Falkirk’s Malcolm Middleton, formerly one half of Arab Strap, has as a solo musician become a voice of sparkling unpredictability, unafraid of touching on his own dark side. He will be touring extensively in Europe this autumn with The Pictish Trail (more later this week) and recently spoke with Matthew Young at the Homegame Festival in Anstruther. Interview and tour dates below.
Malcolm Middleton Interview from Homegame 2009
At this year’s amazing Homegame Festival, run by our DIY pals at the Fence Collective (who have been incredibly helpful in the start up of Song, by Toad Records), I had the chance for a bit of an interview with Scottish indie hero Malcolm Middleton.
Neil from Meursault, who is a longstanding fan, conducted most of the interview itself, and we teamed up with Andy from the new Edinburgh live session showcase Off the Beaten Tracks, who shot a couple of session videos at the same time. You’ll have to go to their site to see the session videos, but it’s well worth the visit as they have stuff from Team Turnip and Come On Gang already up, with Slow Club, Meursault, Randan Discotheque and, I think, Found all to be added in the coming weeks.
The interview itself was really nice, as can be seen in the video above. Malcolm himself has a reputation for being a miserable bastard, and I have to confess that made me a little apprehensive about talking to him. I’m still new to interviewing people and, whilst it’s piss-easy when things are going well, turning things around when they are going badly is something of a skill, and one which I am yet to come anything close to mastering.
My fears turned out to be silly, fortunately, as whilst he did come across as very shy and reserved, Malcolm was enormously cooperative and helpful. He genuinely did seem like an incredibly nice man, and though I’m sure he must have a difficult side, as we all do, there was no sign of it at Homegame.
He was very frank as well, saying that he’d noticed a slight change in the atmosphere from the first Homegames, something he attributed to the large number of ‘industry’ people who were now in attendance – A&R scouts looking for the next big thing, apparently.
There is definitely a danger, as the festival becomes more popular and well-known, that some of its best characteristics will be eroded. It’s a holiday for the musicians at the moment, but this year the Guardian (here too, and pics) and the BBC were both present, as well as both ourselves, and DC from The Waiting Room. Much more of this and the festival is in slight danger of becoming just another working lunch for musicians, which might reduce their generally drunken and carefree mingling, which is one of the highlights of Homegame. From Malcolm’s reaction to this suggestion, I infer that whilst it isn’t a problem at the moment, he is aware that it might become one in future. Nothing to worry about just yet though.
I also learned a little more about the benefits of being an experienced interviewer, as well. People like Malcolm Middleton are experienced interviewees, and therefore generous with chat and able to keep an interview rolling. He’s still a fairly introverted man however, and I definitely feel that it might be my third or fourth interview with the guy before I start to get to the stage where I can confidently ask him more intrusive questions without feeling like I’m being offensive, and where he might trust me enough to actually answer them. Virtually all musicians have an element of this, and in as much as any arse can write a blog and get access enough to publish interviews like this one, I am gaining more and more respect for the really good interviewers every time I stumble through one myself.