The Welsh nationalists hate them. The English press don't understand them. What will the Scots make of the SUPER FURRY ANIMALS? Words: Toby Manning
The Super Furry Animals‘ approach to pop is an impressively bloody-minded one. Not only do they sing about Che Guevera. Mexican blood-sucking bats and growing your hair so long you can't see out of it (in Welsh). but they release singles called ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ (radio friendly? They don’t give a fuck) and create tunes which nonchalantly combine glam. punk. psychedelia and acid house as if they were born for each other. Strangest of all, in the Super Furries’ hands it all makes perfect pop sense. ‘We’re just following our whims. trying to create our own sound.’ says singer Gruff Rhys. speaking as the band prepare for their Scottish live dates. Drummer Daf leuan adds: ‘Rather than us trying to do what people want to hear. eventually people will come round to our way of thinking.‘ And if their second album Rarliator’s chart-bursting Number Eight debut is anything to go by. people seem to be doing just that. They may get a bit of a surprise when they get the album home though. Where the band’s Fuzzy Logic debut strutted with stompalong choruses and throwaway lunacy. Radiator slinks off into an unexpected vein of introspective melancholia and some of the most hauntingly beautiful music the band have created. ‘lt’s just the mood we were in at the time.’ explains Rhys. ‘We were recording miles away from our friends in the middle of nowhere on Anglesey. the flattest part of Wales in every sense of the term and I think it got to us. There were a few hairy moments.’ Aside from their understandable distaste for retirement island Anglesey. the band aren’t quite as comfortable with their Welsh homeland as the
'The Welsh-speaking media really hate our guts. They're always wheeling in some bunch of farmers to slag us off for singing in English.’ Gruff Rhys
The Furries: no time for parochialism
English press’s ‘they’re weird. they’re Welsh’ treatment might suggest.
Not only do guitarist Bunf (who recently broke his foot in bizarre circumstances) and Daf live in London. but the band’s refusal to kow-tow to expectations has made them few friends in the Welsh establishment.
‘The Welsh-speaking media really hate our guts.’ says Rhys, with some satisfaction. ‘They’re always wheeling in some bunch of farmers to slag us off for singing in English.’
Last year. with typical cussedness. the Furries — who sing in both English and Welsh — reacted to the annual Eisteddfod’s ban on English by performing every song as an instrumental.
The Furries have no time for parochialism; they’re natural polyglots. Rhys spent a year in Barcelona and while he says his semi-mastery of Spanish is ‘part of an attempt to destroy the two most prominent colonial languages in the World — Spanish and English’. his English lyrics evince a love of the language.
His guttural accent caresses every consonant. revealing the precision of lines like ‘clarity just confuses me; the lines upon the map a strange assembly’ (from ‘Demons’). His lyrics testify to a skewed. yet clear-eyed intelligence: how many other pop musicians can you imagine giving as good an account of themselves on News/tight — in a debate on Welsh devolution — as Rhys recently did?
it‘s another testament to the Furries’ idiosyncratic approach to pop. In the dumbed-down world of ladrock. their literacy and imagination seems almost perverser un-rock ’n’ roll. But a few listens to the fining pop of Radiator or catching their incandescent live act (of which ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ is an anarchic. surging highlight) is all you need to understand that the Super Furries have got this rock ’n‘ roll business down to a tee.
The Super Furry Animals are at the Jaffa Cake. Edinburgh on Wed 4 Nov and the Garage, Glasgow on Wed 5 Nov. Tickets sold for the October dates are valid for these dates. Radiator is out now on Creation.
Big m o uth
The column that puts its foot where its mouth is.
‘Um, well, it’s quite weird, really . . . let me see. It's quite hard to explain, 'cause . . . em . . . it's kind of like a muse song. A song for . . . my muse, or whatever, 'cause there's a book by Robert Graves called The White Goddess, which is about . . . I think it's about this . . . ancient goddess in Greek mythology, or something, but it was like the goddess of poetry and all this . . . anyway. . . 'cause for a long time I questioned where this . . . thing came from. Where this songwriting inside of me came from and . . . it’s really hard to explain.’ Tim from Ash, on their latest contender for the hit parade.
'I think the humour and wit of it appeals to them. That was their last defence here. Humour is everything, you know. Laughter is the evidence of freedom, in a way. There’s a lofty thought for you. And they have such a strong, black sense of humour. The first Sarajevans I met told me this joke: "What’s the difference between Auschwitz and Sarajevo? At least there was gas in Auschwitz." I was like, “Whoargh!”.' Bono, on the success of U2 ’5 Sarajevo 9/9
'Lately, I've been experiencing a real joy of life. Seeing stuff in other people's eyes and seeing how fucking beautiful everybody is. It's like that Big Picture thing that strikes you when you look at a starry night and you get that awe and wonderment about yourself.’ Patrick Duff, Strange/eve, on life off (yes, off) drugs.
'We had a disagreement after I released a single called "My Beloved Girl" which took the piss out of all those cutie anorak bands, who happened to make up most of Elevation’s roster.‘
Edwyn Collins describes falling out with Alan (Creation) McGee while signed to McGee ’s former label, Elevation.
’My mum cleans here. She comes down once a week. We clean up before she gets here, obviously.’ Wild, hard-living rocker Mark Chadwick of The Levellers discusses the sanitary arrangements at their Brighton HO.
'A moment of catharsis.‘
Kylie Minogue sums up the experience of reciting the lyric for '/ Should Be 50 Lucky’, po-faced, at the Royal Albert Hall Poetry day.
23 Oct—6 Nov 1997 THE UST 39