Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Blinker signals upward turn

Serial Joe embarks on random thrilling spree

Animals do fair share of star grazing

Western alumnus pens adventure around the world

Animals do fair share of star grazing

Photo by Vincent McDonald
WAITER, THERE'S A FLY IN MY OCTOPUS. Burgeoning Welsh stars Super Furry Animals bring their woolly pelts and a bad case of indigestion to Call the Office tonight.

By Aaron Wherry
Gazette Staff

The apology, "oh, I'm sorry, he's in the shower," is hardly the best way to start an interview. "Wait one sec, I think he's coming out."

Gruff Rhys, lead singer and guitarist for the Super Furry Animals stumbles from his watery wake up call and soon after his grumbly voice comes over the phone.

"This is our first day off on this tour," Rhys explains with a thick Welsh accent.

One can hardly condemn the man for waking up a little late this day. Seemingly overnight, the Furry Animals exploded onto the British music scene with a sound which was at once applauded by critics and embraced by the public.

Of course, nothing in the music business comes that easily. Guerilla, the Furry Animals' latest album, is in fact their third full-length work. The entire body of material manages to accomplish the arduous feat of staying unique while gripping the mainstream.

With the success of their second album, Radiator and the hype preceding this latest effort, SFA suddenly found themselves on magazine covers and scoring favourable spots on premiere gigs like the Glastonbury Music Festival.

Rhys seems little, if at all, bothered by the avalanche of fame. "We seem to have a very loyal fan base," he remarks. "But we're not really famous or anything."

Maybe the pitfalls and peaks of success seem minor to him in comparison to the larger issues in life. Issues like politics, history and the struggle of one country to stay unique under the shadow of an empire.

Growing up in Wales, Rhys was surrounded by the rivalry between his native country and neighbouring Britain. These cultural differences shine through when he speaks of the often tumultuous relationship between Wales and Britain.

His patriotic attitude is admirable, especially when the Brit music press has often imposed Welsh stereotypes upon him and done its best to classify the group as another piece of the Brit pop picture.

"One magazine superimposed my head on a sheep, with a word bubble saying 'baa baa baa,'" Rhys says explaining one such offence by a popular Brit rag. "The caption underneath said 'Gruff Rhys speaks Welsh.'"

But behind his fervent belief in his country, Rhys is a shy, unsuspecting man. Umm's and ahh's saturate his vocabulary, as he searches for the right words to express exactly what he's thinking. His mouth seems to be in constant conflict with his head.

The understatement and timidness in his character carries over into his view of the current North American tour, SFA's first trip across the pond. Much has been said of this being a make it or break it tour for their world wide music careers. Like the hundreds of European prodigies before them, this is being billed by some as the acid test of their musical stardom.

"I don't like all the terms like 'British invasion,'" he says. "What's there to invade? We come in peace."

And with that promise, he's off to enjoy the rest of his day. He'll conquer the world tomorrow.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999