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Scotland's Mogwai shortens its sound, extends its reach

Stuart Braithwaite is being reproached for his poor coffee-making skills. ''Apparently I put too much water in the jug," he says in a heavy Scottish accent. ''I can make a very good cup of tea, though. A very good cup of tea."

His band, the intense and dynamic Mogwai, is in Athens, Ga., as the tour for its stunning fifthalbum, ''Mr. Beast," winds north, landing at Avalon tomorrow.Inside a cold, overly air-conditioned club, loud clangs of guitar issue forth as Braithwaite chats on the phone, ruminating about his gritty hometown of Glasgow, talking up American bands, andlamenting the state of the US media.

Q. If there's one word that springs to mind to describe ''Mr. Beast," it's focused.

A. With the last couple of records, we've edited the music, which we've never done before: Draw the line and make some parts not quite so long as before.

Q. Cutting the flab?

A. I think so, yes. We get more impatient as we get older, and if we can get a message over without people having to take time off work to hear a song. . . . Not that we dislike those [longer] songs, we still play them live.

Q. The band has been called ''post-rock." Do you like that term?

A. No, no, no, not at all. It's a pretty pretentious phrase. It alludes to some kind of intellectual superiority that's not the case at all. We're a rock band. We try and make interesting music, but I don't think that's a particularly exclusive mind-set to bands with instrumental songs over five minutes long.

Q. There is much discussion about what the new song ''Glasgow Mega-Snake" refers to.

A. That was me and Barry [vocalist, pianist, and keyboard player Barry Burns]. We shared a car on the way into recording and we talked a lot of rubbish. We had the idea that there should be a Glasgow version of the Loch Ness monster to attract tourists, called the Glasgow Mega-Snake. There would also be a roller coaster as well. It's pure nonsense really.

Q. What's the thing you like most about touring the United States?

A. It's easier to get bands that we like opening for us. In Europe, we have a struggle getting anyone we like who can get in a van and play shows with us. We just like more American bands.

Q. What's the worst part?

A. I find the news quite depressing because it's not really news. It's total propaganda. We're obviously used to the BBC or whatever. It's not so much annoying as disheartening. I feel really bad for the people.

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