Portstock headliners Stereo MCs, who will be bringing their
underground dance vibe to the city on June 22, have strong links
with the Port, as former band member, percussionist Owen Rossiter,
better known as Owen If, hails from this neck of the woods. Earlier this year the rest of the band members, along with founders Nick Hallam and Rob Birch, were in the city to visit their friend and former drummer.

In fact, the man behind the Stereo MCs’ DJ and beats man, Nick
‘The Head’ Hallam, has fond memories of gigging in South Wales,
highlighting a support slot on U2’s Zoo TV tour, which rocked up at the
Arms Park back in August 1993, as one which lives long in the memory.
Another link with the area is Nick’s daughter’s grandparents live in

Back 1993 the Stereo MCs were riding high themselves, having
stormed the charts the previous year with a hit album Connected, which
reached Number 2 in the UK album charts, and threw up two hit singles,
Connected and Step It Up, grooves, which for clubbers of a certain age,
became the soundtrack to joyous moments in their lives.

But after two years of touring Connected Nick and Rob were in need of
a break and stepped away from the limelight.

Said Nick: “Connected was our third album, and we had toured all
three. We had been away from home for so long. With Connected it was
pretty intense, touring for close to two years.

“This was before the internet and you couldn’t keep in touch with
what was going on. We got back to discover that drum ‘n’ bass had
happened while we were away and that we had missed a year of the
music scene.”

Having become disillusioned with the corporate side of the music
business, too, the Stereo MCs kind of went to ground.

“It was great when we started with Island Records,” said Nick. “They
were one of the big independent record labels. Chris Blackwell (who
started Island), was still there then, but when Polygram and Universal took
over it all became a bit boring.”

Their solution was to set up their own label, called Connected, and
return to the underground clubbing scene which was the original source
of their inspiration and from where they had sprung from.

“Starting our own label has been very therapeutic,” continued Nick,

“We are working with people who are making music that is all about
now, and that has been very energising for us.”

And that energy can be found in their live set as they have given their
older tracks, including classics such as Step it Up, Connected and On 33
a bit of an overhaul.

“It would be silly not to play the hits, but also we like playing them, they
are good tracks. It’s just a case of putting some fresh energy into them,
adding ‘groove’, to the tracks and getting back to the club music which
we have always liked.”

Portstock, Rodney Parade, Newport, Saturday, June 22.

For more information visit www.portstock.co.uk