Ail Symudiad

Power Pop/Pync/Mod

The story starts in the former busy seaport of Cardigan in West Wales, UK in 1978. The town was a busy port in the 1700s and 1800s and people emigrated from Cardigan to the new world and there was major trading at the port up until the 1930s. It was also the first home of the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1176 and of Welsh new wave band Ail Symudiad! This town and area has always been an inspiration to the band, and that's why they're still here! Ail Symudiad were formed just after the punk era, and their influences were the Undertones, Buzzcocks, The Clash and the Sex Pistols. They were also fond of ska bands like The Specials, and in Wales, Trwynau Coch. (Red Noses) who were also a pop/new wave band that were a big help to Ail Symudiad at the start and supported them on numerous occasions. Ail Symudiad members then were Wyn Jones, bass, backing vocals; Gareth Lewis, drums and Richard Jones, guitar and vocal.

Ail Symudiad practised during the winter of 1978 and in the first months of 1979, before playing their first gig in Cardigan in May, the same night as Terry Griffiths won the World Snooker Championship! They had by now written around 10-15 original songs, plus sang a couple of covers. The group were lucky to have the use of the Tabernacl Vestry, at the back of the chapel to practise, and a few of the town's teenagers and young people often wandered in to have a look and listen. Also in the summer holidaymakers would pop their heads round the door, as the vestry backed on to one of the town's car parks. Certainly no other rock band had practised in one of the town's chapels before! A.S. are to this day grateful to Tabernacl Methodist Chapel for their kindness and the band also benefited greatly from the help of friend Malcolm Gwyon - who was to start performing himself in the near future under the name Malcolm Neon.

The first time they performed outside their area was at the Nationl Eisteddfod of Wales in Caernarfon (1979) in the Twrw Tanllyd and the Sgrech Sessions at Clwb Tanybont in the town. 'Twrw Tanllyd' was based in a huge marquee near the Eisteddfod's camping site and 'Sgrech' was the Welsh language rock magazine, more of both later. The band had a great reaction to their music and were called back time after time on stage, this was a big confidence booster to the boys and of course more people got to know of Ail Symudiad. After this the band had more invitations to play, including places like the Pier in Aberystwyth with UMCA (Aberystwyth Welsh Students Union).

Later that summer they sent tapes they had recorded to Eurof Williams, the producer of radio programme 'Sosban' and in October they were asked to record a session, which included the songs Whisgi a Soda and Petrol a Paraffin. The session went down well and yet more gigs were to follow, one of which was in Blaendyffryn Hall, Llandysul, a venue that was to become important to A.S. in the years to come.


Robin Davies joined the band in the autumn of 1979 on rhythm guitar, and after playing support to the Trwynau Coch, they had the chance of playing at Trwynau's Christmas Party in Corwen, North Wales - a big night! In the early part of 1980 Ail Symudiad had good news - they had been invited by Sain Records, near Caernarfon to record a single in the series 'Sengl Sain'. A.S. were grateful to Sain for this opportunity to record, at their brand new 24 track studio in Llandwrog. Eurof Williams was the producer and songs were Whisgi a Soda and Ad Drefnu. The band started to do TV appearances, with one video being shot at the Cliff Hotel in Gwbert, near Cardigan for the BBC nightly news programme. They probably didn't associate the punk movement with Cardigan, and thought it would make a good story! The visitors to the Cliff looked quite shocked to see a new wave/punk band playing in the bar and drinking 'whiskey and sodas'! The ironic thing is that the song is not about drinking but about Socialism, workers and their bosses, as in the South Wales coalfield.

As well as the gigs and new songs coming along A.S. were practising at least three times a week, and had breaks through nipping over to the nearby amusement arcade in Lower Mwldan to play Space Invaders/Galaxian Attack on the video screen - 10p a shot in those days! The band were invited to appear on Sêr, HTV where they sang Ad Drefnu and had an interview with Arfon Haines Davies. They were by now playing regularly in town and village halls and clubs throughout Wales organised by, amongst others Cymdeithas yr Iaith. In 1980 the Eisteddfod was in the Gower, Swansea, and the boys played again in Twrw Tanllyd, the 'Twrw' was organised by Cymdeithas Adloniant Cymru (Welsh Entertainments Society), and it was an important week in the Welsh pop calendar. Among the groups playing there were Geraint Jarman, Trwynau Coch, Bando, Jip, Doctor etc. By this time there were other groups forming in the area and Ail Symudiad perhaps had an influence on other bands - Eryr Wen from Carmarthen, and in their own area Rocyn, Diawled and Malcolm Neon, who had started playing and recording.

There were regular interviews with Richard Rees on the popular radio show Sosban - a programme that was very important to the growth of the pop scene - Sosban is back on air by now, 2008. The band also featured in articles and reviews in the pop magazine Sgrech and it reflected very well the vibrant and exciting Welsh rock scene.

Cardigan Bridge

Practising in 1979 at the Tabernacl Vestry, Cardigan

Pictures from one of the early gigs at Drefach Felindre, near Newcastle Emlyn

Ail Symudiad's banner, courtesy of Malcolm

Tanybont Club, Carnarfon Eisteddfod 1979

AS recording their first Sosban Session at the BBC in Cardiff with Eurof Williams

Their first single, on the Sain label in 1980 - Ad Drefnu and Whisgi a Soda

The Sain studio during their first recordings

The band at Plas Coch Manor, Anglesey, 1980

Twrw Tanllyd, Gower Eisteddfod, 1980

At HTV in one of their first TV appearances

Relaxing at Gower before playing

Simon Tassano 1980

The faithful Ford that carried the amps and guitars, in the early days

Recording at Sain, Malcolm on the left

Trwynau Coch's Christmas Party, Corwen Hall

Richard, in one of their first gigs

Gareth, at practise and a gig