Dundee five piece The Mirror Trap are no shirking violets. Confident, sure of themselves and their sound, and willing to work hard to do things their way. They returned earlier this year with an EP The Invisible Hand, and recently released single American Dreams. Here's lead singer Gary Moore chewin' the fat with us ahead of the bands forthcoming sophomore album.
Hello, how are you?
I am soldiering on. Plate spinning and planning. Trying to figure out how to change the world from a one bedroomed flat in Dundee.
It's the question everyone hates, but could you tell us a little bit about your music and your influences?
Our music is pretty much a mash up of our collected influences, in an extreme sort of way. We've never sat down with a sonic game plan, we just listen to a fuck-ton of music, old and new, then sit in a small room together and see what comes out. We all like things a bit loud, and a bit intense, that's the general theme, then all the quirks and hooks fall into place depending on what each of us has been listening to. At the moment everything we write comes out sounding like Dinosaur Jnr. or The Strokes. But then we just completed a tune that is perhaps the most minimalist and hip-hop thing we've ever done. The early days of writing songs is often like that, we now have to spend time tweaking and fixing until we have something that sounds like us, only better.
What's your song-writing / creative process like?
There is no real strict process to the way we write, we all bring in bits and pieces then work them out together as a band. Sometimes one of us will have an idea that we see as following a particular musical path, but someone else might hear another vibe in it, and want to take it elsewhere. Recently Mikey J came into practice with what he called a Pixies style guitar part, but the chord progression made me think more of Sigur Ros, so from his punk idea we ended up with a massive slow building song. We constantly make live recordings when we are writing, that way I can go away on my own and dream up melodies and words whilst listening back. I've usually got bits of lyrics saved on my phone, or written on the back of receipts and scraps of paper, once I have a melody I can then start weaving them into song form.
Album number two is ready and in the bag, what can we expect to hear and how does it depart from your debut The Last Great Melodrama?
The new album is a lot more focused than the first one. That might sound a little vague, and clichéd but its the only way I can describe it. The first record was a bit mental. We maybe had too many ideas for our own good. How many rock n roll bands choose to put a spoken word song with tribal drums and Kanye-esque auto-tune effects as the first track on their début album? Then follow it up with an Americana style pop-rock song then a jaggy punk tune. We still bring together a bunch of influences but with the new album we have taken a lot more time over creating a solid album that sounds like one band, instead of a some kind of creative explosion in a lunatic asylum. The new album, Stay Young, sounds bigger, and the quality of the song-writing has taken a step forward. I want to write all time classic songs, that are ever lasting and genre crossing, we are not there yet, but this album is a step nearer. It's hard to say much about how Stay Young sounds, there is still no definite genre, but we have come closer to 'The Mirror Trap' sound.
What could we expect to see from a live show?
Anything and everything. Expect five young men playing rock n roll music, out with that anything goes. Bad dancing, guitar power-stances, blood, lots of blood, lipstick, suits that don't fit, and an overhanging threat that something may go wrong. Mikey J has recently taken to wearing no shirt on stage, instead he paints his bare chest with massive ancient Greek symbols. At our last show I discovered I could control the venue lights from the stage, so had some serious fun fucking about with that. The show usually spills off the stage, percussion instruments end up in the hands of the crowd, I slid down a bannister mid-song recently. We just want to have some fun, and be as free as possible. Real life is rubbish, rock 'n' roll should be an escape and break the strict routine of everyday.
What's the creative culture and music community like in Dundee at the moment?
God knows. This is a topic I could go on about for hours and come to no solution. There are really good bands in Dundee just now, more so than at any time I can remember. Dundee had a massive 'scene' after The View broke through, everyone was in a band, every pub wanted to put shows on and people wanted to be involved. But the music was pure balls. Now no one goes to gigs, all the venues are shutting down and Cash Converters is wall to wall with traded in guitars. But the bands that have survived are great, doing whatever they want and doing it on there own terms. Dundee loves to slap itself on the back about its cultural achievements, but I think there is a bit too much elitism in it, its all a bit middle class, there is one cultural quarter which represents a very small section of Dundee. Most of the city is bleak and brutal, but this is swept neatly under the carpet. The reason I think the music scene is in a good place is because it embraces that side of things, in a way that the other arts tend to ignore.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement so far?
Writing good songs. Getting to play at T In The Park. Supporting Placebo. And doing everything ourselves and on our own terms. No one comes to our shows or buys our records and we are generally ignored by all the trend setters and weegie mafia of bloggers and promoters, but we will not be broken. We know what we want to do, and we will do it. We believe in people and freedom and honesty. I have not given up on the hope that people will one day see what we are all about and everything will click into place. Or maybe we will all hold hands and jump to an icey death over the side of the Tay Bridge. Only time will tell.
What have you got planned next?
We have nearly completed a plan for the release of the new album in the new year, so we are now working solidly towards that. There will probably be a single and a few mad videos as well. And if anyone will book us then I hope we can get out and gig across the country as well. All the dates and things will be finalised soon, so keep an eye on the Facebook/Twitter pages.
What other artists (Scottish or not) would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?
90% of the Scottish music that gets written about and thrust into the public consciousness is complete horse shit. I follow as many new music blogs, radio shows and podcasts as I can, and will check out as many new bands as I can, especially the ones that seems to be getting a bit of hype and buzz around them. But so often its just the same tired, whinging blandness. Boring young men in plaid shirts singing about how their Dads never hugged them enough. Or, the new hot Glasgow thing seems to be bands that dress like extras from Grease that spend more time sculpting theirs quiffs than studying that one Cramps record they own. But hell, its not all bad... I really enjoy the Glasgow band Casual Sex, I watched them at GoNorth this year, and heard one of their sessions on BBC 6Muisc. I love them. And Vladimir from Dundee are great. Big, gloomy, loud gothy indie. I also really like Swim Deep, Drenge, Iceage and a bunch of other noisey things just now . I think the new Arcade Fire album is the best album of the year, followed closely by Kanye West and Surfer Blood.
Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?
Thanks for having me! I don't think I've heard a good joke in years. The only jokes I seem to see these days are the horrible ones that surface after every nation tragedy or unsavoury event, and which are best not repeated.
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