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Cian Ciarán: Protest, Riot, Make Art

Photographer: Emyr Young © 2013


The UK is a mad place – and getting madder by the day.

Government vans driving around, telling immigrants to ‘Go home’. The media’s psychotic attempts to drum up ‘royal fever’. A Government finding £100 billion to splurge on nuclear weapons, while preaching the need for savage public cuts.

But it’s okay, because we live in a democracy. If you don’t like the blue ones, you can try the red ones. Although they’re both the same.

If you’re Scottish, there’s an escape route – independence. But for the rest of us; there’s just a feeling of powerlessness. Of being angry and frustrated; having no outlet – no hope.

So it’s great to see Cian Ciarán making a stand. He’s the Super Furry Animals’ keyboardist; a producer and general music whizz. He’s self-funding a solo album called They Are Nothing Without Us.

It’s his battle-cry – a call for people to start challenging what’s happening around us. Over the 13 tracks, the Bangor born musician rages against political negligence, corporate power, the economic system and environmental suicide.

You can pre-order/make a pledge towards They Are Nothing Without Us here. You can follow Cian on Twitter here.



What message do you want to get across with the album?

That we don’t need nuclear power, we don’t need Trident, we don’t need these cuts.
That we have a choice. We have a voice; we need to start believing in ourselves and stop taking this shit.

We could have 150,000 new nurses every year for the next 30 years…or Trident. And they say we’ve run out of money and we need to keep privatising, to keep making these cuts. It’s bullshit.

Why does there seem so little protest or political music?

There probably is but the media don’t want you to know about it. Look at how the BBC censored the Ding Dong the Witch is Dead song; it wasn’t even a protest song; just by association.

But I think it’ll change as things get even harder and the gap between the haves and the have-nots grows wider.

Can music make a change?

Sometimes I feel that there’s nothing I can do to influence or make any difference, there’s so much going on globally. But other days I think no fuck them, if we stay together and we start speaking out, all of us can make a change. It doesn’t matter who you are.

If you look through history you see the power a collective can have; but then again it didn’t do fuck all when Tony was PM.

But they have to be challenged, we need to stop being afraid and persevere or they’ll continue to walk all over us, to keep doing what they’re doing without any opposition.

How political are the Super Furries?

We’ve often been accused of being political and it’s not something we’ve shied away from.

In some respects, the fact that we sung in Welsh was a kind of political statement.

It’s why we were criticised, by some, for singing in English. But the criticism was never an issue for me. I just think of times when we’ve played in Japan, for example, and seeing the crowd singing back in Welsh; even though they might not understand it unless they read the translations.

It’s a good feeling, and it shows the world that we have our own language and it’s alive – it’s not some mythological entity.

Same with America; when we brought the Welsh language album out there, it was our most popular album to date. But that was only possible because we’d also sung in English, which had opened up doors for us.

Why does there seem to be so little protest in UK?

I think successive governments and the media have created a sense of hopelessness in the general public; since the Miners’ Strike especially.

Complacency, a lack of leadership, who knows – a collection of factors.

It seems it’s always been the way. If you check out a US singer called Bobby Miller from the 1930’s – he’s talking about the same stuff.

But I can’t believe or think who’d want to vote Tory in the next election, or any mainstream party for that matter. Think what would happen if everyone voted Green; a political revolution.

Two fingers to the establishment is what we need and to start believing in ourselves, we don’t have to be told what to do. We’re supposed to be in charge.

What options do people have when no political party reflects their views?

Abstain, protest, write letters, riot, make art.

How do you see the state of Wales at the moment?

Crippled by a lack of powers inflicted by Westminster; deprived. It’s treated like a kid who’s not ready to go into the world on his own yet. I don’t need my hand held or my arse wiped.

Plans to enforce nuclear power in Wylfa, and Hinkley; in England but just 20 miles away from Cardiff. Tryweryn springs to mind.


Wales used to be a country of protest and radicalism. What changed?

I guess it has been eroded over time. Labour has betrayed the reason it was created and the people it was meant to serve and represent. Money talks and corporations, governments and their lobbyists are more powerful than ever.

Do you think Scottish independence will change attitudes in Wales?

I hope they go for it, and drag Wales along with them. It’s interesting how the SNP and Plaid Cymru, who started around the same time, helped each other in Westminster; similar views and objectives and yet Scotland has moved on and Wales not so much. Their achievements haven’t grown on a par.

Do you think Wales will become independent?

First country to be colonised, last to be free.

Is it scary to do something political – to put your head on the block?

What’s scary for me is the thought of doing nothing. And in 10 or 20 years time, looking back and thinking – I wish I’d said something.

The thing is, I’m not the best at getting my views across in person. I usually end up getting frustrated or getting into an argument.

So I thought I’d try saying things through music – so that’s what this is. It’s better out than in.

But whatever people think, that’s okay with me, because I believe in what I’m saying. I’m not jumping on any bandwagon or saying anything for shock value.

It’s a genuine feeling, one of frustration at what’s happening; being pissed off. I think it’s something a lot of people feel, but there’s nowhere for it to go. People don’t know where to turn.

I think I heard Tony Benn say once; the best way to make a population conform is to give them no hope and make them live in fear; and that’s what I see happening all across the globe.

And if people don’t start speaking out; kicking up against it – it just grinds on.

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