You may know Mogwai, Slowdive, or Editors, but how they ended up recording an album together is another story, a long one…Enter Justin Lockey (Editors) with the initial desire to create an extreme noise EP with delicate female vocals. Add in Rachel Goswell (Slowdive), Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai) and Justin’s brother James and the project has now been flipped on its head. The result? A cinematic 10-track LP masterfully crafted by four band members who have somehow never even all been in the same room together. And that’s just the short version. I spoke to Stuart Braithwaite to find out just how this indie supergroup came to be.
Northern Transmissions: Hey Stuart, thanks for taking the time to talk to Northern Transmissions! Congrats in advance on your upcoming release. How have some of the singles been received so far?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): No problem at all. Ah I think it’s been very positive as far as I can tell, people seem pretty happy with the music.
Northern Transmissions: The story of your project kind of reads like a book – would you be able to give me a quick synopsis, and actually how about one standout moment from the whole process?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): Yeah, it all happened pretty naturally. Justin [Lockey – Editors] had been making some music with Rachel [Goswell – Slow Dive], and Justin wanted some other people involved, and Rachel asked me if I wanted to play some guitar, and then Justin got his brother James to play the bass. Really just kind of happened from there, shooting songs, and doing overdubs over the internet.
Northern Transmissions: It’s pretty impressive, just the whole idea of sharing ideas and never meeting some of the members until later – was there ever a fear that you guys might clash on some of the creative decisions?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): Ah…. I mean there was nothing major. There were never any big issues, everything was pretty… I think we were all on the same page, you know? There was never any drama through it all really.
Northern Transmissions: What did you hope to offer or accomplish with the project? Did you have a vision in mind going into it?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): To be honest, when we first started out there was no plan to make an album. I mean, it was really just…we were making some music I guess. It ended up being really low key, might have just been an internet only thing or something like that. But it just kind of worked out in a way that it ended up being made into something substantial.
Northern Transmissions: When was the moment you went from say friendly collaboration to knowing this was something a bit more serious? Or were titles slapped on from the get go?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): I think it was probably when we ended up with more than a few songs, where we were like, “well, we can make this a record”. That was the moment really, the realization that what we had was more than just something slight, it was something more than that.
Northern Transmissions: Do you find the music has that much more of an impact, knowing how it was put together?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): I think maybe people are only just starting to know about how we came together to be honest. I think people have heard a few songs and their reaction to the songs have been good. I think probably when more people hear the album it’ll probably mean more to them then just hearing a couple of songs on the radio or online.
Northern Transmissions: I have to ask – I’ve seen some press photos of all of you in the same room, but have you had a chance to play or practice is the same room together yet?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): Oh yeah, definitely! I mean our first show is in a couple of days, and so we’ve already been doing quite a bit of rehearsing.
Northern Transmissions: I wanted to share that my favourite song off the record is definitely “Scattered Ashes” do you think you could tell me a little bit more about that track?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): I mean it started as a very basic demo, just a bunch of chords and a drum machine. It was one of these songs that the more that got added to it, the more it turned into something much bigger. I mean it’s really anthemic, and the very first demo wasn’t anthemic at all, it was just really slight. I think that that is kind of the story of the record in a way, that we can do something together and it can become more than just the part we put in.
Northern Transmissions: And maybe my next question is already answered by what you said but is there a track that defines the album for you or showcases everyone’s unique tastes?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): I mean I think to an extent almost all of it does. I think that we all had our hands in everything. I’d say “Breaking My Light” as well because that started as a piano demo and when I did the guitar in the studio up here just thinking, “we can make this a lot longer”, just increased the length and the Rachel wrote more lyrics and then Justin brought in all those big drums in the song – it completely changed.
Northern Transmissions: Maybe this is just me but your album cover features a plus sign made up of many parts, any chance it goes hand in hand with the idea of the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): Ah I don’t know if that was the intention but I mean that’s a cool analogy of way of looking at it.
Northern Transmissions: What would you say you took out of the process of writing and recording the album? What does this release mean to you?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): I’m just excited for people to hear it, you know, that’s really kind of my view on it. It’s just been a great project to do, it’s good making new friends and making something that we’re all really proud of. I’m just at the point now where I’m excited about people hearing it.
Northern Transmissions: What is something that you did differently on this record versus a Mogwai record?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): Well I think just working from a distance is the main change, ‘cause with Mogwai we’ve always been in the exact same room. It’s a different way of doing it completely.
Northern Transmissions: Looking back on it now is there anything you would have done differently if you had a do over, or anything that helped the project move along more smoothly?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): No, no it went really well. I don’t think I have any problems or anything. I think it went really well, smoothly.
Northern Transmissions: How are you approaching the tour this time around? What can fans expect for the live shows?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): Ah, hopefully good concerts, and just playing the songs without making too many mistakes [laughs].
Northern Transmissions: What’s next for you guys? Have you continued to share some other things even though the record is complete?
Stuart Braithwaite (Minor Victories): I think for now we’re just concentrating on playing the songs, going on tour, just getting that side sorted out. We’re doing a lot of shows, and Mogwai are doing a lot of shows and making a record, so yeah I think I’ve got enough on my plate.
interview by Sean Carlin