In 1995 Stuart Braithwaite and Dominic Aitchison founded the band Mogwai in Glasgow. Named after a Japanese demon, the Scots have so far inspired their audience on eight studio albums with a partly brute, partly melancholic wide-screen sound. For the 20th anniversary "Central Belters" will be released, a compilation of classics and rarities curated by the group itself on six LPs and three CDs. So it's a fitting occasion to talk to keyboarder and soundtracker Barry Burns about two decades of band history.
eclipsed: What was the birth of Mogwai like?
Barry Burns: I only joined in 1998, but Stuart and Dominic are childhood friends who jammed in their parents' living room. In 1995 they formed a band, Martin and John soon joined as drummer and second guitarist. The first album "Young Team", which was released in 1997, was still very guitar-heavy and oriented towards alternative rock bands of the time. When I joined for the recordings of "Come On Die Young" in 1998, I also brought a more electronic sound.
eclipsed: The foundation of the band fell in the middle of the euphoria around Britpop, a music you couldn't get along with..
Burns: Britpop was mostly music without depth, the better music at that time came from the American indie scene. Slint and such bands played profound, sophisticated rock music and were rather role models for us. The negative climax was the connection between Britpop and New Labour, because nobody can seriously want such a mixture of rock music and politics.
eclipsed: That's why you sold "Blur are shite" T-shirts..
Burns: Well, we just found their music shit. And she still is. (laughs) Okay, maybe the action is a little embarrassing from today's point of view.
eclipsed: How would you describe the line of development in Mogwai? Is this primarily due to the increasing use of electronic means, i.e. your profession?
Burns: On the one hand it is about the creative use of constantly growing electronic possibilities, on the other hand it is also about the equally creative handling of unusual instruments. This is a process that goes right up to our last album "Rave Tapes". Over the years there have been some very nice experiments, like playing a cheap trash keyboard and letting the sound run through a mega effect device, using weird Japanese vocoders or playing strange instruments.