The life of a Scottish indie rock band The Mirror Trap has changed completely since Brian Molko spotted their talent a few years ago. Supporting Placebo on concerts in Europe and on Russian tour, the band has acquired a solid fan base of their own fans, especially in Russia. We met up with Gary Moore, Paul Markie, Paul Reilly, Michael JM and Ben Doherty the day before their first own concert in Moscow to talk about punk music, literature, Russia and their new album “Simulations”.
You guys have already been to Russia when you were on tour with Placebo in 2014. What cities have you been to and what were your impressions?
Oh… Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Ufa, Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Voronezh and Krasnodar. And also, Saint Petersburg and Moscow…
Wow, that’s a lot.
Yes! And everyone is being incredible. When we play in the UK or in Europe, a lot of people that come to the show just stand with their arms crossed. But whenever we play in Russia, everyone just goes crazy, dances, sings and has a good time. So, we always look forward to come and play shows in Russia. Because I think it’s a race of people that we are. When we go to shows, we want to jump around and cause trouble (smiles). So it’s nice to see people at the show that feel the same that we do. Yeah, we always enjoy it.
Nice to hear that. Were you able to see anything new in Moscow this time?
We want to see Red Square. Also, we’ve just seen the Olympic Stadium, and a beautiful church just beside it. I think tonight and tomorrow morning we’ll have some free time and we gonna see things and take some photos.
My next question is to you, Gary. You’ve got a really special connection to Saint Petersburg, right? Tell us more about it.
Yes, I love it! I’ve always loved Fyodor Dostoyevsky, he’s my favorite author. I just enjoy his books and Saint Petersburg. Whenever I read them, I have visions of this beautiful old romantic city, and ever since I’ve read his books, I always wanted to come to Saint Petersburg, live in Saint Petersburg (smiles). So, it’s always scenes of Dostoyevsky books: people on bridges with long jackets, the wind in the air… I’ve always wanted to be in that situation, so I always look forward to be in Saint Petersburg. It’s a lovely place.
So, you had the opportunity to feel like you were a character of Dostoyevsky book.
Yeah, I went for a long walk around the city, I went to the Nevsky Prospect, got some coffee… Love it, awesome. Super.
How did you guys meet Brian Molko?
He actually came to our hometown Dundee. So we got a phone call saying Brian’s management wants to see us play, ‘cause they were interested in our band. We played a gig in Dundee, and after that we met the management. A few months later, they invited us to join them as support to play on a charity event in Leeds and then in London. And that was the first time we probably met Brian. He actually flew to Leeds to watch us play. So, he’d seen us first before we’ve seen him. He was wearing a hat, and we didn’t know it was him. And then, after he left, someone says: oh, Brian Molko is outside. It was cool.
And now you are in Russia. Have you ever counted on international audience and international success?
We never minded it, no. It has been such a surprise to come to Russia. And we are going to Japan soon. Going to these places is something we didn’t ever imagine. It was always like, we write a song, and then play a show, and we never really think beyond. And suddenly all this stuff is happening. It has been a complete surprise. We all like to travel, to see new things, new people. So we all would be happy to go to every single country in the world, meet different cultures and so on.
Are you gonna have your own show in Japan?
Yes, we play in August in Tokyo. We are doing a music festival, and then we have our own concert as well.
Cool. What does the name of your band mean?
It’s from a line in a book by Jean-Paul Sartre, the French novelist. He has a book called “Nausea”, which is all about a man who questions everything in life. He doesn’t know what’s going on, and there’s a scene in the book where he is looking into the mirror. He looks at his own face for so long, and it starts to change colors and shapes, until eventually he spends an hour staring at himself. And I think that’s what he say, that sometimes you get trapped in the mirror, and he calls it the mirror trap. I’ve seen this in the book and was like, “Yes! That’s my time!” (laughs)
You pay big attention to the lyrics of your songs. What is the main message you put into them?
I think some of the songs can be quite negative, angry, and quite cynical. If something is being really annoying, it’s good to put it into a song, to go on the stage and scream and let it all out. But at the same time, I think a lot of our songs are more of a message of being free, a message of love, friendship, happiness. To cure the world with one song (smiles)
How did you get the idea of the video for “New Trance”?
The video was inspired by the myth of the Medusa, the ancient Greek myth of the woman with the snake hear. She looked at you and turned you into stone. There’s a line in the song about iphone being like medusa. People look at it and it becomes stone. We didn’t have enough money to turn people into stone, so in the video we turn iphones into stone which was much cheaper (laughs). The video is based on an idea of people staring at the screens, and the whole world is passing by.
How would you describe your music?
Dark, energetic… Live, anyway. Melodic, control-killing. It always has kind of pop music trick, something that will make you listen to the song again.
You already have a big and passionate fan base in Russia. What was the most crazy fan experience of yours?
We were on the Trans-Siberian Railway coming from shows we’ve done. And there was someone on the train who was a fan of ours, and Michael spoke to him and decided to bring him into our cabin and he was like, oh, nice to be here. And at that moment I was standing in my underwear, almost naked. (laughs) That was a bit crazy.
Your new album just came out. Tell us about it, for those who haven’t listened to it yet. What inspired it?
We went to Thailand to work on it, so that was a completely new experience. What inspired it… We all listen to lots of music all the time, so there are always some ideas coming. This album is definitely heavier, it’s a lot louder, it’s angrier. I’ve been listening to lots of American pop punk bans like Jimmy Eat World. It’s a heavy and melodic pop. And at the same time, I spent maybe a whole year thinking a lot and seeing a lot about the way that social media and technology is changing things, but in a way that no one really notices. For example, there are situations when everyone is looking on his phone. If I was back in time just for 10 years, that would look so strange, but now it’s just completely accepted. So I think, those two things come together: pop punk music and fear of technology.
Gary, as far as I can see, you like to read. Do you get inspiration for your lyrics also from the books you read?
Yes, definitely. I think the authors especially like Sartre, Dostoyevsky, Camus have an idea in a really simplified way. They have everything I could feel in one line. And I’m like: that’s how I should say it. So I think, reading books is a good way to, kind of, condense things down. If I wouldn’t read, I would just be a mess. I think it’s good to read these books to learn how to tell stories properly, how to turn them into a more readable way. I feel like every song is a little story, so there is big influence.