RAVE Tapes, Mogwai’s last studio album, was released in January 2014. It feels at least a generation ago. There was optimism for Scottish independence, the Tories hadn’t been voted in twice and David Bowie still shared this mortal coil. The chance of Britain voting to leave the EU seemed far-fetched; the idea that Donald Trump could be US president preposterous.

That listening to the final three tracks of Every Country’s Sun in autumn 2017 can somehow stop thoughts of impending catastrophe is sweet, heavy release. From the thunderous Battered At A Scramble through the clanging turbulence of Old Poisons to the stratospheric overwhelm of the album’s closing title track, there’s little here but star-reaching awe.

Elsewhere there’s the instant disco pop of Party In The Dark, the spiralling cosmic rock of the likes of Crossing The Road Material and AKA 47 and 1000 Foot Face, tracks so lulling and gentle they recall Raymond Scott’s 1964 future classic Soothing Sounds For Baby. Sanctuary and salve, it allows space to regroup, or at least blocks out the doom crap for a bit.

“To be honest, that’s exactly how I feel about the record too,” says guitarist and sometime vocalist Stuart Braithwaite.

“The period in which we made it was really, really grim. The post-Brexit, pre-Trump period ... amid all this real horror it felt to me personally that the record, this music, was what we were doing to not think about that other stuff.”

Recorded in Dave Fridmann’s Tarbox Road studios in upstate New York during the final months of last year, making the record, Braithwaite says, felt “like we were in this womb”.

When they emerged in January for the US leg of touring Atomic, the hefty soundtrack written for Mark Cousins’s film about the nuclear age, it’s a wonder they didn’t crawl straight back in. When they played Berkeley on the night before Trump was inaugurated,16 people passed out. In Washington DC, riot vans and armed police filled the streets.

“It felt very much like a country on the edge,” says Braithwaite. “From the cosy atmosphere of making our record out in the woods, suddenly we were in this horrible real world where people were terrified about Trump and about nuclear war.

‘‘Hopefully he’ll be this awful skid mark on history, and some quite entertaining films will be made about it and that will be it.” And if not, nothing focuses the mind like the ultimate deadline. Silver linings and all, at least Mogwai will have left a corker to eternity.

“If they’re going to blow us up, this might be the last thing we ever do. At least when the aliens sort through the rubble they can say: ‘Well, this civilisation at least had something good going for it,’” he laughs.

What also helped make Every Country’s Sun the rock-dominated record it is was that a clutch of more ambient tracks the band had written went on to feature on the soundtrack to Before The Flood, Leonardo Di Caprio’s documentary about climate change. But even when it’s not blistering, pistons-firing rock, what grabs about Every Country’s Sun is its sheer expanse. Mirroring Atomic’s planetary heft, everything here sounds huge.

“I think a lot of that is to do with Dave’s sound. He likes making the sound as big as he can,” says Braithwaite before laughing again. “The songs we just cobbled together. But yes, it has a lot of scale to it.”


Avant-garde but accessible ... 20 years of Mogwai revisited


It was the first time Mogwai have worked with Fridmann since 2001’s Rock Action. It’s now 22 years since the band formed – around the age they were when they last worked at Tarbox.

“When we went back, it didn’t feel as if it had been a long time,” Braithwaite says. “I think we have a good relationship with him, and that he finds us quite easy to work with. And we have a lot of faith in him. He was laughing at our diet because before all we ate were chicken wings and pizza, and now we eat vegetables and stuff like that. It’s like we’re slightly more adult than we were then.”

When the band play Glasgow’s Hydro on December 16, it will be the final night of a 42-date tour with Sacred Paws, the afrobeat-inspired duo nurtured on Mogwai’s Rock Action label, just as Chemikal Underground supported the then young team in their early days.

“When I found out that Sacred Paws had won the Say Award, I was in a hotel room in Italy dancing about,” says Braithwaite, before reflecting on past years.

“Sometimes when you’ve got to get up for a flight at five in the morning, yeah, it can feel you really have been doing it for 22 years. But other than the general physical toll, things have gotten way easier. Things that I used to find hard, like writing music, feel easier. As you get older, I think you make it easier to just get along with people and to work with them. Some of the things I used to worry about now make me laugh. Not that I was ever particularly bothered about what other people thought, but now I definitely don’t, not even in the slightest.”

Mogwai play the SSE Hydro, Glasgow on December 16, 6.30pm, £36. Tickets from: bit.ly/MogwaiHydro