An interview with Mogwai frontman Stuart Braithwaite
Glasgow's Mogwai has been hypnotizing its audiences with elaborate, spaced-out, guitar-driven dirges since the mid-'90s. This week, on tour in support of its wryly titled 2011 Sub Pop release Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, the cosmic post rock band pays New Mexico a visit. Over the phone, the band's thickly accented frontman Stuart Braithwaite and I discussed recording techniques, favorite concert locales and distortion pedals.
I'm fond of your new album's title—what inspired it?
We got the album title just from a story a friend of ours—in fact, a guy from the band that's touring with us, Errors—told us, basically of a [situation] that happened in a shop. A guy just said it to the shopkeeper.
Roky Erickson did a song with you on 2008’s “Batcat” EP. Who else would you like to collaborate with?
It was great working with Roky. Yeah, it was a good experience. He's a really nice guy, and a really legendary musician. Um, I don't know, who else would we like to work with? I always say David Bowie when people ask. It's not likely, but we should aim high.
Are there any common misconceptions about your music?
I don't know, I think our music's fairly—maybe people think it's a bit more pretentious than it seems to us, but it's quite straight forward, really.
What's your recording process like? Do you like newer or older recording equipment and techniques?
I think our recording process is fairly regular. Just, you know, talk, basically do the drums first. And we do use a lot of modern technology at this point, more newer than old. We do record on a computer and use a lot of synthesizers and digital aids.
Are there any noticeable differences between live audiences in the U.S. versus those in Europe and other parts of the world?
I think they vary all over America, and they vary all over Europe. Different places have different, I don't know, levels of rowdiness or attentiveness, yeah. And I'm happy to play anywhere, but there's definitely different reactions in different parts of the world.
Do you have a favorite?
I really like playing in Japan because people are so quiet, and it's really easy to play when people are really paying a lot of attention.
Are you going to Japan any time soon or are you not able to due to the disaster?
Yeah, we're going in July, I think. I think the place where we're playing is not affected at all, so I'm looking forward to it.
If you weren't a musician, what would you like to be doing with your time?
Ah, I don't really know. Just kind of, like, makin' music. [Laughs.] Maybe makin' music but not getting paid for it. [Laughs.]
What's your favorite guitar pedal?
Uuuuuhhhh, prooooobably like an old distortion pedal. Big Muff, yeah, I really like them.
Is there anything you want people to know?
Not at all. Is there anything people want to know? [Laughs.] If people come to the show and see us hanging out they can ask us themselves if they think of anything.
Friday, May 13, 8 p.m.
120 Central SW
Tickets: $20, all-ages
(Thanks to Rob for question suggestions!)
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