Dazed and Confused
Macrocosmica - interview
In a world where front men are mean and moody, or suave and sophisticated Macrocosmica's Brendan O'Hare does the unthinkable. He cracks bad jokes in between songs. He makes self-deprecating comments about his "pigeon chest". He gets drunk and falls over. And, in his own words, he shamelessly "rocks out".
O'Hare's gangly limbs, ginger locks and Glaswegian lilt will be familiar to fans of his former projects: Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub and Telstar Ponies. But listeners lured to Macrocosmica by his sterling pop pedigree should expect the unexpected.
Ear-splitting rock symphonies splattered with hardcore beats - what the band itself terms "car wreck" music. O'Hare explains he always fancied probing the meatier edge of the guitar wedge: "This is the sort of stuff that I always wanted to do. It's quite heavy. I always wanted a big sound."
The "Krautrock" tag has been fashionably superglued on, although O'Hare himself suspects a better label is plain "hard rock". All the same, Germanic influences are bubbling undercover somewhere, with O'Hare's spare time spent spinning on Can, Faust, Harmonia - and other more obscure acts: "I've been listening to this band called the Cosmic Couriers who had this great record called "Tarot". This mad gypsy called Walter Wegmullen from the Swiss mountains talks over the top in German about the 22 arcana," he enthuses. O'Hare's other-worldly curiosity doesn't end with musical mysticism. The name Macrocosmica is Latin for the "the universe", while the title of their album Ad Astra translates as "to the stars". "We've been starting to think about taking some Latin text books on tour," he jokes.
The band's cosmic offset the general pre-millenium angst. "It's good fun thinking about not being on this planet," he explains. "Looking at the stars is like realism-escapism - if you stare at them long enough you feel you're there even though they're a million light years away, but," he continues, "I think coming into the millenium is going to be a huge let-down. You're still going to have to do the dishes the next day."
Macrocosmica was spawned almost two years ago. But it wasn't until early 1997, that O'Hare, still in Mogwai at the time, realised he was splitting his affections, and joined full time as guitarist and vocalist. Members include co-guitarist and vocalist Gavin Laird (also ex-Telstar), drummer Russell McEwan and bassist Cerwyss Ower. Together they work and write as a team, sparring violent riffs off each other in chilly Glaswegian rehearsal rooms.
While 1997 was what O'Hare terms a "stop-start year" ("It's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, to use a crap cliche - but things are looking up") the Macros recently toured with fellow Glaswegians, lo-fi hot stuff Arab Strap, recorded some Peel sessions, and released Ad Astra on God Bless Records - the new label run by ex-Creation and Fire Records supremo David E Barker. In between bouts of creativity, drinking cups of tea and aimlessly squinting at dodgy TV quiz shows (Fifteen to One anyone?) are high on O'Hare's agenda. "To other people it looks like you're sitting around doing nothing but it's an important part of the job. You need time to think to be able to pick up the guitar and write."
O'Hare realises some regard him as a pop hot potato, leap-frogging from band to band. Others stubbornly stamp him merely as ex-Teenage Fanclub - bridges were temporarily burnt when he was asked to leave the Club, but any grievances are now rooted in the past. He says, "After a while you feel "Fuck there's only so long you can hold a grudge" because you've always got new grudges coming along, do you know what I mean?"
"When I went to see Teenage Fanclub on stage in Manchester they got me to come up and play on the last song. It was total Spinal Tap."
The Tap analogy may not end there. "Russell says he wants to do 350 gigs in the coming year," warns O'Hare, conjuring up horrific visions of motorway madness. So the next time you hear heavy rock pumping out of a battered minibus somewhere along the M1, it's not the local Hells Angels' rotary club day trip, but more likely O'Hare and co head-moshing along inside. As the man says, "It's good to pound out on tour on the motorway with some Black Sabbath." Rock on.