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Arab Strap: 20 Songs for 20 Years pt 2

Arab Strap partnership frontman Aidan Moffat

So we’ve heard from Malcolm Middleton. Now the other half of the Arab Strap partnership, frontman Aidan Moffat, tells us about reviving lyrics he wrote twenty years ago and what we can expect from this weekend’s gigs.

“There’s a full set and hopefully we’ll find some requests. We’re going to have a wee box where you can post them and then the idea is we’ll draw it from the box after the main set and hopefully we’ll find some songs we can do acoustically.

“It’s funny going back to these songs. Songs I must have written two years ago I have difficulty remembering the words sometimes but these Arab Strap songs are really ingrained. As soon as we started rehearsing, I was really amazed to see how many I could get through without referring to my book.

“I don’t think that I’ve changed that much when it comes to the feelings behind the lyrics but certainly I’d like to think the writing is a wee bit more sophisticated than it was back then but I suppose it is the sound of youth. I say a lot of things only young people would say. There’s been one or two that I certainly would not write at this age.

“I was still learning about life when I wrote these songs. No one’s going to be a fully functioning mature adult in their early 20s, especially when you are handed this job that is nothing but a carry-on. You cannae expect anybody to be that sensible at a young age when they’ve got such a brilliant job. There’s a few lyrics I’m not necessarily keen on repeating and we’ll see how it goes, I’ll take them as they come. I can hold the microphone out to the crowd to a room of utter silence and let the audience wince for me. It will be the sweary bits or the nasty bits that people remember. I’m sure I’ll be getting a lot of that shouted back at me.

“Also I’m singing it a wee bit differently too. I don’t have the same voice I had twenty years ago. I always had a tune in my mind when we did Arab Strap, I just couldn’t really do it. I’m still not a particularly good singer but I can give you a relatively good idea of the tune. We’ve been rehearsing Here We Go. On the record, I’m just kind of mumbling and I sound miserable and it works because of that but I have to try to unlearn what I’ve learned in the 18 years since I recorded that to try and give it the same mood.

“The music takes you back a bit but it doesn’t sound like we were playing songs that were defined by the time they came out in. You are always in a sense tethered to the era that you came from but I don’t think the songs sound that out of place now.

“I’m surprised at how much I still enjoy the songs and performing them too. Also with an extra ten years since we split up, I feel much more confident and understand the stage a lot more than you used to so in that respect I feel like it’s almost a second chance to do the songs better than we did before. To me, most of them sound much better than we played the last time. It’s starting to sound a bit like a mid-life crisis, isn’t it?

“We don’t have any plans to record or write anything new. I’ve almost finished writing the words for a record I’m doing with RM Hubbert so I’ve got that planned for next year. We might suddenly find a spark and do something else but right now I don’t know, we’ll see.”

Arab Strap play Barrowland on Sat 15th and Sun 16th October. Arab Strap: 20 Songs For 20 Years is out now on Chemikal Underground