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