In 2012 Gruff Rhys embarked on a solo ‘investigative concert tour’ through the heart of America following the route taken by his distant relative John Evans. Every night he presented songs augmented by a power point presentation that detailed his relative’s unbelievable history, along with any new piece of information that had come his way during the day. He was ultimately looking for Evans’s lost unmarked grave.
Along with many major cities the tour took him to play shows at the Mandan and Omaha tribe reservations, a Missouri vineyard, villages that no longer exist that lay at the bottom the Mississippi river and a New Orleans bordello. Along the way he photographed and filmed a 1 meter high felt avatar of John Evans in order to share his unusual story. Now that the investigative concert tour is over, Rhys is ready to bring his musical power point presentation to the masses! This he plans to do in the form of a tour and a ground breaking multi platform project, ‘American Interior’, which follows the cult Welsh musician’s adventure through America as he unearths a bizarre – yet- true family myth.
Rhys retraces the story of his 18th century relative, the impoverished farm hand John Evans; a significant but forgotten character in American history who left Wales in 1792 in an attempt to discover a lost tribe of Welsh Speaking Native Americans believed to be roaming the great plains. In doing so he embarked on a series of incredible adventures, lived with a multitude of tribes, swam with Alligators, defected to the Spanish, changing his name to Don Juan Evans, surviving imprisonment, attempted murder and disease only to die in New Orleans at the age of 29, but not before leaving behind him a trail of chaos that changed the history of North America forever.
In American Interior Rhys brings this amazing story to life using picture, sound and the written word.
Gruff Rhys is a sonic inventor at heart and a collaborative spirit. Most well-known for his involvement with Super Furry Animals but equally highly regarded as a solo performer.
His debut feature documentary Separado! won the CPH:DOX Sound and Vision Award in Copenhagen, in 2010 having toured international film festivals and received glowing reviews from international broadsheets such as the Guardian and Magazines such as Sight and Sound and Uncut.
The sequel to Separado! is a pioneering multiplatform project consisting of a film, book and album will be the first of its kind, and will have international reach.
With no book on John Evans in existence, Rhys has had to write one himself. Penguin books will release a Hard Back, Paper back and e book along with an enhanced groundbreaking app version of Rhys’s detailed account of John Evans’s life and legacy and his own journey on his trail.
To correspond with the book, Turnstile will release Rhys’s next solo album, full of songs inspired by his journey, many of which also feature in the film. All the music in the film are original compositions by Rhys, which will form a balladic spine to the visual narrative. The culmination of which will see the simultaneous release of the 3 platforms – film, solo album and book (hardback, paperback and e-book) – in May 2014.
Soda pictures will release a film version of American Interior in Cinemas and on DVD later in 2014, once the film has finished touring international festivals.Such an ambitious multi format production has not been attempted before.
In an ever-demanding arena where the audience expects more than a singular experience we are offering an aural and visual journey from conception to completion. The tragicomic story of John Evans in the American Interior!
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