Artist: Mogwai Video: 'Mexican Grand Prix' Highlight: Filmed in the band's native…
- Posted on Feb 15th 2011 5:00PM by Linda Laban
The album is packed with solid Mogwai traits: Spiritually jarring seismic shifts from somber to soaring, the quake and roar of intensely pummeled guitars, warm and tender asides led by piano and that rhythmic bedrock of solid ice and granite. Still, it's a more refined, some might say evolved effort, packed with fresh textures and tones that surprise with both their novelty and bravado. If there's comfort here in the familiar, there's tremendous delight in the new.
Spinner caught up with guitarist and co-founder Stuart Braithwaite to discuss the new album, its excellent title and the band's new union with Sub Pop.
Do you think anyone will be misled by the title of new record, since it has nothing to do with hardcore at all?
I don't think so. But, yes, it isn't anything to do with hardcore whatsoever, though I should say that the record references the UK version of hardcore, like in hardcore techno, not American hardcore punk. It was something a friend of ours heard someone say in a shop. We heard them telling the story and it just sounded like a Mogwai record title. We didn't really have any title at that point at all, so it was definitely a good idea.
The album closes with a beautiful epic, 'You're Lionel Ritchie.' We get the impression that you favor the "if it sounds good, use it" rule to titles.
That's exactly it, because the songs don't have any stories where we can pull a title, so we can figuratively get away with murder.
Speaking of which, after 'Come on Die Young,' this is the second Mogwai album title that references death.
That's true. There's a bit of gallows humor going on as well. We couldn't be less scary if we tried.
'Hardcore' has lots of varied textures and tones. It seems that the band dug deeper or went to some new places. Why is that?
We were definitely trying some new things and trying to get away from the things we drift toward naturally. It all happened organically, naturally. Once we had the basic songs for the album, we realized they were different and we ran with that. We recorded a lot more than we needed and then we went toward the ones that would have seemed very strange on any other record. They have a feel all their own.
Was there anything that inspired you personally to change up the sound?
I definitely felt more involved -- not that I'm not involved in the other ones -- but really involved with this record, really involved with the creation within it. I don't know why. Maybe I just felt like it! [Laughs]
With your move to Sup Pop for the American release of 'Hardcore,' this isn't just a new album, it's a new era for the band. How does that feel?
So far, it's all working out pretty well. Everyone's been nice to us.
Did signing to Sub Pop bring up memories of the early '90s grunge explosion?
Well, not just that, but all the great records they put out over the years. In particular, Codeine, who were a pretty big influence to us. Ultimately, we were very aware of all that the label had done and that had to be a good thing.
Was there a particular reason for the label switch?
No, not really -- just a change. We're changing a lot of things right now. We're using our own label [Rock Action] for the rest of the world, so there's a lot of thing that'll be different, other things are happening going forward.
It would probably be overwhelming not to have some help releasing the album worldwide.
Yeah, especially in America. It's such a big place. I don't think that we can see any point in the near future when we'd put out our own records in America, not the new ones that need proper promotion. There seems like they'd be too much manpower needed. We are setting up Rock Action in America and we're going to be releasing a lot of the bands we have properly there.
We'll be putting out the new Errors record, the new Remember Remember record and we've got quite a lot of our own back catalog like the Mogwai 'BBC Sessions.' We've got quite a few things that I don't think have been properly introduced in America.
Do you like being a label head?
I do, yeah. It's quite a nice sense of accomplishment when you can see the journey from going to see a band and then putting the record out, and then going to see them play and people know who they are.
It must be nice not to be the label person all the time, though.
Yeah. The release has been quite interesting from that point of view. Apart from going into the studio, the only thing we've had to do is decide what the sleeve's going to be. That was almost the start of the work with them. With our label, it's definitely a lot of work and I hope that it pays off. With the way the industry is changing, the more bands that can control their own records, the better.
You guys were in a good position when the major label system started to wane.
Yes, definitely. The label we had was also starting to get its own identity beyond being Mogwai's label, too. All good things are hard work.