Nov 26, 2021
By Mark Redfern
Issue #68 – Japanese Breakfast and HAIM (The Protest Issue)
To end the week, we ask Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai some questions about endings and death.
The Scottish post-rock four-piece formed in Glasgow in 1995 and features Braithwaite on guitar and sometimes vocals, alongside Barry Burns (guitar, piano, synthesizer, vocals), Dominic Aitchison (bass guitar), and Martin Bulloch (drums). Yes, they were named after the cute little creatures from Gremlins, but according to Braithwaite in an FAQ on an old version of the band’s website, the name “has no significant meaning and we always intended on getting a better one, but like a lot of other things we never got round to it.” Mogwai are known for their epic instrumentals, but have also incorporated such notable guest vocalists as Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals and Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap.
Their latest release, As the Love Continues, is the band’s 10th studio album and their first to reach No. 1 on the UK album charts, a feat that surprised the band (Braithwaite told The Guardian it was “totally surreal, completely unexpected”). Regular collaborator Dave Fridmann produced the album, which features one song with lead vocals, “Ritchie Sacramento,” and is sung by Braithwaite. The song is somewhat inspired by the tragic suicides of fellow musicians David Berman of Silver Jews and Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, both friends of the band. Atticus Ross and Colin Stetson both guest on As the Love Continues, the latter contributing saxophone to the seven-minute “Pat Stains.”
Even though touring and travel was limited due to the pandemic, in a press release announcing the album Braithwaite said he hopes the music on it will transport listeners to a different place, “unless you are somewhere really amazing and then why are you listening to some weird music like this?”
Read on as Braithwaite discusses how he’d like to die, what songs he’d like played at his deathbed and funeral, his favorite endings, and why he hopes heaven is like a Stanley Kubrick movie.
How would you like to die and what age would you like to be?
I would like to die in a non-painful way, hopefully asleep. I’d like to be at least 85 years old.
What song would you like to be playing at your deathbed?
I’d like to hear something epic, yet soothing. “An Ending (Ascent)” by Brian Eno would do the trick.
What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?
I’d like “Pet Sematary” by The Ramones to be played. I’d be happy with the recorded version but if there’s a budget, Britney Spears would add color to the occasion and have quite a Joey-esque tone.
What’s your favorite ending to a movie?
I think the ending to Mandy is perfect. The whole thing is, to be fair.
What’s your favorite last line in a book?
American Psycho jumped to mind. That stuck with me for sure.
What’s your favorite last ever episode of a TV show?
Devs was amazing. Pretty much flawless throughout.
What’s your favorite last song on an album?
“Faith” by The Cure is hard to beat. It’s the perfect end to a perfectly bleak record.
What’s your favorite last album by a band who then broke up?
Recurring by Spacemen 3 is amazing. It’s also such a classic band breaking up record as the two members have a side each.
What’s your favorite way a band broke up?
Not a favorite as such but the story of how Hüsker Dü broke up is fucking wild.
Whose passing has most affected you?
Patrick Doyle of Veronica Falls and The Royal We was the sweetest, funniest guy. I miss him a lot.
If you were on death row, what would you like your last meal to be?
A vegan Indian food banquet. Dahl, paratha, vindaloo, etc.
What’s your concept of the afterlife?
I don’t have one. I’m sure whatever happens, it’s way beyond our simple levels of comprehension. Real end of 2001 cosmic shit. That or nothing. Hopefully the former.
What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists?
Pretty much an unlimited buffet. That and loads of fun people to hang out with.
What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?
Endless form filling. Loads of queues. Shitty food and shitty people. Trump speeches playing on a continuous loop.
If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as?
A dog. They have the best time and are always down to party.
What role or achievement would you most like to be remembered for?
I’d like to think I’ll have left the planet sounding a wee bit better than I found it. I’m proud of that.
What would you like your last words to be?
Here we. Here we. Here we fucking go.
[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 68 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]