Interview with Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite: “Harps are nice”

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The most awesome thing about Mogwai is how they manage to make music that can be both enormously loud and bombastic and beautifully pretty and shhhhhh. Latest album The Hawk is Howling, for example, is a wonderful seven-layer-dip of melody and rock action. Live, a Mogwai gig is like discovering two parallel universi where there’s a wooshy Scottish band in one and distortion pedals that give you a Glasgow kiss in the other… Or something.

I remember seeing the super Scots on Sept 8, 1999 in Toronto. Here’s what I wrote about that gig in my book: “Holy F*ck! Sorry….WHAT? I can’t HEAR YOU! Now I’m deaf. Totally spacey good.” Ten years later, almost to the day, I was pretty much saying the same thing in this review of Mogwai’s Vancouver show. Niiice.

DapperMogwaiSo what’s a girl to do? Track the Mighty Mogwaiian Stuart Braithwaite down over the interwires and asked a few cheeky questions. Such is the modus operandi of the BackstageRider. And as I’ve learned of the entire Mogwai camp, the modus operandi of Mogwai is to be a collective of thoroughly decent chaps. So here’s what @plastmatron from @mogwaiband had to say to a collection of questions.

How’d the release of your live show documentary Burning go down when it debuted at the Glasgow Film Festival? Was there more pressure to get the gig right that night or are you always perfection?

Well, it hasn’t been released as yet, so time will tell how well it goes down. Well, I hope! There was a little more pressure at the shows because we were recording and filming, though as we did it over three nights, we had a bit of a safety net.

If you were only allowed to use ONE guitar pedal for a live gig, what would that effect pedal be?

I think it would be my Fuzz Face Distortion. It’s the same as Jimi Hendrix used and sounds amazing.

You seem to be the social meejah chap in the band. How’re you finding Twitter/the interweb and those conversations with fans?

I think it’s quite useful and fun. Twitter is great because you can see what everyone is saying and doing. Very good for nosey people.

I don’t trust the media. They’re scoundrels. Which cool, new bands should I be listening to?

Mmm, I like a few bands up here a lot. Golden Grrrls, Ultimate Thrush and Divorce are all great. [Editors' note: Stuart's also been raving about Errors recently on Twitter]

Do you guys ever fight over the music? If so, who’s the most typical instigator, who’s the fence-sitter, who’s the peacekeeper, who’s the guy who leaves the room and who makes the tea?

We don’t fight, but sometimes we’ll disagree. It’s easy to sort out as we just vote on any differences.

MogwaiBandHow the hell do you choose your song titles? And what the hell is a “Glasgow Mega-Snake?

They just come from things we see or hear or we just make them up. Glasgow Megasnake is mythical creature that we invented that lives in the Clyde and attracts tourists, like a shit Loch Ness Monster.

Are you louder than Dinosaur Jr when you play live, do you think?

No, I don’t think we are. J Mascis has more amps than us. We are louder than a lot of other bands, though.

What is the most beautiful sound in the world?

I don’t know. Harps are nice.

Out of your enormo-discog, which Mogwai tracks are your most favouritest and why?

I really like “Thank You Space Expert”. No reason, really, it’s just a nice song.

Does it get ever tiring when fans in ironic rock t-shirts or beards want to dissect every chord or b-side or foreign release you’ve ever put out? What would you rather be talking about after a show?

To be honest, we don’t meet too many people like that any more. I think those folk have moved on to other bands. I don’t mind what subject people talk about as long as they’re nice.

Any chance you’re working on new music? What strange and delightful secrets can you reveal about it to us?

We’ve started sharing our demos and are going to record later in the year. No secrets yet, though.

If a visitor to Scotland asked you to be his/her tourguide for a day, what would the itinerary be like?

I’d reccomend the highlands and islands of Scotland. There are some beautiful places here. I’d just hire a car and drive north.

Can I buy you a drink for being awesome? And what are you having?

I’ll have a coffee please. It’s early :)

Coincidentally, backstagerider.com is ALSO about Rock Action. What is the most rock thing you’ve ever done on tour?

Smashed up my guitar, which I instantly regretted.

What’s on your rider?

Lots of food and lots of drinks. And a piece of art by a talented child or gifted amateur. \m/

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