Gruff Rhys: ‘We sold the Super Furry Animals tank to Don Henley from the Eagles’

Estimated read time 8 min read

Could you share any interesting anecdotes from the 1990s about Oasis, Super Furry Animals, or other bands signed to Creation Records? According to Noel Gallagher, Super Furry Animals were the top band from Wales. RobJ1982

There were many exciting tales! As teenagers, we used to listen to records from Creation and then we were fortunate enough to be signed by them. I couldn’t believe it. Oasis invited us to join them on tour and were always kind and supportive of us. We even had prime seats to witness some of their wild antics.

During our performance at the Etihad Stadium with them, they kindly provided us with the Manchester City home dressing room. One of our guitar technicians, who supports a different team, admitted to leaving small messages for the City players throughout the room – on the lockers, in the showers, and everywhere else. I can only imagine the reactions when the players encountered these sarcastic remarks.

What happened to the tank? qwertychucha

After the criminal justice bill was passed, authorities were seizing sound systems. In order to avoid this, we stored ours in a tank. However, tanks are not allowed on highways, so we had to use our connections to find a place to park it in a field. When we brought it to the 1996 Reading festival on a truck, we received numerous complaints because it was louder than the second stage. Eventually, we ended up selling it to Don Henley from the Eagles, who collects military vehicles. He had no interest in our band and even had the SFA logo repainted in military colors. We had ambitious plans to hold a festival on an aircraft carrier, but this required us to have a platinum-selling album.

Super Furry Animals in 2015

In 2015, we crossed paths backstage at the Victorious festival. As close friends now, may I leverage my connections to convince you and the members of Super Furry Animals to create a 10th album? From Maff78
It’s a decimal culture, but through no planning we only managed nine, which seems to be a friendly number for the 21st century. They fit really well on a Rubik’s Cube. I’d never say never, but there are no plans. We last reunited for a tour for the reissue of Mwng [in 2015], which was very enjoyable, but if you let it get out of hand you end up reliving the past in real time, which would be a very strange existence.

Eight years ago, you composed a piece of music titled “I Love EU” which was inspired by Brexit. How have you been spending your time since then? Hussar

The recent referendum had a simple yes-or-no vote, and the current results were anticipated. From my understanding, the right wing had control over the parameters of Brexit. While I do appreciate the left’s perspective on leaving the EU, traveling within Europe was difficult before the Maastricht treaty and it seems we have returned to those challenges. Noam Chomsky’s viewpoint is that both staying and leaving have negative consequences, but when faced with two bad options, it is best to choose the lesser evil.

Can you confirm if the lyrics of “Bad Friend” from your latest album, “Sadness Sets Me Free,” are inspired by a caravan trip in western Wales where the weather was gloomy and the refreshments weren’t ideal?

For every vacation I have taken, more or less, the song talks about the limitations of what you can bring with you. Whether it be a caravan or a five-a-side football team, there is always a limit. This reflects the pressure of not being able to be present for everyone at all times. I wrote this song in 2022, but it wasn’t until 2023 that I learned the word “capacity,” which would have better explained the concept.

Is it possible for Euros Childs and Gruff Rhys to collaborate? Do you think that he is one of the best artists in the Welsh music scene? Peeby7
I concur, he is one of the best. My first encounter with Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci was through Welsh language radio in 1990. We have performed concerts together over time, and about two years ago, I was part of a supergroup with Euros on Welsh language television. We had an impromptu jam session with the Welsh band Adwaith for 30 minutes, although it was not captured on record. It may still be reverberating in space.

Can you repeat the success of your previous Edinburgh fringe performance, showcasing your exceptional skill in deadpan comedy? Would you be interested in revisiting that experience? DefinitelyStillAlive.

I presented a slideshow presentation for the American Interior album and was invited to perform for a week in Edinburgh. I am not particularly interested in comedy. The experience was quite intense; seeing all the posters with comedians’ faces on them was quite intimidating. They are all there for a month, which must be challenging. I liked performing at one venue, sometimes twice a day, but unfortunately, I was not asked to return.

Rhys with his Neon Neon collaborator Boom Bip.

Having written Neon Neon’s Stainless Style album in honour of the DeLorean, which of the vehicle’s most famous drivers are you more like: Marty McFly (resourceful, family-oriented, success-driven) or Dr Emmett Brown (dreamer, creative, a sponge for new experiences)? McScootikins
Emmett Brown sounds like a more interesting place to be, but I think maybe I’m just the car itself, just the vehicle for the songs. The wild thing about songwriting is that it makes things happen. We did gigs with all these DeLoreans parked outside, people giving us lifts in them, even DeLoreans racing down Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

Can you recall the SFA concert at Somerset House? You did a DJ performance at Corsica Studios later on. There were Dickie Davies face masks hanging from the ceiling. ginger-nick

I believe it was my 38th birthday [it was actually his 39th]. I do not recall the Dickie Davies face masks, but Andy Votel was the DJ for the event. The music was so loud that it caused my friend to develop tinnitus, which he still has 15 years later.

Can you share your experience of working on Gorillaz’s Superfast Jellyfish? Is it accurate that you have hidden appearances on other tracks? FurryVision8000

Damon Albarn came up with the bassline and invited me and a drummer to play along with him until he felt like something was coming together. The next time I heard it, De La Soul were rapping over it. As a teenager, I had been a fan of their music, so it was amazing. We even did some shows where Mick Jones and Paul Simonon from the Clash played guitar and bass, and De La Soul joined us as part of the band. It was a strange and wonderful experience. Damon also recorded a choir for the entire album of Plastic Beach, and I was part of that choir, so it’s likely that I can be heard on many of the songs.

Gruff Rhys playing Roundhouse in London in 2019

I always regret never buying an SFA-sponsored Cardiff City football shirt from the 1999/00 season. However, with you being a Bangor City fan, why was it Cardiff you sponsored and not your beloved Citizens? Alsithee

I relocated from Bangor, a city in north Wales, to Cardiff in the southern part of the country in hopes of achieving success, possibly through my involvement with the band Super Furry Animals. However, I am still pursuing this goal. Interestingly, there was a group of Bangor supporters who also rooted for Cardiff, known as the Bangor City Bluebirds. Therefore, I did not experience any inner turmoil. Unfortunately, Bangor went bankrupt and now I am a proud holder of a season ticket for Cardiff.

During the late 1990s, a man purchased affordable ice hockey jerseys from Egypt and deceived soccer teams into believing they were actually soccer jerseys. As a result, the Cardiff City shirt worn by the Super Furry Animals was actually an ice hockey jersey. Our budget only allowed us to sponsor them for the Welsh Cup. The chairman boasted about a “five-figure deal”, when in truth it only cost us £2,000.

est mon album préféré de SFA, malgré le fait que je ne comprenne pas le gallois. Est-ce que chanter en gallois rend votre composition de chansons plus facile ?

I really enjoy the SFA album, Mwng, even though I don’t understand Welsh. Does singing in Welsh make your songwriting process easier?

Although Welsh is my native language, I particularly enjoy melodies with lyrics, regardless of the language they are in. I am amazed at how many albums I have made in English, but I will always continue to create Welsh-language ones as well. People often ask if I dream in Welsh, but I don’t believe language plays a significant role in my dreams. To be honest, I have no idea what my dreams are about!

Can you be the UK’s representative for the 2025 Eurovision song contest at Verulamium Park? – Verulamium Park Ranger
I might consider doing it for a sovereign Wales, even though music is meant to surpass boundaries. Perhaps I could represent a nation from Eastern Europe, but their dance moves are much better than mine.


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