Thursday, 12 January 2012

Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai) Interview in The Daily Yomiuri on 4th November 2006

Mogwai's homage to Zidane?
By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

It would be a shame if the former captain of the French soccer team, Zinedine Zidane, is remembered for his final, explosive act on the world stage when his head butt on Italy's Marco Materazzi in the World Cup Final in Berlin in July earned him a red card.

Many would prefer to recall a night in Glasgow four years earlier when the man nicknamed "Zizou" scored one of the most spectacular goals to grace a European Cup Final to win the trophy for Spanish giants Real Madrid.

It therefore seems appropriate that the soundtrack for Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, a documentary about the 34-year-old three-time winner of FIFA's World Player of the Year, directed by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, should be provided by Glaswegian band Mogwai.

Formed in 1995 by Stuart Braithwaite and Dominic Aitchison, the five-piece have released five studio albums, the latest one being Mr. Beast, released earlier this year.

Coming at the height of the Britpop movement, Mogwai were a reaction to the hype south of the border, with their mainly instrumental tunes influenced by bands like Nirvana, Mudhoney and My Bloody Valentine, as Braithwaite explained to The Daily Yomiuri on the telephone from his home in Scotland.

"I never really liked it [Britpop] to be totally honest," Braithwaite says. "I liked Pulp, they had a bit of a twist to what they were doing, but I think a lot of it was very vacuous."

"It just seemed to me to be really retro and also very anti-American and very British, but not in a way that we can relate to it, especially culturally."

Braithwaite adds that talk of Britpop representing British pop was a misnomer.

"When they meant British they really meant English," Braithwaite says.

So how would he define the sound of Scotland?

"Scottish music is a lot closer to American," he says. "All these [Britpop] people were basically saying that Nirvana were terrible. And everyone [in Britpop] seemed to be just coked up. It just didn't really appeal to me at all."

Mogwai have visited Japan on several occasions, most recently for this summer's Fuji Rock Festival, their fourth appearance, and Braithwaite is clearly a fan of the event.

"For such a big festival it's really well organized and you're treated really well. At some of the European festivals you feel like herded cattle at times."

But back to more important matters. As a supporter of Celtic soccer club, the chance to write the music for a film about soccer must have been right up Braithwaite's street. How did he feel about the opportunity?

"Zidane's great. It wasn't as if it was about someone we didn't have respect for. It made it a good thing also," he says.

And it seems that Zidane was not unaware of the Glasgow connection, as Braithwaite explains.

"I think he'd mentioned to the director...[that] that's his favorite goal he's ever scored," Braithwaite says.

The movie opened in Europe earlier this year and the group were suitably impressed by the film's premiere in Switzerland.

"They showed it in the Basel stadium...It was fantastic. They showed it on a big 50-meter-high screen in the middle of the pitch and behind the goals there were people watching the movie, it was a really great night."

The band became involved in the project through one of the directors.

"We knew Douglas [Gordon], one of the directors and I think they'd been thinking about a lot of music and been doing rough edits of different bands. Ours had worked out well and they just came in, showed us some footage and asked us if we were interested," Braithwaite explains.

They were and the resulting album will be released in Japan on Nov. 11.

"I think it worked great with the film. I mean, it's very low key so I don't know, I'm still getting my head round it as a record, although people do seem to like it," he says.

The film is a study of Zidane seen through the prism of one game for Real against Villarreal in 2005.

"I think with the film it [the soundtrack] definitely adds to the sense of alienation," Braithwaite says. "We knew that it was working so we just kept going because we knew that it was sounding good with the images."

As for the matter of payment for services provided, the band had an unusual request. As avid supporters of Celtic soccer club, they requested that: "[Zidane] play for Celtic for a season."

Well, they never got Zidane. But Japanese soccer fans will point out that they did get Shunsuke Nakamura--although not strictly as a payment. Nakamura has done wonders for the image of Japanese soccer overseas, and Braithwaite agrees.

"He's probably a lot fitter than Zidane is these days," Braithwaite says.

So how about plans to honor the former Yokohama F Marinos star with a song title in the future?

"Yeah, he's definitely worth a song."

Mogwai will play Nov. 8, 7 p.m. at Namba Hatch in Osaka. (06) 6535-5569; Nov. 9, 7 p.m. at Diamond Hall in Nagoya. (052) 936-6041; Nov. 11, 7 p.m. at Studio Coast in Shin Kiba, Tokyo. (03) 3444-6751; Nov. 12, 7 p.m. at Liquid Room in Ebisu, Tokyo. (03) 3444-6751

No comments:

Post a Comment