Tag Archives: scotland

Why you really need to go see Mogwai at the Hydro in December.

Scotland’s post-rock titans have drank plentifully from the fountain of musical longevity and output as they continue to churn out slabs of cacophonous minimalism.

Music of the kind of supreme quality that could only bear their name, almost 20 years after the release of debut studio album ‘Mogwai Young Team’.

And the band – fuelled as Stuart Braithwaite says out of “a fear of regular employment” – aren’t one to rest on their laurels, with this past year to date seeing them play ‘Atomic’ score shows to audiences across the UK, Europe, Japan and most recently in January in North America.

This, as well as offering up a collaborative soundtrack in 2016 for climate change film ‘Before The Flood’ with three Oscar winners in the form of Trent Reznor, his longtime collaborator Atticus Ross and Argentine film composer Gustavo Santaolalla.

And with the promise of a new album on the cards – recorded late last year at Tarbox Road Studios in Upstate New York (where, incidentally, 1999’s Come On Die Young was recorded) – it will no doubt serve as a perfect way to whet the appetite prior to their end of year mega-show at The Hydro in December.

Few bands would have the balls to announce a gig almost 11 months in advance. But Mogwai do. Especially a gig of such scale, where, after June 2015’s 2 night assault on the senses at The Barrowlands as part of their 20th anniversary shows, they are going for the Glasgow jugular.

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A gig which, if there ever was one, could be baptised with the term ‘Ned Free Zone’, and one which will no doubt represent the ultimate test of the venue’s sound levels potential.

Rarely, if ever, has a band and venue such a Cinderella glass slipper perfect fit as this one does, and it definitely tops the bill of gigs to go see in the city this year.

And with previous concerts offering support in the form of acts such as Sacred Paws (signed to their own Rock Action label), Loop, Prolapse, Pye Corner Audio, The Vaselines, Forest Swords, there’s extra reason to be excited. Indeed, already mooted as possible support have been the likes of Man of Moon and The Twilight Sad for The Hydro.

If you haven’t already, you can get your ticket here:

http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/mogwai-the-sse-hydro-glasgow/venueartist/444745/795768

On our radar – West Princes

Actually, West Princes have been on our radar for the best part of 2016 thanks to a handful of great live performances in both Glasgow and Edinburgh throughout the year alongside gigs at festivals such as Electric Fields and Stag and Dagger to boot.

 

The Glasgow fourpiece – named after the Woodlands street flat they lived in while at the Art School – launched their debut single ‘Wet Bark Is A Slug’ on the Voidoid Archive label (brainchild of artist Jim Lambie) last week, celebrating the release with a short 2 date UK tour of both their native city and London, the first of which was a stellar performance at a packed out The Poetry Club in Finnieston alongside party starters Pleasure Bent.

 

With a distinct 70s folky vibe full of breezy, playful guitar lines and luscious harmonies, the ‘Wet Bark Is A Slug’ video features the song against the work of Estonian animator Priit Parn’s 1984 film Time Out, resulting in a delightfully charming and captivating marriage of imagery and sound.

 

The Paul Simon/Vampire Weekend’s ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ vibe is one that will be broadcast to audiences Scotland wide thanks to it being chosen as ‘Single Of The Week’ on BBC Scotland’s The Janice Forsyth Show, and we hope it serves as a platform for greater things in 2017 for the West Princes guys.
Check out the video here.

 

 

INTERVIEW: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Leah Shapiro on getting healthy and keeping the beat going.

This year represents 15 years since San Francisco’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club released their debut B.R.M.C album. A true milestone for a band in constant pursuit of producing pure, unadulterated rock and roll, they have, in recent years, literally went through hell and back. Firstly, with the death of Robert Levon Been’s father – and BRMC sound engineer – Michael Been, in 2010, followed by the more recent news in 2014 that drummer Leah Shapiro required treatment for Chiari malformations found in her brain.

For Denmark born Leah – former drummer with Dead Combo and The Ravonettes – the thought of not being able to pick up her sticks in the face of her surgery and subsequent recovery was as dark a road to go down as there is for any musician.

“That was a pretty fucking scary thought. The whole year and a half of touring Spectre i had so many problems. I was losing my mind or seriously losing my ability to play the way that I was used to which was pretty scary. I guess there was a sense of relief in finding out why that was happening cause I was kinda going crazy over it . Like every night I would feel like it was flying around in a roller coaster while trying to play drums at the same time. The recovery process was pretty brutal and there was also the fear of how everything was going to feel after it.”


As luck would have it, the surgeon tasked with drilling into her brain happened to be a BRMC fan himself, and he was able to fine tune a ‘drum recovery’ process that enabled Leah to come back to almost full health.

“Yeh he was a fan of the band, it was fucking awesome. He was really incredibly helpful and he wrote out about a whole new programme which I started about three months after the surgery to get back on the drums. Had I not had that I’d have been completely fucking lost. I mean I would have no way of knowing what my limits where or how to pace myself or a what a responsible way to getting back to here was at all so it was really helpful.”

Serendipity or not, her long road from sleepy Aarhus in her native Denmark to life in LA via New York as one third of one of the best rock and roll bands of the last two decades is one that had a little to do with a certain incident with a bird in New York’s Times Square.

“I was working this shitty fucking office job in Times Square and I’d just gotten out of the Subway and like this bird just fell out of the sky dead in front of me. That was kind of a moment when i was like ‘Ok I’ve gotta not be doing this any more, anything else is better than this shit,’ and that kind of led to me joining Dead Combo which was really what opened the door for both BRMC and The Ravonettes – I think the first show I did with Dead Combo was opening with The Ravonettes and then we got to do some BRMC shows during their Baby 81 tour and i stayed in touch with Rob and here we are.”

It’s not often musicians get to support a band on tour before making the transition to become part of that band and its something that’s not lost on Leah, one that gives her a heightened sense of just what makes BRMC who they are and what they represent.

“It was kind of interesting to get to tour with them with an opening band before I joined them. I remember being in the crowd watching and there was this really special energy and, like, some sort of vibe that I’d never really seen before live with other bands. I watched the shows every night and I couldn’t get tired of it. It was always really exciting that you didn’t hear the songs as it is on the records, the set changed from night to night and always had a different element to it depending on what the room was like any given night. Now, every night we play I hope that even though I’m behind the drums I hope that energy is still the same one that I could feel.”

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Having just completed a 16 date autumn US co-headlining tour with Death From Above 1979 – alongside Deap Vally, Shapiro is finding it great being back in the saddle with the band after such a long period of recovery from her brain surgery.

“Yeh I mean this is probably my first proper tour where I’ve been fully healed up from my injuries and shit so it’s is a nice feeling just to play without all of those issues. We’ve toured with Deap Vally before so we know them and the Death From Above guys really well, so its probably been one of my favourite tours as far as the lineup and people.”

And although the present musical landscape seems bereft of bands that share a similar approach to pure, no holds barred rock and roll like BRMC do, Leah isn’t one to start complaining, especially given her love of both of their current touring partners, Deap Vally and Death From Above.

“I’m not that frustrated, I think just being on tour with the awesome bands and watching them kick ass every night kind of takes away some of the frustration away – you get a little jaded but there’s plenty of cool stuff going on just maybe not in the mainstream. Its hard enough at the best of times for bands.”

With a new album most likely in the early part of 2017, the tour has given the band the chance to come up with and road test some new material.

“We’ve always used soundchecks to kind of at least get the process of new ideas started and we have like a million little shitty iPhones; recording our new ideas. It’s a cool setting to start the writing process when your on a big stage with a big sound. Everything sounds better than being in the little confined tiny rehearsal space so its a little bit more fun.”

And with the signs all pointing in the right direction, Leah is quietly confident of a return to a full touring schedule next year in support of what will be the band’s eighth record.

“We’ve been testing out two of the new songs which we’ve done in the studio prior to starting this tour and when we finish up next week it’ll be back in the rehearsal studio writing again and hopefully recording and then we will be back out on the road before we know it.”

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The last few years haven’t been easy on the band, with, alongside Leah’s diagnosis, surgery and subsequent recovery, the death of bandmate Robert Levon Been’s father Michael in 2010 – after he suffered a heart attack backstage at a festival in Belgium.

The loss was hard to take for Leah, who credits Been’s father with her progression as a drummer, thanks to his own unique training regime he placed on her when she joined BRMC following Nick Jago’s departure back in 2008.

“A big part of me getting to where I am now as a drummer was Michael putting me through an epic boot camp when i first started with the band. i wasn’t super happy at the time. It was pretty intense but it definitely helped shape my playing and my approach to music in general. He sort of got me to be a little bit more free and I kind of learned to be OK with the mistakes that were going to happen inevitably both in recording and live onstage and learned just kind of go with it and make the fucked up parts work to your advantage, if that makes sense.”

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For Leah, what has happened is that the band have pulled together more than ever in the face of such tragedy.

“I mean we’ve gone through some pretty insane shit before. We spend a lot of time together so we are all very close and i feel like there’s more of a family vibe than other bands I’ve played with in the past and I like that. A lot of the guys that are on the road with us have been with the band for as long as I have or even longer so there’s that whole element to it as well. I suppose we are our own kind of weird little dysfunctional family (laughing).”

The story goes that Leah learned around 40 songs in two weeks when she first joined the band midway through their tour off the back of the Baby 81 album, and ever since then, Leah has taken more and more of a creative role alongside bandmates Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been with regards to new material.

“In the beginning i was playing all the material that already existed and when I first started I just tried to mimic the drumming as much as i possibly could to make the transition not like too awkward for Rob and Pete and I guess for the audience as well. I think that when we first started writing Beat The Devil’s Tattoo I started to kind of observe what the process was and figure out my place in it. So its now its been like 8 and a half years or something like that so I’m a little bit more comfortable than I was!”

Her footprint on the band’s material is more than present, not just through her military like – pounding drums – which formed the creative starting point to the development of lead single ‘Let The Day Begin’ from Spectre – a cover of Robert’s dad’s band The Call’s original 1989 release. Her interest in literature and poetry has borne fruit lyrically, her input stamped all over the band’s last two album releases.

“Well at the time when I first got to LA, Rob and I were living in this like, sort of one of those furnished short term apartments and I happened to have some of my books my dad had given to me and some that I’d bought myself. So they were around and I remember showing him things. “Annabel Lee” (from 2011’s ‘Live in London’ release) came out of that. It’s not like an intentional thing but when its around I guess it hopefully influences us but it’s not something I try to force on anybody.”

Interestingly given the high intensity required to provide the engine for BRMC’s motoring sound, Leah feels that playing live she often finds herself in a trance-like, meditative state, as the dreamy ‘Alive’, from BRMC’s debut release – and Leah’s favourite song to play – illustrates.

“Well I mean there’s a lot of repetition and a lot of focus on the flow and feel of it so when I really focus in on it and I’m having a good day when I’m playing well It gets really transitory really quickly and a lot of the music – the more psychedelic stuff – it really lends itself to that. Like you kind of float into some other place which is nice. It’s nice to stop worrying about how your are supposed to be feeling, it just kind of happens.”

Brought up listening to her American father’s record collection, she wasn’t the typical wannabe drummer who, from an early age, was banging tabletops and boxes with anything they could find their hands on.

“I started I guess a little bit later than most people would have, but I just kinda immediately got obsessive about it. I tried to learn other instruments and I completely fucking sucked at it and it didn’t feel natural to me at all and I remember the first day playing the drums it just felt natural to me.”

And with no doubt a few UK dates to pencil in for next year with the release of their new album, Leah is keen to get back out in front of British audiences – even if that means dodging the odd flying pint.

“Oh yeh it’s just so rowdy and fun I love that. I like a good drunk crowd throwing beers at us (laughs) although usually they don’t hit me so that’s why i don’t mind it! I remember Rob getting hit with a beer right in the face in Glasgow at the Barrowlands, I think on the 2010 tour. Maybe next time it’ll be me although it’s a little harder to hit me. I guess that will be the challenge for next year at our shows.”

9 things about Glasgow and music that you maybe didn’t know.

1 – Elton John turned up at a party once steamboats in Blairdardie

Yip, one of the biggest selling music artists in the world was once managed by a Glaswegian called John Reid. And when visiting the city at the height of his fame in the late 1970s, the author of mega-hits such as ‘Rocket Man’ turned up at a party put on by pals of Reid at the high flats in Keal Crescent in Blairdardie with a carryout. Wonder if he was still standing after that night.

 

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2 – A band called Pink Floyd once supported a guy called Jimi Hendrix

Yip, this actually happened, at a show in Green’s Playhouse on Renfield St in 1967. With Syd Barret still in the band, Pink Floyd didn’t exactly endear themselves to the Glasgow public, being bottled off after they chose not to play their ‘hits’ such as See Emily Play. Hendrix also had the curtain pulled down on him midway through his set, after the management didn’t take well to his sexually suggestive guitar movements.

 

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3 –  Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand used to deliver curries for Mother India in his Fiat Panda.

Yip, the Franz Ferdinand front-man was the man who was sent out with your hot curry back in the days before he hit the big time alongside Bob, Nick and Paul with their debut 2004 album release. And not just any curry. Perhaps the best in the city in the form of Mother India in Glasgow’s west end. The ‘Take Me Out’ singer must have loved a take-out himself.

 

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4. Neil Young once busked outside Central Station

Yip, and if you didn’t know this one, then you must have been living on the moon. Before his show with Crazy Horse in 1976 at the city’s Apollo Theatre, a local camera crew were assigned to film some “funky shit footage” (Young’s words) of him and the band in Glasgow. It was Young’s idea to head down to Central station with his banjo and harmonica to play some music and see if anyone recognised him – in between asking people where the Bank of Scotland was. This, not long after one of either him or his band set fire to the paper table decorations at the Albany Hotel, nearly burning the whole thing down.

 

 

5. Courtney Love demanded a bath at a party in West Princes St

Yip, another party, this time not far from the city centre. After the former wife of Kurt Cobain played a gig in the city in the early 1990s with her band Hole, she turned up at a party in Eugene Kelly of The Vaseline’s gaff, and promptly told everyone there that she wanted a bath. Probably from all the pints that were lobbed in her direction.

 

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6. The ‘Jimmy’ from Amy Macdonald’s ‘This Is The Life’ is actually called Graeme. 

OK so not the biggest of scoops, but one nonetheless. The title song off Macdonald’s 2007 debut album sees her sing a line about someone “waiting outside Jimmy’s front door”, and just in-case you are in Asda and hear the tune on the instore radio and you think, “Who is this Jimmy guy she is bangin on about”, well, now you know. Presumably, this was written in respect of the aftermath of a mad party somewhere, knowing ‘Jimmy’ as I do. Anyway, he used to play drums in The Apple Scruffs, so any excuse to stick one of their songs on the blog.

 

 

 

7. Bobby Gillespie’s step mum owns a dog grooming shop

Clutching at straws a bit here, but important to know some might find it. The shop is called, wait for it, ‘Grooming Marvellous’ and is situated on Cathcart Road in the south side of the city.  Rock and roll indeed. No doubt there’s a few poodles that call in at the shop with hair like he had back in the day when he played drums for TJMC.

 

 

8. There’s an Arctic Monkeys guitar pedal at the bottom of The Clyde

The first gig of their first ever UK tour  in March 2004 saw the Sheffield band play at Glasgow’s Barfly venue on the Broomielaw, remember that? Playing with them was a band called Raising Kane, and a series of disagreements between the two resulted in both bands launching each other’s guitar pedals into the adjacent Clyde river. The next day they played in Carlisle, and, off the back off their first ever Radio 1 play, the gig sold out. The rest, as we know, is history.

 

 

9. Oasis once supported the Verve at the Cathouse

Yip, of all places you could have seen these two bands in Glasgow, the Cathouse would probably come up last on your list. The alternative music club on Union St played host to two iconic groups of British music in December 1993, when Oasis supported the Verve on their UK tour prior to the release of their debut album, A Storm in Heaven. Apparently only a few folk turned up to see Oasis, and most of them thought they were pretty average. Funny how things change. Oasis released a live version of ‘I Am The Walrus’ from the show, as a B-side to Cigarettes & Alcohol the next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caught live – Ulrika Spacek, The Hug and Pint

Apparently, London-based five piece Ulrika Spacek only play Glasgow on Sunday nights, as singer Rhys Edwards attested too midway through their set at The Hug and Pint.

Even against the threat of a low turn out with their return to the city coinciding with Falkirk troubadours Arab Strap’s second 20th anniversary show at a sold out Barrowlands, fans turned out in numbers to ensure the venue felt pretty packed.

Many presumably there on the strength of the airplay Ulrika Spacek have received on BBC Radio 6 by the likes of Steve Lamacq, while others making the visit off the back of their impressive support slot for DIIV at SWG3 earlier in the year.

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For all those who did make it, they were not to be disappointed. Spacek seemed genuinely happy to be back in Glasgow, and the intimate setting of the basement venue felt a perfect fit for their raw, atmospheric sound.

Playing against a projection of hypnotic, psychedelic visuals, the band burst to life with new A-side  ‘Everything: All The Time’, and, with little let up, proceeded to work their way through their debut album ‘The Album Paranoia’.

Tracks such as ‘I Don’t Know’, ‘She’s a Cult’ and ‘Beta Male’ saw Spacek at their own distinctive, gnarly, lo-fi best, not forgetting a face-melting rendition of ‘NK’ and the fantastic ‘There’s A Little Passing Cloud In You’.

Although ‘The Album Paranoia’ is in itself a work of near majestic talent, its live that Spacek really show off their strengths as composite musicians. For a band on their 23rd gig of a lengthy European tour, they exuded an energy that belied the heavy tour schedule.

With the confidence to debut a new track for the first time in front of a Glasgow audience that knows a good band when they see one, Spacek left the stage to familiar, yet fully merited, cries of ‘one more tune’.

A stellar Sunday night from a band – a mix of left-wing German militant Ulrike Meinhof and American actress Sissy Spacek – who will no doubt go on to grace venues fitting of their stature as one of the UK’s most invigorating, original and purposeful acts around today.

New on our radar: Stillhound

At last night’s Scottish Alternative Music Awards at The Garage in Glasgow, in between sterling sets by The Van Ts, Shogun and Baby Strange, the real highlight of the night were Stillhound.

The Edinburgh based ambient pop trio – made up of Fergus Cook, Laurie Corlett-Donald and Dave Lloyd – produced a set of lush synth pop hooks and organic electronica that had those in attendance in raptures, as they showcased songs off debut album Bury Everything (released via Lost Oscillation Records on 23rd September).

Featuring Cat Myres of Honeyblood fame on writing credits, Bury Everything offers up an irresistible slice of genre-defying soundscapes, fusing entrancing guitar progressions, fragile, dreamy vocals and samples.

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With a sound that recalls NZCA Lines and M83, alongside hints of 2 Door Cinema Club at their best,  the promise of the release of two singles off the album in October will no doubt see their stock rise even further.

 

 

Bury Everything Tracklisting:

  1. Spring Conscious
  2. Time Enough For Love
  3. Lofty Ambitions
  4. Think This Way
  5. Mountain Rescue
  6. Shy
  7. Summer Nightmares
  8. Seethe Unseen
  9. When Ghosts Get Angry
  10. Bury Everything

 

 

Gone, but not forgotten. 4 of the best bands to come out of Glasgow

Nostalgia is an often criticized beast that pulls at the heart strings of music lovers, with bands that had long since broken up ready to forget their differences in the name of a new album, tour and deeper pockets.

And with scientific studies showing a direct link between music and brain stimulation – including how we recall memories – we never tire of taking a glimpse back over the past few years to reminisce about the music that struck a special chord, by bands that have since disappeared.

Here’s a list of 4 Glasgow bands that are gone, but definetly not forgotten:
The Apple Scruffs
Formed in 2005, the punk-rock four piece from Glasgow garnered a wide, loyal following in Glasgow thanks to their raw, energetic rock ‘n’ roll and memorably frenetic live performances that, more than any other Glasgow band to date, have fully characterised the passion of youth. Influenced by the likes of The Smiths, The Clash and The Libertines, the band played wisely to their strengths in the form of frontman Jonny Skinner’s majestic song writing.

Paper Planes/Astral Planes

Regarded in their heyday as ‘Glasgow’s best kept secret’, Paper Planes were a band that really were destined for bigger things. Opening for The Pigeon Detectives at The Carling Academy in only their fourth show, the band revolved around New Jersey native Jennifer Paley’s stunning vocals (and looks) and guitarist Christopher Haddow’s reverb-heavy licks. With a surf-pop, trashy rock ‘n’ roll sound it was a band that were cooler than every Julian Casablancas leather jacket sown together.

Sonic Hearts Foundation

Widescreen cinematic shoe-gazers Sonic Hearts Foundation only called it a day last year but the void is still present. After building up a formidable reputation in Glasgow thanks to support slots with the likes of The Duke Spirit and The Telescopes, the band achieved near mythical status in 2011 thanks to a legendary rooftop show outside the Barrowlands after a Pete Doherty gig. With an intoxicating sound that mixed alternative post-rock, electronic and even Krautrock influences, the band’s live gigs were as much visual, projection fuelled feasts as they were showcases of their own maverick, captivating originality.

Heartbeats

Another band that, live, were equal to the more established bands from which they themselves drew influences, such as The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, Heartbeat’s shoe-gaze, anthemic wall of sound had your ears ringing for days after their shows. Backed by singer Steve Allen’s primal, emotional lyrics and Matt Hardie’s pulsating drumming, they are another Glasgow band solely missed from the venues around the city they called home, as their fantastic ‘We Make Jesus Cry (Death By Misadventure)’ illustrates – a song that, on a personal level, finds itself in my top 20 favourites of any band, ever.

https://myspace.com/weareheartbeats/music/songs

 

 

 

 

‘Breakfast’ time with Catholic Action.

Glasgow based four-piece Catholic Action are no strangers to the art of eclectic creation, with March’s L.U.V. single release seeing their stock rise exponentially thanks to their signature brand of stylish indie art rock.

Having supported the likes of FFS, Swim Deep, and more recently, Teenage Fanclub, the band are kicking off an 8 date UK tour (see below) in London tomorrow night in support of their new AA release ‘Rita Ora’/Breakfast – out on 7″ and digital format on September 23 via Luv Luv Luv Records.

And in Chris McCrory (also of Casual Sex), we may have a new pretender to Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand’s throne as the most talented frontman that Scotland has produced in recent years.

 

Tour dates:

Thu September 22 2016 – LONDON Old Blue Last
Fri September 23 2016 – LEEDS Belgrave Music Hall
Sat September 24 2016 – MANCHESTER Deaf Institute
Sun September 25 2016 – GLASGOW King Tuts
Wed September 28 2016 – ABERDEEN Tunnels
Thu September 29 2016 – INVERNESS Mad Hatters
Fri September 30 2016 – DUNDEE Buskers
Sat October 01 2016 – EDINBURGH Mash House

 

Beefy tunes and dirty washing.

One of Scotland’s top DJs is returning home to play a gig for 30 people – in a laundrette.

Jackmaster, aka Jack Revill, from Glasgow, has firmly established himself among the top DJs on the planet, constantly touring the world to play in front of packed audiences in clubs and at major festivals.

The man from Hillhead’s  hard work ethic and versatility saw him pick up the accolade of Best Breakthrough DJ in 2010 before going on to be crowned Best DJ by DJ magazine in 2014. He is also nominated for Best House DJ at the DJ awards, which takes place in Ibiza in October.

 

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And no stranger place could play host to his talents behind the decks than in Glasgow’s Majestic Laundrette in the city’s Finnieston area. A mainstay of the area for more than 30 years, the laundrette has transformed itself into Scotland’s hipster HQ.

Having hosted everything from fashion shoots, celebrity interviews, acoustic concerts, Emeli Sande  music videos and even 40th birthday parties, the laundrette has taken advantage of its perfect location sandwiched amongst trendy eateries, bars and restaurants.

 

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And with its walls emblazoned with the flyers and posters on the latest events and concerts across the city, the laundrette doubles up as a place to both clean your smalls and find out what’s happening in the city and when.

Chris Edwards, who works in the laundrette, said “Where we are situated is absolutely spot on. There are a lot of coffee places, its ideal where we are. There are a lot of laundrettes in the city centre that are tucked away that you wouldn’t even know are there.”

“It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard. That people will be saying that they were at a gig in a laundrette the other night and it was amazing.

“But a lot of people seem to pop their heads in here for a look, just to read the flyers, to see what’s on in Glasgow. We don’t mind it. Then when they are in they ask us how much it will cost to get their suits dry-cleaned and things like that. Its two birds with one stone.”

Finnieston recently came top in a poll to find Britain’s hippest place to live, with the area’s transformation from former warehouses and dock lands into a trendy hotspot beating off competition from areas such as London’s Shoreditch.

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The event, as part of Red Bull’s Music Academy’s UK tour, takes place on the 15th October, with the drinks company labelling the event “quite literally the freshest party of the weekend.”

Mogwai and Me

I’m not really sure when, or where I first heard Mogwai. I’d been aware of them for a few years without really paying much attention. More than anything, I remember seeing the name on a t-shirt at Connect Festival in Inverary, Scotland, back in 2007. Everyone wearing ‘Blur are Shite’ across their chest had me wondering. I’d heard of the band, but I hadn’t heard them.

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This was when my musical diet consisted of pure guitar driven indie pop, bands such as Interpol, The Horrors, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon and Arcade Fire. Stable bands that soundtracked your Saturday nights on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.

I can’t even remember if I caught much or any of their set that night as I waited for Bobby Gillespie’s Primal Scream to churn out the hits to the thousands gathered at the foot of the castle. But I returned to Glasgow with the idea that instrumental music wasn’t just shite like Robert Miles’s Children or Daft Punk’s ‘Da Funk’ – a song I heard play for 36 hours on repeat on a school ski trip to France.

I think it was around that time that I saw ‘Zidane – a 21st century portrait’, with my brother Mike and pal Andy at the GFT cinema. A massive Spanish football fan, I was surprised to hear that Zidane had took part in a film, and even more so when I realized it was done by artist Douglas Gordon, who hailed from the same neck of the woods as me, Maryhill in Glasgow.

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To say I was spellbound was an understatement, sitting there chewing on some sweets while watching the elegance of the world’s greatest ever footballer digging his boots into the turf, all while backed by Mogwai’s shimmering, wonderous soundtrack. I remember leaving the cinema feeling drunk and a tad high after such a visual, aural spectacle. I was Mogwai’d up, well and truly.

With the release of Hawk is Howling in September 2008, songs such as ‘Batcat’, ‘the Sun Smells Too Loud’ and the ridiculously epic “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’ became fully ingrained parts of my daily routine, songs which transported me away from the inhumane existence that was working for a home insurance firm in a call centre in Glasgow.

Around this time, my brother jumped ship from Scotland and moved over to Italy to work as an English language assistant in the small town of Ferrara near Bologna. Not knowing anyone, or any Italian, his first conversation with a local said a lot about a yet unknown quantity for me, Mogwai’s level of support abroad.

A guy in bar asked Mike where he was from. “Glasgow”. “Glasgow ?,” replied the Italian dude. “Mogwai – our generation’s Pink Floyd.”

Jump forward to February 2011, and the release of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’. After taking a call from an old Spanish guy called Manolo in a broom cupboard in Macsorley’s Bar one Friday afternoon, I quit my job and rented out my flat to move over to Northern Spain to teach English – copying my brother in doing so.

mogwai 4

I got a job teaching English in an after school academy in the evenings, while during the day I taught the staff at the Bayer pharmaceutical factory in the town of La Felguera – the factory that produces 100% of the active ingredient for all the world’s aspirin. It’s maze of steel tubes and chimneys dominating the skyline, giving the provincial, stereotypical Spanish non-descript town a heavy Blade Runner feel.

Turned out the slow walk along the river there and back to my flat took me around 50 mins, around about the same time it took me to listen to Hardcore…in its entirety. And listen to it I did. For some reason my Ipod shuffle broke after I downloaded the album, so I only had that album on it.

lada

For a full school calendar year, maybe two – September to June – I walked down the Nalon river in the mining valley of Central Asturias to and from the aspirin factory with Mogwai as my guide. I was in another place – far from the abandoned steel towers and mining industry relics surrounding me as ‘Rano Pano’ and ‘How To Be A Werewolf’ kicked in.

Still having not seen them fully in concert, I was gutted to be back home in Glasgow that August when Mogwai headlined a festival barely 20 miles away from where I stayed, in the seaside city of Gijon, in the grounds of La Laboral – Franco’s mega technical college complex and amazing place for a concert.

For that, I had to wait until June last year, when Mogwai put on two shows to celebrate their twentieth anniversary in Glasgow, after missing their concerts at the Royal Concert Hall and and Richmond Park in 2014. And what better place to see them than a Saturday night at the Barrowlands – one of, if not the, best venue in the country.

barras

And it was tremendous. Ear-bleedingly loud. And as the band worked their way through an extensive back catalogue, I was glad to be in the position to have become well versed in most of their albums to date, as opposed to just the material they released post 2007.

Not long after the shows, I bumped into Stuart from the band about 2 am one Saturday night on Byres Road. After a brief stop and chat he gave me his email address, so I could arrange an interview for music website/podcast Scottish Fiction. A week later, I sat down with Stuart and had a blast discussing the band’s 20 years together and their plans for going forward.

sara

With me was my Spanish pal Sara, a Mogwai fanatic herself, who, being her last ever day living in Glasgow, I thought would appreciate sharing a beer with Stuart. Although that day for her she recalls as being both the best and worst in her three years living there, as, moments before the interview while waiting for me outside Tennents bar in the West End, a nutjob ran out brandishing a kitchen knife and threatened her. Such is life in Glasgow. One moment running the risk of a hospital visit, the other having a drink with your musical hero in a reformed Church.

das

After visiting Barry from Mogwai’s pub, Das Gift, in Berlin while I was there a few times earlier on this year, it was nice to meet the man behind both the world’s best Twitter account and best jukebox in Germany. And as the band geared up to release Atomic, I sat down with Stuart once again to talk about it over a beer in Glasgow’s West End.

This time in less cosmopolitan company with my brother, a conversation had between Stuart, my brother and Paul from Franz Ferdinand at Christmas time during their DJ set in a Glasgow pub played itself out before our eyes. With Franz having played a few gigs in the Italian town my brother called home, Stuart mentioned that he’d be up for playing at the same place with Mogwai.

 

ferrar

Cue a number of emails from my brother to the organizers, telling them to get Mogwai onto the bill, and during the interview Stuart got a message on his phone confirming the date. Ferrara, Italy, July 2016.

Well I couldn’t not go could aye? So here I am, drunk as hell, in my brothers flat. Earlier tonight Mogwai played what was regarded as the best concert in the town’s musical history, to a crowd of 1500 people next to the castle, performing their soundtrack to the documentary film ‘Atomic’ while it played on the screen behind them.

Mogwai-Atomic

The post gig Laphroig whisky with the band backstage in their dressing room went down pretty well, discussing Glasgow’s best curry house, as I cast my mind back to nine years earlier and the ‘Blur are Shite’ t-shirt in Inverary. Funny how things play themselves out.

Cheers Mogwai.

Your music has taken me somewhere nice, more so than any other band out there. And I hope it continues to do so.