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The Suite Hereafter
Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys on his hotel-themed new record, his obsession with free shampoo and working with Danger Mouse and Gorillaz.
Peter Murphy, 28 Feb 2011
"I built a hotel out of shampoo bottles that I collected in a gallery in Cardiff," confesses Gruff Rhys when called upon to explain the title of his third solo album, a near tropical-sounding collection of tunes recorded in Wales and mixed in LA. “They were switching over exhibitions and they gave me three days. I'd been collecting them for about 15 years and I got them all out. It was a huge relief: I'd been planning it for over a decade. I built it over the few days and on the last night I slept in it. It was like a diary of the boom years. I didn't make any money but at least I have a kennel-sized hotel that I can sleep in.”
And if that sounds curious, it could have been even curiouser.
“Initially I was going to make a lake out of shampoo,” Gruff continues. “When I started touring I was quite shocked by how much free stuff was given away. I thought I'd make a monument to the waste, and decided to build the hotel. About two years ago I started organising them into boxes and things, under the stairs, and it was the same time as writing this record, which was reflective, it looks back at the same period. So I stole the name of the hotel for the record as well."
And did the grand unveiling live up to his expectations?
"I think the idea is better than the execution! It didn't look very good, it looked like a weird kennel, but I built it to resemble a Monopoly hotel, a kind of generic shape. They gave me a corner near this huge bar with incredibly strong European beers, so I tried to sign off early every night before things got too rowdy. I had to explain myself to loads of drunk people quite often."
Since the demise of the Super Furry Animals, Gruff's been a busy man. Aside from his solo work, he's embarked upon a number of collaborations with De La Soul, Gorillaz and Brazilian artist Tony da Gatorra, as well as making a cameo on 'Just War' from the epic Dark Night Of The Soul album, conceived by Danger Mouse with the late Mark Linkous, featuring visuals by David Lynch.