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Super Furry Animals

Super Furry Animals (also known as SFA and The Furries) are a Welsh rock band, with leanings towards psychedelic rock and electronic experimentation. The band formed in Cardiff after being in various other Welsh bands and techno outfits in the area (Dafydd Ieuan, Gruff Rhys and Guto Pryce had been together since the early 1990s and had toured the north coast of France as a techno group). The other two members of the band are Huw Bunford and Cian Ciaran. They then got to work on writing some songs, and in 1995 ended up signing to Ankst, the famous Welsh indie label.

The name of the band came from t-shirts being printed by Gruff's sister. She was making 'Super Furry Animals' t-shirts for her company Acid Casuals (variants of whose name have appeared throughout SFA's career - for example, in their song The Placid Casual, their record label Placid Casual, etc.)

SFA released their first record on Ankst in 1994, the Llanfairpwllgwyngllgogerychwyrndrobwllynyngofod (In Space) EP, to general critical acclaim. Soon followed the Moog Droog EP, named after the famous synthesizer manufacturer (whose synths doubtless appeared more than once on the EP) and the Nadsat term for friend in A Clockwork Orange.

After gigging in London in late 1995, they were noticed by Creation Records boss Alan McGee at the Camden Monarch club (only their second gig outside Wales), who signed them to his record label, also home to the likes of Oasis and Primal Scream.

In early 1996, the band's debut on Creation, Hometown Unicorn, became New Musical Express's Single Of The Week and the first SFA single to chart in the UK Top 50. The second release on Creation, God! Show Me Magic, climbed higher than the first and also became NME single of the week. It is one of the shortest singles ever at only 1 min 50 secs.

In May, their debut album Fuzzy Logic[?] was released, again to wide critical acclaim. Unfortunately, it was more or less ignored by the general public; SFA's cult status at this time made the album peak at 23.

SFA gained their first top 20 hit with Something For The Weekend, which charted at number 18. The band then went on to release the limited edition, and now very rare, The Man Don't Give A F***, which sampled Steely Dan. All the profits from the single went to Steely Dan for use of the sample. The song contained the word "f***" over 50 times, which, of course, introduced the band to many more people.

In early 1997, SFA embarked on the NME Brats Tour, famous for promoting new bands. In July, International Language Of Screaming was put out as a single before the release of the second album, Radiator in August.

Although it received widespread critical support, Radiator reached a peak of 8 then slid down the charts[?]. Play It Cool was then released, again to critical acclaim, but didn't do particularly well in the charts. Even so, SFA were established as a genuinely good band, and the first instances of the phrase "singles band" started coming in to use to describe them.

After a chance to think about their music and their direction, SFA decided to recorded a new EP in early 1998 at Gorwel Owen's house and released it in May. This was the Ice Hockey Hair EP, widely held as one of their finest moments. Featuring four tracks, the EP presented SFA's unmistakable songwriting skills alongside fresh-sounding beats and loops sampled from Black Uhru[?]. The title track, a melodic and very moving epic, gained airplay while "Smokin'" became another favourite with the fans. Its "I just want to smoke it" refrain won instant appeal and approval. In a Melody Maker interview, SFA said the "Smokin'" referred to smoking haddock[?], or to truck drivers' tyres when they're 'burnin' the roads'. It became their most successful single up to this point, and gained them an incredible performance on "Top Of The Pops[?]".

In November 1998, the album Out Spaced was released. A limited edition appeared in a comedy rubber sleeve, shaped like a breast. The album consists mainly of B-sides, but also a few songs from the Ankst EPs of 1995.

1999 proved to be a big year for SFA. NME readers named them Best New Band in January. In May, the single Northern Lites preceded their most experimental and modern-sounding album up to this point, Guerrilla.

Guerrilla, recorded at the Real World Studios, was noted for its experimental leanings. Layers of samples over brass, percussion and Gruff's melodic singing made this album something very different. For the cover art[?], Pete Fowler created the band's first three-dimensional models, rather than paintings. After headlining several of the summer festivals, SFA released Fire In My Heart, the most soulful and the only acoustic track from Guerrilla. They then embarked on a US and UK tour. SFA finished their UK tour[?] at the Cardiff International Arena[?] in Cardiff, where they showcased the first ever concert in surround sound and broadcast it on the World Wide Web - something which was going to feature a lot more in the future.

January 2000 involved a series of changes for SFA. The last single from Guerrilla, "Do Or Die", was released. It was also the last single SFA released on Creation Records, as founder Alan McGee set off to pursue other interests (he now runs the Poptones[?] label, home of The Hives). May 2000 saw SFA return to their roots when they released the Welsh-language album Mwng. Meaning "mane[?]", its lilting, acoustic melodies proved SFA as 'proper' songwriters after the experimental pop of Guerrilla.

A limited edition (of 3000) 7 inch record was released, Ysbeidiau Huelog (meaning "Sunny Intervals"). It came backed with Charge, an interesting pseudo-instrumental track recorded as a Peel Session for the BBC.

Album rumours prevailed in 2001 until an official announcement was made about the new album, "Rings Around The World". The single Juxtapozed With U was released on SFA's new label, Epic, to much airplay and TV appearances. The album followed soon after, to widespread critical acclaim, and was a great success, even reaching number 1 in the UK's midweek charts. It also brought the band many new followers in America.

Later singles (Drawing) Rings Around The World and It's Not The End Of The World? didn't do so well but still received some airplay, notably on the BBC's Radio 2. The album was later nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2002.

The band's latest album, Phantom Power, will be released on July 14, 2003, preceded by a single, Golden Retriever, on June 30.

Discography

Albums:

EPs:

Singles:

  • Hometown Unicorn (1996)
  • God! Show Me Magic (1996)
  • Something For The Weekend (1996)
  • If You Don't Want Me To Destroy You (1996)
  • The Man Don't Give A Fuck (1996)
  • Hermann Loves Pauline (1997)
  • International Language Of Screaming (1997)
  • Play It Cool (1997)
  • Demons (1997)
  • Northern Lites (1998)
  • Fire In My Heart (1998)
  • Do Or Die (1998)
  • Ysbeidiau Heulog (2000)
  • Juxtapozed With U (2001)
  • (Drawing) Rings Around The World (2001)
  • It's Not The End Of The World (2001)
  • Golden Retriever (2003)

External Links

  • Superfurry.com (http://www.superfurry.com/) - the official site
  • Supefurry.org (http://www.superfurry.org/) - a fan site, where this article was taken from



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