Mogwai are a legendary band, there’s no question about that. They’ve released seven critically acclaimed albums and upon the release of the latest, the brilliantly titled Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will set about a world tour of which, a year later, they’re still in the midst.
Theirs is a name that has also become inextricably linked with ATP festival. They were selected to curate the first ever All Tomorrow’s Parties festival back in 2000 and since then have made numerous appearances at various of the festival’s incarnations. Their phenomenal live show has made bands such as My Bloody Valentine as well as ATP’s fans select them to play the celebrated ATP events, and the band have now been invited to curate sister festival, I’ll Be Your Mirror to be held on the 25-27 May at London’s Alexandra Palace
We caught up with Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite on a sunny Glaswegian day to find out more about the relationship between ATP and Mogwai.
Do you have good memories of that first ATP?
Stuart Braithwaite: ”Really good actually, yeah! There were some great people that played, like Wire and Shellac. And also when I look back at the line up, there are a lot of bands that don’t play anymore so it was a special festival, the line up was amazing. I remember that we really enjoyed the show we played there too, so it was great to be a part of it.”
How did the union between Mogwai and ATP first come about?
“I’ve actually known Barry for a long time, through going to shows he’s promoted and all that. So we’ve known Barry for a while, and then we played the very first event he did in the holiday camp with Belle & Sebastian, the Bowlie Weekender which again was great, so there’s been a close thing between us for a long time.”
Since then, you’ve made numerous appearances at ATP festivals, including one in New York – do you have a favourite from those shows?
“Probably that one actually, yeah. The events surrounding it weren’t great because Martin ended up in hospital, but the gig itself was amazing. We played with Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine… I think if you’d told my sixteen year old self that I’d be playing with those bands in the future, I’d probably have exploded with glee! And it’s still such an honour to play with the musicians and the people that made the records that inspired me to pick up a guitar. So that was brilliant, and especially to think that we might have chosen some bands that we may have had a big influence over when they were teenagers, it’s good to be part of something like that.
I think ATP saw that festivals had changed – like I’m a massive Joy Division fan and they played an amazing show at Futurama festival and then you’d think why, why isn’t Reading as good as that? People get into new things at festivals, that’s the point of them but the mainstream festivals have pushed themselves further and further away from alternative culture and all of the great, underground, interesting music festivals like ATP have taken their place, ATP have been really important in that.”
You’re curating May’s I’ll Be Your Mirror festival, how did you go about picking the bands?
“I think we all picked five each, and then of course we had to see who was available. There are so many festivals nowadays that not everybody can be where you want them to be. There are so many festivals, we managed to do them pretty much Saturday to Friday for about 6 weeks! So we chose bands that we wanted, then saw who’d be able to come. I think we were all on the same page when we were choosing though.”
So there weren’t there any arguments about who to pick then?!
“No no, nothing like that! Although there was one band that we almost booked – I shouldn’t be saying this! – we really like the band but we don’t really like one of the band members! But they couldn’t play it anyway, so it doesn’t matter!” (laughs)
Which band are you particularly looking forward to seeing?
“Well we tried to book Mudhoney for the first ATP and they’re playing, so we got there in the end! But I’m looking forward to Dirty Three… I’ve not seen The Soft Moon live yet. We were meant to tour the States with them last August, but those were some of the dates that we had to postpone so I’ve not had the chance to catch them yet.”
Did the Mogwai of 2000 ever expect that they’d be in the position that Mogwai of 2012 have found themselves in?
“Not at all, I think we’re all constantly surprised by the longevity of what we’ve done and what we’re doing. It’s been amazing, and here we are seven albums later. To be honest though, we’re not really the kind of band to plan that far ahead!”
What is it that sets ATP festival and their events apart from others?
“I think there’s quite a social element to it – where the bands are watching the bands, and everybody’s staying in the same accommodation. Which I think is great, I think you benefit most at festivals when it’s like that. I mean there isn’t even really a backstage at ATP, it’s just dressing rooms so it’s not like most festivals where you’re separate from everything and there’s a backstage where it’s all labels hanging out, there’s much more of a sense of equilibrium.”
And finally, if you could have chosen any artist past or present to play a festival that you were curating, who would you pick?
“Probably the Jimi Hendrix Experience? Yeah, and Joy Division. And then maybe get Sabbath playing on Sunday!”
I’ll Be Your Mirror will take place at London’s Alexandra Palace on the 25-27 May 2012, and tickets for the event can be purchased here.