Grouchy magazine types like to complain about the amount of music they’re sent – the infinite quantity of digital promo links, those daily clumps of CDs squeezed through the letterbox – but surely you’ve got to be a real brat to ignore free vinyl?
I recently received a record with no sleeve simply entitled 1948 – , and shamefully I chucked it on a shelf to collect dust. Turns out it’s the final, vinyl-only album from Aidan Moffat’s L. Pierre project, and that the deliberately unprotected record is in fact “a self-destructive dialogue on the value of music and its new platforms, culture’s cyclical nature, the supposed death of the album.” It’s a lovely record, so that’s me told. Anyway, Aidan Moffat – who’s most famously known by his grubby and poetic anecdotes as the frontman of Arab Strap – is still up for a bit of promo despite this destructive act, and I found the legendary Scotsman to be an excellent sport during this 20 Questions interview.
What book are you currently reading?
I’m actually reading Dracula, because I recently had a trip to Transylvania when I was on a stag do.
Favourite Wu-Tang Clan member?
I haven’t paid attention to any of them in years, but I was certainly a fan of Ol’ Dirty Bastard back in the day.
What was the name of your first ever band?
I think it was Pain. But then we decided that Pain was a bit too silly, so we changed it to Paint.
Worst hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
Finding a hotel in London on a budget in the mid 90s was very difficult. One I remember – I think it was when Arab Strap had their first Peel session – was horrible. And because it was horrible we didn’t feel we had to really take care of it. I remember a member of our band putting his head through a couple of paintings.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
There was one time when Tony Wilson came to see Arab Strap and I shat myself, I couldn’t speak to him. He’s definitely not the most famous person I’ve met, but he’s the most revered to me.
Have you ever been arrested?
A few times when I was young. Nothing particularly bad, just breaching the peace. Swearing at police officers, being drunk in the street, flashing my arse. That sort of thing.
I’m not sure about adolescence, I was probably in my twenties! I was a late bloomer in that respect.
If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play?
Sounds In The Night by Russ Garcia.
What’s your least favourite question that journalists ask you?
I don’t have least favourite, but I remember the worst question I was ever asked. It was simply this: “Lines or dots?” It was such a stupid question, but it’s stayed with me for years. This was in 1997!
So then: lines or dots?
If I had to go for it, I’d probably go for lines.
If you could pick a surrogate grandparent, who would it be?
What would be your desert island drug?
These days I would just stick to alcohol. I’ve reached a point in my life where old faithful does me well. I know where I am, it comforts and it brings joy. It’s the one I will continue to take forever.
I suppose there’s not much point in having an endless amount of ecstasy and nothing to drink with it.
Aye that’s true, you can’t drink the sea water!
Out of all the songs you’ve recorded, which is your least favourite?
There is an Arab Stap song, the title of which is so offensive I can’t even tell you. We were recording our fourth album I think, and Stuart Henderson from [record label] Chemikal Underground came to listen to what we’d been working on. That was the only song we played him, we refused to let him hear any of the real album. This song has been thankfully lost.
What was the first record you ever fell in love with?
The first track was the original Don’t Cry for Me Argentina by Julie Covington, when I was three or four. A couple of years later it was my parents’ copy of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
What’s your favourite drunken snack?
I mentioned the stag do in Romania – in Bucharest they do quite outstanding kebabs. What I like to do when I’m at a hotel like that is to get naked before I eat it as well. I’ll scurry away to my hotel room with my kebab, take my clothes off and enjoy it like that. Keep the pants on like – it’s nothing dirty – I just like to have some air.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I’ve been very lucky – I left school with no qualifications, got a job in a record shop for the five years and then started making music.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do after this interview?
I’m going to a church down the road to see my son perform into a school play.
Describe the worst haircut you’ve ever had…
I had very long hair when I was 18, 19. I used to tie it back out of necessity. Me with a pony tail – I never want to see pictures of that.
What would you want written on your tombstone?
I don’t want a tombstone. I’m very much of the ‘throw me in the forest, and let me feed me to the trees’ attitude. I don’t want anyone to feel they have to look after a rock for me, to attend to this strange obelisk that doesn’t really mean anything. I’d rather be used as fertiliser and put to good use.
Arab Strap appear at Field Day, London, 3 June
1948 – is out now via Melodic