Back in the late 80s a new scene emerged in the UK, seemingly from nowhere came new bands that retained the spirit of punk but bought melody by the bucket load! Alongside their contemporaries, the likes of The Senseless Things, The Sect, Seers, Snuff, The Joyce McKinney Experience and Leatherface, Mega City Four were at the fore front of this new scene and quickly gained widespread acclaim. MC4 went on to achieve significant success and released a handful of albums before they eventually split in the mid 90s. Front man Wiz tragically died in 2006 but the Forward 4 Wiz Trust set up in his name continues to preserve both his legacy and his passion for both life and music. We asked trustee Karina to give us the lowdown on the trust and why Wiz continues to be so fondly remembered by so many.

R13: The trust is named after the Mega City Four and Ipanema frontman Wiz; for those not familiar with him and his work can you give us a brief summary (if possible!) of who he was and why he still means so much to so many people?
K: Darren 'Wiz' Brown was a singer-songwriter with an intense passion for sound. Fronting the successful globe-trotting Mega City Four, he went on to write and play with Therapy? and Canada's Doughboys, to name but a few. In the late 90s Wiz formed Serpico, and then Ipanema, achieving international acclaim for the powerful and heartfelt rock music he wrote.

In his time with Mega City 4, Wiz toured the world several times over, released 8 albums, played and sung to hundreds of thousands, but never lost his punk routes. Wiz's lyrics spoke for a generation of awkward kids, allowing for a hardcore following that remains today.

When MC4 disbanded in 96, Wiz hopped across the pond to write and tour with Canada's Doughboys, achieving a gold disc for their single Shine and freezing in a van during their harsh winter... something his feet never forgot at least! After a year Wiz returned to his Rother Road home and formed Serpico.

Serpico gigged hard, but released very little, eventually morphing, through several line up changes, into Ipanema. Wiz's writing went from strength to strength over the ensuing years, taking in tours and making friends and fans in the UK, France, Spain and the States. Their single Je Suis Un Baseball Bat and mini album Me Me Me sold out quickly and Wiz was hungrily writing with Rauf and Lawrence for their next masterpiece when tragedy struck.

On 6th December 2006, Wiz tragically passed away after collapsing at a band rehearsal, suffering a haemorrhage on the brain stem. He played, wrote and aspired to the last. Wiz never stopped moving forward. He loved music, new music that had drive and passion, and it inspired him to create his own work that in turn inspires others.

But Wiz was so much more than that musician to everyone he met along the way. His humanity and kindness touched everyone who had the pleasure to meet him. He had a genuine ability to put people at ease and never bowed to any so-called rock star airs and graces. Wiz was everyone's friend, and everyone felt part of that... and as I am lucky enough to be told, still do.

R13: So tell us how the Trust first came into being?
K: The Forward 4 Wiz trust was formed in April 2007 with the aim to mentor and assist new musicians making new music. We were inspired how Wiz had continually, almost obsessively, moved forward and was so hungry for new music that pushed boundaries rather than harking back to years gone by... It upset Wiz greatly that many would ask about MC4 reunions, yet wouldn't bother coming along to an Ipanema gig, and I think this became one of the driving forces behind his passion to strive forwards.

When Wiz died, the outpouring of grief, and love, was immense. Yet much of this again yearned for the Megas days, blindly ignoring all that he had achieved in recent years. Forward 4 Wiz, was in part a reproach to this, but for the major part a continuation of the passion Wiz felt for new music and those other musicians pushing the boundaries of what was possible, what was fashionable, what was expected.

R13: So what kind of thing does the trust do and can you give us an example of where you've been able to help a band or musician out?
K: Since our formation 7 years ago we've had the pleasure of working with over 100 young, talented musicians. F4Wt was involved in the Rocked Out performance workshops at Aldershot's West End Centre for several years, supporting musicians that would otherwise be unable to fund their place. This year we have been lucky enough to secure enough funding to run a series of performance and industry workshops out in the local community for another generation of young aspiring musicians.

Not all of our work has been based around those just learning to write and perform, we also support unsigned and self-signed bands in various capacities. We are currently mentoring singer-songwriter Michael Riley through the recording of his first album, have helped to fund promotional releases for Freeze The Atlantic and supported several other bands with anything from snippets of advice to enabling European tours.

I think our greatest success to date was being able to help a very talented local young lady. She was homeless at the time we met her, but she displayed such passion for music and songwriting that we simply helped her be part of the Rocked Out programme. In the time since, she has gone from strength to strength and achieved such a lot. She is now securely housed, safe, happy and studying for a music degree. We are immensely proud of what she has achieved and inspired by her drive.

R13: Have any of the bands/artists you assisted gone on to big things?
K: F4Wt is proud of everyone we've had the pleasure of working with over the years and don't necessarily believe the 'big thing' i.e. a record deal is actually the be all and end all of being a musician, although it obviously helps if you're being paid! Freeze the Atlantic are a local super group that really should be checked out, as should several other bands that either we've assisted in some way, or indeed support us. It's such a positive thing that we have a strong local music community and we can all rely on each other.

R13: Are their plans for the trust to grow and move into other areas?
K: We have ideas to expand the outreach work in the next few years, but this relies almost entirely on funding. As a small charity, our income is solely formed from kind donations from our supporters, so progress can be slow. Our concentration for the rest of the year is to forge strong links within the local community to build on areas we can support musicians in a non-financial way.

R13: The trust has been going nearly 7 years now; are you finding it harder to maintain support and enthusiasm the further away you get from the legacy of Wiz and MC4?
K: I am so overwhelmingly thankful to all our supporters past and present that continue to ensure that F4Wt and therefore Wiz's legacy lives on. In all honesty I had only hoped that we might get this far, and it is all credit to those fans and friends that we are, not only still here, but moving from strength to strength with our work. Wiz's true legacy lies in each of our supporters.

R13: What was your connection with Wiz and/or MC4 originally?
K: I remember watching the Neds on Top of The Pops with my brother, him muttering the infamous words 'if you like that shit, you'll like those tossers from up the road'. But alas I was a bit young and only managed to stand outside the fire escape at MC4's homecoming gig at Farnborough Rec.
Fast forward (quite) a few years and I asked Wiz if I could use his lyrics in some of my paintings. (I'm a synesthetic artist) He was quite astounded and intrigued how his music could transcend artforms, we got talking, we worked together on several projects for Ipanema, and we became partners. Not quite the classic love story, but one of happiness none-the-less. I'm proud to have been part of his life and feel blessed that I could share some of the happiest times together.

R13: Most (if not all) the trustees played with Wiz in various bands over the years and have gone on to do their own things; what kind of input do they bring to the trust?
K: Everyone brings their own unique blend of talents to the trust. We may be a ramshackle bunch of aging musicians and musos, but each one of us has worked, either for money, favours or love, in almost every aspect of the music industry. Therefore we feel somewhat ashamedly qualified to advise in whatever way we can. We may not be the holy grail on how to make it in the music industry (theres a reason none of us have bought that mansion yet), but we're a bloody good starting point... and luckily we know a lot of people who know stuff too.

R13: You've worked with some notable partners over fundraising initiatives such as Boss Tuneage; what kind of things do they do for you?
K: Aston and Julie of Boss Tuneage have given us unending support over the years, not only to the trust but also to Rauf, Lawrence and myself with the legacy of the Ipanema songs left behind when Wiz died. Ipanema were half way through demoing a new album at the time. Through Lawrence and Rauf's hard work and Boss Tuneage's love and support, we managed to get those songs out to everyone to hear. Just as Wiz had intended. Boss Tuneage kindly donate all proceeds to F4Wt to help us to keep going, helping out the next generation of rockers... it's a circle.

R13: Do you have volunteer opportunities and if so how can people get involved?
K: If anyone is interested in volunteering than we are always more than happy to hear from them. Like I said earlier, we're hoping to extend the outreach work that we do in the near future, for which we always need people to help out. We also love to hear from anyone with fundraising ideas... or even if they just want to say hello. We like hellos. And cake.

R13: Would you like to see a tenth (or any other number!) anniversary gig with some of the bands that performed at the original 4 for Wiz gig?
K: No. Exactly for the reasons above.

R13: What's next for the trust?
K: Firstly, after Friday's performance and industry workshopping day, I'm going to have a beer and then a rest. Then we'll be going to some Welcome the Howling Tones and Parachute For Gordo gigs and reading all about the areas best new acts at Then we'll be back to concentrating on Michael Riley. And then we'll be forming some ideas for the next round of workshops. If anyone has any ideas they'd like to share, then please let us know!

And thank you. Everyone's ongoing support means everything, the Forward 4 Wiz Trust is everyone's legacy. I think Wiz would be quite proud x

You can find out more about the Forward 4 Wiz trust here.