Super Furry Animals - Talking Bunf

We'll probably muddle through by ignoring everyone as usual - Bunf

Feature by Duncan Forgan | 08 Sep 2007
Their status as venerable cult overlords of the British music scene has long since been assured and their new album is possibly their most commercial yet. However, no amount of conventional trappings can disguise what a long strange trip it has been for the Super Furry Animals.

In the 12 years since burrowing their inimitable way into the nation's consciousness with debut album Fuzzy Logic, the band have commandeered tanks for festival appearances, donned yeti suits for Top of the Pops and crunched celery sticks with a former Beatle for an album track. In between they have somehow found time to amass a body of work that runs the gamut from ear-splitting techno forays and garage punk to lovelorn ballads and lilting Welsh-language psychedelia.

If ever a band were predictable in their unpredictability it is the Furries. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the Skinny's conversation with guitarist Huw 'Bunf' Bunford regarding new offering Hey Venus – a loosely themed ("not a concept!") album about a young woman's journey from a small town to the city – should take in everything from fifties doo-wop music to an 87-year-old Japanese pop artist, Keiichi Tanaami, who replaced long-time Furries visuals guru Pete Fowler to design the record's sleeve.
Bunford's predominant concern, however, is to spread the gospel on an album he believes is the band's most coherent and direct statement of intent yet.

"We're all immensely proud of it," he says. "We had a bit of a break after (2005's) Love Kraft, but when we reconvened we found that the songs we were all coming up with tended to be really poppy and direct. So the intention with Hey Venus was to have an album packed with potential singles. Whether the record company will view it in the same way is another matter however!"

Bunford's aside is a reference to former label Epic who only saw fit to release one single, Lazer Beam, from Love Kraft. Now ensconced on Rough Trade after parting ways with the major behemoth in 2006, Bunford insists that the Furries' creative impetus has never been stronger.

"It doesn't seem like it to us sometimes but we've really been through the meat-grinder when you look at it," he says. "You can practically chart the varying trends in the music business through out career. I mean, it is remarkable that we have been on four record companies (Ankst, Creation, Epic and now Rough Trade) and been given the chance to try different things, you know, starting off with the indie, moving to a bigger indie then a major then downsizing again, It's kind of amazing really, especially when you consider that, these days, a band is lucky to get more than one album on a record label with which to develop."

Now in the enviable position of being able to plough their own inimitable furrow without being under the hawk-like scrutiny that hamstrings many younger bands, the Furries appear to be in a relaxed place right now, a feeling reinforced by Bunford's lugubrious affability.

Even singer Gruff Rhys' concurrent solo career – a potential bone of contention in many groups – is treated with utter magnanimity.
"Gruff is so prolific, you know," Bunford continues. "You've got to give someone like that the opportunity to release things."

Two years might have separated their last two albums but, according to Bunford, the next record – fostered amid the creative splurge that sired Hey Venus – is ready to go and will be released next year.

"It will be a twin to this one," he proposes. "We're all going through a period of coming up with very direct and melodic songs. They are a lot shorter and perhaps not as experimental as in the past, so it might divide people a little. But we'll probably muddle through by ignoring everyone as usual."
Hey Venus! is out now on Rough Trade
Super Furry Animals play Connect Festival, Inveraray on 31 Aug