The first trailer for the much-anticipated Mogwai documentary If the Stars Had a Sound has been released – and all the signs are that the film will pack the same emotional punch as the band’s music. Click to watch it below.
Against a montage of images depicting urban Scotland alongside live footage of the Glaswegian post-rockers, a voiceover (which guitarist/vocalist Stuart Braithwaite has attributed to bestselling Scottish novelist Ian Rankin) appears to set the premise of Mogwai as a kind of aural expression of Scottish identity itself.
“Scotland’s always punched above its weight creatively, whether you’re talking about music, writing or art,” the voiceover explains. “Scotland is a country of binaries. You see them everywhere: if you go to Glasgow it’s Celtic or Rangers, West End or East End, then it’s Glasgow or Edinburgh… Jekyll and Hyde, Cain and Abel. Then you’ve got the Scots who are very reticent, quiet and shy, and you’ve got the Scots when they’ve got a drink in them, just wild revelers.
“And all these things are contained in the culture that comes out of that country. And you see it in the art, and you see it in the storytelling, and you see it in the music. I think Mogwai are the best example of that. That dual nature, the warring sides of human nature. The light and the dark are always there, clashing, bouncing off each other in Mogwai’s music.”
If the Stars Had a Sound will premiere at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, this March. The film follows Mogwai’s 25-year career, from cult underground act to acknowledged masters of post-rock, whose blending of delicate melodies and intricate soundscapes with wild thrashouts has won them a devoted – and diverse – following.
As well as their 10 studio albums, they have also scored soundtracks for eight films and TV series, including the acclaimed 2006 movie Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait. In 2021, their most recent LP, As the Love Continues, reached No. 1 on the U.K. album chart and was nominated for the Mercury Prize for album of the year.
The documentary is filmed and directed by Antony Crook and produced by Kyrie McTavish and as well as including rare footage from their mid-1990s beginnings, shows the band writing and rehearsing As the Love Continues in Glasgow during the nationwide Covid lockdown.
Stuart Braithwaite said in a press release, “We’re incredibly excited for people to see Antony’s film If the Stars Had a Sound. It originally started as a short film around leaving Scotland to record in upstate New York in early 2020 but when the pandemic happened that all changed. Both ourselves and Antony persevered with the record and the film throughout the pandemic with the film growing throughout. Antony’s film tells the story of how we all came out the other side. I think he’s made something truly special.”
Director Antony Crook added: “I’ve been lucky to have worked with Mogwai for a long time, and I’ve always been moved and inspired by their music. They’ve created an amazing body of work and their music means so much to so many people. Getting the chance to tell the band's story was a huge honor for me. I wanted to make a film that the band deserve.”
Ahead of the film’s March premiere, Mogwai will be touring Australia and New Zealand in February.