Interview: Gruff Rhys

Once a Super Furry Animal, Gruff Rhys has lately cemented his solo career in gold with his 3rd album, Hotel Shampoo. Inspired by (of all things) complimentary hotel products, the album has been declared one of Gruff’s most ambitious and fully realised yet, dotted throughout with uplifting and kaleidoscopic pop nuggets like ‘Christopher Columbus’ and ‘Sensations in the Dark’. We caught up with the furry Welshman ahead of his gig today at MAP KL about his travels and his surprising involvement in the Singapore Bienalle with Phil Collins. No, not that Phil Collins.

Interview + Text Hidzir Junaini

What’s the inspiration behind the new album?
The biggest inspiration musically is really old vinyl records. As for lyrically, it’s based on all these free shampoo bottles that I’ve hoarded from various hotels over 15 odd years.

Wow, so how many shampoo bottles do you estimate you have?
Let’s see…I have 567 bottles all from different places. I also collected 28 sewing kits, 121 shower caps and 36 toothpastes. I could keep going but you get the idea. I used them to build a miniature hotel. (Laughs).

Kind of poetic. And since they are tokens of you experiences on tour, do you like the romanticism of being on the road?

Yes I like it very much. It’s something I’ve always done when I was younger. I used to hitchhike a lot, going nowhere in general. I just like to be going someplace new. Every place has got its own unique elements and I’ve never been to a place that hasn’t enriched me in some way.

Anything new coming up with yourself, Super Furry Animals or Neon Neon?
Well the latest thing I’ve worked is on is featured in Singapore’s Bienalle actually. I’ve got a song being played as part of an art installation by an artist named Phil Collins. Yes, he shares the same name as the famous singer (laughs). He asked me to do music for a short film which he was doing and I was happy to agree. It should be interesting.

We’ll have more Gruff in our June issue, so stay tuned! Gruff Rhys performs live and will be conducting a clinic at MAP KL today. For more info, head to