Gruff Rhys - Biography
By Marcus Kagler
When not working on crafting genre defying albums for Super Furry Animals, frontman Gruff Rhys lends out his services in collaborative efforts with the likes of Mogwai and Boom Bip, as well as solo offerings. The sheer quantity of Rhys creative output puts most other musicians to shame. Add to that the quality and meticulous detail he channels into every one of his songs and it’s doubly astounding. Born on July 18, 1970 in Haverfordwest, Wales, Rhys entered the world of music when he allegedly composed his first song about a suicidal train conductor at age five. He would continue to hone his signature incongruous lyrical style throughout his tenure in Welsh bands Emily and Ffa Coffi Pawb before forming Super Furry Animals in 1993. After leading SFA through five genre bending albums, Rhys released his first solo full-length, Yr Atal Genhedlaeth (Placid Casual) in 2001. Recorded entirely in his native tongue (the title roughly translates to “The Stuttering Generation”) with Rhys playing almost every instrument, the album features a stripped-down acoustic folk sound not heard from the Super Furry Animals. Released at the height of SFA’s popularity the all Welsh language album was an odd play that confounded many of SFA’s casual fans, although oddity is certainly Gruff Rhys' forte.
Rhys returned in 2006 with Candylion (Rough Trade), a more mainstream affair that mixed eclectic electronic effects with melodic folk pop sung in English, Welsh, and surprisingly Spanish. Rhys is also accompanied by fellow Welsh singer Lisa Jen from the band 9 Bach for the majority of the album. Candylion was greeted with unanimous critical praise and Rhys supported the album by performing numerous short tours with Lisa Jen throughout the world. The following year Rhys announced he was collaborating with indie-electronic artist Boom Bip on a project called Neon Neon. Primarily an electronic-rock fusion outfit the duo’s debut album, Stainless Style (2008 Lex) is a loose concept record about the tumultuous life of automotive engineer John DeLorean. Currently, Rhys divides his time between recording SFA’s long awaited symphonic album and Neon Neon obligations, although he has not ruled out future solo releases