Gruff Rhys is rightly considered one of the UK’s most unique and creative songwriting talents. His band Super Furry Animals released nine studio albums between 1996 and 2009, managing to perform the tricky feat of having endless hit singles and seeing their boundless eclecticism and creativity lead to them being feted as one of the most innovative acts of their era. They even managed to score the biggest-selling Welsh language of all time with 2000’s Mwng.
Among a series of other maverick projects, Rhys has also released two albums with Boom Bip under the Neon Neon moniker, one of which, 2008’s Mercury-nominated Stainless Style, was a concept album based around the bizarre life of US inventor, engineer and alleged drug trafficker John DeLorean. He’s also carved out a solo career which saw him channel his inner Glen Campbell and Serge Gainsbourg on last year’s hugely acclaimed fifth LP Babelsberg.
So what influenced this boundless, exhaustive creativity? Rhys tells The Big issue which songs got him going growing up and set him on the path to being a national treasure.
Meic Stevens – Y Brawd Houdini
It’s so melodic. I don’t remember a time I didn’t know it. We used to have a 7-inch of it in the house and it had my sister’s name on it, I still have it. It came out the year I was born, and it stayed with me throughout my childhood. We grew up in a Welsh-speaking town, so we used to have Welsh-language radio, and that song would always be on the radio. It’s very melodic, and I’ve played it live quite a few times.