Hearing their broad Newport accents, I spotted a few members of Goldie Lookin Chain huddled outside tonight’s frosty venue.
After a round of introductions, I squeezed into a restaurant booth with Adam Hussain, Rhys Hutchings, Graham the Bear, and Eggsy.
“No sane person” had called them heroes before, but 18 years ago, their single ‘Guns don’t kill people, rappers do’ was a sarcastic dig at politicians who demonised popular music and video games.
Fast forward to August 2021 and the group starred in a campaign by the Welsh Government to get vaccinated against COVID.
Appearing to enjoy mixing pleasure with politics, Rhys is a former Labour councillor for Newport. Now a dad, he’s well-spoken when he’s not around the others. Like a restless child, he pokes the Bear who’s sat in the booth next to him.
Graham the Bear is a big softie and a self-confessed trainspotter. His t-shirt reads “I heart my penis”, but he was probably forced to wear it. Often picked on by the others, he believes he’s a hero as he’s vegetarian. He once tried to rescue half a frog that had been run over… before throwing up.
“I wanted to save the half that was still moving” he confesses.
After loudly retching, Rhys discloses “I need energy for this big brain, I could never be a vegetarian, I’d die – you can’t exist off of vegetables with a brain like this”
GLC’s new ‘only fans’ tour in 2023 will mark 20 years since the band began. Rhys seems excited, even after getting the name wrong.
“We’re doing the only fans tour. It doesn’t mean only fans can come, anyone can come, you don’t have to actually like the band”
“Yeah, anyone” proclaims Graham.
“So I thought we could get an Onlyfans account. I went on there and signed up, Goldie Lookin Chain. Then it starts asking me for my, for a picture of my driving license and I’m like, is this dodgy? If I put my driving license and bank account details in there, does that mean I have to like take my top off and put up a photo?” Asks Rhys.
With his navy woollen scarf and paternal tone, Eggsy disapprovingly shakes his head. “It’ll leave you open to having your data harvested” he says. Also known as John, he is the only member of the group with an agent and makes extra income through recording video messages for fans.
In 1993, Eggsy and Rhys attended a music course at Crosskeys college in Newport. Eggsy got a distinction, but Rhys didn’t manage to pass the course as he was too busy smoking soap bar.
Many of GLC’s songs mention marijuana. However, Eggsy has surprising views on the subject.
“I think cannabis has gone too far, I think skunk has been overbred and I think it’s ruining people’s lives. It’s so powerful now, it will just fuck you over. Now it’s so strong, you smoke half a spliff and you’re completely gone. You don’t have the option of weak weed anymore.”
“Get yourself on loose women!” laughs Rhys.
“I like the way that weed has evolved, right, so, you know, it’s not just the case of just getting a bit of block of weed and then, you know, just skinning up and smoking it. Now you can buy edibles, you know, you can buy weed vapes, you can buy, you know, loads of different bits and pieces, and I like the way that weed has gone that way, but he is right, some of it is so strong” Adam tells me.
Adam Hussain has always been the pretty boy of the group. His boyband looks have matured and he’s now a greying dad, but his attitude is still that of a defiant stoner. With a cheeky grin, he recalls the last time he was driving in Somerset and threw half a pasty at a life-sized poster of Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Fans at GLC gigs are of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone is welcome to don a tracksuit and fake gold necklace. Along with the wicked tunes; a unique brand of humour, nostalgia and guaranteed mischief attracts the crowds.
Most of the band are looking forward to the tour next month. Apart from the “value tour bus” (a converted white van with uncomfortable seats and a small table in the back).
Rhys is traumatised from putting on someone else’s underpants at a festival once, but was quickly told that this was “lucky” and “the best thing that could’ve happened to him.”
Along with the “mad” tour, there is a group album in the pipeline and a Mike Balls special; the group having previously made two Adam Hussein albums. Trying to get in on the action, Graham aspires to make his solo debut. This is shot down in disgust as “it would be about balloons.”
Regardless, Graham is excited “We’re playing with some big name stars next year as well, it’s hilarious – we’re playing with Noel Galligher at the castle in Caldicot in August, The Levellers and Black Grape, and a load of other good stuff in Bristol”
“We’ve got a lot going on, so the dead horse is still being flogged even after 20 years” Rhys confirms.
Graham believes the group are younger now than they have ever been, but Eggsy says this is only “mentally.”
The world has changed since their inception, including “Marks and Spencer’s and Greggs at service stations,” but the Chain agrees that they haven’t.
“We’re still having fun and people are still having fun coming to our shows; and there’s nothing better than a kid coming up to us and telling us that their dad played our songs in their car” says Rhys.
Graham proclaims, “It’s a new generation of chain-heads!”
As restaurant service begins, we slide out of the booth and eagerly await the start of tonight’s adventure. Here’s hoping these heroes are still performing in another 20 years’ time.