Super Furry Animals on their best albums

Gruff Rhys and Huw Bunford take us through their back catalogue

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GUERRILLA
(Creation, 1999)
Blossoming into unusually fine songwriters, they took risks on this satisfying, experimental third.

Rhys: Guerrilla’s one of our most ambitious albums and we hired all sorts of instruments and recorded a lot more electronic stuff.

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Bunford: Yeah, I think we worked out how to use the sampler with this album. We’d bought it with the advance and hadn’t had a chance to take it out of its box.

Rhys: We were writing conceptual pop songs like “Wherever I Lay My Phone That’s My Home” around the ringtone of a phone. And the rhythm section, we were sort of jamming in the studio and [bassist] Guto tripped over the lead and landed over a table and Bunf hit a guitar note and that became the rhythm track. I think if any of our records could’ve sold a lot, this is the one. I don’t think any of the others have been proper pop albums, but I think Guerrilla could have been. “Northern Lites” could have been bigger but it didn’t have a video. The guy who was supposed to do it got offered a Red Stripe commercial in Jamaica. We met him later and were like, “We understand, we’d have done the same.” Creation was coming to an end, just as Nostradamus predicted, so they weren’t bothered.

Bunford: They said, “We could make this a huge hit, but I don’t think you really want that to happen.”

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MWNG
(Placid Casual, 2000)
The Furries’ Welsh language album, released on their own label. Reached No 11 in the charts.

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Rhys: We recorded that extremely quickly in a session over a weekend in Cardiff. Then we went to Gorwel’s house for a week to do the other songs and mix it. Probably took a couple of weeks. Radiator and Guerrilla took ages, months to make. The recording process had become a bit frustrating and we thought, ‘Oh let’s make a really immediate record.’ The batch of songs at the time happened to be Welsh language. It was going to come out on Creation, who were putting out their last records at the time, and we bought it back from Creation for six grand or something. In terms of contracts and stuff, we were in limbo and we didn’t want to get some label who didn’t understand us pushing a Welsh language album, and putting flags on it or something, it could’ve been horrific. So we did it ourselves. It was coming off the back of some records that had sold well and Creation had spent a fortune on advertising and Mwng came in that slipstream. We had a tiny marketing budget and we got to do our own adverts. We got all the worst quotes from the reviews – it was quite well received, but we found some negative quotes – and put them on two adverts. The Jewish Chronicle called it “career suicide”. I think it’s a really pure record.

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