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Baker's Dozen

Summer 13: Malcolm Middleton's Favourite Albums
Nicola Meighan , July 13th, 2016 08:42

Following the release of his sixth album, Summer Of '13, and before Arab Strap play their anniversary gigs later this year, the musician talks Nicola Meighan through the records that have had the biggest effect on him


Papa M – Live From A Shark Cage
This record, to me, stands out well above most other things [David Pajo]'s done – Slint and whatever – apart from that wee album of acoustic songs he did, the one about pissing all over his friends – do you know that one? [Papa M Sings from 2001] That's the first time I heard him sing I think. You know, I'm just looking at my list as we're going through it, and it's quite funny – there's a glaring omission of almost all of the 1990s! I think it's one of those things: it's too soon. I'm not ready to talk about grunge. I'm not ready to talk about Ned's Atomic Dustbin.

Anyway, Live From A Shark Cage stands out. I wasn't actually a big Slint fan. Aidan [Moffat]'s a massive Slint fan and he always tried to get me into them when we were in Arab Strap but I could never find a way in somehow. When I heard this record though, I listened to it to death. It's hard to describe the album because it's obtuse guitar noodling but it's really enjoyable to listen to, and there's good, quite modern sounding electronic elements too. But it's not background music. It's a weird one. Maybe that's why I like it, because I can't pin it down.

But I couldn't get into Slint. Aidan loved Slint, and Palace, and Smog. I wasn't into any of it at the time. We'd go out clubbing and he'd go home and listen to that stuff, and I'd go home and listen to Alice In Chains. The thing about me and him being in a band together was that I wasn't really playing my influences. And that's probably why we worked. We had massive arguments in the studio because we came from different places, too. Aidan was about minimalism, Steve Albini, DIY and no musicianship. You're not allowed to noodle or play something fancy.

That brings me back to this Papa M record. He's such a virtuoso guitar player, but at absolutely no point are you thinking, this guy's doing wah-wah shapes with his mouth while he's playing, you know? It's really great playing without the bad attitude and posturing.