With their latest album Mr Beast just about to hit the shops,
It's fair to say that Mogwai - Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchinson,
Martin Bulloch, Barry Burns and John Cummings - have created the finest album
of their career to date. TotalMusic-Online's Andy Basire cornered guitarist
John Cummings (second from left above, peering around Stuart Braithwaite immediately
below) and pestered him about recording in 'The Castle Of Doom'
their nice new detached des-res studio in Glasgow, being a bit glum (or not),
paying the mortgage and why they intend to be less gobby in the future.
It's great to see you back whipping up massive great 'sturm und
drang' racket again, what prompted the return to the lovely big
noise of tracks like 'We're No Here'?
"Its enjoyable to hear people play loud music, and enjoyable to play
loud music. [I don't feel there's been a] particular return but just that the new ones were good
enough to go on the record. We've had loads of loud ideas in the past five
years but none of them got very far at all really. They just weren’t any good."
Tell us all about the Castle Of Doom
"It's a beautifully converted two bedroom detached villa in the heart of Glasgow’s
desirable west end, a studio that we own along with Tony Doogan and Creation Management.
Set up in March (last year) and has seen the recording and mixing of Mr Beast
and a number of other projects.
Because of the studio we got to spend a lot more time on this record, far more than ever
before, about four and a half months of work. Some of the band reckon it took too long
but I think it has helped us try a lot of things in a slightly different way and it gave
us the chance to have a second and third attempt at recording a few of the songs which
helped them a lot. We've been pretty lucky having the studio."
'Mogwai go country shock', on the gloriously glum Acid Food'
"Its always sounded quite happy to me. I suppose it is about a dangerous
storm but I presumed that everyone was OK. Its just a nice
wee tune I suppose. Not many country songs have drums made on a
Gameboy, but the pedal steel is total country. As I say a nice wee
tune. Barry and Stuart sing harmonies live. Very amusing. Something I
never thought I’d see."
Mogwai are often dismissed as arch miserablists,
can you explain to the uninitiated why you are in actual fact such an uplifting experience?
"I suppose some of our tunes have a miserablist tint but not so much
recently. We all loved Joy Division and the God Machine and
unsurprisingly sounded a bit like them in our youthfully inept ways.
However, miserable sounding music doesn’t make you miserable. It tends
to have a more comforting effect if any, which I suppose is uplifting.
Its not hands in the air euphoria though obviously."
For all those bands out there who wonder if it's actually possible
to survive without achieving U2 levels of success, can Mogwai pay their mortgage every month?
"We get by. If we'd all stayed at university or whatever we'd be doing much better
but we didn’t end up in a band because we were a dedicated academic
bunch. We've been pretty lucky to have been getting away with it for so long,
so we'll be fucked when people realise we're shite."
Do you ever look back at some of the things you have said and think
'what the fuck were we thinking?', for example do you still believe Blur are shite?
And if so are the Gorillaz shiter?
"We've said a fair few things that were pretty stupid and are sorry
where they have caused genuine harm. In the case of cruel jokes or
insults you have to stand by them in a way and take responsibility for
your idiocy. Personally I plan to be nicer to people in the future, the
past is behind us."
The new Mogwai album Mr Beast is due out on PIAS records on 06/03/06,
find more details by toddling along to the bands website