Last updated: 30 January 2009
Y Cyrff (The Bodies) formed in 1983 at Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy in Llanrwst, Gwynedd.
The schoolfriends were bonded by a love of The Clash and a raw enthusiasm. Being school age, a couple of gigs preceded a line-up change that meant Roberts became the de facto frontman.
- Mark Roberts: vocals, guitar
- Barry Cawley: guitar
- Paul Jones: bass
- Dylan Hughes: drums
- Mark Kendall: drums
- Emyr Davies: vocals
Under the guidance of their geography teacher, Tony Schiavone, they chose to sing in Welsh. Schiavone stuck by the band and became a booker for among other things, their performances for Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Cymreig (the Welsh language society).
Gigs across North Wales followed, and they met Rhys Mwyn of Yr Anhrefn, who asked them to contribute two tracks to his Cam O'r Tywyllwch compilation. Tic Toc and Lebanon made an appearance on the record, released on Mwyn's own label, Recordiau Anhrefn.
Pum Munud and Yr Haint were released as singles and the Welsh-language TV and radio media began to give the upcoming band exposure.
I've worked in a factory, a butcher's shop and picked potatoes. This is the easiest job I've ever had. I still live where I lived before. I haven't got any new friends and all my old friends still think I'm a prickMark Roberts
Accordingly, they began to be in demand for gigs around Wales, including a well-remembered Eisteddfod performance in 1986. With the band's acquiescence and support, Schiavone released a bootleg cassette of studio and live tracks, entitled Dan Y Cownter, which sold out its small run in a short period of time.
Wales' largest independent label, Sain, became involved with Y Cyrff in 1987, releasing the six-track EP Y Testament Newydd. The contribution to Welsh language music that the band made has only recently been reassessed: they appeared on UK-wide music TV programmes The Tube and The Old Grey Whistle Test, became very popular on Welsh media and the gigging circuit.
In 1988 Hughes left to join Anhrefn, with friend Mark Kendall joining just a fortnight before a Polish tour. He settled in and in November of 1988 Y Cyrff supported The Alarm in Colwyn Bay to 1500 people.
The next year brought another Eisteddfod performance and the release of the self-titled Y Cyrff EP on their own DNA label. This release included the well-known Cymru, Lloegr A Llanrwst, which has become something of an anthem in areas of Wales in which the Welsh language has precedence.
Yet another label became their home, this time Ankst in 1989. The single Pethau Achlysurol / Hwyl Fawr Heulwen preceded the live release Awdl O Anobaith which contained live recordings from Warsaw and Cardiff. Ankst helped them continue to stretch out beyond the borders of Wales on the live scene, and released their debut LP in 1991. Llawenydd Heb Ddiwedd was again critically acclaimed, both inside and outside Wales.
1992 brought the end of the band as Y Cyrff, with Mae Ddoe Yn Ddoe (Ankst) their final release. It was an overview of their career, and its popularity with completists means it's now extremely scarce.
The band's split was a new start, especially for Roberts and Jones who formed Catatonia, becoming one of the UK's most successful indie rock bands of the 1990s.
In 2005 Rasal, a division of Sain, released the retrospective box set Atalnod Llawn 1983-92. This was launched with three gigs, one in Cardiff, one in London and one in Llanrwst, recalling arguably their most famous song. The acts Kentucky AFC, Alun Tan Lan, Maharishi, Dan Amor and Jen Jeniro covered Y Cyrff songs and with the fifth anniversary of Barry Cawley's death coinciding, the events were emotional affairs for many.