Interview: Super Furry Animals
Published on November 6th, 2009 | Jonny Abrams
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Rocksucker caught up with bassist Guto Pryce and lead guitarist/occasional songwriter Huw ‘Bunf’ Bunford outside the What’s Cooking? eatery on Liverpool’s Albert Dock just before they set off for their bonfire night gig at the city’s Nation venue. Given how much I adore this band, it seemed perversely apt to start with a criticism…
Why is the bass always so low in the mix on your recordings?
GP: It’s in the right place. Nothing takes over.
That’s the only possible criticism I could think of. It’s barely an issue, really.
HB: Maybe it is. Yeah.
GP: Probably a mistake.
HB: It’s a collective thing, I’d imagine.
What does it feel like to have already left such an amazing legacy of music?
GP: That’s very nice of you to say.
HB: I suppose it’s the one thing we do leave behind. In a morbid way. (Laughs)
It’s not just my opinion.
GP: But, you know, we’re standing outside Echo Arena where, like, a million people are going to watch Muse tonight.
One of my favourite memories of your band is going to see you headline the Other Stage at Glastonbury 2003 when everybody else went to go and see Radiohead headline the Pyramid Stage at the same time. I must have been the only one of around twenty-odd.
HB: (Mumbles of recognition)
GP: One in twenty. That’s about right, yeah.
It was the first time in ages you played ‘Hermann Loves Pauline’, I think…
HB: Ah sh*te, yeah. You know what, that definitely hasn’t got much bass on it, ‘Hermann Loves Pauline’!
GP: Trebly. It’s one of the trebliest records.
HB: It is one of the trebliest records.
As is the whole of the Radiator album, more or less. Still a classic, though.
GP: That was made in Liverpool.
HB: Yeah. In Parr Street Studios.
GP: It was mixed there. It was recorded in Anglesey.
HB: In a studio that doesn’t have much bass!
What’s your record label situation at the moment? Do you have any imminent obligations in terms of releases?
GP: We’re trying to find out. It’s all a bit weird.
People are speculating, as they do…
GP: We’re speculating as well.
HB: We’re trying to work out where we stand legally.
Some have interpreted your lack of touring for Dark Days/Light Years as a sign that you’re not taking it all as seriously as you used to…
GP: We’re a lot older, you know, and we’ve got family and kids. We can’t go on tour and lose 40 grand any more, which is what we did for ten years (laughs). It’s just reality.
But you’re still one of the most prolific bands out there. In terms of recorded output, anyway. Not many bands manage to keep up one album every two years any more, as you do, let alone all the various solo and side projects you guys have dabbled in…
HB: We’re really lucky, being able to do that. That’s the main thing at the moment; we’re just trying to see where we are, but also realising that we’re really lucky to be…(gets distracted by activity from inside the restaurant)…interrupted by people stacking chairs…
Can you see it getting to the stage where you could release an album on your own, independently of any record label? Just straight from your MySpace, or some such new age medium.
GP: Yeah, totally. It’s almost pointless for us, having a record company.
HB: You could argue that.
GP: That’s probably the way it will go. It makes sense, anyway.
HB: There’s not much logic in going down a traditional record company route and touring your new album that’s just come out. Maybe for a young band, but sometimes you just move on and find the quickest way to get your message across in the media, whatever it may be. And try not to lose thousands of pounds in the process. (Laughs)
Are the losses down to all those plug-in light suits, giant inflatable bears and so on? What about the tank?
GP: We actually sold that at profit [to Don Henley from The Eagles].
HB: No, we made a two grand loss.
Where did you get a tank from, anyway?
GP: There’s a guy in Nottingham who sells them.
How much did you pay for it?
GP: Ten grand. Sold it for eight. But you’ve got to keep the tank somewhere. You can’t really park it outside your house.
HB: Unless you’re Don Henley.
GP: It’s a funny old world. Do you want to buy some 50 foot inflatable bears? We’ve still got the bears.
How much would you sell one for?
GP: Um…well, they cost a hundred pounds a month to store…
Give me a take it or leave it quote for one bear!
HB: Five grand.
GP: Five grand.
I bid £100.
GP: (Reeling at my derisory offer) These are the biggest inflatables ever made! They’re bigger than The Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels.
Quickly, to end with, what’s your favourite Super Furry Animals album?
HB: The b-sides.
HB: Yeah, Out Spaced.