MC Magrao, guitarist, driller and typerwritist from Guillemots takes some time out of his busy schedule to chat to The EDGE’s Hayley Taulbut before the release of their upcoming album.
First things first, how are you doing?
I’m really good, everything is going really well. We are really excited for the new record, so we’ve been doing a lot of promo for that, and we have the secret shows coming up too. It’s been interesting; because this is the first time we haven’t had to learn the songs before the shows, so the run up hasn’t been too stressful.
Learn the songs?
[laughs]well, yeah. With every other record we haven’t really recorded it as a band – we sort of did a bit here and a bit there, and then had to rehearse for ages before we could play it live. But this time around, everything was done in one go – we wrote it as a band, not as separate individuals, and that really comes across with the new record.
Speaking of the new record, how are you feeling about it as a whole – how does it relate to previous material, is there an overarching theme?
Well, I think this is the first record we have all been 100% happy with. We know each other as musicians now, so we didn’t really have to compromise. With most bands, they get together in high school and have known each other forever, but we were formed of people who didn’t really know one another, either personally or musically.
But in terms of the record itself, there were a lot of images of space going around. We tend not to use ‘music’ as a reference, we use images and feelings, and how sound makes us feel. This one is particular; we had this idea of floating around in space by yourself, incredibly lost and trying to find your way home. So I guess this one is a little darker than the rest, but it’s also at the same time a lot simpler.
So, how do you envisage this sound affecting the way you make videos – do you see them being dark and cinematic?
Well, the records that become singles aren’t as intense as some of the others. For example, ‘Sometimes I Remember Wrong’ is probably not going to be a single, but I do plan to make a short film for it. It contains a lot of emotion, and a lot of different emotions, with a very strong visual element.
It’s hard to tell, inevitably some people are going to like it, some people aren’t. It was worse with the second record – when we were recording that we were really paranoid, especially because people don’t by records anymore. For an artist point of view, it’s really frustrating, because people buy illegal mp3’s and we can’t afford to make music any more. But with this one, whatever happens we can do another afterward. And we shouldn’t really be thinking about it to be honest – we make music to make us feel good, and if we were doing it for any other reason it would be dishonest.
We were talking a bit before about your ‘secret shows’ – what was the idea behind these?
Well, we haven’t played together for nearly 2 and a half years – Fyfe has been off doing his own thing – and we didn’t really know how to get back on stage. We definitely aren’t ready for a big tour, and after a long break we needed to build ourselves back up as performers. So, the secret shows are a good way into that, and they will a good way of introducing the new record to our fans. Really, it’s all about the fans.
So, do you have full tour after this, or does that depend on the success of the shows you have coming up in April?
[laughs]I don’t know. Maybe. We might have something coming up in August, and we will certainly be doing something in France before the UK, but maybe we should hold back for a while.
Many of our readers may not know, but you play a rather eclectic series of instruments – drills and typewriters for example. How did they come to be part of the sound?
Before I came to England I liked to try a lot of new things. In Brazil I was into a lot of experimental and industrial sounding music and projects – for example we used a giant clothes peg on stage and got lots of different sounds out if it, it was really interesting. And when I say ‘giant’, I mean giant, it was like two and a half metres long or something! So, when I came to England, I responded to an advert from Fyfe for a guitarist, in which I said that I also played the typewriter. His response was just “OK, so when are you going to play the typewriter?” and that’s what we did – we attached it to a mic, and got a great percussive sound.
I don’t like returning to old things – I am very much about forward movement, and once I have done something, I don’t like doing it again. I’d rather have the challenge of something new. I also don’t want to limit myself to just obscure instruments, as I can play mandolin, xylophone, all kinds of stuff. So for this record, I just wanted to play guitar.
And just a few questions to finish up – what music are you listening to at the moment?
Oh, it’s not that new, but I’m really liking Friendly Fires at the moment, I’m listening to them a lot. We saw them on a TV show in France and were like ‘wow’. I am also liking PJ Harvey, and the new Radiohead record, I’m listening to that all the time too. I used to listen to a lot of industrial bands, which had so much noise in it that by the end of it I would feel a bit sick, so I have tried to stay away from that for a while [laughs]
And last but not least, what would you be doing now if you weren’t a musician?
I’d probably try to be a film maker or a photographer. I try to do both in my spare time anyway. I haven’t been able to do much in these last few years, but we do have an exhibition coming up which is gonna be cool. I also like making short films, and that kind of thing, which I just do for myself. It’d be nice to do as a job though!
The Guillemots new album Walk the River is set for release on April 18th 2011