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Boys to Men

The Mirror Trap Come of Age (Words and images by David P Scott)

By • Nov 20th, 2014 • Category: features

There comes a point in the life of every creative practitioner where a decision has to be made on the future of their art. For some, economic realities and responsibilities dictate that their creativity must remain a hobby. For others, regardless of the potential impact on their personal lives, anything but fully committing to their chosen discipline is not an option.

The Mirror Trap have until recently managed to avoid this dilemma by finding time for day jobs in amongst their musical commitments. This balancing act will not last much longer however, with plans for 2015 that necessitate the Dundee quintet give up whatever financial security their minimum wage employment currently provides and risk penury for a life of rock and roll.

Reaching this point has been a slow climb. The release of their debut album ‘The Last Great Melodrama’ in 2011, ‘The Visible Hand EP’ in 2012 and second album ‘Stay Young’ in February this year has built the band a loyal following but not the breakthrough they were hoping for. “I don’t think anyone had anything negative to say. You just want to be spoken about more whether it be negative or not” explains guitarist Paul Markie. “Like an attention seeking child!” laughs singer Gary Moore, “Someone just say something! Stop ignoring me! I have an ego!”

Issues in reaching a wider audience can in part be put down to their lack of a PR budget. “We’re slightly cynical about it, paying however many thousands of pounds to someone to do a two month campaign” muses Moore. “Once that two month campaign has run out what happens next? I think with a lot of people we (know) literally nothing happens next.” Asked how they surpass this he jokes, “Try and get people to pay for it for us I think is the name of the game. There are things going on at the moment that are completely mental that have come about just because we’ve spoken to people and got our faces in places and befriended certain people.” This back to basics approach to the business of being in a band has toughened their resolve. “We’re more determined than ever” states Markie, “It’s all or nothing.”

According to bassist Ben Doherty, the band remain happy with how ‘Stay Young turned out but are keen to move on to pastures new. “I think it’s good, I think they are good tunes but it’s given us an indication of what we want to do next. We’ve done that, now it’s time to move onto something else.” Having collected various instruments and bits of gear over the years, they now find themselves well equipped to realise and refine the sound they have in mind when writing, something they had struggled with previously. This has produced a positive mindset and a wealth of inspiration that has “Snowballed” says Moore. “It’s got more personal though I’ve certainly not calmed down in any way” he continues. “I think now that I’ve realised I’m never going to become a novelist, I should probably start writing songs with a bit of story to them. I (still) like to swear a lot and fit in as many unnecessary references as possible but there’s usually a story behind it now as opposed to me just ranting.” The new material is “more thought out and structured” declares Doherty with Markie revealing, “Every song has had a lot of time and care (spent) on it.”

Following the release of ‘Stay Young’, fan and long time supporter Brain Molko invited the band to open for Placebo on an eight date tour of Russia. While having previously occupied this slot at shows in Edinburgh and Leeds, the tour marked a step up in terms of scale and exposure. The response the band received exceeded everyone’s expectations with the Russian fans displaying an intensity they were not used to. As Moore recalls, “In the UK people stand and watch you with their arms folded. Then they’ll maybe go home, research you look at some reviews and then maybe a week later they’ll be like “Yes, I’ve decided I like that band”. In Russia we always started with American Dreams and as soon as the first bit hit, where the drums kick in and the song takes off, it took them thirty seconds to go “OK, I’m there” and then everyone went ape shit. It was an instant connection.” Attempting to explain why things went so well Moore adds, “I like Russian novels and films as it’s always heart on sleeve, everyone (is) a little unhinged and mental. The feedback I got from people was that we looked like we were playing (as if) our lives depended on it. They could see there was a definite passion and honesty.” Asked what they took from this experience they answer, almost in unison, “Swagger”.

“It was our first time playing in a stadium and I didn’t feel we were out of place. I thought we did a really good job” remarks Markie. “Russia was intimidating but now we know we can handle it” agrees Doherty. Moore goes further disclosing, ” Every gig since, as much as we’ve never been retiring wall flowers at gigs generally, the bigger ones, as much as you’d try and give it your all there was obviously a little bit of being caught in the headlights. Now that’s gone. We’ve morphed into a different kind of monster I think, just from getting that injection of confidence. We always had the ability to play songs and play them well live (but) maybe we were holding back a little.”

Following Russia the band supported Placebo again at the iTunes Festival in London. Alongside an impressive haul of “Middle-class treats” as Moore puts it, the show saw them leave with no doubts as to where their future lay. The recent announcement of a four week UK tour with Placebo next year has confirmed this belief but in turn upset their uneasy equilibrium thus far. As Moore reports, “We’re all standing with one foot off a cliff just waiting to fucking perish. For me personally I’ll have to hand in my notice before the tour because I wont get time off. After that it’s going to be a case of hoping we getting enough gigs to justify not getting another job.”

Their commitment however hasn’t gone unnoticed and the band are now working with Dave Mclean of Riverman Management (Placebo, Wild Beasts) on plans to release an EP of new and reworked material in January with a third album following later in the year. How successful they are at sustaining themselves solely from music remains to be seen but it can not be denied that a change has occurred deep within The Mirror Trap. Summing up their Russian adventure Moore intones melodramatically in the manner of a TV announcer, “They sent five boys to Siberia and five men came back.”

6 Responses »

  1. RT @isthismusic: Feature: Boys to Men -The Mirror Trap Come of Age – @themirrortrap

  2. so when the mirror trap said next year was gonna be exciting they weren’t joking, so ready for january

  3. Boys To Men @themirrortrap come of age! @isthismusic

  4. READY, STEADY, GO! @themirrortrap💥
    @DavidPeterScott’s THE MIRROR TRAP interview @isthismusic

  5. RT @themirrortrap: A lovely TMT article from Is This Music…

  6. Last week I interviewed @themirrortrap in Dundee for @isthismusic. Read all about it here: