Super Furry Animals: Interview With Gruff Rhys: Day For Night

Super Furry Animals know rock ’n roll. During one of their shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, vocalist and guitarist Gruff Rhys embraced the rough, uninhibited spirit of the genre by vomiting on stage—even if it was unintentional.

“Yeah, it was quite unfortunate, but I think it was very raw,” Rhys said. “It’s quite rock ‘n roll.”

Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a repeat of that incident when the Welsh quintet come over to the States this month on one of their “musical excursions” —a term Rhys coined to describe the short bouts of performances the band has been doing lately, touring being not quite the right word.

After 15 years of performing around the world and nine full-length releases—the latest one, Dark Days/Light Years, was digitally released in March— Super Furry Animals have experienced more than just a change in vernacular. Traversing indie, experimental, pop and psychedelic, the Welshmen of SFA have experimented and played with their sound, the visual representation of their songs and their live shows.

When The Aquarian spoke to Rhys, he was spending time with his daughter and attempting to locate her shoes (one of which was sadly never recovered). But he set aside time to talk about Super Furry Animals’ writing process, visual projects and his own solo work.

You guys have been experimenting with and changing your sound throughout the years. After over 10 years, do you find it gets harder and harder to challenge yourselves to create something different?

I suppose the more that you create, you develop a certain kind of sound and with five musicians that have always been the line-up, there are certain inevitabilities. I suppose when the same people make a record, there’s going to be a lot of things in common between the records and we hope every record is going to be distinct in some way. So I suppose it’s more that we constantly refine ourselves and push it somewhere else, but I think it’s a very gradual process and I don’t think our records are usually connected batches from one to the other.

Have you ever noticed that you’re falling into the same kind of sound and then consciously decide to change that?

Occasionally, we’ll push and pull the band in different directions and nobody’s in charge really so even if some of us begin to push it to a certain direction, it pulls back to some other direction. Usually, it turns out completely different than any one of us thought it would go. I think that’s part of the adventure, but it’s fairly unpredictable. Although, the songs are originally finished beforehand so I suppose selecting the songs defines the record mostly.

With this record, the conscious decision really was not to include the slow numbers. There are not a whole lot of chords in these songs; they’re not as song-based in the conventional song writing. They’ve been developed out of band jams, but it turned out sounding like songs pretty much anyway.