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Minor Victories

Distant Battle Cries

Jul 12, 2016 Editors
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Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell says the word ‘supergroup’ “sits very uncomfortably with her.” She’s talking about her new project Minor Victories, which, as the term implies, also includes members of other noted bandsEditors’ Justin Lockey, his brother James, and Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite. “It sounds cocky and none of us are like that,” she explains. “So [the name] ‘Minor Victories’ attenuates that and keeps it low-key…. The phrase itself comes from the title of an EP by Justin’s friends Lanterns on the Lake.”

“Justin sent me some instrumental tracks in September of 2014,” recalls Goswell of the project’s beginnings. “To see if I would be interested in writing with him. His initial idea was to create this massive sound with a delicate female vocal on it. We were going to do three or four songs and maybe some accompanying films but then early last year we decided we wanted another guitarist and Stuart seemed the obvious choice. I’d met him when Slowdive reunited and we were doing the same festivals as Mogwai. From there things naturally grew into a band and eventually we thought ‘Oh, we’ve got an album’s worth here and it’s pretty good.’”

Despite now being a band, the group’s self-titled debut album was made mostly via file-sharing, with only Braithwaite and James recording together in Mogwai’s studio. “I did all my vocals in my son’s bedroom with my laptop,” says Goswell. “We could really take our time and be happy with what we sent. It was an easy record to make because we all loved what each other was doing.”

The first song Justin sent over was the dreamy “Out to Sea.” “It’s about having news from someone that isn’t so good,” explains Goswell. “I live close to the sea and do a lot of my thinking time on the beach.”

“When I first heard that I thought, ‘This sounds really finished.’ I didn’t know what I was gonna do with it so I put even more guitars on it,” laughs Braithwaite.

Braithwaite also wrote some of the album’s songs, including the very poppy “Scattered Ashes,” a Minor Victories highlight which features vocals from The Twilight Sad’s James Graham (another tune, “For You Always,” has Mark Kozelek on it). “For me that song really exemplifies the album,” Braithwaite says. “It started out as a sketchy little demo and the more that went on it, the better it sounded. Especially when I heard the lyrics and melodies, it had a life of its own.” Although catchy, the inspiration behind itpointed at in its parentheses “(Song For Richard)”is quite heartbreaking. Richard was a man Rachel met in the pub one day whose wife had just had a stillbirth a few weeks before. “He was a lovely guy, very sad, and the song is about him and not having control over life.”

“There are a lot of epic moments,” considers Braithwaite, “but it’s also a very personal, intimate, record, especially from Rachel’s point of view.”

“Lyrically it’s all quite intense,” concurs Goswell. “I find it’s always easier to write a sad song than a happy one. But it’s not all sad. ‘Higher Hopes’ is quite uplifting. It’s about receiving very good news about my son’s heart condition, that he wouldn’t need surgery again for the time being. It was like a huge weight being lifted.” Goswell’s six-year-old son was born with CHARGE syndrome, a very complex condition requiring very specialized care.

The album’s first single is “A Hundred Ropes” and its video simply features an extremely slow motion shot of samurai charging towards the camera. “The song’s about meeting someone and having a lot of obstacles to overcome but realizing it’s worth getting through those to be happy,” Goswell explains.

“Justin and James do the film-work and the videos are completely unrelated to the lyrical content. I like that. The idea is to keep things very simple. There’s so much rushing around in life and [the video] is saying no to all that.”

Braithwaite and Goswell say they are excited about the prospect of playing these songs live where both agree they’ve “taken on a life of their own.” Much like the original idea for the project itself.

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s May/June 2016 Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]



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