‘Something Strange Came Out Of The Skies’ Gavin Lloyd Wilson

In 1977, Gavin Lloyd Wilson was a Pembrokeshire schoolboy fascinated by a spate of strange local UFO incidents. His 2021 album, ‘Something Strange Came Out Of The Skies’, took its inspiration from this now-infamous “Welsh Triangle” of sightings

“I was 13 at the time, and I learned about the Broad Haven UFO sightings from ‘John Craven’s Newsround’,” remembers Gavin Lloyd Wilson. “Broad Haven was 10 miles away from where we lived, near Haverfordwest, so my ears pricked up.”

In February 1977, this unassuming corner of South Wales became the subject of a media frenzy following a bizarre occurrence in a primary school playground. When 16 children claimed to have seen a silver-suited spaceman emerging from a cigar-shaped UFO in the trees behind their school field, the incident was taken seriously by their headteacher and the story was swiftly picked up by BBC One’s primetime children’s news bulletin.

“Later, one of the boys who saw the UFO started at my secondary school,” continues Gavin. “David Davies. He still gives interviews about it today. I can remember asking him about it, and he was absolutely matter-of-fact – ‘Oh yeah, that’s what I saw’. I couldn’t ridicule him because he was so serious, although I think he suffered for it afterwards – it was a very violent school!”

Predictably, the national media flocked to Pembrokeshire to greet their potential new alien overlords. The Coombs family of Ripperston Farm reported a seven-foot being in a black visor lurking outside their farmhouse window, and were understandably perturbed when a herd of cows seemed to mysteriously teleport across several miles of pasture. A typically understated headline in The Sun newspaper cemented the area’s reputation as a weirdy hotspot – “SPACEMAN MYSTERY OF THE TERROR TRIANGLE”.

“My main reaction was, ‘Why didn’t I see something?’,” laughs Gavin. “I was obsessed with science fiction and a massive ‘Doctor Who’ fan.”

To add insult to injury, when the saucers returned that summer, it was Gavin’s older sister Belinda who was granted an exclusive encounter.

“She had a UFO sighting in July 1977,” he recalls. “And she was also very matter-of-fact about it. She’d been out for the afternoon with her boyfriend, and she just came back and said, ‘We saw a UFO!’. And again, you couldn’t argue. She wasn’t a liar, and she wasn’t given to flights of fancy.”

Meanwhile, Gavin was becoming fascinated by the more fantastical realms of progressive rock, and by the 1980s he’d formed a workplace band with the unlikely name, Spurious Transients.

“A bunch of us worked as computer programmers for a company called BNF Metals in Oxfordshire,” he explains. “By chance, we were nearly all would-be musicians. A guy called Simon Trew ordered an MPC1 drum machine from the back pages of Electronics & Music Maker magazine, and it wasn’t working properly, so he brought it into work and we spent days messing around with it. That’s where the name Spurious Transients came from. You’d try to trigger it, and you’d get a long delay… then it would do something else entirely!”

An hour-long live recording from 1988 called ‘Helicopter Hat’ is available on the Spurious Transients Bandcamp page, and comprises two splendid 31-minute wig-outs titled, ‘When Used In Conjunction With The Helicopter Hat There’s A Complete Absence Of Erroneous Sonic Pollution’ – parts one and two, obviously.

“We’d been listening to Gong,” shrugs Gavin.

By the 1990s, Gavin had adopted the Spurious Transients name for his own solo recordings, but it wasn’t until a 2018 celebration of oddness in a Cheshire village hall that memories of both his and Belinda’s teenage experiences were reignited.

“I’d almost forgotten about the UFOs until I went to the ‘Weird Weekend North’, where the ufologist Steve Mera mentioned the 1977 Welsh sightings,” he recalls. “My sister was there with me, and she stuck her hand up at the end of his talk and said, ‘I saw something that year as well’.

“I’d been wanting to combine a musical project with a Fortean topic for a long time, and I had an idea for a seven-inch single about Gef The Talking Mongoose. Originally, ‘Something Strange Came Out Of The Skies’ was just going to be the B-side, but then it grew and grew until it became an album.”

The resulting 2021 opus (named after a line in that original ‘John Craven’s Newsround’ report) is a glorious, sprawling concept album of psychedelic delights, with a cast of local actors reciting authentic 1977 eyewitness reports. From the self-explanatory ‘Bovine Bilocation’ to ‘The Silver Giants’, all angles of this curious episode are covered with wry humour and no little musical flair. Touchingly, Gavin also persuaded his sister to record her own memories of her brief teenage brush with the distinctly otherworldly.

“It just suddenly seemed to appear, this object,” recalls Belinda, amid the swirling synths of ‘Mystery Object Over Llangwm’. “I can only liken it to a sausage or a cigar. It was silver, metallic, like a plane fuselage with rounded ends…”

“A previously unpublished account!” says Gavin, proudly. “The recording was a nice diversion, because she was having chemotherapy at the time. We just chatted, and she went through what she saw. She was ever so brave. She never once complained about having cancer. And today is actually the third anniversary of her passing.”

Oh, gosh – sorry.

“It’s not a problem,” he smiles. “I want to remember her, and to talk about her. She always encouraged my musical projects.”

And, 46 years on, what does Gavin think actually happened in South Wales in 1977? He pauses for thought.

“Part of me thinks it’s true… and part of me thinks it can’t be true!” he admits. “People certainly saw things, but what they saw – I can’t even begin to imagine. It’s just so crazy. Almost like it was a mass hallucination. This is why I’m interested in ufology – I’m not a believer in extraterrestrials visiting us, as such, but I’m interested in why people see these things.”

‘Something Strange Came Out Of The Skies’ is available at spurioustransients.bandcamp.com

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