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Scottish post-rock band, Mogwai, on their India debut and two decades of making music

EDM and metal enthusiasts in the country rejoiced all year with EDM DJs like DJ Snake and R3hab, and metal bands like Carcass, Sikth and Napalm Death touring the country. Now it is time for post-rock fans to have a blast with Mogwai, one of the pioneers of the genre, touring the country for the first time. The band from Glasgow will kick-start their India tour this Sunday by headlining at the NH7 Weekender in the capital, followed by Pune and Bengaluru. A performance by Mogwai is always unpredictable—like their concert in Hamburg, Germany, last March. They had just released Rave Tapes, and were expected them to play the entire album. Instead, they mixed it up with popular numbers like How to be a werewolf and Take me somewhere nice. “We always write our set list on the day of the concert and it’s hardly ever the same as the day after or before. This way, things just get a bit more interesting,” says Barry Burns (41) who plays guitars, bass and keyboards for Mogwai, along with guitarist Stuart Braithwaite, bassist Aitchison and drummer Martin Bulloch.
Steady at 20
Mogwai originated at a time when Radiohead was shedding their grunge roots, Pink Floyd was bowing out, and Oasis and Blur were vying for the top of the UK music charts. They are a decade old now, with eight studio albums and numerous headlining concerts to their credit. But according to Burns (41), they have been “very lucky, especially because a lot of phenomenal people have worked with us along the way”. Still, maintaining a steady foothold in the music industry for so long is no joke. One of the reasons why the band could do it was because of their ever evolving sound. If you listen to their debut album, Mogwai Young Team, followed by Rave Tapes, you are sure to be surprised by the stark difference in sound. But listen to their albums in chronological order and you will see that they have adapted with the changing times. “I suppose the size of the concerts that we play has also changed gradually over the years and that’s been a nice thing. It felt like progress without becoming this huge band overnight,” says Burns.
Making music
Perhaps due to the visual nature of their music, and the fact that it is mostly instrumental, Mogwai’s repertoire also includes intriguing soundtracks for films like The Fountain and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Their latest one was the music score for Scottish documentary filmmaker Mark Cousins’ 2015 documentary, Atomic, Leaving in Dread and Promise — the film marks 70 years since the Hiroshima bomb. “I am really proud of the soundtrack. We just re-recorded it two weeks back and we’re going to release it next year,” says Burns adding that the band is planning to sit down to write material for a new studio album in the upcoming months.

At NH7 Weekenders—New Delhi, Pune and Bengaluru, on November 29, December 4 and December 6. `3,250. Details: insider.in

—Arka Sengupta

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