this is hardcore Post-rock heroes Mogwai may now live on different continents, but it’s not stopped them producing an awesome seventh album, reports Nadine McBay
18 THE LIST 20 Jan–3 Feb 2011
A s record titles go, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will provokes a pause. Utterly fatuous and perversely profound, it is the name of Mogwai’s seventh studio album since forming in Glasgow 15 years ago. But there’s no sense of finality here; rather Scotland’s premier emotional shock troops have delivered an album radiating vitality and sense of purpose.
‘Seven records is more than some people own, let alone have recorded,’ says Stuart Braithwaite, the Mogwai principal, from his Lanarkshire home. ‘People haven’t made any attempt to stop us doing them yet. Until an angry bunch of villagers rise up against us, we’ll keep doing it.’ Twitching with vigour, Hardcore is Mogwai’s most diverse outpouring to date, careering from staccato math-rock on opener ‘White Noise’ through the stoner sizzle of download giveaway ‘Rano Pano’ to the characteristic piano figures of ‘Letters to the Metro’.
Whereas the odd brave soul suggested that Hardcore’s predecessors, 2006’s Mr Beast and 2008’s stately The Hawk is Howling looked too longingly at Mogwai’s own past, Hardcore is firmly in the present, and showcases a band willing to push themselves again. ‘We recorded quite a lot of songs for this record – about 20 – and were conscious of not using songs that were very typical of us,’ says Braithwaite. ‘The last time we had that many was with Rock Action [Mogwai’s third album,
released in 2001, and their most commercially successful LP to date]. We did think it’d have to be quite different for people to buy a seventh album, a number which seems both extraordinary and hilarious to me.’ Hardcore was the product of a long distance creative process, with guitarist/keyboardist Barry Burns and guitarist John Cummings inputting and exchanging ideas from Berlin and New York respectively before the band got together at Hamilton’s Chem19 Studios, with Paul Savage producing. It was the first time they’d worked with the former Delgado-cum- Scottish superproducer since 1997’s Mogwai album Young Team.
The record comes in the wake of the end of longstanding relationships with Matador in the US and Play It Again Sam in Europe. Now signed to Sub Pop in North America, in the UK and Europe, Mogwai will release Hardcore on their own Rock Action label.
‘Putting the record out ourselves gave us a real focus that perhaps we’ve never had before,’ affirms Braithwaite, after describing this year’s Special Moves live album, and its accompanying film Burning as drawing a line under the band’s first era. ‘When we first started we were very young and very daft. For the most part since then there’s always been someone running after us, picking up the pieces. Here, we had that safety net taken away and were just determined to do everything as properly as we could. We definitely, definitely