An Interview With Ianto Gruffydd (Papur Wal)

Having had Beatles on the brain for a while now, specifically the early years of their hysteria-inducing mop tops, I started to think about their early interviews. I looked up some of those early pressers and was taken aback by just how many times the fab foursome was asked about money and marriage, but there were also some gems hidden amongst the clunkers. And so, inspired by the early press conferences of the Beatles, especially their US tour interviews, I decided to ask some of those very same questions to some of the best and brightest making music today.

On their latest release, double A-side single "O'n Ni'n Ffrindia"/"When He's Gone," Welsh slackpoppers Papur Wal ("wallpaper" in Welsh, since you were wondering) tackle themes of loss in their gleefully scuzzed-up way. Both sides are plenty appealing; "O'n Ni'n Ffrindia" is a frolicsome, fuzzy affair, a reflection in part on personal loss, while "When He's Gone" is a gritty,  Malkmus-esque contemplation on "the decline of heroes and individuals."

Papur Wal's Ianto Gruffydd (vocals/guitar) gamely took on the Beatles question challenge; read on for a look into the world of this delightful trio. And for heaven's sake, someone book them a gig in Glasgow already.

What has been your most exciting moment in the last year?

Getting a BBC Radio 6 play off Marc Riley, one of our favourite DJs.

Who are your favourite recording artists?

At the moment: Bill Ryder-Jones, Purple Mountains, The Lemon Twigs, Khruangbin, Stella Donnelly.

Do you feel safe riding in airplanes?

Absolutely not, we have a song about that funnily enough.

Does every city look the same?

Probably not.

What message are you trying to get across, if any?

We used to say: to write songs that have meaning and messages behind them, sometimes we feel maybe some bands don't do that, but maybe our new stuff which we're demoing now is going away from that.

How would you describe yourself in one word?


Where would you like to go that you haven't gone yet?


Do you feel that you're setting a new trend in music?


What kinds of guitars do you use?

Fender Telecaster and Fender DuoSonic, I'd like to buy a Gibson Les Paul Tribute next.

Does anybody ever ask you for advice?

Don't think so, I would be rather worried if they did.

How do you prefer for your fans to act at your concerts?

Wet, wild and standing right in front of us.

How do you go about writing your songs?

Our songs are quite melody-centric if that's a word, but it varies. Sometimes I'll sit down and play the guitar and figure out a progression, other time's I'll have an idea in my head for the melody or for a guitar lick or something.

What is one question you would like to be asked that probably nobody has ever asked?

What's your perfect Sunday?

What do you call your sound?

We used to call it slacker rock because it was inspired by American slacker bands mostly, but now we're really into 70s rock, specifically power pop. So maybe you could call it slacker power pop?

Have you ever had a mental block-out on stage?

Yes, too many to count.

What are your unfulfilled ambitions?

Make and release an album. Which we plan on doing next, we have started demoing it.

What advice do you have for teenagers?

Stay quiet.

What is the closest you have come to losing life and limb?

I have only recently passed my driving test, at the ripe old age of 22, and I nearly killed myself and Guto our drummer the other day trying to overtake someone on the A470 driving back home to North Wales. I'm quite a bad driver.

Do you think of yourself more as an entertainer or a musician, or do you think it's more of a combination of the two?

As we're relatively new, we didn't really thin about the entertainment side of things that much before, but we're beginning to understand that a little bit more. We like to entertain, and play music but I don't think we'd really call ourselves entertainers or musicians. Maybe one day we will.

[posted 8.15.19]


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