Music & Me: Stuart Braithwaite and Barry Burns of Mogwai

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Stuart Braithwaite (vocals, guitar) and Barry Burns (guitar, keyboards) are members of the Scottish post-rock five-piece Mogwai. The group, who formed in Glasgow in 1995, released their seventh studio album, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, in February. Their “Earth Division” EP is released on 12 September

The first record I bought was...

Stuart Braithwaite: "Let's Go All The Way" by Sly Fox. I had actually forgotten this and I think had been claiming to have bought something much more credible, such as by The Cure or Depeche Mode, but this was in fact the first record I bought. It was a seven-inch single though, which has an element of cool to it. This probably goes down a storm at hipster discos anyway as bad music seems to be making a big comeback.

Barry Burns: "Scoundrel Days" by A-Ha. I never claimed to be cool and I don't suit sunglasses, hats or accessories, so this purchase totally makes sense and was actually a pretty good indicator of how it would be.

The first gig I went to was...

SB: I went to see The Cure on the Disintegration tour at the Exhibition Centre in Glasgow in 1989. It was a remarkable show and I feel really lucky to have gone. They played for a very long time and are one of the greatest live bands of all time.

BB: As a young 'un in 1989-ish my Aunt Linda took me to a Deacon Blue concert. But like most people's first concert and regardless of how - in retrospect - their music isn't good at all, we had a lot of fun with the experience. When we walked past the merchandise stall I remember thinking, that's expensive for a T-Shirt. I hope ours aren't too much. Linda bought me a programme booklet for the concert. Remember them? Shameless capitalism.

My favourite album is...

SB: I have an awful lot of favourite albums but today’s one (they often change) is probably Raw Power by The Stooges. Everything from the lyrics to the ferocity of the music is absolutely perfect. I saw them perform at a Don't Look Back concert in London last summer and it was a truly elevating experience.

BB: I don't have one. I have certain records I love to listen to when I am doing certain things or in a certain mood, but I can't prioritise in most parts of my life. Oh life is such a rich and magical tapestry. One man's curry is another man's prune.

But my parents always liked...

SB: Steeleye Span. My folks were never big rock fans at all and this was a folk band that I remember them liking. It’s probably the only thing my mum and dad have in common with Alan Partridge.

BB: Dad: Bob Dylan. Mum: Tom Jones. The whole spectrum right there. The best and the worst on one childhood mixtape.

I couldn’t marry someone who liked...

SB: I don't know if any music is so bad that it would put me off marrying someone if they were otherwise perfect, truth be told. My obsession with hating music has definitely diminished over the years. I'm much more excited by good music than angry about rubbish music.

BB: Maroon 5. Or someone who was deeply religious. The conversations just wouldn't be fun.

On stage I like to wear...

SB: I wear whatever I put on first thing in the morning, when we play. Our music has never been at all about what we're wearing or even who we are really.

BB: The same as I was wearing earlier that day. Black T-Shirt, jeans and footwear that is suitable for turning effects pedals on and off frequently. I get why a lot of bands do the fashion nonsense, but it's not for me.

I’d love to perform with...

SB: I would love to perform with David Bowie. I think that he is definitely my favourite singer.

BB: Frank Black with Patton Oswalt [the comedian] on vocals. That would be quite liberating I'm sure.

One thing that must change in the music industry is...

SB: I think that the imbalance between how much money that record labels and artists receive from record sales is scandalous. Record companies act like loan sharks that you can never pay back.

BB: I don't enjoy that certain big companies seem to own everything related to a concert (venues, ticketing etc). It gives me the creeps a little bit. I should keep my mouth shut.

A great album cover is...

SB: Viva Last Blues by Palace Brothers (Will Oldham's pre-Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy moniker). It’s a line drawing of a leopard and is just beautiful.

BB: Wowee Zowee by Pavement. Funny.

On my iPod I listen most to...

SB: The Shangri Las. Girl group music has an innocence and melodiousness to it that makes it perfect music to listen to while travelling.

BB: Boards of Canada. They're what I read to and I travel/read/wait around quite a lot. They block out the distractions without being an undemanding listen somehow.

If I could have written any song it would have been...

SB: "Pale Blue Eyes" by The Velvet Underground. It really is close to perfection. Heart-breakingly beautiful.

BB: "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. I heard it the other month in the car while driving into town to rehearse new songs to go on tour, and even though I don't like the song, it's quite a dangerous piece of music.

The worst song I’ve heard is...

SB: "What’s Up?" by 4 Non Blondes. This song makes me feel bloody nauseous!

BB: "This Love" by Maroon 5. In my opinion it is the worst song ever written (that I can think of right now). If it was a film it would be Terminator Salvation. Both are insulting in the extreme. Beneath contempt.

Mogwai are currently on a world tour and will stop off to play the iTunes Festival at The Roundhouse in London on 23 July.