, who have recently released ace new record Rescue. If you live in Cardiff, order the vinyl and you may even get it hand delivered to your door by a member of the band! Read on for Dan’s map of the city!
Q. Tell us about your band! Where can people see you play soon, are there records they can buy, etc….
I’ve been in Samoans since 2008. It all started when Calvin (our bassist) crashed a party at my house. We instantly hit it off and within about a month decided to start a band together. We haven’t looked back. It’s been a good sixe years now and I can’t believe we’re only releasing our debut album now!
But that is one of the great things about being in the band. We always set out to do things our way and not be pressured in to releasing music for the sake of it. Being realistic about being in a band has been integral to us and we all still work full time jobs as I know all our other musician friends do to.
We’ve achieved a good amount, being championed by BBC Introducing to play Reading & Leeds Festival in 2012 was a big highlight. We’ve also played with some of our favourite bands like Los Campesinos!, And So I Watch You From Afar and Minus The Bear.
This year we were awarded funding through Arts Council Wales which has helped us loads in promoting our album, Rescue, which is out on 14th July on 12” vinyl and download. I’m pretty excited to finally have a release on vinyl as me and my dad used to sit around for hours listening to his records when I was growing up.
The line-up we have now is the best we’ve had so far. In 2012 we enlisted our friend Chris Rouse who was playing drums for another band who we’d played with a few times called Hold Your Horse Is. We were drummerless and he posted up online that he was looking to play drums for some other bands. It seems like fate was on our side. We took the decision to bring in Oli Miles on guitar after we had recorded the album last year. It made total sense as the sound we have adopted is more expansive than our previous material and he’s also better at playing guitar than I am!
You can listen to and buy any of our releases from samoanstheband.bandcamp.com.
Q. Are you Cardiff born and Cardiff bred? If not, how did you get here?
I was born in Bridgend in February 1984 as my parents had moved from Whitchurch in Cardiff to Brynna, near Llantrisant. My dad was Bristol-born but had moved to Cardiff when he was young and my mother was born at her family home on Velindra Road in Whitchurch. So I’ve always had strong ties to Cardiff since I was a child.
My mother is one of fourteen children so there were always plenty of visits, especially to Heath where I used to spend a lot of time with my cousins. The one thing that always springs to mind when I’m on Whitchurch road heading towards Gabalfa is a piece of graffiti that was drawn on a wall opposite the school. It was a huge illustration of a newsreader with a speech bubble that read, ‘hello, good evening and b*****ks’. I think that piece of graffiti pretty much set the tone for my sense of humour and it stayed there for years until it weathered away which I’m gutted about.
When I was four, my parents moved us to Caerphilly to be closer to my dad’s work at a sawmill in Senghennydd that was built on the top of the old coal mine. Growing up I always felt that I wanted to leave the town though and university gave me that opportunity. I was accepted in to Cardiff University to study Welsh and Ancient History in 2002 and have pretty much been based in Cardiff ever since.
Q. What local bands would you tip for people to go watch?
Kutosis are probably my favourite Cardiff band. I used to live with two of them so it may seem a bit biased, but in all fairness they are great songwriters and excellent people!
I would also say to check out my friend Jimmy’s band The Epicdemics. A little bit of me died when Strange News From Another Star stopped but I was chuffed to see Jimmy form this band with Julia from Future of The Left and Bernie from Right Hand Left Hand. Jimmy is a true talent!
Finally I’d tell everyone to go watch Right Hand Left Hand. They do the business!
Q. What neighbourhood do you live in? What’s it like there?
I currently live in Splott, which gets pretty bad rep. It feels like Splott gets a little forgotten by the council in all honesty. The amount litter and dog mess on the streets is insane. I don’t think the council do enough in our area to promote keeping the streets clean or changing people’s attitudes.
Q. Fav Cardiff venue?
Hands down has to be Clwb Ifor Bach. I’ve seen some of my all-time favourite shows in that venue.
Q. Fav Cardiff eatery?
There’s too many places for me to choose just one, so here are a few!
– Fresh in Royal Arcade makes a mean sandwich. Gareth & Co are always friendly and I always walk away satisfied.
– Lilo’s on City Road does some amazing mezza, falafel and sea bass and the juices are great!
– Tenkaichi on City Road do a great tekka don and spider maki
– Canteen on Clifton Street is always interesting as they mix up the menu frequently and cater for mainly vegetarian meals.
– Vegetarian Food Studio over in Riverside. Two words: Atom bombs.
– Mirchi on City Road do the best paneer curry I’ve ever tasted.
Q. Best Cardiff pint?
Hop Rocket it Urban Tap House
Q. Best Cardiff fry up
The Pot on Crwys Road do THE best Welsh breakfast and they’re ace people too!
Q. If you were going to take someone on a first date in Cardiff, where would you take them?
St Fagans. It’s just such a nice place to walk around and buy sweets and bread from. Plus I get to tell the story of Me and my friend Joe watching our friend Emma break in to a wheel of wax-covered cheese with a key in front of a troop of horrified young French kids.
Q. What’s the best / most memorable gig you ever went to in Cardiff?
I’ve been to some amazing gigs in the past, Lightning Bolt at The Point, Biffy Clyro in Barfly and last year seeing one of my all-time favourite bands, Dinosaur Jr playing Cardiff was incredible but I’d say my most memorable gig is probably Reuben at Clwb Ifor Bach in 2008. I’d seen their first ever Cardiff gig in Barfly in about 2003, but the show in Clwb felt significant and special for me. It was rammed upstairs and the band played pretty much everything they’d ever done, including early songs. It almost felt like a greatest hits set, which was apt as they broke up not long after, so to see their final show was special and they remain a huge influence on me musically.
Q. What’s the last film you saw?
Wrong Cops. It’s a spin-off of another film called Wrong. Both utterly insane and make no sense, which thankfully is right up my cup of tea!
Q. What’s the last gig you went to?
Nine Inch Nails at the CIA (or Motorpoint Arena as it will never be known to our generation!)
Q. What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished reading The Ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman which is a great read. His writing is so vivid and allows you to properly escape.
Q. Tell us a secret about you
It was nice to hear somebody else has this problem too. When I heard Gareth from Fireproof Giant say he hates people touching his belly button I was like “EXACTLY!” That’s my personal space! I don’t want someone digging round for fluff in there!
Dan was photographed by Simon Ayre