Like Super Furry Animals, Big Leaves is a popular Welsh band. Lead vocalist Rhodri Sion and bass/trumpeter Kevin Tame had been next-door neighbors while growing up in Waunfawr, a village in North Wales near the town of Caernarfon; the Gwynedd brothers, guitarist Meilir Gwynedd and drummer Osian Gwynedd, lived just up the road from them. They began playing together in 1988 (age 11 and 12), calling themselves the Beganifs. Their first gig was at the Penygroes Football Club, but they also played subsequent gigs in local pubs and clubs, although they were underage. Their first release was a cassette (Llygaid Gwyder), which sold 500 copies and attracted the attention of Welsh label Ankst, which released their next cassette, Fraeth. It went on to become the label's best-selling release. They toured with fellow Welsh groups, including Ffa Coffi Pawb (a band featuring two future members of Super Furry Animals, who soon became their good friends). At a television show in Amsterdam, a stoned TV host mistakenly thought the Beganifs were called "Big Leaves," and introduced the band as such. Later, they decided to change their name to Big Leaves. In November 1998, their first EP under this new name, Trwmgwsg (translated as Deep Sleep), was released on Crai Records. This release was followed by another Crai EP, Belinda, released in February 1999. Sly Alibi, released in June on the Whipcord label, was Big Leaves' first English-language release. By now, Big Leaves had a sizeable following in Britain and Wales and were playing to huge crowds. Their next single, Racing Birds (Whipcord, released in November), landed them on Radio One's charts. A new full-length Welsh album, Pwy Sy'n Galw? (Who's Calling?), arrived in March 2000 and boosted their presence even higher. Fine was released in June and not too much later, the band added drummer Matt Hobbs from Swindon to their lineup. Original drummer Osian Gwynedd moved over to keyboards. Big Leaves' next release came in June 2001, when the critically hailed Animal Instinct EP was released by the Dell'Orso label. In August, they released a two-track single, Electro Magnetic Pollution, on the Cardiff-based Boobytrap. In 2001, the band was also the subject of a documentary film, Dydd ar ol Dydd, produced by SFC, Channel 4, in Wales. In February 2002, Big Leaves issued another EP, Siglo, on Crai. That summer, they appeared at the South By Southwest music conference in Austin, TX, which helped secure them a larger profile in the U.S. They were subsequently signed to the Cardiff-based Sony subsidiary Townhill Music.
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