In the autumn of 1995, psychedelic Britpop quintet Super Furry Animals spent six weeks at Rockfield, a rural recording studio in the Welsh borders, recording their brilliant debut album ‘Fuzzy Logic’. Photographer and friend Rolant Dafis joined them there as a fly on the wall, and 21 years later he’s released the hitherto unseen images to mark the release of both the remastered ‘Fuzzy Logic’ deluxe edition and ‘ZOOM! The Best of Super Furry Animals 1995-2016’ on Friday November 4, 2016. Check out the vintage shots below.
Welcome to Rockfield: the Welsh studio where Gruff, Huw, Dafydd, Guto, and Cian recorded their mad debut album 'Fuzzy Logic' in the autumn of 1995.
There were some weird stories from the recording period, including the time a swan flew into the pylon supplying the studio with electricity and caused a blackout. The band were working on a song using the temporary working title 'Fuzzy Birds' – but after the weirdly apt swan incident, that was it, and 'Fuzzy Birds' it remained.
Left to right here are A&R Mark Bowen, label manager Dick Green, and Creation marketing manager John Andrews, plus Gruff on the right. Says photographer Rolant Dafis: “The shot feels so different to the others, these guys have a different agenda, they are listening intently to the work they are funding and they are calculating something different. I love the fact that Gruff is just visible in shot, writing, with his own Furry version of the European flag hanging behind him.”
Bassist Guto Pryce says this is a moment of tuning up again - a result of having too much budget, it turns out. "Creation Records gave us a pile of cash to buy new guitars, but they came straight from the shop and didn’t stay in tune. In the end, we mostly ended up using our old, cheaper guitars.”
Behind the band here is their Fuzzy Logic wallchart. In front of them, Gruff Rhys says, “I think I can spot a trumpet, cans of industrial lager, an Ebow, a pack of Eno Oblique Strategy Cards and cups of tea. It looks like Guto might be preparing to re-do a bass take from the sofa.” Photographer Rolant also remembers them playing a lot of Tetris. Ah, 1995...
Guitarist Huw ‘Bunf’ Bunford was doing an overdub in the control room when this was taken. "I found it easier to do individual takes without using headphones," he says. "We’d record by plugging directly into the desk, going without microphones.” Photographer Rolant notes that most of the recording was done in here and not behind the glass: “Bunf went from guitar to cello," he recalls, "and someone played the Balalaika at some point.”
The lyrics are a crucial part of the magic. Highlights include a reference to weather presenter Sian Lloyd in 'For Now And Ever' and 'Hanging With Howard Marks', dedicated to the Welsh cannabis smuggler, whose mugshots are also all over the cover of the album. Let's not forget Bunf's hamster, Stavros, who inspired the lyrics of 'Fuzzy Birds'.
This photo of keys man Cian was taken soon after the photographer Rolant had arrived in the building. Cian says it's of “Me and my beloved Yamaha DX100’s and the Boss RDD-20 that had seen better days, in the separate room adjoining the control room where we set up a constellation of synths.” Rolant recalls, "I popped my head round the corner to find Cian with a big grin making lovely noises, from what looked to me like bare circuits."
During recording, producer Gorwel Owen had a pack of playing cards with strategies written on them, for use in a bind. They read things like 'Time To Play Super Mario', 'Feed The Drummer' – and of course, 'More Bass'.
On its release, NME described 'Fuzzy Logic' as "The Beach Boys meets Badfinger meets a load of techno nutters armed with bags of mushrooms and analogue synths."