Gulp, the band formed by Super Furry Animals bassist Guto Pryce and wife Lyndsey Leven, will release their latest album, All Good Wishes this Friday. Here Pryce, with a bit of help from Leven, talks us through the new work, track by track...
Search For Your Love
We took a restrained, less is more attitude to chord changes with All Good Wishes. Search For Your Love uses three chords with a one chord jam for a middle 8. The beat was inspired by Billie Jean for that minimalist groove, and Luke Abbott dubbed out the vocals for added hook.
Lindsey - The album focuses on character. Having studied acting in the past I like to delve into other peoples minds, so I've been writing to, or about, characters I have discovered in films, books or in current and historical news articles. There is also a thread of my own self throughout the lyrics and personal memoires on how I relate (or not) to these characters. At times it is a fun way to work - for example, Claudia is based on a delicate hand drawn picture novel I picked up in a New York comic book store. At other times it has been a painful process, getting inside the mind of a person going through tormented times. Everyone likes to hear words they can relate to, so I hope the lyrics can reflect this. I also like to think they fit in with Gulp's cinematic sound, creating visual soundscapes and images from dreams, a blurring of fiction and reality.
Guto - Claudia was inspired musically by Tom Zé and other Tropicaliaists as well as 80’s synth mega hits, and we went for a rave style hands-in-the-air moment for a middle 8. Glasgow’s Stuart Kidd played drums and sang backing vocals - most of the songs on All Good Wishes were tracked with him over a week in August 2015 at Pontvane Studios in the South East Wales hills. Stu's amazing! Gid had just got back from a trip to Mexico with some high grade Mescal and we had good times playing well into the night.
I Dream Of Your Song
Started life with some chords by Gid. It was recorded mostly live with some synths added at home afterwards. A Mutron Bi-Phase box was always plugged in during the sessions, we put the drums through it on this track for some Black Ark flavour.
We turned to Luke Abbott to mix the record. He embraces the experimental as well as making dance floor friendly electronica. We were very happy with what he did with our recordings and smiled when he went for the heavily phased drums mic as the main drum sound. We felt we got on the same wavelength very quickly.
Spend Time Right Here With You
Written by Lindsey and again recorded mostly live. More middle 8 phase action, this time with the Electro Harmonix Stereo Polyphase pedal.
Spaghetti Western and Vangelis vibes. We love a good tunes-on-the-stereo road trip and make music to soundtrack the films in our heads. I really like what Luke did with the vocals on this track.
All Good Wishes
A musical collaboration with Luke Abbott who orchestrated to a vocal melody we had. The title came from a vintage postcard “All Good Wishes from Auchtermuchty” which we thought was a fine sentiment. It was recorded at Luke's studio in Norwich towards the end of the mixing sessions last year. Norwich is great. There's good folk there and a lot of good records have come from the city in recent years.
Morning Velvet Sky
This song was written from an initial vocal melody from Lindsey. Another minimalist groove, a Roland Juno 06 features heavily. I listen to Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love' a lot! Dave Newington played drums on this one. He's having some much deserved attention now with Boy Azooga. He's a lovely fella and great all round musician.
This was the last song to be recorded. It was done at home in Cardiff. I played out my Spacemen 3 obsession with this track. It features extreme square wave tremolo guitar and slow phased Solina Synth Strings. I got the chance to play bass on a few tours for Sonic Boom's Spectrum which was an incredible experience for me that influenced a lot of what Gulp does. I admire the way his music is extreme but at the same time restrained. A track like Suicide uses a dirty, repetitive groove that stays on a level for a good ten minutes. It doesn't rock out or take it down it just goes nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh for close to a quarter of an hour and sounds amazing.
I've spent time working at Grass Roots Youth Centre in Cardiff where I ran a jam session. The kids there were heavily into metal which is not really my thing but we found common ground with slower early 70's Birmingham rock like Black Sabbath. I think the riff probably subconsciously came from those days. It was a real eye opener seeing the effects of austerity measures had on such an important institution as Grass Roots. It's been there for years and been an open door to the youth of Cardiff whatever their difficulties or problems. As well as that they had an affordable 16 track studio to encourage local musicians. That's where Super Furry Animals got to do our first recordings. It's shocking how places like Grass Roots are constantly under threat due to a matter of pennies in the grand scheme of things.
Myself and Lindsey have been lucky enough to have spent a lot of time water-side recently. Living on the Tay Estuary we get to see the water every day and love how it's constantly changing but always beautiful. It's a great backdrop to life.
Partly influenced again by the shimmering River Tay. It's taken from a recording from years ago when the neighbours on both sides had moved out and we could have full band jams in our basement. The vocals were recorded with old friend and SFA sound guy Michael Brennan at his Sub Station studio in Rosyth and we watched as the £6billion, biggest aircraft carrier ever made here roll out to sea. We live in surreal times.