Spaceships Over Glasgow by Stuart Braithwaite — A Punk Noir Book Review by Scott Cumming @tummidge

Punk Noir Magazine

Until recently, Stuart Barithwaite probably sat at number one on the list of rock stars I love and have seen in the wild, but not had the temerity to speak to. I saw him in Forbidden Planet in Glasgow at the till as I purchased another volume of Scott Pilgrim for my train journey home.

His autobiography has confirmed for me that I had nothing to fear as he is still someone who views the music world through the eyes of a fan when it comes to his own heroes and appears never afraid to introduce himself. The supposed seriousness of their music probably put the fear in me too, but another myth dispelled in the book is how serious musicians and bands are probably the hardest partiers and so it would seem with Mogwai.

The book tracks an ordinary life lived in rock and roll as Braithwaite indulges in youthful antics with his love of music sitting at the forefront of his life and education written off. The ascent of Mogwai happens quickly with the members of the band simultaneously enjoying it, even too much at times and being too in the moment to enjoy it properly.

Following on from there, we have the inevitable crossroads of growing up and as the book comes to its conclusion, life overtakes things more and more as Braithwaite deals with despair and tragedy.

Few rock autobiographies I’ve read have had me living in the agony and ecstasy of a life with the latter part of the book bringing forth genuine emotion. There’s a down to earthness about this book in which the author isn’t afraid to point out his flaws and regrets throughout the years and isn’t just a mere celebration of the fame he’s found at the end of a guitar.

I have puttered away at a couple of guitars down the years and marvel at how musicians can make the noise that they do and in some ways even though he’s been able to make amazing music himself Braithwaite marvels at the bands who made him who he is even as he finds himself sharing the same stages as them.

There’s great stories featuring venues I’ve been to in Scotland, which perhaps made it easier to envision his life watching bands and then finding himself playing the same venues. Plus I found myself playing Mogwai songs in my head as I was reading.

All in all, this is everything you could want from a rock bio with Braithwaite taking us through the magical teenage period of discovery beautifully before it quickly segues into being in his own band and the highs and lows that come with becoming a proper full time band and the temptations and chaos that arise from such a life.

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