Super Furry Animals interview (2003)


On the eve Phantom Power's release, Furries guitarist Bunf spoke to us about yetis, pirates, and confronting the postman with a Kalashnikov!

Last updated: 24 November 2008

Was there any particular concept behind Phantom Power? Were you aiming to make a certain kind of record?

We did had a conscious idea that we didn't want to go down the same road as we did with Rings Around The World. Apart from that, I don't think there was any glaring idea. We always think it's going to be the last album anyway. We had something like 80 songs. Not all of them were finished - 80 ideas. So you could end up having, say, four or five good albums, or two you're really proud of.

Does it cause trouble being that prolific, churning out song after song you know you probably won't be able to release? And do you argue about which songs end up on the records?

I think we're going to try and find a happy medium for that where we'd release it ourselves if we can, on Placid Casual. It's the only way we can do it without wrecking an album. Who knows how it pans out? We could do a techno album next.

Has there ever been the temptation to go off and do a Destiny's Child and all do solo stuff?

[laughs] They're world wide celebrities. You get to that stage and I don't think you are an actual band any more. Everyone knows you, you know? Everyone else sees you as a product.

What about offshoots, like with Cian's Acid Casuals stuff?

There's not the need to get out and start your own thing. It's more that we've got the opportunity to do so much more than what we actually do.

Is the DVD part of that, trying to add an extra dimension?

Yeah, the problem with DVDs is that they take such a long time, and there's so many people involved in it. When it comes to a song, some of the best things are done in about an hour.

Do you ever think about doing another Mwng: recording an album in a few weeks for a couple of grand, and getting rid of the multimedia and high production?

I don't know if we ever want to go back and relive an album. We do work fairly quickly, as a whole. With Phantom Power we decided to spend more time playing than listening, if that makes sense. When you work with computers, you can spend about 80% of your time just listening to the thing you've made. Maybe you should spend the time playing.

We heard Cian was working on Slow Life for some time before there was much of an idea how it was going to end up.

The party line is that it's been in seven different studios in four years. We've heard it in lots of different guises, in a kind of old school, full-on techno acid breakdown way. There's always been potential there. I think Cian just left it on the doorstep for us to mess around with.

What was the connection with the song and Miami Vice? Was it a working title?

It was a working title, yeah. I think there was a drum roll in it once that had a Miami Vice thing to it. I don't know where that's gone now. If you could, you'd keep names sometimes, but you'd know the connotations of it. You don't want it played in a travelogue in Miami. I don't think that's the idea!

It could open up a whole new market for you, though.

[laughs] Yeah, but we've tried that with dogs, with aliens... It doesn't seem to work.

The Phantom Power DVD features a short film of the band firing guns outside the studio in Monmouth. It looked like you were having a great time.

It was exactly how it looked on the tin. It was noisy, full of testosterone, with pumped up guys in the woods trying to kill furry animals! We were just going for the sounds of the guns, because I think we weren't happy with the quality of gunfire. So these two guys from Yorkshire turned up with two Uzis and two Kalashnikovs. We had to phone the police to tell them there was going to be shooting and not to get alarmed by the fact that they're the two most favoured terrorist weapons! But the strange thing is, a few callers came to the farm, which makes you think, who would actually turn up where they can hear gunfire? And then a parcel guy came, who I greeted with a Kalashnikov over my shoulder. He didn't come back.

Sex, War & Robots is the first SFA album track you've written. Did you have to fight with Gruff to get one of your songs on the album?

No, no no no. If anything, everyone tries to encourage people. Gruff isn't the svengali most people probably think he is. We're not into the percentage games. We don't, in the end, fight for things either. I didn't really want the song on the album. I thought it was a bit too down. On the whole, though, the decision of album tracks is a very diplomatic situation. There are some classic b-sides.

You wrote Blue Fruit on the Golden Retriever single too.

Yeah, there's some other ones too. It just takes me time to get the lyrics together. With Gruff, the lyrics sometimes come straight away. For everyone else it's a slightly slower process.

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