Posted by: Richard Frost | 1 Apr 2020

Super Furry Animals interview

Logo for Durham University's student newspaper PalatinateOriginal publication date: October 2003
Outlet: Palatinate

Super Furry Animals are back.

Their sold-out gig at Newcastle University comes in support of their deliberately acoustic sixth studio album Phantom Power. Contemporaries may struggle, but how do they continually escape the Britpop curse? For lead singer Gruff Rhys, the answer is simple – ‘by not being rubbish’. And how are relations between the five band-members after eight years together? ‘It’s like being married…but without the sex.’ The reassuring news for fans is that SFA are still great fun.

However, they reject accusations of being a comedy band, despite surreal lyrics in recent singles Hello Sunshine and Golden Retriever. ‘You can’t be depressed all the time. Besides, we’ve travelled the bars of the world – we have a great job but you can’t take it too seriously.’ And they aren’t afraid to voice their political opinions when for example dedicating The Man Don’t Give a F*ck to President Bush whilst touring America. Gruff cheekily attributes their success there to the fact that ‘they hate Bush too’.

Cover for Super Furry Animals' acoustic album Phantom Power

Bizarrely, three of the five members are former drummers, prompting the band to proclaim ‘they’re great – every band should have one!’ It’s surely nothing short of amazing then that the band possess such a clear plan as to their direction and continuing their recent resurgence – ‘There was more of a plan this time than ever before’.

Providing an insight into Phantom Power’s creation, they reveal that ‘before recording we had about 60 of our songs up on the wall. Then we chose the acoustic songs as the base’. Although this mellow album is far from the Radiator Part 2 that some fans still want, the band are determined to ‘develop and change’ and vow never to simply ‘rehash an album’.

The band is also honest about past failures. ‘The last time we played in Newcastle, we got booed off. We sounded sh*t.’ Recalling the chant of ‘what a waste of money’ with a shudder, they accept that they’ve previously struggled to realise their studio sound live: ‘We were always frustrated with what we could achieve on tour. Now though we have the technology to succeed.’

Perhaps the Welshmen are overly critical though as they’ve grown famous for producing surreal live shows packed with cacti, inflatable bears and nuclear bunkers. Can we expect an appearance of the legendary yetis tonight? ‘People say they’re costumes,’ moans Gruff, ‘but really it’s more of an Incredible Hulk-style transition based on love instead of hate. We’re unable to transform unless there’s love from the audience.’


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