The legendary American band Meat Puppets are headlining the Carling Stage on Sunday September 6th which also closes the 2015 Velvet Coalmine Festival in Blackwood, South Wales.

To kick off our very special ‘Meat Puppets’ week,  Velvet Coalmine director Iain Richards talks us through why and how he got them to play.

Where did the idea to book the Meat Puppets come from?

Like many people in the UK, I got introduced to the band via my teenage obsession with Nirvana and the Meat Puppets playing alongside the band on the classic ‘Nirvana Unplugged’ album. Every generation has their iconic band and their own icon and I guess before the Manic Street Preachers erupted, mine was Kurt Cobain. All the Seattle bands were the backdrop for how I learnt guitar – Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, etc – and coupled with Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Pixies, Breeders, Lemonheads and many more, that era was fairly special for the number of great guitar bands and great albums that were released – and nearly all of them from America. From a festival point of view, I really wanted an American band to headline to ensure the event could compete for credibility elsewhere and went for the Meat Puppets not just because I was a fan, but because I was fairly sure they had never played in Wales (and I was right) and I thought it would be a great story for my hometown of  Blackwood to host such an event.

Why are they important?

Well, firstly, you can’t underestimate the importance and influence of Nirvana on rock music over the past 25 years. I don’t think there’s been anything like it since and there wasn’t that much in terms of similar impact beforehand – maybe Elvis, Beatles, Dylan, Hendrix, Bowie and Punk in terms of stuff that actually changed the idea of rock and pop but Nirvana was something else. Blending Beatles melodies with Black Sabbath riffs and punk drumming and an amazing vocal delivery, Nirvana was the ultimate sound of a generation and the fact that the Meat Puppets had such a direct influence on Kurt Cobain is impossible to overlook. All the greatest rock stars have clear reference points  – Velvet Underground and Kerouac on Bowie for example, Woody Guthrie on Dylan, Blues guitarists on Hendrix/Led Zeppelin – so I do think there’s an element of the Meat Puppets having a not dissimilar effect on Kurt Cobain – which is quite an accolade!

How did you go about booking them? I’m sure you get asked that on a regular basis!

I do indeed get asked it particularly, but its a fair question and I understand the intrigue. I’d managed to get hold of their Manager to present my case and he was interested in the fact that they had never played in Wales so I guess my proposal got taken seriously – which was the key bit! Various emails and trans-atlantic calls ensued throughout the winter with a number of setbacks along the way and to be honest by the end of February I wasn’t sure we would get over the finishing line, but the deal got done sat in my Parents house in Blackwood in March and it was a great moment for sure.

They have an interesting range of musical styles and influences. How will this go down in the Welsh Valleys?!

You mean, in the sense that the Valleys have this reputation for loving Metal and Lynyrd Skynyrd covers?! I think people have to really seize the moment and grab the chance to see an amazing band on their own doorstep. Its not a cover band, its not a tribute act, its the real deal and to have them for this occasion is a real thrill. The Valleys do unfortunately have a reputation for being a tad apathetic and indifferent, but I hope that this is not the case for this one. It really is a one-off moment and we should all enjoy it.

And finally, also on the bill are local band The Noses who are also from Blackwood and Cardiff band Fjords. What a moment for those bands right?

Yes, exactly. That’s the whole point of Velvet Coalmine really. To set up an event that can attract major bands to come to the Valleys while giving opportunities to local bands to share the bill and enjoy some of the spotlight. The Noses are well known in the Blackwood/South Wales area and are a fabulous live festival band that have really been on the cusp of getting a breakthrough for a couple of years now so hopefully their appearance on this will give them a platform for a few people to sit up and take notice. Fjords have a great sound and as a fan myself, I thought deserved the opening slot. It should be a great night!

The Meat Puppets play Velvet Coalmine on Sunday September 6th.

Tickets going fast HERE.