Mogwai Howls About Hawk, Bush

I love to spread the love, especially when it comes to Mogwai. I chatted up the band for LA Weekly and Wired, because I just love them that much. The Scottish rock legend has been on Morphizm’s radar for over a decade now, burning a hole in our matrix. The quintet’s newest effort The Hawk is Howling, out today, is rewriting its code. Long live rock action.

Scotland’s rock legend Mogwai has a new disc called The Hawk is Howling touching down on Monday, although it is streaming now at the band’s MySpace page. But that deafening buzz in your ears is most likely coming from the quintet’s set at All Tomorrow’s Parties New York, which wraps Sunday with a My Bloody Valentine-curated noisefest.

And while Mogwai has recently performed full-album sets of its epochal 1998 debut Young Team, it wasn’t ready to join ATP’s full-album Friday lineup.

“Doing Young Team in full was fun,” Mogwai honcho Stuart Brathwaite explained to me, “but I don’t know if we’d do it again. I suppose if the offer came we’d have a think about it. It’s not complicated, but I think its better to do new music than old stuff.”

Mogwai’s new stuff sounds somewhat like its old stuff, with a much louder, majestic twist. The Hawk is Howling is filled with deliberate, meditative epics that recall its understated 1999 effort Come On Die Young. But Brathwaite explains that the similarities aren’t planned, but possibly accidental.

“All of us write songs so it depends from song to song,” he said. “This is the first record since Come On Die Young where [bassist] Dominic Aitchison wrote songs. So that’s probably why it reminds you of it.”

Brathwaite and Aitchison are just two of the wisecracking musicians that make up Mogwai. Drummer Martin Bulloch is a football fanatic who once sold his pacemaker on eBay. Guitarist John Cummings is the reserved type, who you can actually friend on Facebook. And multi-instrumentalist Barry Burns? Hilarious.

“Wait till you lot hear the £8 keyboard sound on ‘Summer (Priority Version),’ Burns wrote on the band’s website, which is regularly updated with information, tour diaries, in-flight movie reviews, jokes and rants. “It made Dominic vomit and I felt alittle bit like Keith Emerson when he brought home the humble Potato from the New World.”

“Barry has always been more of a Liberace to me,” Brathwaite laughed, when asked about the post, or if interested parties should befriend John Cummings on Facebook. “I don’t do Facebook, so I don’t know what that means.”

Brathwaite is never short on opinions, especially on music and technology. “You all know as well as we do that nobody buys CDs anymore,” he once wrote on Mogwai’s site. So how far does he feel we are from pure downloads? He’s not saying, but he’s ready for the vinyl comeback.

“That wasn’t that serious a quote,” he explains, “though people definitely buy less CDsthan they used to. I think that the disposable nature of CDs has played a big part in the resurgence of vinyl, which I think can only be a good thing.”

One thing which is not a good thing, according to the outspoken band, is George W. Bush. Burns once joked online that Mogwai would bypass touring America after Bush was elected to his second term in 2004. Things have only fallen apart since then, culminating in a Cold War rerun with Russia and Georgia. And although the band doesn’t have a dog in the nasty fight otherwise known as the 2008 election, it’s as ready for change as any other U.S. citizen.

“The political situation is worrying,” Brathwaite says. “As Boney M famously sang, ‘Oh those crazy Russians!’ But Bush is a total idiot and I’m so glad that America has realized what afool he is. I like what I’ve heard so far from Obama. He is an inspiring speaker, which is a marked changed from W, who can’t even speak.”

This article appeared at WIRED

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