Exposed Meets Mogwai
Interview with Mogwai.
With almost two decades of music under their belt, legendary Scottish rockers Mogwai return to Yorkshire for what’s expected to be an epic show at Magna this month. Exposed caught up with band member Barry Burns to chat Scottish independence, their upcoming tour, and eighth studio album ‘Rave Tapes’.
Ok, we’ll start with Sunday night, you played ‘A Night For Scotland’ with Franz Ferdinand and Frightened Rabbit, how was that as an experience and did it have the impact you’d hoped for?
It was brilliant; there was a real sense of solidarity. There was a real voice for the ‘Yes’ movement, rather than those who are currently undecided. Those who were undecided may now be converted to voting yes. It actually sold out, but yes it was brilliant.
You’ve actually been a big voice for the ‘Vote Yes’ campaign and a lot of fans are actually wanting the new Scottish National Anthem to be ‘BatCat’. What would be your new national anthem and why?
[Laughs] Have people really been saying that?
Yeah, a lot of fans have been saying it on social media!
[Laughs] I’m not really a huge fan of anthems, so I’m not really too fussed on what it would be. I think the current national anthem is a nice enough song.
Onto Rave Tapes, which was your eighth album, do you still feel pressure when writing new material or is it now a walk in the park?
It’s now much more intense when writing material. As a band that’s been going for a number of years it becomes increasingly hard to reinvent yourselves musically. The first few months are always the hardest coming up with ideas and getting the process going.
So how does the writing process work for Mogwai? Was it different for Rave Tapes?
We’ve written our albums the same way since Come on Die Young. We live all over the place so we actually write songs separately as individuals in our own houses and then send them between each other. We have all the songs written first and then record them in the studio, though this time there was a little more improvisation in the studio than there usually would be.
Rave Tapes did excellently in both the UK and US charts – with it peaking at number 10 in the UK. As this was higher than any of your other albums, would you say at this point all the work over the last 20 years paid off?
With the amount of time we’ve been around, chart positions are a minor victory for us. It’s not something we rank as being too important. We’re happier knowing that fans like the music and that we’ve got the fans coming to concerts, you know, that’s the important bit.
Going onto your own label, Rock Action Records, what was it that made you want to start your own label?
Well, we’d been signed to loads of different labels throughout the 90’s, and then when we were just coming out of contract with our current label at the time, we decided to start our own label. It was actually something our accountant suggested. In hindsight, it was one of the best decisions we ever made.
So are there any bands signed to the label you’d recommend to fans of Mogwai?
All of them! Remember Remember are brilliant and we’ve just signed two girls to the label who make up the group Sacred Paws. They’ve got an EP coming out. The great thing is that none of the artists we’ve signed actually sound the same. We get a lot of people sending us music which sounds exactly the same as Mogwai. We don’t want bands that sound the same – we’re after something different.
You’re playing at Magna in Rotherham on the 23rd of October – which many fans in Sheffield are excited about. What we expect from a Mogwai live show?
[Laughs] Five aging, balding men trying to still play music and keep people entertained! We just try and play the songs the best we can and hopefully put on a good show.
Sticking to tours, do you have any funny tour stories?
[Laughs] There’s way too many! We get asked quite a lot about this as you can expect but I always forget on the spot. But yeah, there are loads. And I can guarantee that they’re all very embarrassing. It’s actually how we get our song titles, someone will either do or say something really stupid and then we’ll use it as a song title.
You’ve played a few dates in the US previously, how do US crowds compare to the UK? Is there a different vibe or do they react differently?
Yeah, the USA is a really different vibe to Europe. We’re not as popular over there so shows are smaller and not as many people will know the songs. We’ve toured there a few times now, it’s always good, but not quite the same as over here.
And finally, what’s next for Mogwai?
Well, right now, drinking! And then to see what unfolds tonight and tomorrow with the vote and independence. We’ve got a few UK and European dates over October and November which we’re excited for. I don’t know where specifically, I just get on a plane and then find out where we’re going, I’m just easy going like that.
Mogwai recorded no less than seven John Peel Sessions between 1996 and 2004.
Words: Emily Beaumont.