THIS Christmas, fighting alongside the usual novelty acts and, of course, the X Factor winner for the coveted number one single slot will be a song that might just put Llandeilo on the music map.

The song, A Peaceful Country Christmas, not only features local musicians and schoolchildren, but was recorded at Newton House – and the town will have a starring role in the video.

That it’s come from the pen of local musician Stefan Cush, founder member of folk rock favourites The Men They Couldn’t Hang, means it’s no novelty song.

“It’s an all-encompassing song about what Christmas is really like, the good and bad, not a twee pastiche,” states Stefan, who is releasing the song under his new band, Stefan Cush and the Feral Family.

“Although it’s got everything in it, like bells, a children’s choir and so on, I like to think it has poignancy and meaningful lyrics. But we also wanted to get a happy medium between that side and also a good song that would work commercially.

“We wanted something that would have the brilliance of, say, Fairytale of New York or White Christmas, something that would appeal to the discerning listener.”

The Feral Family marks the start of a new direction for Stefan, who has been making music with TMTCH for more than 25 years.

It is a collective formed with local musician Nik Browning (aka Sputnik Weazel) and fellow TMTCH bandmates Tom Spencer and Ricky McGuire.

An album, Brough Superior, named after the rare superbike, follows on February 13.

The band were formed after a chance meeting between Stefan and fellow musician Nik Browning.

“Nik lived in the same street and I’d seen him around and thought to myself: ‘He’s a drummer’. Then I met him one day and got chatting,” explains Stefan, who lives in Llandeilo with girlfriend Rachel and their three-year-old daughter, Imogen.

“Sometime later, he was putting on a gig in The Angel, asked me to do a set and offered to join me on drums.

Within half an hour, we had put a set together – and it worked.

“We clicked and then started talking about putting together this collective.

“Nick plays with another band, the Surfin’ Lungs, and the way he works is similar to how we worked in TMTCH.

“He drums and is an allround musician, and is in charge of the production. He is also a prolific songwriter. I’ve got lucky with Nik – we both recognise where each other is coming from, a mutual understanding which empowers you creatively.”

Both the single and album were recorded at Newton House under their new label, Kodiak Recordiau.

“It’s a cottage industry,”

says Stefan, whose two sons from a previous marriage, Stanley and Joseph, both play on the new album. It features many local musicians, a fact Stefan is keen to emphasise.

“We want to use The Feral Family, not just to make music, but to promote local musicians,” he says. “We want to encourage local talent, to help people get into the industry.

Both me and Nik are determined to help and offer guidance.

“That’s one of the reasons we used the local talent on the album and got local children to sing on the record. What we want is to get recognition for our stuff, earn a small living and then be able help others.”

The album also marks a change in direction musically for Stefan. While it still retains the strong lyrical sense of his work with TMTCH, the music also showcases Stefan’s love for rock ’n’ roll, soul and reggae, and has more melodies and tunes rather than the stinging political salvos and beats that became a TMTCH trademark.

The band was formed in the early Eighties when Llandeiloborn Stefan was living in London.

Already friends with Shane MacGowan, of The Pogues, the band started out by busking before they got noticed and, for a while, were the darlings of the indie charts and firm festival favourites. They split in 1990 before re-forming to much acclaim in 1996.

The critically-acclaimed band, who toured Europe and Canada last year with their last album The Devil On The Wind, are taking a break right now while members work on solo projects – but there are plans.

“I think we became pigeonholed by some media as an ‘angry band’,” says Stefan.

“Sometimes the humour didn’t come across, but we weren’t that angry.

“The new stuff isn’t a million miles away from that, but allows me to express my musical influences.”

And perhaps a new attitude?

Stefan admits life in Llandeilo has mellowed him.

“I have mellowed as I got older and perhaps have more music confidence too.

“Living here for eight years, getting away from the London scene and all its stresses, has created a sea change. I feel lucky to live here, to be able to do what I do.

“The change, and working with Nik, has allowed me to make Brough Superior a labour of love, rather than ‘a needs must’ album.”

But could he still do angry protest songs?

“Oh yes, without a doubt,”

he laughs. “Maybe that side will be present on the next album. That passion, the social consciousness and the inner fight never goes away.”

A Peaceful Country Christmas is available to download from iTunes and Amazon from Monday, November 21.

Brough Superior will be released on February 13. Find more information at www.