Our old chum Ash Cooke of Pulco has spent a lot of time recently on a non-Pulco project in the guise of the label Recordiau Prin. Iechyd Da! is the result, a 32-track album of covers of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci tracks. Crafted with obvious affection and respect for the source material, it's a wonderful collection. We caught up with Ash to chew the fat over the whole project.
IBWM: First off - why Gorky's? What is their cultural impact in your part of the world?
Ash Cooke: Even before I moved to Wales I realised that GZM stood apart from most of the contemporary Welsh bands of the period. Eventually I moved to Cardiff and had the good fortune to work with the band. Their sound and influences were definitely similar to my own.
The South West is such a magical area of Wales much like Cornwall – Pembrokeshire leaves an impression on you in a way that only living by the coast can. It is also a relatively remote area of Wales and I don’t imagine there would have been many mainstream bands playing local gigs when they were growing up. Gorkys' music was born out of a quirky rural coastal environment mixed with eclectic musical tastes. They spoke a lot about nature and the significance of the landscape.
Gorkys' music certainly wasn’t avant garde ‘city’ rock, over sophisticated or street wise. Instead it was more organic than that. The band also remained the underdogs of Welsh music I think and they never allowed the band to be pushed in a commercial direction.
IBWM: And why now?
AC: It is 10 years since the band split but I don’t think that I realised that until after I’d decided to start the project. It was just a crazy idea that I had.
IBWM: How did you get the contributors involved? Did you have people in mind before you began?
AC: I had the idea last summer and initially I just asked a few friends to get involved. Once I’d mentioned the project a few times on social media bands started contacting me to see if they could record covers. I made a point of turning of not turning anyone down. That is why there is such a broad mix of styles on the album. It was about the music first and not about trying to get ‘famous bands to be involved’. I’m proud to have come across and introduced some great bands that maybe we wouldn’t have heard of without the album.
IBWM: It is a tremendous collection. Are there any real stand-outs for you?
AC: I love Stu Kidd’s version of Xylophones and Robert Downie’s version of Let Those Blue Skies. A mention also has to go out to New York based Nick Cullen for recording Iechyd Da despite not being able to speak Welsh!
IBWM: Would you do it again - maybe the Manics, Super Furries? Goldie Lookin' Chain?
AC: Furries could be interesting but I’ve got so many other projects on the go at the moment that it wouldn’t be for a while. I guess that the GZM album felt right for me because I had a personal connection to the band.
Huge thanks to Ash for his time. Stream the album above and get it for free from Recordiau Prin.