We killed them. We cut them up, and we had one last show where we had little children dressed up as yetis. Yeah, we had to kill them."
Not the cuddliest of words from Guto Pryce, bassist for the Welsh pop band Super Furry Animals. He's referring to the group's renowned yeti costumes, once a staple of their live performance. Cashing in on their name's connotation, the Furries would end nearly each show sporting the shaggy threads of an abominable snowman. But last year, the ritual became too much of a shtick for band members.
"People would be like 'where are the yetis?' and we'd not want to use 'em, so we just had to kill 'em," Pryce explains. "Otherwise we'd be fucking 45, dressed up as yetis."
The fall of yeti conveniently comes at a watershed moment for the band. They recently released the most drastic departure from their traditional sound -- Love Kraft, their seventh full-length disc in 10 years. It largely abandons the eclectic fusion of pop, techno, rock, reggae, prog and punk that marked earlier albums, such as Guerrilla or Rings Around The World. Instead, Kraft opts for a sleek, digital sweep of strings and subdued guitars, a cosmic mindfuck for your post-human, pre-Matrix grad student.
While critics have received all Super Furry albums warmly, their response to Kraft has been less enthusiastic. Some claim the band has reached its dreaded "mature" period, that Kraft suffers by discarding the fiery, outlandish pomp and spontaneity that has branded Super Furry Animals into the collective indie forebrain.
"It's a valid observation, but in a positive sense," Pryce says. "It's a pretty chilled, laid back album. We've never wanted to repeat ourselves, and we make no apologies."
The Furries' ability to make a unique statement with each album, in fact, is what's kept their name on many a fan's shortlist well into the new millennium. "We've tried to hone our sound over the records," Pryce explains, "and every record's changed a little bit more."
Super Furry Animals grew out of the '90s Britpop movement, an upbeat, baroque and distinctly English reaction to the melancholy grunge permeating the American airwaves at the time. Many of those bands, including Supergrass, Pulp and Suede, have since fallen by the waist side, while the Super Furries continue to thrive. For Pryce, the divergence explains itself.
"A lot of those bands popular at the time were shit," he notes, with careful nuance. "They were such shit that they inspired us to think we could actually get a record deal. 'If these guys can do it, then we can,' you know.
"The Britpop scene," he continues, "was nasty, because a lot of it was flag-waving and nostalgia, which is bullshit."
But if you're up for a real shit-show, and that's meant in the most positive of senses, a Super Furry Animals live experience is the place to go. The yetis are retired, but, according to Pryce, "we've gone electric in our outfits... it's some strange modern material you've never seen before." Their visual display is capped with various tripped-out animations, break beat techno interludes and singer Gruff Rhys' tendency to sport an alpha-male red Power Ranger mask.
For you cynics, Pryce reassures that the extravaganza's "not contrived." Best take his word for it and enjoy the ride.
Super Furry Animals will play at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street) on Wed at 8 p.m.