Interview: Mogwai

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We caught up with Mogwai frontman, Stuart Braithwaite recently to discuss the band’s longevity, their latest album Rave Tapes, why they distance their oeuvre from that post-rock tag and casually adding bone-dry humor to their song titles.


1) Cutting right to the chase – it’s been almost two decades now since you and Dominic formed Mogwai in Glasgow in 1995. Looking back, how do you think the band has managed to keep going?
I think the main reasons are that we’re still good friends and that we still enjoy making music. It’s also because we’ve always tried to kind of adapt to music and change it so yeah.

2) In what way you think the songwriting and post-rock instrumentation you’re often accredited to has matured/evolved for Mogwai?
I don’t really think of our music as post-rock. Post-rock was something that came along as a term after we started but I think as far as our own music yeah, the band has grown… we’ve aged in the studio since we first started which made a big difference in terms of musical and I think we’ve just discovered an awful lot of different ideas over the years which have kind of brought to what we do.

3) What about the decision to add vocals to some of your tracks? What determines if a song will have some vocals on it or if it’ll be full-on instrumental?
I think it just comes from the song really. When we first started the band, I think the instrumental ones were just better but I think once in a while, we would do something to enhance some things on it – it just really depends on the song.

4) Your eighth and latest album, Rave Tapes appears to be a little darker with an electro side and slower tempo to it. Does it have a particular aesthetic/meaning that you attempted to achieve?
We recorded a lot of songs and I think the ones that we’ve chosen for the album were quite minimalist – largely, and yeah, it doesn’t have a particular meaning but I think in terms of mood or tone, those were the ones that worked the best.

5) Is there any difference in terms of the approach of making Rave Tapes compared to those records you’ve made in the past?
Not really, no. I mean.. it just comes out the way it does.

6) Who usually comes out with the funny, overdramatized song titles for your tracks like ‘I Am Jim Morison, I Am Dead’, ‘I Am Batman’, & ‘I Love You, I’m Going To Blow Up Your School’ and many others to name a few. What’s the story behind it?
All of us really (laughs). I think Dominic might have made a lot of them up which was kind of funny because Dominic isn’t always funny but when he’s funny he’s like, VERY funny. But yeah, they’re just amusing nonsense.. just silly things of what people say, we don’t really mean anything.

7) How do you feel about coming back here in Malaysia after your last show in 2009 and what do you look forward to at Urbanscapes and during your time here?
I’m really excited about coming back! I mean, I’ve been back a few times since but not playing. It’s a really, really great country and yeah, I’m looking forward to come and play music again!

8) Does Mogwai actually fear satan? (as a joke to your song reference, ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’) But do you? (lol)
I don’t think any of us are actually that religious, maybe some of us were when we were young but not anymore which would probably be the end of us. (laughs)

That’s great! Thank you, Stuart.
Thank you.

Check out the band’s Facebook page for more info/updates.
See you at Urbanscapes 2014 this December 6 at Horse Ranch, Resorts World Genting!

Interviewed by Izyan Liyana