This spring Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys is releasing an album, a film, a book and an app all called American Interior. The project dates back to an August 2012 tour in which Gruff retraced the steps of John Evans, a farm hand from Wales who traveled to America to discover the truth behind myths about a Welsh-speaking Native American tribe called the Madogwys. Along his journey Evans created the map later used by Lewis and Clark, wrestled Mississippi alligators, and annexed North Dakota from Britain. Rhys explained his trek in a recent press release:
“In 2012 I embarked on an investigative concert tour of the American Interior, retracing the steps, and looking for the grave of a relative called John Evans. John Evans left Wales for Baltimore in 1792 and walked into the wilderness of the Allegheny mountains in search of a lost tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans, believed to be the descendants of Prince Madog. Over seven eventful years, with very little in the way of resources, he embarked on a series of incredible adventures, lived with several First Nation tribes and left a trail of political chaos from which America never recovered. I took his cue and travelled through the Midwest playing gigs and writing songs. In St Louis I picked up Kliph Scurlock from The Flaming Lips, who joined me on drums. We powered up the Missouri River by boat, playing more shows on the shore. In Omaha we went to Mike Mogis’s Arc studio and cut a record, then carried on upriver to play the UMOnHOn and Fort Berthold reservations.”
Gruff’s 2012 tour was filmed by Dylan Goch with John Evans reenacted by a puppet. As on Rhys’ previous film Separado!, Goch directed the resulting film American Interior. Rhys also wrote a book about the journey, to be released under the same name in late May. The book in turn inspired 13 new songs. Gruff hooked up with Kliph again in February 2013 to record the new material, resulting in Rhys’s fourth solo album, also titled American Interior and out May 5th. Finally Gruff is releasing an American Interior app containing 100 entries on Evans’s story.
Gruff will world premiere the film at SXSW at 2pm on March 11th at the Alamo Ritz, followed by a performance with Kliph and Keith Bear. Gruff is also playing Turnstile’s SXSW showcase with Cate Le Bon, Christopher Owens (former Girls frontman), H. Hawkline, Perfume Genius and Sea Lion on March 13 at 7:30 pm at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary. This summer Gruff will tour American Interior as a concert/Powerpoint presentation. More details to come!
In addition to the film and book travelogues, Gruff posted about his journey on social media as it happened in 2012. Retrace Gruff retracing John Evans steps by clicking on the instagram links in the tweets below. The photos hashtagged #thearrestofjohnevans are particularly amusing (and presumably a perfect tease for the film). Also, no spoilers, but make sure to click on the photo link in the “time travel” tweet if you’re a fan of ’80s music videos.