Music Interview: Super Furry darlings

By Nathan Atnikov

“Our band has always had a healthy disregard for what’s fashionable,” Daf Ieuan, drummer of Super Furry Animals explains why his band refused to lend one of their songs to Coca-Cola. “We’re a rock and roll band, not jingle writers. I mean, they offered us a £1,000,000 and that’s a lot of money to turn down, but I don’t think we would’ve survived it. It would’ve been embarrassing.”

Not long ago this would have been the standard reaction for any self-respecting band. These days, however, the practice is more common than you’d think. Revered bands from Modest Mouse to the Flaming Lips to Franz Ferdinand have all latched on to the unthinkable, money-making scheme. Hell, Bob Dylan was the face of a Victoria’s Secret campaign. SFA, on the other hand, are happy to continue building their fan base the old fashioned way–with their albums. Recently, the Welsh band’s impressive back catalogue was re-issued in North America.

“Some of the records weren’t even out there,” Ieuan says, speaking of North America. “I think it was just time to get everything out. We’d only done singles and best-of sort of things, so now people can look back and see what we were up to.”

What they were up to was building an impressive indie career. Over the course of the past decade, Super Furry Animals have experimented with every sound under the sun and in the process have made critics’ attempts to pinpoint them an impossible chore. Even Ieuan is at a loss to describe his band’s sound.

“I can’t explain it,” he says. “There’s just too much stuff coming from different directions. We tried to make a name, we called it sludge-rock, but that just left a lot of people with perplexed looks on their faces.”

While perplexing, they have secured an impressive reputation in the media. Almost every SFA release has been met with huge acclaim.

“I wish the [positive press] would translate into sales,” Ieuan jokes. “It’s not that we don’t read the reviews–we do. But you have to keep a healthy distance; you can’t believe the good ones, because then you’ve got to believe the bad ones too, don’t ya?”

While Ieuan laughs about sales, you get the feeling the band would like to move a few more units. Unfortunately, refusing to push cola doesn’t usually translate into massive sales.

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” he says. “We’ve never had the luxury of selling a million records and being able to sit on our ass. It’s kind of a financial necessity to keep making records. We don’t have a lot of time to do up our gardens.”

Gardening may be a modest ambition but the Super Furries have no lack of imagination when it comes to their future.

“We want to be the first band to play on the moon,” Ieuan casually remarks.

Given the eccentric career they’ve had so far, don’t put it past them.

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