From booting ass to kicking brass,
are back with tongues of venom and tunes of glory.
Words: Brian Donaldson
Photograph: Steve Gullick
MOGWAI'S 1999 CHRISTMAS CARD LIST may well run as follows: Iggy Pop, Celtic FC, Arab Strap, the estate of Stanley Kubrick, the Cowdenbeath Brass Band. Not included among their Yuletide greetings: Hugh Dallas and Blur. For the former they knocked up a tune in 'honour' of his refereeing performance at a controversial Old Firm game last season — having sent off two of the men in green, the whistler was partly blamed for adding to the already bilious atmosphere. For the latter they stitched up some T in the Park shirts to mark their less than favourable opinion of Damon and co, with whom they shared headline duties on different stages at Balado.
‘There's so many things about them to hate,’ insists Mogwai's hooded leader Stuart Braithwaite. ‘There may be worse bands in the world but this art school mentality which is so patronising and so contrived, makes them so . . . shite. It‘s so clear that they wouldn't exist if it wasn't for their financial situation — they don't appear to like each other. And, this sums it up really; they were headlining somewhere and in between the support bands, they had adverts for a bank being projected. It's that kind of thing, you
know. I can't exactly remember whose idea it was to do the T-shirts, it definitely wasn't mine — but it was just brilliant.‘
Like the Blur T-shirt and Hugh rant moments, much of what goes on in the Mogwai camp is a spur of the moment kind of thing. Their forthcoming release — an EP called ‘EP’ — arrived in such a manner. ‘We were just doing a bit of mixing and came up with what is now ‘Stanley Kubrick‘ and we thought, “oh, we'll release that",' recalls Braithwaite. ‘But we knew we couldn’t put it out on its own so we just went and wrote more stuff. But we need to take time on the next album, this has got to be the one. We felt pressure with the last album too, we didn't want to just put out the second instalment of Mogwai Young Team; we would have been known as a bunch of chancers. And rightly so.‘
That last album, Come On Die Young (which opened with an evocatively ambient guitar riff accompanied by the sampled voice of Iggy Pop sounding off about genius and art and punk
finest collections released this austere mood throughout the unimaginative type. These
rock) is undoubtedly among the year. The disciplined focus and album was read by some as a
one-trick ponyness of the most
people, of course, are wrong and probably shouldn't bother getting ‘EP'.
Alongside their tribute to the dead director are three other astounding soundscapes, including 'Burn Girl Prom Queen' ('we're not very good at song titles'), a slowly lifting blazer taken to glorious heights with the aid of the Cowdenbeath Brass Band (3 friend of a friend thing) and quite possibly the most beautiful thing you will put in your CD player all year.
Just back from a largely non-controversial tour of the USA — ‘John cut his hand. Got nine stitches' — they are soon to take the stage at Barrowland. For a band who have penned numbers in tribute to a sportswear firm and Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat, or given albums titles relating to gangs and gang violence, you don't imagine them to get too dewy-eyed about treading the boards of any venue.
'I know it sounds really, really cheesy,’ warns Braithwaite. ’But it really is a dream to play Barrowland. I remember seeing Jane's Addiction and The Cure playing there and now we are. Any band in Scotland worth anything would want to.’ Presumably, Hugh and Damon won't be appearing on the guest list.
EP is released on Mon 18 Oct. Mogwai play Glasgow Barrowland. Sat 23 Oct.
/ 21. ()c: 299‘) THE lIST13