Welcome to day 3 of Super Furry week on Mint Custard and I’m afraid we start off with some bad news. I’ve just looked up the UK album chart to see how Dark Days / Light Years is faring, and still can’t quite believe my eyes. The album has dropped 35 places to number 58 and now sits 3 places below (I kid you not) the Greatest Hits of Ultravox. I know the album has been out in digital formats for a few weeks, but Ultravox have been around for 30 years and the best thing they ever did was inspire Vic Reeves to do a brilliant cover of Vienna. And I bet that’s not even on the album.
Anyway, I’ll sit here King Canute style and hope that the tides of popular culture can turn around and at least recognise that our Super Furry friends at least deserve more recognition than the ill advisedly side-burned Midge Ure…
Second part of my interview with Gutto, Gruff and Cian
MC: The vocal sample on Hello Sunshine by Wendy and Bonnie really stands out cos I don’t think you’ve had other vocalists on your albums before. Is there anyone else that you’d like to get on there? Does everyone just turn you down?
Gruff: There’s a girl called Rachel from Cardiff and she sang on a few songs
Cian: The first female vocal on a Furry record
Gruff: Wendy Flowers sang with us on stage in San Francisco and she sang it as a duet. She’s in her 50s now. Amazing. Perfect pitch.
MC: Is the Bobby Brown story true? (that they asked him to sing on Juxtaposed with U, a single from 2001)
Gruff: Yeah. We asked your man from East 17, Brian Harvey, but he turned us down.
MC: And the Bobby Brown thing?
Gruff: We couldn’t get through to him even. He’s on a different planet.
MC: Has he still got that triangular hair?
Gruff: Last time I saw him he was all shaved off. He was in Israel with Whitney, getting baptised again.
MC: I can see Super Furries hanging around with Bobby and Whitney. Isn’t Whitney a big smoker?
Gutto: Yeah, a big bong-head.
Gruff: Bobby’s more of a bucket man. Whitney’s into the bong.
Gutto: That’s why they’re always fighting.
MC: You’d think it would calm them down
Gutto: Some people it goes the other way and they go mental.
MC: You’ve done a new DVD for Phantom Power after the one you did for Rings Around the World which was well received. What have you done differently this time?
Gutto: The main difference between Rings and Phantom Power is the fact that you can do a surround sound mix on the computer at home instead of going into a two grand film studio which is horribly overpriced. But it’s good that the Rings technology has gone into people’s houses and it’s always cool when that happens. It just makes it cheaper…
Cian: …and more accessible to people and not just a thing for multimillion selling bands.
MC: Some of the videos to Rings Around the World were very powerful. I remember seeing you play Run Christian Run at a festival in Dublin and the whole crowd were ignoring the band on stage and just listening to the music. Is that what you wanted to happen?
Cian: Well, the DVD we primarily started because we wanted to do surround sound. The visuals side came afterwards and on Rings some people were saying it can be distracting – watching more than listening, so on Phantom Power, because you can have multiple streams of visuals on the DVD, people have got something to look at but it doesn’t take away from the music. Hopefully people will listen more than they would have in the past.
MC: I read a quote from you Gruff from 2001 where you said “I think in Welsh and have to translate my thoughts into English.”
Gruff: You see I never said that. It really pisses me off. I dunno who the fuck says that. It really fucks me off.
MC: And you’re held accountable.
Gruff: Yeah, and everything I read on us, people [comment on it] but you know, I’m just as slow in Welsh as I am in English. I’m just fucking slow! But, you know, if I couldn’t speak English I wouldn’t have bothered recording six albums or so in English. It’s a sound-bite made by some journalist at some point that been perpetuated by people who like writing. I dunno why.
MC: Is it frustrating that people pick up on that all the time?
Gruff: A bit. I think people over romanticise a little. So it’s a bit strange.
MC: So when you’re writing songs how do you decide which ones are going to be Welsh and which ones are going to be English? Is it just that the lyrics sound better in Welsh?
Gruff: Occasionally a lyric is driven by a lyric. Like here, we’ve got some sugar sachets which is called “Coffee with Passion.”
Gruff: So you’ll get some words into your head and it’ll turn into a melody so ‘coffee with passion’ is (sings) 'coffee with passion' and the next thing, it’s a song. Sometimes it’s based on a Welsh phrase and it sounds really good and you don’t wanna change it or translate it. Sometimes a lyric will lead to songs and sometimes a melody will come first and you can decide which language you want, but sometimes the language dictates the song. We don’t like to mess around with it too much.
MC: Would a radio station like this have been good for you guys when you starting up?
Gruff: Totally. In Cardiff you mean? There’s nothing like this is Cardiff.
Cian: They’re few and far between in the whole of the UK
MC: There’s not much community radio in the UK is there?
Gutto: No. You get pirate radio shows in the major cities, but not in Cardiff.
MC: Super Furry radio?
Gruff: Shit yeah! We were gonna broadcast on tour. We were gonna get a transmitter on the bus. But we forgot. We were meant to do that about three years ago but we forgot everything about it. Dunno what happened. Maybe it clashed with the police frequencies or something.
MC: Are you looking forward to playing Australia again?
Gruff: Yeah, definitely. It’s weird not being here for 4 ½ years. I don’t know if anyone has heard what we’ve done in the meantime.
MC: They have, definitely.
Gruff: It’s pretty incredible to come literally to the other side of the world and people know your songs.
MC: In the past you’ve had smoking volcanoes, you had a great visor Gruff, yeti costumes, quadraphonic sound, the infamous blue rave tank which you sold to Don Henley from the Eagles and also Acoustic Bingo. Is there anything that you’ve wanted to do that’s been too expensive to do?
Gruff: Aircraft carrier we’re still working on… Nightclub…
Gutto: Lasers. We asked for lasers but they said that you’ve got to have a plumber. I think it was just the crew lying.
MC: Surely you can get what you want now can’t you?
Gruff: We’ve bankrupted so many record labels. We bankrupted Creation, Fly Daddy, Ankst, S Records, Placid Casual. Sony we’re on the verge of bankrupting after the Rings around the World budget.
MC: Money well spent though…
Gruff: Fucking brilliant, aye!
MC: Cheers guys – we’ve been taking to Gruff…
Gruff: … that’s me…
Gutto: hello that’s me! Thanks!
MC: and Cian
MC: … from Super Furry Animals. Thanks very much guys, cheers.