Mogwai Fight To Save Glasgow Stone Circle
, July 3rd, 2013 14:00
The band's Stuart Braithwaite tells us why he's putting on a concert to save the city's Sighthill Stone Circle
Later this month, Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite will be co-hosting a concert to raise awareness of Glasgow's Sighthill Stone Circle, which is currently under threat of destruction by the city council.
The circle is in an area earmarked for a £250 million redevelopment, which may be brought forward if the city’s bid to host the 2018 Youth Olympic Games is successful, that Glasgow are adamant will go ahead, meaning that the stones would be removed.
The gig, which will take place on July 27 at the city’s Platform venue and features Braithwaite, Aidan Moffat, Eugene Kelly, Emma Pollock, RM Hubbert, Remember Remember and special guests The Twilight Sad on the bill, is part of a wider campaign spearheaded by the writer and academic Duncan Lunan, the designer of the circle and co-host of the concert.
The monument was the first astronomically-aligned stone circle to be built for 3,500 years when it was begun in 1979, with Stuart's late father John acting as the technical supervisor on the project. Despite receiving funding from the government’s Jobs Creation Scheme and the help of a Royal Navy helicopter to lift the stones from Kilsyth quarry and set them in place, the project was stopped short of completion by the Thatcher government a year later, meaning that plans for signposting the site were abandoned.
Stuart Braithwaite: Well, I mean I think that the main objective is to just get the story out about the stones as much as possible and to keep pressure on the council over their position, as the decision as to whether they remain or whether they destroy them, is still to be made. So I guess because quite a lot of people in the music community feel quite passionately about it, not just me because I've got the personal connection with my dad, just people who didn't even know about it getting in touch and seeing what they could do to help, so it just seemed the logical thing to do.
So it's not definite that they will be destroyed?
SB: It's not definite, but at the moment I'd say it's looking more bad than good, so the more pressure we can put on the council and just let them know actually do care about this. Also, lots of people from the astronomical world, pagans, druids, people that just really like the space, the story of it - they mean a lot to a lot of people, so it's just good to get the message out there.
Does it hold a lot of personal significance for you?
SB: Yeah, it does, it definitely does. My dad was really proud of what he did, he really loved Glasgow and he loved the weirdness of Glasgow and I think that any chipping away of interest or weird stuff would have really appalled him. So, yeah, that's one of the main reasons I'm involved, but I also just don't like cool stuff getting knocked down; it's a sad thing that happens all too often.
Do you think that's why your dad made the circle in the first place?
SB: It was a challenge! It would have been a big challenge as well. I think there was a myriad of reasons: it was also started as a programme to help the unemployed, which would have been close to his heart. In fact, it was only cancelled by the Thatcher government in 1980; the stones aren't actually complete, so to be honest, I think if anything should happen to them, it should be getting completed and being promoted properly - there isn't even a sign up to where they are at the moment. So I'm hoping this goes full circle, and end's up being something that draws positive attention to the story and also maybe cements the position, rather than just stops them from being taken away.
Are you surprised that the council's made this decision?
SB: Not really to be honest. I think it's pretty sad - it's a Labour council. Margaret Thatcher actually named this project specifically as the kind of thing they should not be spending money on, so it almost seems like the worst thing to do is to obey the wishes of Scotland's most hated woman! I think, if anything, it's disappointing.
An RAF Sea King helicopter lifts in one of the stones
What have you got planned for your set at the concert?
SB: Songs, I suppose! I do gigs on my own every once in a while, I'll do a few of the Mogwai songs, the ones that have words, and a few covers. I'll worry about it closer to the time, but I'm quite looking forward to it.
It’s a really good line-up you’ve got for the concert - how did you assemble it?
SB: A couple of people approached me, and we asked some people too, and the response was amazing. I think if it hadn't been July and there hadn't been a lot of festivals on, it could have been even better, because a lot of people wanted to play, but they just simply weren't in the country. I think it's really good, I'm really pleased, quite heartened by the response.
What are you and Mogwai up to at the moment?
SB: We are finishing writing our new record, which we are going to start recording in August and we're rehearsing the Zidane songs for these concerts next month.
Can you say anything about what the album will sound like?
SB: It could go in a million ways, we've just got tons of songs; we're just going to get together and play them and see how they turn out, they can just end up completely different from the start [laughs]! Depends what kind of mood we're in when we're recording, I suppose. They're written but there's also a lot of them, we've probably got about thirty songs. I'm hoping there's only going to be ten at the end - I don't want any of this double-CD nonsense!