Super Furry Animals
Japan's insatiable appetite for all
things British (or even Welsh) sees the Super Furry Animals
return to Tokyo along with other Britpop acts including Northern
Bright, who follow the Furries to Tokyo by only a day.
Hailing from Cardiff, Wales, the quintet of Gruff Rhys (lead
vocals, guitar), Huw "Bunf" Bunford (guitar,
vocals), Guto Pryce (bass), Cian Ciaran (keyboards, electronics),
and Dafydd Leuan (drums) linked up to form Super Furry Animals
After two years of honing their chops with a relentless touring
schedule, the group signed with the Cardiff-based independent
label Ankst and released their debut EP, Lianfairpwllgywgyllgoger
Chwymdrobwlltysiliogoygoyocynygofod (In Space), which, like
the follow-up Moog Droog, was sung entirely in Welsh.
But the Super Furry Animals' popularity was not limited
to the group's boisterous appeal to Welsh nationalism.
On the contrary, their adept mix of jangly Brit-pop, psychedelia
and techno, informed by a self-deprecating irreverence, traveled
well, earning them a growing following not only in the UK
but in Europe, Japan, and even that hardest of all nuts to
crack for many British bands, North America.
Fuzzy Logic, the band's debut full-length release in
1996, cemented their arrival to full-fledged stardom. The
first CD of a six-record deal with ultra-hip indie leader
Creation Records marked the group's attempt to reach
out to a wider audience by singing in English.
Super Furry Animals also became notorious during the summer
of 1996 for attending all of the big pop music festivals in
a gigantic tank, and for their connection to counterculture
legend (and convicted drug smuggler) Howard Marks.
The band's second CD, '97's Radiator,
injected a much-needed note of humor into British pop, groaning
at the time under the weight of Oasis' hubris and Blur's
poncy pretense. What band other than Super Furry Animals would
mate a country song with 160bpm techno or write a song about
the goat-sucking bats of Puerto Rico, as SFA did in "Chupacabras"?
Guerilla ('99), Mwng ('00) and last year's
devilish Rings Around the World preceded this year's
Phantom Power. The new album saw the Furries teaming up with
producer Mario Caldato Jr, who also oversaw the Beastie Boys'
comeback album, Check Your Head. With Caldato, they forego
the big budget production of Rings for a more gritty approach.
Phantom Power also marks the return of dance beats and a neo-psychedelic
techno flavor the Furries had pioneered with Guerilla. Singer
Rhys' voice is still one of the most otherworldly in the business,
and taken together, the album positions the group as the cerebral
counterweight to the working class Welshpop of Stereophonics.
The Furries, meanwhile, have become known for various on-tour
antics. In their last visit to Japan, for instance, they wrote
down the song titles on tiny balls, and drawing them at random
from a bingo machine to determine the playing order. Go figure.
Super Furry Animals play Liquid
Room on November 17-18. See concert listings for details.
Discuss music with METROPOLIS
readers at http://forum.japantoday.com