Interview conducted by Jon Hecht.
We recently caught up with Dafydd Ieuan, drummer of Super Furry Animals, a few hours before their performance at The Village Voice’s 4Knots Music Festival on July 11th! Our writer, Jon Hecht, caught up with Ieuan about coming back to America, playing shows together again after six years, and how things have changed since the band formed in 1993. Check out the interview below!
Lucy Out Loud: What’s
it like to be in America? You guys headlined Glastobury just a few weeks ago.
How’s it feel to be here instead?
Daffyd Ieuan: Oh
it’s brilliant. We love coming here, we’ve been coming here twenty years, so I
think it’s just one of our favorite places to come to in the world, y’know.
We’ve been almost everywhere I can think of, but there’s just something about
New York, isn’t there?
LOL: Yeah of
course. I mean, I live here.
LOL: I think not
everyone in this city gets to hang out on the boat the whole time ha
DI: Of course. Of
course. I think we just feel very lucky to be able to come here and play. We
haven’t been here for six years. We’ve been having a bit of a hiatus—as a band.
Everybody’s been recording like mad. I think over the last six years we’ve
released between us, it’s gotta be ten, fifteen albums in the last six years or
so. So nobody’s been idle.
LOL: And there’s
a documentary in there too, right?
DI: There’s a
documentary in there too. And I think there was a book coming out for the
fifteenth anniversary of our Welsh album—though we could have anniversary
almost every year if we wanted to I suppose if we wanted to. I just fancy
playing again without promoting anything in particular like an album. We just
play the songs we like and like a bullshit free gig, if you know what I mean.
It’s been amazing.
LOL: Why did you
feel that now was the time to do that, after six years?
DI: It just felt
right, I don’t know. It just happened!
LOL: So you just
called each other up and said “Hey you want to go on tour?”
DI: Not far off.
But the book was coming out, and Domino Records has been asking us for about three
years if we wanted to re-release our Welsh album, and with the book coming out
we thought, well we could release that, we could do some shows, and before you
know it we’re in New York again. And it’s been great.
LOL: Did it take
a little bit to get back in the hang of things with this group of people after
being sorta separate for a little while?
DI: Well, except
for Bunf [guitarist Huw Bunford] we all live in Cardiff. It’s not a very big
city so it’s not like we never see each other.
LOL: Of course.
But I assume you weren’t rehearsing every day
DI: No. Me and
Cian—my brother—we got a studio in Cardiff where we were recording a host of
other bands. So in that sense, it doesn’t feel like we’ve stopped recording. We have as a band but not as individuals. It’s
hard to describe, but the feedback we’ve had, especially in the UK, has been
LOL: I’m sure
you’re also treated as Wales’ native sons, in some ways.
DI: Yeah. We
weren’t sure if anybody was [interested], after six years away, but it’s proved
that people are.
LOL: The reviews
from Glastonbury seem to suggest that people are very happy to have you back.
DI: Yeah, absolutely!
Them kinds of gigs we thrive on. The bigger the better, I think.
LOL: So what are
you excited about today?
DI: Just playin’
LOL: This is
sorta medium sized compared to the big festivals, I guess.
DI: Yeah. But a
show is a show. I’m just looking forward to it. I’m gonna have a wander around
town in a minute, after these [interviews], and I’ll probably…buy some
stuff…and do the show, and then go out in New York and have a good time.
LOL: How do you
keep the energy that you guys continue to have? Even on your most recent album,
[2009’s] Darker Days, there’s still
sorta this youthful energy that was always Super Furry Animals’ trademark. I
mean, you’re not twenty-year-olds anymore…
DI: [laughs] No.
LOL: How do you
make sure you don’t lose that? Not to say you’re old or anything [laughs]
DI: But we are.
We’re old fucking cynics. But…I think we’ve got sort of healthy musical
differences. I think we thrive on that, rather than struggle with it. I think
making a record shouldn’t be easy. It should be proper sensory attack and I
like to think we’ve got good quality control as well. And we just love going in
the studio. It’s always an adventure. I don’t think we’d release anything if we
weren’t happy with it anyway. But…I think we’ve just got the bug for going in
the studio. Y’know we just kinda can’t help it.
LOL: How do you
think things have changed since back when Guerilla
[in 1999] or Radiator [in 1997] came
DI: White hairs.
Well that’s definitely true, but you look young.
DI: I don’t feel
it frankly [laughs]
LOL: I just mean
in terms of playing festivals back then and playing festivals now, the music
industry now vs. then.
DI: It’s pretty
much the same. Except, I think, the songs we’re doing at the moment—they’re
just a collection of songs that we enjoy playing. That’s the first time that’s
happened. There’s usually an album to promote or something, so they’re usually
new album-heavy sets.
LOL: So now
you’re just doing the songs you like the most.
DI: Yeah. And
these shows we’ll be doing we just play whatever the fuck we want, because we
enjoy playing them, and nothing comes up in the set list that we go, “Ugh. I
don’t really want to play that.” It’s just been bullshit free.
LOL: That’s good.
How does it feel to be headlining along with bands that are half your age?
DI: Oh great!
That’s what it’s all about, ain’t it? I’ve just been in the studio with a
band—I just signed them to my label—and they’re between like sixteen and
nineteen, or something.
LOL: In the UK?
DI: In Wales. In
Cardiff. And we see them getting totally excited about being in the studio and
stuff like that. It’s sorta reminds you—we’re not as wide-eyed as we used to
be. But you still gotta go on stage and play, you know what I mean? You still
gotta go out and perform no matter how old you were.
LOL: And it’s the
same kind of thing you always loved.
LOL: So I’ve
noticed that you guys are coming back, and recently, Blur, your former
labelmates, released an album for the first time in a while-
DI: No, not
LOL: You weren’t
on the same label as them? I thought you were both on the same label at one
DI: Oasis were.
labelmates. I’m sorry about that.
LOL: I hope you
don’t take offence at me comparing you a little bit to Blur when you were
labelmates with Oasis…
DI: No. [laughs]
LOL: Do you think
that your sort of wave of bands—the nineties “britpop” bands I guess—do you
feel that there’s sort of a wave of that coming back? Do you feel that society
is interested in you guys as a sort of second-time-around?
DI: I’m not aware
of it. To be honest with you, when we decided to have a go again, we didn’t
know Blur were recording even, let alone that they were gonna do these gigs,
so… I mean we’re not particularly bothered by what anybody else does. I mean I
don’t think we were back in the day either. The whole “britpop” thing we found
LOL: Yeah. Not to
mention you weren’t British.
when the Union Jack doesn’t have any Welsh representation.
[laughs]. I guess it’s really more dumb rock journalists like me saying that
than anyone else.
Yeah…to each their own. I think we’re happier in our own bubble.
definitely been your sort of modus.
DI: I think so.
We’ve got a healthy disrespect for anything that’s going on. We enjoy the other
bands, we get along, but…we never felt part of it.
LOL: Do you guys
have any plans for an album? I know you said it’s been nice not to have to
DI: We haven’t
got any plans to do anything. I think we just wanted to play, you know what I
mean? To play songs, and then we’ll see. I’m not saying never, or no—it’s just,
if the songs are there, if the time’s right, then why not. But there’s nothing
planned or penciled in.
LOL: Have you
been working on new material together at all or separately?
DI: No. I’m
working on two albums at the moment. And Cian’s working on one, and Gruff’s
working. Guto’s working on another one.
LOL: Some light
stuff while on vacation, right?
DI: We’re all
still doing our own separate things. We’ll see after all that. Every time we’ve
recorded an album, we’ve always been together for it. Forever—in the studio, on
tour—and this is the longest we haven’t been in our little bubble where there’s
music constantly – constantly writing, constantly thinking of ideas,
everybody’s together. So we need to get used to the smell of each other’s feet again
before we start recording [laughs]
LOL: And I’m sure
that smell’s only gotten better over time, right?
DI: Oh I don’t
know about that… [laughs]
LOL: I think this
is about all the time we have. Anything else you wanna add?
DI: Oh god I’m
sure there is, but…no. I’m just loving being in New York. That’s all. It’s
LOL: Any of the
bands here you’re particularly excited to see?
DI: I’m excited
to see [Stephen] Malkmus. I think we played with [Malkmus’ former band]
Pavement in their last show in San Diego when they broke up the first time.
LOL: Oh wow.
DI: Back in
the…late nineties I think.
LOL: ‘98 or
something like that?
like that. I think we were supporting them in San Diego. I haven’t seen him
since. We’ve got mutual friends, so…
DI: I’m looking
forward to seeing some of the kids as well!
LOL: All right.
This was a great talk. Nice to meet you.
DI: And you, man.
Take it easy.