By Keir Nicoll
VANCOUVER – Mogwai, Glasgow Scotland’s art-rock institution and masters of post-rock, have released Every Country’s Son, the newest album in their 20-year discography.
BeatRoute had a chance to interview Stuart Braithwaite, lead singer and guitarist for the storied band, about his music.
“It’s got a lot of different styles of song — electronic, rock, pop — it’s a culmination of everything we’ve kind of worked on up to this point,” says Braithwaite when asked to describe the record in terms of the band’s lengthy history. Mogwai have had many descriptors affixed to their signature contrasting sounds, from towering intensity to pastoral introspection, synth-rock minimalism, DNA-detonating volume, distilled to concise gracious elegance, hymnal trance-rock, and transcendental euphoria. The band has the capacity to take listeners to a dramatically different head and heart space. Of this, Braithwaite says, “Music is just a really personal experience. How people react to our music is up to them. We’re just hopeful that people enjoy it. We want people to be happy they’ve taken the time to listen to what we’ve done.”
Dave Friedman, psych-rock luminary, produced the album. He has helped them to create a structural soundscape built from stark foundations; from a gentle, twinkling, synth-rock spectre to a solid, blown-out, skyward-thrusting obelisk. So in a way, Mogwai is taking their place alongside the many bands now producing psych-rock.
“I think that psych-rock is constantly evolving. It’s a way more popular style of music than I imagined it would be at this point. There are loads of good bands and records being made. It’s nice to be a part of that.”
Their single, “Party In the Dark,” though still art-pop, sounds like more accessible than some of the more laborious twenty-minute-long exertions the band is known for. The song, which echoes New Order and the Flaming Lips, has Braithwaite declaring he’s “directionless and innocent, searching for another piece of mind,” maybe a common sentiment held by people now.
“It was just one of the faster songs we were working on when we started working on the record. It sort of had the pop sensibility. It’s good to have Dave working on that kind of song,” he says.
The album was written in a turbulent and intense period, artistically, socially and politically. Mogwai have been quoted as saying they used it as a shield. Asked if this created a more agitated record, Braithwaite responds, “It was an agitated existence but the record itself was a lot of fun to make and we have enjoyed bringing the songs and going out to tour was loads of fun. It has a sort of serene quality, which you can definitely feel.”
One of the qualities the band hopes the music has is that it’s reality changing. “I hope so,” says Braithwaite. “I think certain music has a magic to it.” Of their tour, he says, “We’re right in the middle of a European tour that’s going really well. Old songs and new songs too.” Asked what his favourite Velvet Underground album and effects pedal are, Braithwaite responds,” Probably White Light White Heat and the Big Muff – I’m really fond of the classic fuzz.” Asked if he listens to Briano Eno, Braithwaite responds, “Yeah – I listen to Brian Eno almost daily.”
Mogwai performs November 25 at the Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver)Commodore Ballroom, Mogwai