Rock band in festival snub

A ROCK band from East Anglia is organising an anti-V2003 festival in protest at the lack of live music venues in Chelmsford.Five-piece group Belisha believe the music industry is only interested in Essex's county town when the annual V-festival takes place and rock fans are starved of they gigs they want to see for the rest of the year.

A ROCK band from East Anglia is organising an anti-V2003 festival in protest at the lack of live music venues in Chelmsford.

Five-piece group Belisha believe the music industry is only interested in Essex's county town when the annual V-festival takes place and rock fans are starved of they gigs they want to see for the rest of the year.

They are hoping to stage a day of alternative music at the Marconi club in Chelmsford to rival the V showcase, which is being held at Hylands Park at August 17 and 18.

"Now the Army & Navy has closed down, there are no venues whatsoever for kids who are interested in music," said singer Dan Raynham, who went to school in Chelmsford.

"The music industry only bothers with Chelmsford once a year. We want to do something about it to prove we really care, instead of just whinging about it."

The band have already come into conflict with the BBC over their debut single, Agnostic Jihad, which Radio One is refusing to play unless they change its name.

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"They are basically being frightened idiots. They don't understand that jihad also means a struggle. It's about the hypocrisy and wars that religion causes – but we're not discounting any particular religion," said Dan, who is from Maldon.

"They have told us they will play the single if we change the name, but we're not going to do that. We are sticking to our guns. It's about freedom of speech."

He added: "It's the same with Xfm. If we were signed to Sony they would play it. It shows the state of politics in the music industry – it's as bad as you think it might be at the furthest corner of your mind. Where has the punk spirit gone?"

Belisha even formed their own record label, Filthy Sonnix, to release their second album, People Of The Dark, which has received glowing reviews from rock critics

They now have a publishing and distribution deal and are hoping to showcase their talents with a UK tour later this year.

"When people come to our gigs or listen to our CDs I would like them to be inspired – and I expect them to jump up and down and grin like loons too," said Dan.

They got together five years ago with Dan's old school friend, Byder, on guitar. They followed up their debut CD, The Hounded, with a US tour, playing gigs in Hollywood, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

Belisha are named after a 17th Century German ancestor of Dan's who committed four murders and was never caught.

They are also fascinated by the alleged UFO crash at Rendlesham Forest in 1980 and have spent nights in the wood "skywatching". They would love to play a gig at the UFO crash site.

For more information about the group, including where to buy CDs, go to www.belisha.com. Bands interested in joining the anti-V2003 event can email: anti-v2003@filthysonnix.com

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