Have you been experimenting with your writing process over the years?

Yeah, we still write conventional songs, but we enjoy it when it goes [awry] and when a song is pushed somewhere that’s very unique. It’s very enjoyable for us and we get excited.

So do you feel like the writing process has become more collaborative over the years?

This specific record is very collaborative, this most recent one. There are songs which developed touring or created out of jams and then Huw [Bunford, guitarist] and Cian [Ciaran, keyboardist] put in some of their ideas as well. It’s probably one of the most cooperative. We’ve been touring for 15 years and everybody’s confidence in their singing or in their playing and writing has taken time to develop in some people, but we all pretty much have it now. So like Dafydd [Ieuan], the drummer, will play a guitar solo in a certain song and swap instruments, and we’ll all have a go at singing—apart from Guto [Pryce], the bass player, who’s still a specialist bass player. He holds down the bass and doesn’t get involved with the singing, but he’s actually the only one who can sing properly.

Do you write songs specifically for an album or do you just happen to write while touring and then choose?

Yeah, most of the time you just happen to write songs and songs have their own identities. Then you develop things with the songs and you can write then depending on what kind of record you’re trying to make, I suppose.

Very occasionally, I’ve written specifically for the record, following a concept or something. We tried making a record to a specific guitar tuning so every song was written to a very specific guitar tuning. We did the record called Phantom Power, which is in a tuning of D-A-D-D-A-D, but usually songs just come on their own.
And you guys are also known for having really exciting live shows. So do you also view your live shows like your music in that you’re trying to give your audience something new and different to experience or is it more just about having fun on stage?

I suppose we’ve never thought of it as fun in the sense that we’re not natural exhibitionists, so shows initially are terrifying and the idea of standing in front of people. Then gradually you become accustomed to it and you start enjoying them.

In the past, we’ve developed really elaborate stage shows and experimented with video projection and costume changes [laughs]. But usually, we scrapped the idea after the tour. We actually look at tours as kind of continuations of whichever album we’ve been touring. It’s very cathartic sometimes to just burn the outfits afterwards, to destroy the video clips and just be able to not repeat ourselves too much.

The past couple of years we’ve been just relying on our backup look. We’ve got nine albums worth of songs to delve into and we’ve been just concentrating on that really—enjoy playing the songs we haven’t played for a while and sort of figure out how to play the new ones.

So how important is the visual counterpart of your music to you?

It’s part of our identity really. It’s a continuation of the music on a slightly different level. Sometimes that helps give the music a context beyond the sleeves.

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