Interview with

Barry Burns from Mogwai

Barry Burns is a Scottish musician  best known for his work with Mogwai. Mogwai is a Scottish post-rock band , formed in 1995 in Glasgow. The band consists of Stuart Braithwaite (guitar, vocals),  John Cummings (guitar, vocals),  Barry Burns (guitar, piano, synthesizer, vocals),  Dominic Aitchison (bass guitar), and  Martin Bulloch (drums). The band typically composes lengthy guitar-based instrumental pieces that feature dynamic contrast, melodic bass guitar lines, and heavy use of distortion and  effects. Burns joined Mogwai just before the recording of their second album, Come on Die Young. He had already played a few gigs with the band beforehand as a flautist  and occasional pianist. According to Stuart Braithwaite, Burns joined the band because he was a „good laugh“. Burns is a versatile multi-instrumentalist and contributes (among other things) keyboards, guitar, vocals (mainly through a Vocoder), and flute. He is also the only member of Mogwai with a formal foundation in music theory, but he claims he is „a bit rusty“.

Facts

1: Mogwai are filmed in black and white for our new film because it makes us look less ugly. Sort of.

2: We had to wear the same clothes for three days in a row so it looks like only one concert. We could never have played one gig well, so we had to cheat. Let’s be honest here.

3: The film „Burning“ will go along with our upcoming new live album called „Special Moves“. It’s about time we did a live album so it’s coming very soon.

Questions

What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
The biggest inspiration is just the desire to keep on playing with the band . I suppose that equates to not getting a job at the local Kaisers. It’s always been hard for me to say what has influenced me before now but I think moving to Berlin has had some effect.

How and when did you get into making music?
Creepy old Santa Claus brought me my first keyboard at the age of 10 I think. I took piano lessons immediately and then went to music college to become a teacher. I happily failed and joined a band which I left four years later to join Mogwai.

What are your 5 favourite albums of all time?
They constantly change, really. I never can answer those kind of questions so instead I’ll tell you my least favourite word. Eclectic. What a stinker.

What do you associate with Berlin?
It feels like my home now even though I’ve only lived here for around nine months. It makes me feel a lot less uptight than I felt in Scotland and I’ve met some lovely people. The winter was tough, but it makes you appreciate the spring a bit more.

What’s your favourite place in your town?
At the moment either the Italian restaurant „Il Cassolare“ or the Canadian pizza place „Ron Telesky’s“ near my flat in Graefekiez. Food is everything.

If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Hunt down and kill Sarah Palin. It was probably her fault anyway.

What was the last record you bought?
Would have been Cold Wave and Minimal Electronics Volume I. It’s not as minimal as the title suggests. Not by Berlin stand ards anyway……which would be about 14 minutes of soft kick-drum and fingerclicks then BOOM…..a really quiet hi-hat begins. Epic.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I don’t know. But whoever it is, I like the idea of not meeting them and just doing it over the internet. That’s kind of what Mogwai is doing for the times when we’re not rehearsing in Glasgow and it’s quite good fun for me. At a push I’d obviously have to say Michael Bublé though. Obviously.

What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
I think it was watching the Pixies at Coachella a good few years back. I’d never seen them first time round and it was way better than a lot of the band s who have reformed. I was a latecomer to that band .

How important is technology to your creative process?
It’s incredibly important. We’ve gone from a band who play just guitars to a band that can’t live without computers and whatnot. It makes rehearsals a nightmare.

Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?
I have a sister. I think she’s nonplussed by the whole thing but I’m sure she is glad I’m doing what I do.

Our Favourites: Remurdered  | San Pedro |  Teenage Exorcists

Links: Facebook |  mogwai.co.uk

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