The Skinny Q&A: Aidan Moffat

Having surprised us last month with their first new music in 15 years, Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat tells us what inspires him, who he thinks is the worst and what makes him cry

Feature by Tallah Brash | 13 Oct 2020
  • Aidan Moffat

Where’s your favourite place to visit?
I’m very fond of Blackpool. I went there every summer as a child with my grandparents, and sometimes we’d go with a bigger party of friends and family. I never liked the beach, but I loved the piers and the rides at the Pleasure Beach, and the smell of chips still takes me back there. I love that old kiss-me-quick, saucy postcard, Carry On culture too, and Blackpool’s steeped in that.

What’s your favourite colour?
Pink and black. Sex and death.

Who was your hero growing up?
My grandfather, or Papa, as we called him. We were very close and he was cool as fuck. By the time I came along, he had a bad hip and couldn’t really work, so while my grandma went out to clean hotel rooms he stayed home baking rhubarb from his tiny council garden, which also had lovely yellow roses. He told me he almost killed Hitler, which I believed until I was 13. He was actually an RAF engineer and never saw combat, but he was in the same regiment as Laurence Olivier – that's definitely true, because I've seen the photos.

Whose work inspires you now?
I take bits and pieces from everywhere. I'm very good at reading a book up until the point it gives me an idea then not bothering to finish it – I recently read books about crying and death rituals, for instance, but didn't get to the end because I started writing songs about the subjects and moved on.

What's your favourite food to cook?
I'm a pretty shit cook, so not much at all, I'm afraid. I can do the easy stuff, like salads – my son loves the salsa I make – and I make the occasional tart. Broccoli and stilton's quite good, but it's been a while.

What three people would you invite to a dinner party and what are you cooking?
I detest dinner parties, and thankfully I've managed to avoid them most of my life. I'll meet you in the pub afterwards.

What's your all-time favourite album?
I honestly haven't a clue... But I can tell you that my favourite album this year's been Keeley Forsyth's Debris – if you could wear MP3s out, I'd be on my tenth copy by now.

What’s the worst film you’ve ever seen?
God, there are so many! I absolutely loathed Joker; it's a cynical, contrived, shallow turd. But then there's also Avatar, with its shite aliens and magical trees. When I saw that at the cinema, there was a boy sat next to me playing on his Nintendo DS – normally I'd be raging but I really, really envied him. Utter shit.

What book would you take to a protracted period of government-enforced isolation?
Only one?! I've no idea. Maybe a B.S. Johnson one, I love him. Or I recently read The White Hotel by D.M. Thomas and I definitely want to read it again. Then again, I never finished Ulysses, so I should probably tackle that again.

Who's the worst?
Johnson, Gove, Rees-Mogg, Hancock, Farage, Hartley-Brewer, and all the other right-wing Tory pricks that continue to try and flame the embers of empire and make Britain a shithole global laughing stock. If you’re not angry these days, I can only assume you’re not paying attention.

When did you last cry?
I cry all the time, usually after a drink while watching emotional telly – but only ever on my own. Not because I’m trying to hide, it’s just that it’s usually when everyone else is asleep. The last time was probably the end of that Katherine Ryan Netflix show, The Duchess. That was lovely.

What are you most scared of?
I don't mean this in a macho, hardman kind of way, but I honestly can't think of anything. I had some therapy about ten years ago, and I absolutely hated it, but the one thing I took away from it was the illusion of control. So I'm very much of the 'life is chaos' mindset now, and I don't really worry about things that haven't happened yet. As Mark E. Smith used to sing: 'Life just bounces'.

When did you last vomit?
I don't get drunk enough to puke these days – it's not a very dignified look for a dad, is it? And I absolutely hate being sick, it's horrible.

Tell us a secret?  

Which celebrity could you take in a fight?
These days, not many of them; I’m getting on a bit and I've got two fucked ankles that keep me very out of shape (but nice and cuddly). But with the right celebrity, I’m sure what I lack in physical prowess I could make up for in enthusiasm. Just pick one of the men from the 'Who’s the worst' list above – celebrities are all they are now.

If you could be reincarnated as an animal, which animal would it be?
A cat, definitely. Lying about all day doing fuck all while harbouring a hatred for the human race but still needing the occasional hug from them? Sounds about right!

The Turning of Our Bones by Arab Strap is released on 7" vinyl, 23 Oct via Rock Action