Spanish Inquisition: Super Furry Animals answer your questions
It's 4pm on another sunny afternoon in Madrid, and DiS is nervous. Why? We're only about to interview Super Furry bloody Animals, one of our favourite bands, like, ever. What if we fall over on our way in? Or mispronounce Mwng? These are just two of our concerns.
These aren't your normal run-of-the-mill, play-it-safe questions, either: as you may recall, we asked you to post us your posers for the band last week. You did just that, and in front of us on an A4 sheet are the picks of the bunch. And DiS being DiS, some of 'em are a bit tasty. Still, at least if they hate them, they won't necessarily hate us. Not our questions, pal.
As it turns out though, Guto Pryce is a lovely Welsh man who also happens to play bass in a thoroughly awesome band. Plus he reads DiS! But enough, let's skip to the transcript. A Spanish inquisition, if you will... You won't? Damn.
DiS: This is a question from Mike Diver (Go me – Ed). He wants to know how long Gruff (Rhys, vocals/guitar) can stay inside that Power Rangers helmet, and does he have a record?
Guto: I think he could stay in there all night, if he could get away with it, to be honest with you. I think he quite enjoys it.
DiS: Mike says that he's got a friend who has a Storm Trooper helmet, and that he sometimes wears it for the whole of the EastEnders omnibus, so I think Gruff probably beats him.
Guto: Yeah... we did T4, this kid's programme, on the beach in Brighton, and he wore it all the way through that, and he just got loads of abuse from eight-year-old girls. It's quite a good prop. Bunf (Huw Bunford, guitar) has a sort of silver, fire-proof helmet, and he doesn't wear it a lot, but occasionally they have, like, goats, sort of... rutted.
DiS: Sounds... homoerotic?
Guto: No, no. It's pure rock!
Video: 'Hello Sunshine'
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DiS: Right, a drugs question now from Lofisongsaregreat. "I once took mushrooms in Bethesda in the knowledge that you lot may have done the same. They made me believe I was Morph from that programme with slightly creepy, potential paedo artist Tony Hart that I forget the name of..."
Guto: Take Hart?
DiS: Could be... "With that in mind, which frightening kids' TV icon have you believed you've become under the influence of narcotics?"
Guto: No, I usually think I'm Zidane, actually. Zinedine Zidane.
DiS: That's quite appropriate, given our current location.
Guto: Yeah, yeah.
DiS: So, footballers, rather than kids' TV icons...
Guto: Yeah. Just head-butting people in the chest, randomly. Well, I mean friends, not just strangers.
DiS: HolmenatorNo2 writes. “Dear SFA, if you were to pit the Tank and the Yetis in a battle, who do you think would win?”
Guto: Are you talking about a battle of violence or a battle of music? Because the tank was a peace tank, that was the whole thing about it. We turned a military vehicle into a sound system and a party vehicle, so the battle thing couldn't be a battle of violence, but a battle of, erm, fun. I think the tank wins. I still meet people who have danced on the tank, you know, people who weren't into the band, but they were into techno, and danced on the tank at a social gathering of some kind. So, yeah, the tank wins.
DiS: This one's probably a bit of a yes/no question, but kykiske wants to know if you'd be so kind as to do your bit for your nation and headline Sunday night at Green Man?
Guto: I'd rather play Thursday morning! Yeah, we'd love to do Green Man, but I'm pushing for Thursday morning so I can get it out the way. Thursday afternoon, first band on. Yeah, love to, Green Man's the best. It's the most fun I've had at a festival.
DiS: Did you hear much about that new one recently, in Cardiff, SWN?
Guto: Yeah, we missed it, unfortunately. We'd have loved to have been involved in it, as a band. I only heard very good things about it, and Huw Stephens is a dude, the man.
Video: 'Show Your Hand' live on T4
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DiS: So, linking in with that, we've got a question about another radio presenter. It's off the back of a bit of a furore on the DiS message board, about a certain George Lamb of 6Music 'fame', who we understand did an interview with you guys recently.
Guto: (Laughs) Well, he did it with Gruff and Bunf, but I did hear something about it.
DiS: Well, we've got some quotes from readers on the subject (DiS takes a few choice quotes from here). So Captain_Robot's question, then, is just how much of a twat is George Lamb?
Cian (Ciaran, keyboards/electronics): (From across the room) Who?
DiS: George Lamb.
Cian: Exactly. Who!?
Guto: Well, you know, I can't call someone a twat if I've never met them, but...
DiS: He maybe could have done his research a bit better?
Guto: Yeah, but, what are you going to do... I was a bit gutted when they took Gideon Coe off... because, you know, I listen to 6Music, I really like him. That used to be my mornings: smoking, coffee, Gideon Coe. It's been spoiled a little bit. But you know, I don't want to bad mouth the guy... completely.
DiS: Damian wants to know why you stopped doing DVD editions of your albums.
Guto: Because they're really expensive to make and for a while, Sony gave us money to do anything we wanted... but now reality's caught up a bit.
Cian: We can do them on request though!
Guto: (Laughs) Yeah, we can still do them, because we've got a surround sound studio. We can perform it live in the studio, for people, it's just, you know...
DiS: I suppose that ties in quite nicely with one further down. Hairystavros asks: "Given your recent return to an indie label after a successful period on a major, where do you feel most comfortable?"
Guto: Well, we've been lucky, really, because all the labels just let us do whatever we wanted to, and never really interfered. By the time we were on Sony we were fairly established, we'd done four records anyway. Creation had given us a hell of a lot of freedom to establish ourselves, so everyone's just let us do what we want. You know, we join labels and then they change hands, which has just happened with Rough Trade, so when Geoff Travis signed us, it was all done on a handshake, really, but, yeah, he's still there, obviously, and he's still the man. It's still very much his label. So that's really nice, that there's a personality behind the label, as opposed to just a boardroom and, you know, accountants. Yeah, we've been lucky, you know.
DiS: Well, this guy's got another question, which we'll let him have. He says, as a band with such a varied back catalogue, what's your personal favourite SFA moment?
DiS: Yeah, could be an event, a song, an album...
Guto: I don't think I could say for definite, but I can think of really good times, like the time we went to Colombia to do a video, the time we had the tank, the time a woman jumped on stage when we were in yeti suits, in just her pants, in America... bizarre. Kind of a Mötley Crüe type moment. Yeah, I dunno, getting signed... it's all been one big moment, to be honest with you. We haven't really stopped. This moment now, how's that for an answer?
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DiS: This one's a real mouthful. Who is the lead songwriter in the band, if there is one, and if not, how do you write your songs, as it seems there are different personalities which are reflected in the songs...
Guto: Well, Gruff writes a load, like generally and then, Cian also writes songs, Bunf writes songs, Dafydd writes songs, I don't really write songs, I'm the only one that doesn't. On the recent albums, like Hey Venus, for example, 'Hibernating' was Cian's song, and 'Battersea Odyssey' was Bunf's song, and the rest were Gruff's songs. Then we get songs that come out of jams, but Gruff writes about a song a minute, I'm sure. He does write a lot of songs.
DiS: Also, considering the various side-projects that you've all been involved in, how do you decide which is an SFA song and which would suit the other projects better? Is that a decision you take as a band?
Guto: No, no. I think it's a personal thing. I mean Cian does a lot of techno, pure techno, and obviously, that's going to be part of his Acid Casuals project, but I don't know how Gruff decides.
DiS: Mentioning the techno side of things, this guy claims that he has a copy of the infamous lost SFA techno album...
DiS: No way?
Guto: No. He might have some demos.
DiS: He says that you can recognise the songs that have later been adapted into 'proper' SFA songs.
Guto: Yeah, they would be demos. I've heard of this before. I think they would be the Guerrilla demos.
Cian: Who is this?
DiS: This is Fiddygent.
Cian: Well, can you ask him to MP3 them to us, so we can have a copy?
DiS: Yeah, we can do that.
Guto: Well, there's no lost album. I think they might have put together a CD at one point of, like, instrumental demos. Some of them would have become songs, and some of them, you know, are still waiting.
DiS: Chickenwing asks: "You've been going for quite a while now. How have you managed to stay together and keep it fresh for yourselves?"
Guto: I think not stopping has been the major thing. I mean, we haven't really had time to stop. Like recording and touring and, more recently, having children. I mean, there would have been a break there, but, really, twelve years has flown by. It also helps that the band started out of friendship. We started out of just hanging out, finding that we had common musical ground and wanting to do something with it.
DiS: Talking of which, one of our own now, how do feel about the parallels that are often levelled between yourselves and the Beach Boys?
Guto: Well, we listen to the Beach Boys. When we formed, we'd go out to a rave, get off our nuts, listen to electronic music all night and then come home and listen to Surf's Up by the Beach Boys. I mean, there's a million other bands we're big fans of, but when there's a band like the Beatles or the Beach Boys, you know, they paved the way, in terms of harmonies and crazy, psychedelic experimentation... when you're the first to do that, you're going to get compared to them. But, yeah, we're big Beach Boys fans. But, then, we're also big Aphex Twin fans. We never wanted to be a Beach Boys pastiche band, but yeah, we're into a lot of the things they did, especially the dodgier, seventies stuff, and even later, sort of Surf's Up, or Holland. I mean, a song like 'Sail On Sailor', on Holland, is a classic - more so than anything off Pet Sounds. You know, Pet Sounds is supposed to be the classic, but we're more interested in a lot of the other stuff, including the Dennis Wilson solo material. Make sure you mention that. Dennis Wilson!
Video: 'Hermann Loves Pauline'
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DiS: This is from someone who was at the recent Roundhouse show. "At one point, the lighthouse seemed to emit a couple of bass booms so deep that it loosened my hair follicles and I voided my bowels. Can I sue?" That's from Nodger.
Guto: (laughs) Yeah, fucking hell, I'd go to court, to fight that. Yeah, try it.
DiS: Geoff Travis will cover the legal costs, maybe?
Guto: Well, (laughs) he'll never win. But, if he was upset by that... Look at our sound guy, looking all fucking smug about it!
DiS: One from carpet... "When awakening in the morning, do you put your socks or trousers on first?"
Guto: Well, it's a good morning if you wake up with your trousers off, to be honest with you. Sometimes you wake up on tour fully clothed. That's horrible. But, erm, socks. You know, you don't want to step on the floor with bare feet, on the bus, for example, you don't know what might be on there. It's unhygienic. That was the question, right? Socks or trousers?
DiS: Brusma would like to know if you can name any famous Slovenians.
Guto: (Long pause) Yes! Cesar, who plays for West Bromwich Albion, because we've just watched Slovenia vs... erm, who did we watch, Bunf?
Bunf: Slovenia vs Netherlands
Guto: Slovenia vs Netherlands. So yes, Cesar. So yes. I win. Can he name any famous Slovenians? Can we throw that back in his face? Was he trying to catch us out? Is he a proud Slovenian, or was he just being cheeky?
DiS: IndieAndy_Jones asks...
Guto: (A bit incredulously) IndieAndy_Jones?
DiS: Yes. Well, anyway, he'd like to know if you think it's a bit of a cop out when interviewers just bring along a load of other people's questions - like this - or if it makes a nice change to being asked the same questions you always get asked by the same interviewers.
Guto: No, it's nice, yeah. Obviously, they're by people who are actually into the band, so yeah, a nice change. I wouldn't want it to be every interview, but... we've had worse, to be honest with you. I remember another 6Music one, where they just asked us Christmas questions, about jumpers and socks. We travelled all the way to London, and they just said, you know, do you like socks or jumpers for Christmas!
DiS: He would also like to know when the mythical SFA rave album will get a proper release.
Guto: Rave album? Well, we have been getting into European rave pop at the moment, so yeah, we need to do one. Well, we have got another two albums in mind, but they're not rave albums. There's a classical album, well, orchestral, so quite the opposite, and then the rock record...
SFA’s Hey Venus! album is out now on Rough Trade. Their MySpace can be found here, and they play a special New Year’s Eve show at London’s Royal Festival Hall on – d’uh – New Year’s Eve.