They’re the oldest and loudest nominees on the GIT Award shortlist, yet Mugstar continue to dazzle and frazzle audiences. We were surprised and delighted to be nominated, they tell Getintothis’ Orla Foster.
Picture the scene. You’re locked in the centre of a baking-hot room, the air so thick with distortion you have to use sign language to communicate with the people beside you.
Straight ahead, a blockade of listeners rock resolutely back and forth, their hair tumbling forwards, completely taken in by a mesmeric synthesis of guitar, organ, feedback and percussion.
Light wheels around the room and ribbons of colour drizzle through the air. Suddenly, even the warm last swig of your Red Stripe slips down your throat with the ease of a pool-side mojito. You’re at a Mugstar show.
As proponents of early prog, kraut, psychedelia and space-rock, Mugstar are an unusual prospect in Liverpool.
During their nine years as a band, their live shows have become a talking point as a fully immersive experience, with dizzying visuals to accompany their decibel-heavy take on blissed-out 70s rock.
You don’t forget seeing them in a hurry. With this in mind, it seemed only fitting that the band should be put forward as nominees for the GIT Award.
Bassist Jason Stoll agrees that the spectacle is a key part of what makes a Mugstar set so special.
‘We always wanted the visuals to make the performance all-encompassing, rather than just pummelling the audience with sound,’ he says.
‘Our songs usually come together fairly organically as we all know each other’s playing style, so we can experiment as we go along, and it’s the same with the visuals.
‘Bob and Sam, who are the projectionists, respond to tempo changes, to ups and downs in each song, meaning that we never know exactly which direction the performance will take. We quite like that approach, it always ends up quite hypnotic.‘
The band have had their fair show of intriguing gigs. Jason remembers a particular show last year in Cadiz.
‘We arrived and there was a little stage set up with palm trees. We thought, that’ll be nice, then caught sight of Hawkwind – who are a massive influence of ours. They introduced themselves and led us into a monastery, where it turned out we were playing.
‘The whole thing was incredible, there was no roof and the bands sounded fantastic.‘
A little like the bombed-out church, then?
‘Well, yeah, except this one also happened to be a prison during the Francoist regime. Unfortunately I don’t think they’ll be having many more gigs there – it’s pretty old now and they don’t want it crumbling mid-show!‘
The band have quite a few projects in the pipeline – their next release will be the soundtrack to their own film, Ad Marginem: a silent black and white sequence, shot among the rolling sands of Hilbre Island and Formby Beach. It meant a departure from their usual approach.
‘Instead of responding to each other spontaneously, we had a series of images in front of us, which gave the music a structure we weren’t used to,’ Jason explains.
In the meantime, being nominated for The GIT Award has come as a welcome accolade.
‘We were quite surprised to be nominated, but it’s fantastic.
‘It’ll be a really good way for Liverpool bands to get some exposure and get noticed, as well as an incentive for loads of people to come together for a great night. We’re really looking forward to it.‘
For a complete look of Mugstar‘s recent releases including the albums Lime, …Sun, Broken… and last year’s split single with US avant-rockers Oneida visit the band’s page here.
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Getintothis on Mugstar.