No demo review yet
No live review yet
Hours before an ear-boggling live set at Cambridge Junction, Music-Zine caught up withMogwai's Barry Burns, mulling over subjects as diverse as Green and Blacks Chocolate,Zinidine Zidane, their new record 'Mr Beast' and the prospect of Sigur Ros wetting the bed.
Interview by Jonny Scurfield
How was it for you playing at the Slint curated AllTomorrow’s Parties festival last year?
Barry Burns: Well it was really good. It was good that we could not get nervous about playing last. We actually played first, I think, or pretty low down on the bill. It was good to get it over and done withand then go and enjoy the rest of the bands.
Is there anything coming out on your label, Rock Axtion that you’re excited about at the moment?
BB: What have we got next? I can never remember.err, as you can see I’m not the brains behind it obviously! “I like that band, can we put the record out? Good!!” That’s pretty much my involvement.
Chris Brokaw(Ex Codeine / Come / Bedhead) record was great.
BB: Yeah that was really, really good, actually. That’s done quite well. We weren’t sure how people would take that record but they’vequite liked it. We’re gonna have the Errors LP eventually. There’s an EP already, They’re doing really well.
Who decides what you release?
BB: All the five of us, if we really all like the music then we just try and see if we can put out the record. It’s quite diplomatic, because there’s five of us as well. We all have to just really like the music,whereas if we’re making decisions in the band like what festivals to play or not play or whatever then we do a vote thing and it’s always three against two four against one, so it’s fine.
The new record sounds pretty different from your last.How big a part did the band’s new studio play in that?
BB: We recorded every song there and we’ve been in there quite a lot this year so it’s been pretty influential. I don’t know how exactly.It’s nice to just be in Glasgow and do the recording for the day and then go home at night instead of being in another country and just.getting wrecked hahaha!!!
It was definitely more labour intensive but we had a lot of time to do it as well so it was relaxed.
Is it a consciously different sound you’ve gone for on thenew record?
Most of the tracks are shorter than onprevious releases, for example.BB: I think we’re getting good at making shorter things work as well as longer things. I think we’ve just cut off the fat really from half the songs cos a lot of them were just a bit self indulgent. I mean it’s still possible to do a really long song and not be self indulgent but I think we’ve honed our thing that little bit more now, you know?
What sort of stuff were you listening to when you made the new album?
BB: Ah man, everything and anything we could get our hands on and a lot of old stuff again. I rediscovered a lot of bands that I used to listen to a long time ago. I can never remember. Oh yeah Growing we just played in America with for about three weeks, that was really good. They’re not exactly instantly listenable; you have to invest some time in it. But we did and they’re really great.
You’ve had some offers to do film soundtracks,particularly one about Zinidine Zidane (French footballing genius). Has that come to fruition as yet?
BB: Yeah we’ve finished it, I think it’s getting edited at the moment,or it might actually be completely finished. Yeah that was weird getting like a Scottish artist asking us to do it. We were like ‘.err that sounds really strange!’ it’s basically Zidane with a camera on him for ninety minutes, hahaha!!!
Do you have much interest in Zinidine Zidane?!?
BB: Me and Dominic are probably the lowest of the football fans in the band. We’re not sort of plastic, football fans, but the rest of theband really really love football so they’ve decided on a freaky mixture of music and football hahaha!!
Any other projects you’re getting involved with?
BB: There’s been talk of it. Once you get one of these things, if people like it then hopefully you start to get some more because we’re quite good at it. I mean, we wrote all the music for it in about two weeks or something. Usually it takes us six months to write a song, so we can do it under pressure. It’s probably shite though!Hahaha! I’m saying that and it’s probably crap!!!
Did you make the music having seen the film already?
BB: Only some of it because he hadn’t finished the edit of the film.He kept changing it so we had to keep going in and rerecording because the lengths had to keep being changed. It’s slightly restrictive but it’s also a good challenge as well.
What’s the plan after the tour
BB: Well it doesn’t end really. I’m getting married next year, but I don’t know when that’s gonna happen cos we’re so busy. I think after the tour. The tour doesn’t really finish until next year I suppose because we’ll just keep going places. You know, you recordthe album, you tour it for a year and a half, two years and then yougo and write again and record. It’s quite a predictive process but I suppose the music isn’t, so that’s what’s good about it.
Are there any new bands who really excite you?
BB: I used to be in a band when I was younger with this guy James Woodside and he plays with a band called DeRosa that’ve signed to Chemikal Underground Records. I think I’m more proud of the fact that he got into a good band, I think I’m just biased towards him. They’re quite poppy but they’re really intelligent with it. It’s really good. I’m really shit at remembering stuff like this, I’ve fried my mind on weed for too many years and now I can’t make a sentence!Haha, only kiddin!
You played five consecutive nights at the ICA in London recently; you did ATP and you’re playing the Albert Hall in September. You obviously like to put on a show. Whatis it you enjoy about touring?
BB: It’s just an hour and a half of sheer excitement every night,minus the rest of the hours of complete and utter boredom. It really amplifies the good experience because you sit around all day doing absolutely nothing and it’s quite frustrating. You just don’t live a normal life, you don’t go out and exercise or anything. I just eat a full bar of Green and Black’s chocolate. So good. I’m just bored and just picky! It’s the hour and a half every night is just great, it’s good fun.
How have the new tracks been received so far?
BB: Good actually, really good. Quite surprised! The album’s done really well. We sold more in the first two weeks of release than we have done with any other record so we’re just ‘wow!’ We never see any royalties mind you. The record company’ll have that.
Where do you think Mogwai fit in in the grand scheme of things? You often get lumped in with the whole post-rockthing.
BB: Well ‘post’ sort of implies that it’s kind of above other things and sounds a bit pompous, but people have to give it a name. It doesn’t matter, fuck it. I think we’re just five folk that play music. If I really had to call it something I’d just call it instrumental rock but that sounds really chin-strokey, but that’s all it is.
You’ve got some vocals on the new album too though?
BB: The guy from Envy (Tetsuya Fukagawa) came in and sort of talked and Stuart and I had a go at singing. It’s not very good but we try our best. Fifth year poetry basically. Never matured! Haha!
Another band that’s often mentioned in the same breath as Mogwai is Sigur Ros. From some past interviews you’ve done it seems you aren’t entirely happy with thiscomparison?
BB: I don’t know what I think of it, I don’t really like it. I don’t think I’ve heard more than two songs. It’s that sort of whiney (makes highpitched impression of singer) ‘I made up my own language’nonsense. It’s so hippy and crap. I hate hippy. Hippy is bad. He tends to over use that violin bow with the guitar. Get a grip. If you’re gonna learn the violin, learn the violin, don’t be so lazy. Hahaha! That thing’s got frets on it, you know! Anyway, I don’t really rate them at all. We’re playing a festival with them somewhere in Europe soon and they’re headlining and we’re on before them so we’re hopefully gonna make some proper noise before they go on.
You’re not gonna diss them onstage or anything?!
BB:Well you never know. They don’t look like tough boys. Haha! Bedwetters if ever I’ve seen ‘em!
Mogwai's latest album, Mr Beast, is out now on PIAS.