Gruff Rhys is one of a small number of artists who combine being talented musicians with a genuinely interesting and eccentric personality. The former lead singer of Super Furry Animals has continued to make quality music both as a member of Neon Neon and as a solo act. He’s also a keen ambassador for the continuance of the Welsh language and traditions. An inquisitive mind has already taken him on a trip to Patagonia to meet the relatives of his ancestors who emigrated there in Victorian times for Separado!
He teams up again with director Dylan Goch for their second documentary American Interior. Gruff tours the Midwest in order to trace the journey of John Evans. The explorer 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 years, often living with First Nation Tribes, Evans sought in vein for any indication of the tribe’s existence whilst inadvertently pioneering a trail most of the way up the Missouri River towards the Pacific.
Gruff’s journey may have proved fruitless but it lead to him writing a book and an album of the same name. American Interior is an offbeat and articulate curiosity which is unobtrusively rather marvellous. The Welshman’s interest and inquisitiveness shines through. Clever editing and beautiful visuals (the umbrella in a lovely touch) allied with a sense of intrigue and discovery make it a fascinating documentary.
American Interior is released on DVD by Soda Pictures and is out now.