“Scotland has always punched about its weight creatively, whether you’re talking about music or writing, art, we’ve always punched above our weight for a country of 5 million people,” Stuart Braithwaite’s voiceover is carried by the visuals of a bird flying over the city of Glasgow in the trailer for upcoming documentary, 'If The Stars Had A Sound'.
He is the voice and six-strings behind Glaswegian cult post-rock outfit, Mogwai, the band at the centre of the documentary and country’s creative curriculum vitae. Since 1995, the band have been integral in shaping the sophisticated Scottish soundscape and soaring Spaceships Over Glasgow.
Stuart Braithwaite joins Barry Burns, Dominic Aitchison, and Martin Bulloch in the Mogwai melting pot, primarily composing fluid, elongated instrumental tracks. During a break in touring of their tenth, and most commercially successful album, As the Love Continues, Braithwaite takes time to discuss the milestones of Mogwai and their on road return.
- Mon 19 Feb 2024 – Forum Melbourne, VIC
- Tue 27 Feb 2024 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
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Released in 2021, As the Love Continues flourished from its accessible bedroom-listening friendly nature. It would become the first album in the band’s lengthy career to reach number one in the UK charts, in turn winning over a new generation of enthusiastic listeners.
“I think that the record really connected with people. Our music is probably built for listening to in your bedroom, and when no one could leave their house it made a lot of sense to people. But yeah, we probably have reached new people and I notice that even with my friends bands like Slowdive; I went to see them recently and the crowds were so young and some of them couldn’t have even been born when the band started. That’s one of the good things with the internet – it’s really opened up people to music that they may otherwise have passed them by if it wasn’t completely available to them.”
The Mogwai sound is one of adaptability with the ability to lend itself to multiple mediums throughout their career. Unexpectedly for Braithwaite, it has soundtracked season one of Apple TV’s Black Bird, and accompanied both sculptural and film artworks by Scottish artist Douglas Gordon.
“We were 18 years old when we started the band. I think we just wanted to get free beer to be totally honest. I don’t think doing installations in art galleries was on the agenda,” Braithwaite explains. “But I think it’s always nice to vibrate with interesting people and I certainly wouldn’t say no to doing that again. It’s incredibly interesting where our music has taken us.”
Quite the wordsmith, Braithwaite has become a published author, contributing his wisdom to the introduction to The Cure encyclopaedia, Curepedia: An A To Z of The Cure and further immortalising the Mogwai journey in paperback; a process reflecting his music discipline.
“Originally Spaceships Over Glasgow was all going to be about gigs. The first quarter of the book really goes into details about these gigs and then I realised about a quarter of the way through writing it that it was actually the things that happened and the people that we met that were more interesting. So the book changed as time went on. But it was a pretty intense experience. I probably should have done more planning but you know I feel the same way about music too. I never have any plans in my head as to what I’m going to do or what kind of music I’m gonna write. I just pick up a guitar and see what happens.”
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This is also the case with their next studio project, which Braithwaite confirms they are “writing at the moment, probably going to record next summer” and “about half-way through writing”.
But first, there is the last stop to make on their album tour, coming to Australia for the first time since 2018 when they performed at Perth Festival and Golden Plains and played headline shows in both Sydney and Melbourne. This time around they are playing six shows across the country including Melbourne’s Forum Theatre on Monday 19 February.
“It feels really nice to be back again but I think it’s really the end of the touring for our album which was obviously massively interrupted because of the pandemic, so it kind of feels finally like, “OK, things are back to normal”, we can play and get on a plane and be with people again finally so we’re really excited to be back,” comments Braithwaite.
“It’s one of these things that you don’t fully realise how much you appreciate something until it’s not there anymore,” admits Braithwaite. “We appreciate these live shows so much and cannot wait to experience it with you.”
Tickets to see Mogwai on their 2024 Australian Tour via Mistletone.