‘- ‘1 yoi',

Who sell out .

Their new album’s a dreamy purr, but Mogwai insist they’re no corporate pussies.

Words: Doug Johnstone

yths seem to grow around Mogwai. Followers

of Scottish independent music will know all

about the (ilasgow five-piece (mostly) instrumental outfit by now. At least. they'll think they do. But for them and for those new to the band. here’s some of yer trademark .‘Vlogwaisms. and a quick debunking.

They slag off other bands yes they do. but then a lot of other bands are shite. They swear a lot yes. but no more so than anyone else around. They get annoyed when people talk at their gigs they do. but that's because you should be listening. They tnade a quarter- of-a-million quid soundtracking a Levi‘s advert and are sell-outs no they didn‘t. and no they're not. More on this later.

What all this conveniently ignores is the fact that Mogwai‘s music is shit-hot. [I regularly redefines what can and can't be done in the name of rock. pushing boundaries. expanding envelopes. thinking outside the box whatever management-speak gibberish you want to apply. They are a forward- thinking. intelligent band that make music like no one else.

And right now they’re busy little bees. Their fourth album. Happy Songs for Happy


People. is out next month. and they‘re in the middle of

touring liurope. currently managing themselves and running their own Rock Action label. As the band's pianist Barry Burns puts it: ‘lt‘s a fucking hectic affair.‘

Happy Songs . . . is a seamless. dreamy record. a complex but wonderful thing. intricately structured yet beautifully simple. and seems much more coherent than previous Mogwai releases.

‘The album does go together really well.‘ says Burns. ‘We‘ve had problems with that in the past. I

42 THE LIST 8—22 May 2003,

‘If I had 250 grand I’d be away, phoning Sean Connery and seeing what he’s


don’t know why. Maybe we were just lucky the way we've compiled it this time.‘

This is disingenuoUs. but typical of the self-effacing attitude of a band who continually play down the importance of their own music. The album was recorded in (ilasgow. unlike their last two which were done in a remote upstate New York studio with acclaimed producer Dave l-‘ridmann. Why the change‘.’ ‘(‘abin fever.‘ says Burns. ‘()n the last album we were getting really. really bored. There wasn‘t anything to do because we were eight miles away even from a shop. in the middle of absoltile-nowhere. Also we couldn't afford to go and do it anywhere else so we had to do it in (ilasgow. but I’m happy that we did.‘

Which brings us to money. So what happened to that £25()k you got for the Levi's advert. according to internet rumour'.’ Burns laughs heartily. ‘lt's funny cos if I had 250 grand I wouldn't be living in Scotland.’ he says. ‘l'd be away. phoning Sean (‘onnery and seeing what he's tip to.’

What about the old sell-out accusation'.’ 'We never said we wouldn't do an advert. ever.‘ says Burns. ‘That whole “no sell-out" thing. I don't even know what that means. you know '.’ And anyway. we haven't even got any money from the Levi's advert yet. and we might not the way the legal side has worked out.’

The band's soundscape style does lend itself to other media. though. They've had songs popping up in the background of a few television shows recently. so have they ever thought about doing a soundtrack'.’ ‘I wish.' says Burns. laughing again. ‘L'sually people want to use our music in a film. and months pass and it gets talked about. and then at the very last minute the people backing the film pull out. We're wanting to do the next Batman movie. though. I think we’d be good at it.‘

Mogwai play Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Mon 19 May.

Surlace noise

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Festival returns this year with a diverse and bulging bill for its week-long celebrations. running from 30 June to 6 July. It all kicks off with croonsome legend Tony Bennett. who plays a massive show in the city‘s George Square on 30 June. Dionne Warwick. the Jazz Jamaica All-Stars. the Kenny Garrett Quartet. Wayne Krantz and original guitar soul man George Benson are among the other names on the bill. For full programme details see www.jazztest.co.uk or call for a brochure on 0141 552 4005.

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WE DON'T LIKE TO JUST TELL you about gigs here in The List. we give you the chance to go to them for free and we’ve got a tasty selection of tickets to give away to some upcoming shows. We have one pair for the totally sold out Mogwai gig on 19 May at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, two pairs for Flogging Molly on 13 May at the Garage, Glasgow and two pairs for New York electro noiseniks ARE Weapons' show at the Cathouse on 21 May. To get your hands on a pair, just email the name of the gig you want see to promotions©list.co.uk by no later than noon on the day before that gig. Good luck.