Lorraine Wilson

Three years in the making and after a journey that has traversed this landmass from Cardiff to Norwich and northwards to Dundee, Gulp’s second album, All Good Wishes, has had a timely landing.

Adjectives such as “shimmering” and “dreamy” have peppered the raft of positive reviews, but only because they are correct – this is an album that will undoubtedly soundtrack the hazy days of late summer.

They might be hazy, but not so lazy for Guto Pryce and Lindsey Leven, however. Two-thirds of Gulp are combining the promotion of All Good Wishes with a newborn son, whose arrival is so recent it’s still being counted in weeks.

Consequently only Guto arrives at the coffee house, with Lindsey at home and the other third of Gulp, guitarist Gid Goundrey, also at home, but in Norwich.

Guto is well used to interviews after nine albums and more than 20 years as part of Super Furry Animals, however, and as he sits back in an armchair, his chilled exterior might be part new-dad fatigue, but he says the relaxation comes from his new surroundings in a seaside suburb of Dundee.

Before there was Gulp, there was Guto and Lindsey the couple. They met when she decamped from Dundee to Wales to study. She was already writing songs and involved in what Guto describes as a “folk outfit” when they got together after encountering one another at many of the same gigs.

“Then Super Furry Animals took one of our long breaks - you can maybe call it hibernation,” he says. “It was after our ninth studio album, Dark Days/Light Years. With SFA we made an album then toured it for a year and a half. That was pretty much constant for 20 years and that’s great, but when everyone starts to have families… well it becomes obvious that kind of touring is probably a younger person’s game.”

During SFA’s recording lay-off, he was ensconced in front of a laptop making instrumentals. With Lindsey writing songs and singing, they tried recording something she already had written acoustic guitar. “It seemed like a natural thing to join forces,” says Guto. “I recorded Lindsey doing the song, then did what I do on top of it.” That became the first single, Game Love, which had a limited release on white vinyl in 2012 and quickly sold out.

“For me it was good to have a focus,” Guto adds. “I had been making these instrumentals, but now I had a lyricist and a singer. I was into drone-based music, so I could apply that to what she was doing and it had an exciting sound. We had an idea about how this band could work - maybe we could see a bit of the world while we were doing it.”

Despite the success of SFA, one of the most influential and inventive bands to emerge in the 1990s, they were determined that Gulp would stay firmly within their control.

“It really is a cottage industry. At first it was just the two of us, with the help of friends in Cardiff who played drums, guitar, cello etc. When it came to our first gig, we did it at Clwb Ifor Bach – the place I had gone with my fake ID to see bands years before, and where I had played with every other band I’d been in. That’s when we got Gid in on guitar, and he stayed. We've had a lot of drummers though. It sounds a bit Spinal Tap, but you always need a few because good ones are always busy.”

The first album was Season Sun, released independently in 2014. Recorded in a schoolhouse overnight, it was positively received. The next two years had a fairly extensive SFA touring schedule, however, with the 20th anniversary re-releases for Fuzzy Logic and Radiator, but last year Gulp had a run of gigs that Guto describes as “… lovely. We did some great festivals too, things like the Lost Map ones on Eigg – amazing events and a world away from the big corporate festivals.

“We’ll do shows when we can. There’s nothing planned at the moment – there’s no point doing gigs that we can’t do to the best of our ability.”

The second album began its journey three years ago in Wales, with a week in the studio. BMX Bandit Stuart Kidd came down from Glasgow for drumming duties, but most of the record was made at home in a laptop.

“I’ve been used to big studios, but big studios are expensive studios, whether they are in Wales, Brazil, or Spain… When SFA was still active recording, we saw the big downturn in the industry. It became apparent that you can’t spend that amount of money making an album now, because you might not even break even. Touring is the lifeline for big bands and records are a loss leader. It’s the absolute opposite to when we started in the 1990s.

“The touring we did for Fuzzy Logic and Radiator was great. It was clear that a lot of the audience were people in their 40s who had been there first time around and were getting a night off now – but this time they weren’t throwing beer! There were younger people in the audiences too, which was good knowing that the albums are becoming part of another generation.”

It’s true to say that SFA shows have always been an assault (albeit a thrilling one) on the senses - in-your-face, colourful and loud - very loud. Gulp, Guto says, is an attempt to do something different.

It’s quieter and might have its ethereal, sun-kissed elements, but it’s grounded in good songwriting. As much as you might think it will make a good background listen, there are too many interesting things going on, drawing you out of the reverie.

Sitting in a quiet street a stone’s throw from the beach, it’s clear that Guto isn’t hankering after the bustle of Cardiff. The initial plan was to live in California for a while but it proved too complicated so they decided to base themselves closer to Lindsey’s home city for a while.

“This is Lindsey’s home and I’ve always enjoyed coming up here. We haven’t been here that long really. We sold the house in Cardiff last year and found out the next day that we were expecting a baby.

“It’s still a bit exotic for me. It's also very different living on the East Coast rather than the west - the light is so different here. Wales is overcast a lot of the time, there’s a lot of rain. But here everything just seems to be clearer. It's absolutely beautiful - big natural beauty.”

With Welsh his first language, it’s really only when talking to parents and friends that he gets to exercise that. Lindsey, he says, is doing well and can follow a conversation in Welsh but isn’t confident enough yet to join in. Their new son will be bilingual.

“My Mum is Welsh-speaking and my dad speaks Welsh but English is his first language. When I was growing up the media was all in English of course. The Dukes of Hazzard, The A Team, Grange Hill - and pop music of course.

“In SFA we made the conscious decision to record in English, which wasn’t popular with some Welsh-speaking bands who can be quite political. We just thought of it as recording in an international language - and our English was better than our Spanish.”

Ironically the only album SFA recorded in Welsh, mwng, became perhaps the greatest success and is the favourite of many, including Guto. “It was the album with lowest budget too. We didn’t overcook things on that.”

Gulp is the priority now, however, with the potential of what it can be still in its infancy. The fact that it’s a cottage industry means they can keep control, wherever they are. Guto had been putting albums into mailers before he arrived, and until this album Lindsey also did the artwork, only handing over this album sleeve to Matt Sewell because of the demands of her pregnancy. She has always been tapped into the best of the Dundee music scene, providing easy access to good and new collaborators if required.

“I did think I had played with every musician in Cardiff at one point. I’m not missing it at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, Cardiff is a very pleasant city, but living here gives us something very different. It's much quieter. I feel the south is getting very busy and the people are getting angry. People tend to be friendlier to one another here.

“It’s a good place to be creative, and it’s also a fantastic place to bring up a kid. I don’t know where our future lies, but if it’s here I’m quite happy with that.”

All Good Wishes is available now via E.L.K Records. www.gulpgulp.co.uk