I GOT my first guitar when I was about 10 or 11 and straight away I totally fell in love with it. I don’t think it was too long after that I pursued my dad relentlessly to get me an electric guitar, which he did – from the Barras. It was nothing too fancy, but it was enough for me to continue my obsession. 

The guitar has been a constant throughout my whole life and of course now that’s what I do – I play guitar in a band. Like a lot of people I got into music through an older sibling – for me it was my big sister who is a huge music fan. Around that time it was bands like The Cure and The Jesus And Mary Chain that I was listening to so they had a big effect. We lived in the countryside too, so there wasn’t much to do. It was good to have something to completely occupy my time.

AROUND the same time I got my guitar I also got a skateboard. It’s something that has stayed with me too. It’s not just skateboarding, it’s something to do with the skateboarding culture. 

When I was younger, skateboard videos also introduced me to a lot of the music that I grew to love and really influenced me – bands like Dinosaur Jr and Black Flag. There’s more to it though. There’s something about the DIY element of skateboard culture.  

Some of the most inspiring people I know in Scotland are involved in the skateboard scene; they just seem to do things for themselves. They get things done without needing to ask permission – there’s something quite organic about it. They refuse to see any limits and that’s why skateboarders manage to utilise architecture for their own uses. It’s a mindset that goes through all facets of life and that’s why you get so many amazing artists and musicians coming out of the world of skateboarding. 

Also, when you’re skateboarding you’re outside, which is always good. And you’re doing something just for the sake of doing it, which I don’t think we do enough of. When you’re out skating everyone’s the same – no-one there will have a £1000 skateboard because there’s no such thing.

I’VE grown up always having dogs around and nothing has changed. Now we have two rescue dogs of our own. 

Dogs are absolutely amazing. Just look at their lives. They can teach us a lot about how to live ours. They are so happy and so content with the absolute basics. They just want to chase a ball and run around.

There was a great quote from Iggy Pop, who said: “Be the person that your dog thinks you are.” If you can think about how adoring they are. Now try and translate that to a person and think how amazing they would be – and how amazing we would have to be to deserve that level of loyalty.

We got Prince from a rescue charity in Ayrshire. Unfortunately the woman wasn’t looking after the dogs well – it was shut down and she ended up going to prison. We got Lyra as a puppy from the SSPCA in Aberdeen. She was from a puppy farm, which we need to do more about.

It’s so important to realise that dogs need homes and anyone thinking about a dog should always consider a rescue.  There are so many myths that rescue dogs are dangerous, but dogs are a reflection of their owners. Some of the fanciest dogs I’ve ever seen have been absolute radges.

THAT seems quite a wide sweep, but I got reading glasses for the first time last year so I’ve been reading more than ever. It’s been such a great escape, particularly this year when everyone has been stuck inside for so long.  
I’ve been reading a lot of Scottish authors and taking recommendations from my mum. She’s a big fan of crime fiction so she’s been recommending people like Liam McIlvanney and Alan Parks. I especially like things that are based in places that I know. The attention to detail in these books is absolutely brilliant. 
I like a mix of non-fiction and fiction. When I read books about musicians I tend to read really quickly, but with fiction I take my time a bit more.


The National: David Bowie is Happening in East Finchley
I’M a huge Bowie fan.  I think the first song I heard was Starman, but that was at a children’s party when we were playing pass the parcel. I remember clearly thinking this song isn’t like the others. It made me feel really weird in a brilliant way. 

Throughout my life his music has meant so much. When Blackstar came out I was obsessed with it, not knowing he would only be with us for another couple of days. When people listened to it on the day of its release, everyone I spoke to was blown away that this could be the work of a 69-year-old man.

I think people were surprised at how much they felt his loss. Sometimes you do get instances where people get carried away when “celebrities”, if you want to call them that, die but with Bowie I think we got the sense that he was one of the good guys.

He used to go and see Franz Ferdinand quite a lot. They’re big pals of ours and they said he was always brilliant – a superb sense of humour, and always really supportive, looking to pass on advice. Also there’s the fact that he covered Iggy Pop’s China Girl primarily to help his friend who was having financial problems. One of the good ones.

The idea of an independent Scotland has been a constant in my life. My parents have always been independence supporters, but for most of my life, it has felt like more of a niche obsession than a movement. 

Unfortunately my dad’s not around anymore so he hasn’t seen that change and what’s happening now. I remember him talking about the polls and saying that when they reached 60%, that would be the right time to go for it. So he would definitely be thinking it was the right time now.

The level of support seems pretty constant now and although in general I feel bad saying this, I do think that the fact that Brexit is going badly can only boost that number in favour of independence. 

Of course Scotland has been sold down the river by Brexit. There has never been any recognition of the amount of people that voted against Brexit here. Brexit is affecting all of us in many different ways but I think that in Scotland it can only make the independence resolve stronger. It’s looking like an exciting time for independence right now.

LIKE most people, I think I’ve taken travel for granted. My wife and I have been watching a TV show called The Serpent on BBC. Apart from it being really good, it’s set in Thailand, which is one of my favourite places on the planet. I cannot wait to get back there – the thought of how beautiful it is, how great the food is, how lovely the people are. The pull to get on a plane and go is so strong. 

Being a musician I’ve been lucky in the amount of travel I’ve been able to do. I’ve seen so many more places than I normally would have done, and I know it’s had a huge effect on my life and my way of thinking.

After Brexit we’ll still be able to visit Europe, but it won’t be the same. Of course it’s going to be a lot more difficult for musicians to tour there as we once did, but just as travellers, we won’t be “in the club” anymore and there will be some restrictions. 

I’m starting to make plans in my head about where I want to go when things open up again. I think that when we can do the things that we can’t do at the moment, we’re going to appreciate them so much more.

LIVE music, both playing and watching, has been such a fundamental part of my life for so long. I’ve spent so much of my life around it that it’s probably the thing that I’ve missed the most during the past year. 

To be able to go and see someone play live at the Barrowlands tonight would be like winning the lottery for me. It’s been so tough and I feel for so many of my friends – not just those who are musicians. 

The National:

You have to remember the effect on promoters, road crew, the venue staff and everyone who works in the industry and relies on it for the living. Whether we work in it or not it’s such an important thing to share.

9 Rock Action records
As a band Mogwai started the Rock Action Records label about 25 years ago to put out our first seven-inch single. Now we’re still putting out our own records, but we’ve also been able to work with acts like The Twilight Sad,  Sacred Paws and Kathryn Joseph.

Having the label has been more than just putting the music out though. It’s about all the people I’ve met through that. They have had a huge effect on my life in so many ways.

I’m also extremely proud that we’ve been able to do this from the beginning. The decision to do that definitely changed my life. For me political independence is importance but so is that artistic independence. 

10 Space
MY dad was a telescope maker, so I’ve always grown up around astronomy and looking at the stars – it’s always been a big love of mine.  

I’m not a scientific person at all, I come from the more romantic point of view. I think it’s incredible that you can look up at night and see these objects that are so many light years away. During the past few months we’ve been able to see Mars – that’s incredible.

I also love science fiction and the thought of the “other”, the thought of what else could be “out there”. Thinking like that has definitely changed my life for the better.  

Looking up also gives us a real grounding in how small we are. If we have problems then it’s helpful to put it in a context of us being so small – existing on this rock, this floating in space.

There’s a real arrogance in humans, thinking how important we are. It’s absolutely bizarre, that idea that we are somehow the most significant thing on this rock and we have more right to be here than anything else.  

When you’re looking to space you just managed to get some kind of idea about just how small we are here.

Mogwai’s 10th studio album As The Love Continues is released on February 19.  Tickets are now available for a premiere performance, filmed and recorded at the Tramway in Glasgow, which will be broadcast at mogwai.scot on Saturday, February 13