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Gruff Rhys pens diary about what music he’s listening to on tour (and more)

Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys just started his North American tour over the weekend with dates in Montreal and Toronto, supporting terrific new album Babelsberg. He’s out with a full band for the first time in a while, including drummer Kliph Scurlock, bassist Stephen “Sweet Baboo” Black and Osian Gwynedd on piano. The tour hits NYC on Tuesday (10/9) at Rough Trade with Lorkin O’Reilly (who is on all dates). Tickets are still available and all dates are listed, along with a stream of Babelsberg and the new video for “Selfies in the Sunset,” below.

We asked Gruff to tell us about what he and the band are listening to on tour. He obliged as only he could, giving a tour diary of the trip so far as well, including Tim Horton’s coffee, fall foliage, selections from Kliph’s 92-hour MP3 van playlist, and more. Read that, and listen to a Spotify playlist created from Gruff’s travelogue, below.

Take it away, Gruff…

Greetings from Canada! What am I listening to these days? Here’s what I’m listening to today by osmosis. Casey Raymond from Cardiff put out some illustrated Avant Garde Composers playing cards recently – we were lucky to get a pack of them to take out on this North American tour to play in the van. They come with a listening suggestion for each artist. Some, like Gavin Bryars’ “Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet,” are on the playlist we have on at the venues before shows but I’m looking forward to listening to some pieces I haven’t heard before on this tour – I’m shuffling through the cards now – looking forward to hearing “From My Garden” by Ursula Mamlok for the first time later on.

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We’re driving between Montreal and Toronto right now, we’ve just stopped in a futuristic truck station, I’m drinking a cup of reassuringly bad Tim Horton’s coffee. On a printed cup it says that the founder Tim Horton won 4 Stanley Cup championships with Toronto Maple Leafs. Does that alienate the coffee from fans of other teams? Luckily I know very little about Ice Hockey so I’m not going to lose any sleep over it and if the caffeine content is any good I won’t get any. I feel deranged with jet lag.

Makes it feel like a 1970s Cronenberg movie in here, oh? It’s time to go?

Ok I’m heading back to the van, I have the Rimarimba album, Below The Horizon, on my headphones – then off we go hurtling down the misty 401. The sky was a cold crispy blue back in Quebec.

There are signs up ahead for an Arts Trail and another points to The Three Dog Winery. Now comes a sign for the Canadian Canoe Museum.

The incredible drummer Kliph Scurlock is driving. He’s listening to “Mr Kingdom” by ELO at a loud volume and making dramatic hand gestures to all the strings stabs like a flamboyant conductor. Now he’s drumming the steering wheel. He’s prepared a 92-hour playlist for the tour, so far today we’ve had Prince, Yo La Tengo, Deerhoof, Dylan at the Free Trade Hall, Melvins, Stevie Nicks, Outkast, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Geraint Jarman, Minutemen, Richard Davies, Beefheart and that song that features Morse Code by Rush as we’re heading to Toronto, all off Kliph’s Hi-res MP3 player. Every day will bring something new.

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Folk singer Lorkin O’Reilly is sat in the back – he’s opening up on every date on the tour, he has a new album, Heaven Depends, out on Team Love Records. I saw him play last night for the first time and he was really good — and went down really well. He plays alone on a guitar with an occasional low end thud of an electronic Stomp box that was built by a friend of his. He can’t carry it in hand luggage on planes as it looks like a home made incendiary device.

Steve Black sits on the same row. He’s playing bass on this tour but his band Group Listening will open up our tour in Scotland and England in November. I recommend their Piano & Clarinet: Selected Works Vol. 1 album. His other act Sweet Baboo opens the Welsh dates.

Pianist Osian Gwynedd is to my left – he’s downloaded the Wild Wild Country Netflix series and is watching it. I was relieved to watch it a while back as I remember a few people in my home town when I was a kid turning to Bagwan. I’d kind of forgotten about it. It was good to verify that it was a real memory. We used to call them the orange people – some would paint their houses orange. As I was a kid I suppose I didn’t think anything seemed any stranger than any other behavior.

Linda Ronstadt has come on the stereo. It’s not accidental that our last tour show in Los Angeles is a day before her Reno appearance. The trees either side of this Canadian Autoroute are in all their autumnal glory — I mean the leaves have loads of different shades of red, yellow and brown. I see one of the black squirrels of Ontario in a tree. A quiet Faust piano tune plays on the van stereo, here comes Toronto. The CN tower or whatever it’s called disappears into the fog. In a few minutes I will be in a record shop buying a used Cerrone album, but that hasn’t happened yet.

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GRUFF RHYS – 2018 TOUR DATES
Oct 8th – Boston, MA – Great Scott
Oct 9th – Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade
Oct 10th – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
Oct 11th – Washington, DC – DC9
Oct 12th – Pittsburgh, PA – Funhouse @ Mr. Smalls
Oct 13th – Columbus, OH – Ace Of Cups
Oct 14th – Chicago, IL – 1st Ward at Chop Shop
Oct 16th – Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center
Oct 19th – Vancouver, BC – The Fox Cabaret
Oct 20th – Seattle, WA – Barboza
Oct 21st – Portland, OR – Doug Fir
Oct 23rd – San Francisco, CA – The Chapel
Oct 24th – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
Nov 8th – Portsmouth, UK – Wedgewood Rooms
Nov 9th – Brighton, UK – The Old Market
Nov 10th – Folkestone, UK – The Quarterhouse
Nov 11th – Oxford, UK – O2 Academy
Nov 12th – Bristol, UK – SWX
Nov 13th – Birmingham, UK – Glee Club
Nov 15th – Glasgow, Scotland – SWG3
Nov 16th – Leeds, UK – Church Leeds
Nov 17th – Liverpool, UK – Liverpool Arts Club
Nov 19th – Paris, France – Le Badaboum
Nov 20th – Schaffhausen, Switzerland – Tap Tab
Nov 21st – Munich, Germany – Ampere
Nov 22nd – Berlin, Germany – Privatclub
Nov 23rd – Hamburg, Germany – Turmzimmer
Nov 24th – Copenhagen, Denmark – Alice
Nov 26th – Brussels, Belgium – Botanique/Rotonde
Nov 27th – Cologne, Germany – Studio 672
Nov 28th – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso Noord
Dec 1st – Cork, Ireland – Live At St.Lukes
Dec 2nd – Galway, Ireland – Roisin Dublin
Dec 3rd – Dublin, Ireland – Button Factory
*NEW* Dec 5th – Swansea, Wales – Brangwyn Hall
*NEW* Dec 7th – Wrexham, Wales – Live Rooms
UK dates w/ Group Listening
EU dates w/ Bill Ryder-Jones

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