Talking receptacles with Super Furry Animal Cian.
Is it weird talking about the album right now like it’s new when it came out like eight months ago overseas?
Yeah, but it’s good. We just have to get back in the boat and get ready. It’s exciting because it’s still a new thing over there. Still the album had life in it, we were going to do a forth single, but we decided not to do it in the end. So what is new for you is new for us, and we’d like to think this record has a longer shelf life than a year anyways.
I really enjoy the album a lot.
Cool. Right on.
What’s the group approach to writing songs?
It’s different every time. It can very from Gruff coming in and playing a song on the acoustic or whatever and then everyone else will jam on that and play their own parts on it. Or it can stem from a groove or idea that we play in sound check and then someone will remember it next week and grows from there. Gruff might have a lyric, but not a song and then I might come up with a song or someone else might. Sometimes you just make it up as you go along in the studio.
Do you spend a lot of time messing around with songs in the studio?
Some, like the obvious ones like “No Sympathy” or “Receptacle For The Respectable”. “Receptacle” needed a lot of work because it was like four parts, so instead of four songs we made it one. But other songs are more immediate and more traditional like “Presidential Suite” with the verse-chorus-verse. The songs themselves usually dictate the approach.
I love at the end of “Receptacle” where his Gruff sounds like the devil at the end. (I actually embarrass myself and do the singing on the phone)
(Laughs) That was one of those parts we had and added it. That part that you just sang (we both laugh), came from something else that wasn’t initially there so we made it up as we were going along, it was a happy mistake.
Is your goal to make something that makes you guys happy? Listening to the album I got that feeling.
I think you have to have some aspect along the line of the album were you aren’t so far up your own ass. You don’t want to depress everyone, but it is good to have all the moods in there. That’s what turns us on, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
You can usually tell when an artist is trying to please everyone, or when an artist is trying to please themselves first.
I agree with that.
What is your approach to bringing your touch to a track?
A lot of it is done at the same time. In the studio there is no strict band rolls, everyone chips in and we can switch around. Sometimes a song will come from a keyboard idea anyway. But every song is different.
It seems America misses out on a lot of great bands from overseas. What are your thoughts about that?
Well I don’t know really, I mean we can guess. There is a lot of good music and I think we could just tell people to get off their asses and look for it. But from my background of playing techno or house music I always got records from Germany, Holland, Belgium, Scotland and England. Personally I always want to know what is going on outside of the UK. But then again America is so vast as well.
What is in your car right now?
Right now I’ve got this tape off a friend of mine, and it’s a tape of some seventies Ethiopian music. It’s like a cross between James Brown and African music. (Laughs) It’s very weird and it’s groovy. It just goes on and on and on. I listen to it in the car and drive my girlfriend nuts. I also have a Beach Boys compilation in the car too.
Speaking of the Beach Boys, I was reading a fan review of the album and they said ‘if the Beach Boys were still around today this is what they’d sound like’. They were talking about the new album.
Getting compared to them is a major compliment. It’s a bit embarrassing too. But that is big fighting talk. (we both laugh)
It seems like fans absolutely love you guys or don’t like you. Is that a good thing?
I’d say that is true of me as well about music. I either love music or hate it. Most albums will have one song on an album I love. But I guess its good that we don’t waste people’s time who do like it and they get off on it. That is why you sell your records to start with.
Did you come into the recording of the album with a lot of songs?
The initial album was thirteen or fourteen tracks and the U.S. album had bonus tracks so there were about eighteen. So I think we went in with twenty-five and came out with eighteen. A few we ditched and three we’ve kept for another day.
Are you recording all the time?
We do. We might go in one day and have thirteen tracks, but we don’t finish them that day, we’ll come back to them.
When you are working on the album are there expectations?
We have no preconceptions when we go in of what we should do. The albums aren’t contrived or conceptual. We don’t really go in and say ‘let’s make this kind of album’.
Are the labels much like they are here, very money oriented today rather than music oriented?
Yeah, I mean somewhere down the line someone is money oriented. Bands get dropped and some go on. Like the big competition on TV right now here is where you get in some pop band and they go and sell something like one-point-three million singles in a week. That’s all money driven. The best marketing campaign you’ve got, they have nine weeks of free advertising with the show before the single comes out.
What do you think about a show like that?
Hopefully it’ll all just backfire.
How does the press treat you back home?
You take everything with a pinch of salt. You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth as well. We’ve had our fair share of good press, but then again you have to take the shit too because you can’t pick and choose. It doesn’t get into our heads that we have to change.
For anyone that have kids out there who one day might want to fill your shoes, what would you say to them?
The same stereotypical thing, believe in what you do, perceiver, all that crap, and practice hard.
Did you think early on that you’d ever get signed?
I think that is always your goal. We were striving for something, and getting signed was part of that because it means you could leave your job or get off welfare and go into the studio and have someone pay for you to go in a studio and record your music. So we did anything we could to achieve that. So if we got dropped tomorrow then you’d have to go back to square one.
When did you as a band feel comfortable that you were in a good position and not worry about what might happen or come next?
You have to be aware that you could be dropped tomorrow. You can’t take it for granted. It could fall apart as easy as it could start. When Creation (previous record label) fell apart we were in limbo for a good nine months before Epic signed us. There is nothing you can take for granted, so there isn’t really that day where you can stop worrying about it. We are a small selling band, but we sell enough to keep going, at the moment.
+ charlie craine