Band of the week /// The Mirror Trap

The Mirror Trap

Dundee collective The Mirror Trap are Scotland’s best kept secret. Drawing inspirations from a lot of various genres, the musicians mingle  them into a sound of their own best described as rock ‘n’ roll with attitude. Don’t try to pin them down – The Mirror Trap are too unique for that. The band started in 2009 and 2011 saw the release of their debut album ‘The Last Great Melodrama’ – a very diverse, bold record. It was followed by 2012’s EP ‘The Visible Hand’, which uncovered even more of the band’s stormy potential. 

This passionate approach to making music earned The Mirror Trap a notable appearance at T In The Park 2012 and later support slots with Placebo, whose very own Brian Molko was spotted at one of The Mirror Trap’s shows in Dundee enjoying the band’s music. 

Now The Mirror Trap are preparing to unleash their sophomore album ‘Stay Young’ and this release promises to be really big. The band’s vocalist Gary Moore talks inspiration, albums, music influences, Placebo and a lot of other things.

On the band’s beginnings

I have lived near our drummer Paul since I was around four years old. We went through school together, but never really considered music to be something we could do until our late teens. We met our guitarist Mike when we started college and decided to form a band. There was a guy, also called Paul, that used to hang around all of the good gigs in Dundee looking like rock n roll star, we heard he could play guitar, so we thought we should ask him to join the gang.

On becoming a five-piece

We played together as a four piece for a few years, but decided at the start of 2013 that we needed another member to complete the band, so asked our friend Ben to come and play bass, leaving me to sing and dance around. Becoming a five-piece has been amazing for the band. In terms of the music we make, and how we perform it. Back when I used to sing and play bass at the same time I always felt like a bit of a frustrated front-man in waiting. I wanted to completely lose myself to the songs, but found I was always restricted by having to be a part of the music making. I’ve always idolized the likes of Iggy Pop, Ian Curtis, Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey. Now I get the chance to dance around a bit and cause as much chaos as possible. I’ve never really had any desire to be a musician, I learned enough musical skill to write songs and get by, but that was it really. Ben is a proper musician and his input has been great for the way the songs are composed and played live.

On ‘The Last Great Melodrama’ and ‘The Visible Hand’

Looking back on our previous releases I am still quite happy, both the album and EP are a bit crazy, but in a good way. We are all massive music fans, and take influence from a lot of genres and styles, we hadn’t really figured out how to mould them into our own sound on the first album so it kind of jumps around all over the place, one song would be quite happy and pop-tastic, then the next would be a really dark goth song, some songs were really heavy, then others would be quite light. We have spent a lot of time figuring out how to blend our influences more on the new album, so it sounds like a more consistent piece of work.

On the forthcoming album ‘Stay Young’

‘Stay Young’ was finished in the summer, so we’ve spent the last few months mixing and mastering it, trying to make it sound as huge as possible. I think we’ve got it to a good point now and can’t wait to get it out into the public domain. We must have been listening to a lot of New York bands around the time of writing the album, I think there is definite hints of New York Dolls, Interpol, Blondie, Talking Heads and other classic bands from that city.

The title of the album fits with a lot of the subject matter in the songs. I guess I got to a point in life when I realized that I would no longer be considered “young” in many aspects of society. When you reach your mid-twenties there are a lot of external expectations that start to fall upon you, you are no longer seen as a care-free child. This sometimes fills me with fear and dread. I started to notice that so much in the modern world seems to be whispering “Stay Young” in our ear, TV shows, magazines, advertisements, social media etc, all point to one horrible truth, that you have to be young forever, or people wont be interested in you, no one will want to have sex with you, jobs will always go to the younger guy, you are culturally irrelevant. Obviously this is a bit of an over-reaction, but it still got to me.

On inspirations

It might sound a bit silly but life itself is the best source of inspiration, every aspect of it. There are times when a song will be written because of collective mood or feeling. If we’ve all had a late night and are feeling a little tender when we practice a song might come together that embodies that mood, a little more laid back and lazy. Equally, if some sort of argument has flared up in practice and we are all a little tense then that will show through in the music we write. If a new band or album excites us all then often it will creep into the music. It is kind of the same when we all get into certain films and TV shows. I remember we went though a period of writing really bad “classic rock” songs when we were all watching Sons of Anarchy on TV.

On Placebo

Playing with Placebo has been an incredible experience. We have all been fans of the band since we were young, they are giants of rock n roll, so getting to be close to them and see how things work for such a massive band has been educational to say the least. The fact that they seem to have some kind of interest in our band blows my mind. I had also never really known much about online forums and communities until after our first show with Placebo, but seeing how their worldwide network of fans communicate and interact really stunned me. There are so many negative aspects to the internet and the boom of social media, but this sort of thing shows that it can be used as an incredible tool to bring like-minded people together across continents. I have become a real online fan-boy.The fact that a band can have that sort of effect is amazing.

On music influences

Bands have done things on their own terms like The Velvet Underground, The Smiths and Joy Division are a massive influence on us. Bands that people really believe in. And bands such as Queens of The Stone Age and Radiohead that put on amazing live shows.

For me personally, as much as I wouldn’t say they are my biggest musical influence, The Strokes mean a lot. I would never have thought about actually playing in a band until I encountered The Strokes. They made being a bit of a geek really really cool! I was a tall, skinny and awkward teen, suddenly I could put on a blazer and some baseball boots and I was one of them.

On reading

A few of us in the band are real book junkies. I want to read everything of worth that has ever been written, good books help to explain our own lives and feelings in a detail we couldn’t imagine. We can get a little closer to the meaning of life by reading good books.

My favorite book is probably Age Of Reason by Jean Paul Sartre. Reading Sartre always makes me question everything, he always goes so deep into the way we act as people, and the reasons we do things, it’s almost impossible to read his books passively. I’m not exactly sure why, but Age Of Reason has always been my favorite.

On the main highlight of the band’s career

T in The Park is our local music festival, we have been attending it for years, I’ve seen some of my all time favorite bands play there, including the Pixies and Echo and The Bunnymen, so getting asked to play at the festival last summer was a really proud moment for us all. We were in a small new bands tent, it was an incredible gig, and it made me quite desperate to play again, on a bigger stage, and to keep playing there right up until we get to headline the whole event!

On feeling and perceiving music

I would just like people to have their own personal experience when the hear our music. There is often a pre-concieved idea of how a band should be enjoyed, and people have to look and behave in accordance to that idea. You go to metal gigs to mosh and be angry, you bounce along to indie bands, stand quietly and admire critically acclaimed bands, and you dance in nightclubs. I don’t want our music to be so strict, I want everyone to just enjoy it for what it is to them. We have had trouble getting interest in our band because we don’t really sit easily in one genre, the people with the power don’t know how to market or pigeon-hole us, so they often just ignore us because we can’t be billed as… “the next (enter successful band here)”. I just want people to feel something, any genuine emotion that they have come to themselves without being told to by some third party.

On standing out

We insist on always being honest and very open in everything we do, from the lyrics in our songs, to the way we play them and the way we conduct ourselves publicly (online etc). So many bands seem like corporate entities, with slick advertising campaigns, fitting very neatly into a specific genre and never speaking up or offending anyone. The fear of standing out and alienating any potential sales markets can warp and corrupt the output of a band. We have big mouths, we can annoy people at times, I’ve been called a pretentious fool on more than one occasion, but I am ok with that, I would rather give an honest account of myself. I think it is the only way you can create an honest connection with people. I think it was Kurt Cobain that said he would rather be hated for who he is, than loved for being something he’s not. A good statement to live by. We take our music very seriously, but don’t take ourselves that seriously, we know we are flawed and foolish, this comes across in our live shows. We want to give people the opportunity to abandon themselves and have fun. Real life can be really dull and claustrophobic, we want our shows to be a sweaty half hour window where people can release themselves, giving us and the audience a little freedom.

On the band’s philosophy

We just want to get through this scary life in the best way we can, and enjoy the process. There are so many things in life that push us all down as people and force to act and behave in a certain way, I just want our band to be about freedom and enjoyment. The songs need to be as honest as possible, that is basis on which we can go forward, sometimes they might seem a little bleak, but often the playing of the songs is an escape, and the perfect release from the bad times.

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