Excessive drinking and pointless shagging are a way of life in the songs of ARAB STRAP. The only way to fully understand is to join them on a pub crawl through their Falkirk homeland.
Words: Alan Morrison
IT’S NOT EAST, it’s not west. It’s the no man’s land of Falkirk. ln Glasgow and Edinburgh. music scenes come in cycles. In Falkirk, local bands play Nirvana covers in the pub. It’s the kind of bigger-than-small town where bumping into past relationships is inevitable, even when there’s so many to choose from. It’s the kind of place where romance is fuelled by alcohol and regret is fuelled by romance. It is the birthplace ofArab Strap.
If there’s any beauty to be found in bar-room tragedy, then it’s here in the work of Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton. Their morose world is full of lost opportunities, infidelities and chemically enhanced nights out, and isn’t simply ‘Trainspotting put to music’, as the lazy would have it. When you’re young and bored shitless in Central Scotland, this is the meaning of life.
5pm: Behind The Wall
‘It’s a busy night tonight/And the bar is full of all the girls/I’ve ever shagged or tampered with or kissed/0r even just fancied/A pub full of conquests and knockbacks/Between the laughter: I can hear my name.’ ‘I Work In A Saloon’
The first pub in a long line, and all eyes are on the TV screen as the football scores roll in. You can see broken-down Brockville Park from the window, but today Falkirk are at lbrox for the Scottish Cup Semi-Final, and a 3-1 loss to Hearts isn’t what you need when your club is already in receivership.
Ironically, the team have become bigger heroes in defeat, whereas fellow ‘Bairns’ Arab Strap only grow more infamous in their home town as their career continues to rise. A recent interview in NME hasn’t helped, with its references to a certain ‘Gina’ and the way she two-timed the Strap’s main men. Aidan and Malcolm. The reception from her friends in here is growing frosty.
So, after a quick round of introductions and a swift pint, Arab Strap and The List head out on the town.
5.30pm and 8.30pm: Firkin's
‘So she said/ “Come round to Rab 's hoose, and that/We've got some trips, ken "/So I said I'd go round about six. ' ’Trippy’
That thing about dropping real names into conversations continues to be a problem, but there’s a bare-arsed emotional honesty in their music, so they’re not going tostart censoring themselves now. When real-life misdemeanours are put down on disc for posterity, some folk might not be so happy about their fifteen minutes of fame. Take ‘Trippy’, the AA side of new single ‘Here We Go’. Bad drugs, big vomit, and all in a park not five minutes’ walk from where we sit.
‘Don’t print the names, we don’t want to make it worse than it is already,’ says Malcolm. ‘But we came out last night, first
18 THE IJST 16—30 Apr 1998
Bairn to be wild: Malcolm, David, Aidan and Gary are Arab 1