Interview: Straight Out The Blocks. Quick Fire Round with Race Horses.

With Stuart Cable popping his clocks a little over 12 hours ago (R.I.P. the only acceptable Stereophonic) and the impending demise of Gruff Rhys' superlative Super Furry Animals, Welsh music's in need of some tender loving care and the sort of rejuvenation offered by a springtime Joe's ice cream sundae. Race Horses effectively are that band, with their luscious swoon harmonies and borderline insanity. Alun talks festival tactics, The Beano and THAT SECOND ALBUM...

Dots: God only knows why, but Wales has garnered quite a reputation for the wild and wooly, the psychedelic and the truly off-kilter kookiness of Luke Pritchard x 1,000. Why and how so?

Alun Gaffey: I dunno, there’s not a shitload of psych-bands in Wales or anything, it’s probably cos the two main successful Welsh bands during the whole mid-90s Britpop thing happened to be SFA and Gorky’s, both with psychedelic tendencies. I understand why our reviews always reference those two bands but our next material will hopefully stop all that. Not that they’re not good bands or anything...

Dashes: Are you proud to hail from the valleys? As an estranged Welshman I feel there's a thriving affinity with all things cocooned within flags adorned with dragons and the green, green grass of home...

AG: Don’t hail from the valleys, I’m from the mountains. Meilyr and Dylan are from the seaside. Gwion hails from the barren wasteland known as Anglesey. I imagine we’re all proud to hail from our respective areas, even Gwion.

Dots: Was there any ever indecision about which language to record your lyrics in? Glo Ac Oren almost sounds like a lullaby. Would you play it to your future children as mobiles dangle hypnotically above cots? Hypothetical..!

AG: Mei’s probably better to field that kind of question but I reckon he just writes in whichever language he reckons the song needs. He (like the rest of us) has two languages to play with.

Dashes: As a relatively fresh piece of meat dangling in the windows of any decent independent record shop, were you to do the contrived and sum Race Horses in a word or two or hell, maybe even five, what'd you jot down?

AG: Band with great first album but WAIT TILL YOU HEAR THE SECOND!

Dots: However you view Goodbye Falkenberg, it doesn't really fit in all that succinctly with many other acts peddling down the streams of indie acclaim contemporarily. Your almost do or die veering away from the rocky pitfalls of the mainstream is highly laudable. Does your record sound as off the bloomin' walls to you as it may to your everyday Edith Bowman fanclub subscriber?

AG: We really learnt a lot about what you can do in the studio whilst making this album. Having said that I think Mei and the rest of us had quite a clear vision of what we wanted most songs to sound like. We wouldn’t have pulled in so many favours in getting string sections / other musicians in if we didn’t want it to sound exactly like it does.

Dashes: Lyrics of cake desires and being treated like mules superficially may seem abstractly insignificant. Of what are Race Horses' lyrics born, and is there more than meets the ear as it were?

AG: They are born of the camp imagination of a tall lad from Bow Street.  As to other meanings etc, I’m sure they’re in there. Even today I’ll listen to some of the lyrics and go “Oh yeah! THAT’S what he’s on about!”

Dots: Goodbye Falkenberg almost seems to have been transported in from another era. I'd probably opt for the 60s... Would it be fair to say that reflects your musical taste buds?

AG: It’s fair to say that that particular decade has an imprint on the music you hear on Goodbye Falkenberg. It has its other reference points though... Once again, I can’t wait to release our new material.

Dashes: Say Ascot for one day in two weeks or however long the bloody thing goes on for were competed by budding bands all vying for a share of the spoils (NME covers, a Glastonbury appearance as anticipated as England's inevitable World Cup shortcomings etc), who would your money be on?

AG: Don’t fully understand that question although I’ve heard there’s a new and exciting band called Gorillaz playing Glastonbury this year. Their fresh blend of well-produced hip-pop combined with Japanese anime characters is sure to get a few cocks hard at the NME office. Although rumour has it they’ve been around for a bit longer than I think...

Dots: It's always rather refreshing to come across musical acts in touch with their artistic side. How essential do you feel the aesthetic side, as well as the musical side to things has become in this day and age of instantly available, freely downloadable ear candy?

AG: It’s as essential to today’s industry as the free sweets you used to get sellotaped to the front of The Beano back in the day. I personally however want my albums to come with at least one nice picture and some credits.

Dashes: Finally, with a handful of illustrious festival slots lined up thus far, are you all up for getting deep down and dirty in the mucky mires of the British countryside, or is the prospect of wading through slurry-like earth too hideous to even contemplate?

AG: Yeah get stuck in like. I’m gonna be climbing up trees and having a dump from the highest branch. And I’ll be eating grass.

Munching on grass and excreting from the mossiest of branches at Latitude, Green Man and Bestival over the coming months...