Mogwai. They’ve been around since the mid-nineties, releasing quality LP after quality LP. People attending their live concerts are advised to wear ear protection equipment. Their music is sometimes beautiful, sometimes hard rock, sometimes ethereal, sometimes electronic, sometimes quiet/LOUD, always interesting and current. They have recently released their seventh Studio LP, ‚Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will‚ and also recent EP ‚Earth Division‘. I caught up with them just before they headlined at this years Electric Frog festival event, held in Glasgow on Sunday 11th September. It was something of a home-coming.
Martin WhiteTapes (M): Hi Stuart, nice to meet you.
Stuart Braithwaite (S): Nice to meet you too, Martin!
M: So how do you feel about being back here in Glasgow for a home town show?
S: Good actually! It’s kinda sneaked up on us a wee bit cos we’ve been away on tour – and we added this one quite late and woah – we’re back playing in Glasgow! We just landed today, and it was pishing with rain, but yeh… good to be back.
M: Yes, Glasgow is minging today…
S: Aye, it’s how you describe it… but yeh, we’ve seen a lot of people we know and i’m sure the show will be good tonight.
M: So any different preparations for a home town show then?
S: Aye well, we only played twice last year here, and we got a lot of people asking for tickets, and a lot of people were disappointed. That’s not too unusual though.
M: The reaction to ‚Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will‚ has been extremely positive in the press so far. German and UK – and you’ve toured it a lot also. What has been the best crowd reaction you’ve had for the new material thus far?
S: It’s hard to say really – you have to think of them as general gigs sometimes – but i think the best one we played this year was in Sicily (Italy); we played a festival in a town with a courtyard and castle… it was half ‚real‘ music fans that travelled for it, and half just local people. It was brilliant, people just loved it. Really, really good moods around, and it was probably my favourite show actually, yeh.
M: Ok, cool. What influences you when you are writing your new material, like for example the new EP ‚Earth Division‚?
S: We don’t really listen to anything while writing, but just listening to music… there’s a lot of German stuff: Kraftwerk, Suicide, umm… also things like Phillip Glass… aye… all different. We all listen to a LOT of different music…
M: Understood. So – what do you think of that term banded around – ‚post-rock‘? Most bands that are labelled it hate the term – and i’ve just interviewed Explosions In The Sky and This Will Destroy You from Texas, and they are not a fan of the term. What’s Mogwai’s view?
S: I’m not a big fan of it either. I think it kinda implies a certain arrogance that I don’t think is really the case for a lot of those bands – and not for us. I know the Explosions guys really well and they are really humble people. It’s also come to mean a certain ‚type‘ of instrumental music and I suppose I can understand why people use it… but yeh, it’s not my favourite term.
M: Aye. it’s lazy…
*a light is shone by a friend on both Stuart and Martin*
…M: What’s the light for?
S: It’s because we’re being interrogated.
M: Oh, I see… right! Oh no…
…. so… you signed the Glasgow based band Errors to your Rock Action Records label…
S: Aye, and i’m gonnae drop them too, cos they’re acting like dicks…
M: Dropped later or now?
S: Aye, i’ll tell them later. I’ll probably drop them by fax.
M: Surely by memo?
M: How did signing them come about initially?
S: We just saw them play – Barry I think – and we just asked them if they wanted to put some records out. It has grown since there, quite organic. Also Remember, Remember are on the label – and Part-Chimp, and a few others things are going on. I’ll probably re-sign Errors if they stop acting like dicks as well.
M: A good plan, Stuart. If they stop spilling beer everywhere.
M: Ok – so you’ve been around on records since 1995. Around the time Jeff Buckley’s ‚Grace‚ LP came out – and also round about the time when Radiohead’s ‚The Bends‚ was released. You’ve clearly grown into a band that have influenced countless other bands – how does it make you feel?
S: Well, aye it’s good. It’s something you’re constantly proud of. I think that’s the biggest compliment you can have as a musician – if it affects the way other musicians write music, it’s amazing. It’s kinda weird when you talk about how long ago that was actually. Cos we were just wee guys staying at our parents houses, hoping we could sell enough 7 inches [vinyl releases] so that we could buy a bottle of cider. Other than those things, not much has changed, actually…
M: Cider has changed a bit! Moving on though…lots of touring can upset bands – especially bands with your schedule – how do you relax on tour?
S: Well, we play Fruit Ninja…
M: on the iPhone?
S: No Martin, the iPad… (smiles)
M: oh! You have a bigger iPhone. Cool. You should get Siege Hero then.
S: Whit’s that?
M: Kinda like Angry Birds but with …a siege hero.
S: Sounds good, i’ll check it out! A political angry birds… cool.
M: Ok, let’s talk about ‚Earth Division‚, your new EP. It contains a ’non-power ballad‘, and a fuzzy, overdriven track called ‚Drunk and Crazy‚… it comes hot on the heels of „Hardcore…“. Was that always the plan, to get this EP out so quickly afterwards?
S: Yeh, i think so. We didn’t want to leave it too long, because it’s still reasonably current music. It really didn’t fit on the rest of the album, so that was the plan. At some point we’ll play it live – maybe when the festivals are over and we’re back to playing ‚civilised concerts’…
M: Yes. Yesterday i had to check out a toilet – it’s seat was broken in half, leaned against the wall. Bad times.
S: Aye, we’re hearing things like that… not good…
M: In the past, Mogwai’s merchandise was t-shirts was things like ‚BLUR ARE SHITE‘ on there. That kinda stuff. You seemed to want to piss off other bands..
S: Aye, but not so much these days… that’s a young man’s game. Dead funny though.
M: So, do you think Blur are shite?
S: Yeh. It’s no‘ for me.
M: Nothing by them?
S: Nah… it’s……… soulless. One word, two syllables Deal wi‘ it!
M: Ok, thanks for your time Stuart, and best of luck with the rest of the festivals and concerts this year.
S: Aye Martin, nice to meet you too.
Photo 1 by Asheck Ahmed
Photos 2 + 3 taken from the Mogwai Facebook page