A brief discussion with Jethro Tool, the keyboard player with The Mangledwurzels.
What’s the band history? Formed originally (and short-lived) as a four-piece in Jan 2005, we slimmed down to the trio for our first gig at the Somerset Wagon in Chilcompton in May of that year, and stayed as a three-piece ever since. The other band members are guitarist Seth Pitt and our front-man Hedge Cutter. We have released two albums on the Loose Records label (who had The Wurzels on their books in the 1980s): ‘Get Orf My Land!’ which was a live album recorded at the Charlton Inn in Shepton Mallet (our singer’s local pub), and ‘Wurz ‘Ee II’ a studio album of original songs recorded at the now-closed Handsome Llama Studios in Frome. We also released a three-track Christmas EP called ‘Stuff The Mangeldwurzels’ which raised funds for the charity RABI.
Any highlights? With over 850 gigs played, it’s hard to select highlights; but the Bath & West Show, Bristol Harbourside Festival, Bridgwater Carnival – and of course all those huge cider festivals at Bath Pavilion and Temple Meads are all up there. Stand-outs would be Bristol Airport (where we accidently met Acker Bilk as he arrived off a plane), and the Keep Cadbury’s Open campaign in Keynsham (where we almost got The Wurzels’ Pete Budd to join us on stage). We have travelled as far as Brighton, London, Norwich, Northampton, Birmingham and Wrexham; supported punk icons Half Man Half Biscuit and in turn been supported by the Built Wells Male & Female Voice Choirs; and performed at Sheep Races in Priddy, Raft Races in Minehead, and the UK Mangold Hurling Championships in Sherston. Our most recently gig was at the Lowland Games in Muchelney.
What’s the best Wurzels track? The audience’s favourite is still Combine Harvester, with Cider Drinker, Blackbird and Drink Up Thy Cider as close seconds – but having performed these songs well over the thousand times, my personal favourites are the more obscure songs like Ferry To Glastonbury and Down in Neptnett Thrubwell.
Cider or Perry? I am partial to both, give me a good medium cider or perry (the real stuff, not these fizzy ones) and I am happy! And as I have a terrier called Perry and a spaniel called Scrumpy – it seems unfair to discriminate!
Favourite producer? There are a lot of great cidermakers out there and most of them seem to be in Somerset. Check for Rich’s, Sheppey, Burrow Hill and Hecks medium ciders, although they’re just the best of an excellent range. If we are talking single varieties, probably Yarlington Mill cider and Blakeney Red perry. However, our guitarist prefers a dry cider, and our singer drinks sweet ciders – so they will totally disagree with me!
What’s your best cider pun? We always end the first set with the line “…and remember folks, drink more cider because the more you drink, the better we sound”. Not sure if this is a pun, more just a fact of life!
What’s the Best Pub in Somerset? I live between Bath & Frome, just a few fields away from Tuckers Grave in Faulkland (BA3 5XF). Now that is a proper old school cider house; and must be seen to be believed. Not a huge range of ciders, but what they serve is proper stuff! And with one of The Mangledwurzels living so close AND the manager of The Wurzels and The Stranglers living even closer, you never know who might pop in for a pint!
Best Pub in Bristol? From my days as a Bristol resident in the late 1990s, two pubs stand out. The Coronation Tap in Clifton is a must-visit; I’ve been there several times, but can’t remember much – a great cider pub with regular live music. And there’s also the Cotham Porter Stores, that was my local when I lived in Redland; real cider on tap and tables made out of barrels. I know it’s changed hands recently, I hope it hasn’t changed too much because I had a lot of fun (and a lot of cider) in that pub!