Craig Broad 14/02/2011
When a band has been around for as long as Mogwai have it has to be questioned how long they can continue making music for? I caught up with Mogwai's Martin Bulloch just before the release of their seventh full-length release 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will to ask about what inspired the album, what we can expect to see from the current tour and also, more importantly for a Mogwai fan like myself, whether the band feel it may be time to call it quits.
Your newest album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is your seventh studio album, how would you describe the new album and in terms of your past albums, how do you feel it both compares and also treads new ground?
It is certainly a bit of a departure from our older records as it is certainly more up-tempo and dare I say it, more optimistic sounding. It certainly still sounds like a Mogwai record to me. It's still the same 5 guys playing the same instruments so it's not going to sound dramatically different I suppose.
What influenced the new album?
I don't think there any one thing that influenced the record. There wasn't a discussion between the member of the band on where to take the new album. I think it just reflects the mood we were in at the time and possibly highlights some of the music we were listening to such as Neu!
Vocals have steadily become a more focal part to your sound and once again are shown in an experimental light on the new album, do you view vocals as another instrument, or as more of a mainstream way of appoaching music?
I think we have always used vocals sparingly as we were more interested in musical textures and the layering of sound. If vocals were used in the past it was because we thought the song was missing something musically. It's very rare that someone has come to the group with a completed song with lyrics. The lyrics on the new record are definitely used as another instrument.
You have been paraded as one of the front runners in the post-rock music scene and this is something that has stayed with you throughout the bands career, is this a music tag you enjoy having and if not, why not?
It's not a tag we've enjoyed being labelled a part of. When the phrase first came to our attention it seemed to group us together with bands like Tortoise, and as much as I really like that band I don't think we really have much in common with them apart from the fact that we are both mainly instrumental. We see ourselves as a rock band, nothing more, nothing less.
How do you think growing up in Scotland has affected your musical output, and what Scottish bands are impressing you of late?
We don't think of Glen Coe and then write a song about it, haha. I think staying in Glasgow helped our development as there is a great live music scene there. There are a lot of live music venues and bars and if it were not for bars like the 13th Note and Nice N Sleazy who gave us shows and allowed us to nurture our sound then I'm not sure where we would be as a band today. There a great many bands in Glasgow worthy of a mention at the moment. My favourites are Twilight Sad, Remember Remember, RM Hubbart and Errors.
The record industry is in turmoil, do you ever worry given the state of the industry that your record will just be downloaded rather than bought, what is your stand-point on the downloading argument as both a musician and as a music fan?
The major labels fucked it up for everyone because of their greed. People like Alan McGee were stating years before it happened that the internet would be people's primary source for music.
People, rightly or wrongly, think that music should be free because they feel they have been ripped off by the labels for years, especially when it came to light how much it actually costs to manufacture a CD. We were lucky as we caught the end of the good years when our first couple of albums were released which helped us establish ourselves. Now bands have to be able to make money from other sources, eg merchandising and concert tickets.
I don't have a problem with people downloading, a) because they will do it anyway and i suppose that's life, and b) if they are coming to the shows and supporting the band that way then that's great. I personally don't download music as I prefer to buy vinyl.
2011 brings a huge tour for you, extending all the way to the end of May, what can fans expect at these shows?
I think this tour actually extends until December, there will be more dates released as they are confirmed. It will certainly be a long year but I really look forward to taking our music to audiences, that's the best part of being in a band. I think for anyone who hasn't seen us before who is reading this, we tend to play extremely loud. We have also incorporated visual projections into our live show which look amazing.
You've already played a handful of dates, how have crowds reacted to the new material?
Very favourably which I was quite happy and a little surprised about. Some of our new material is a little different from our older stuff but folk seem to appreciate it.
And finally, as a band, you have been around for a long time, what keeps you making records, and at what point do you ever think you will hang up your instruments as a band?
I think the fact that we remain really good friends keeps us together. We also enjoy making music together and I think if that ever changes then it would be time to knock it on the head. Hopefully that won't happen for a wee while yet.
Thank you for your time, good luck with the new release and the tour...
Mogwai's seventh album, 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is released on 14th Febuary. The band are currently on tour now.
Mogwai Official Website