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Malcolm Middleton – A Brilliant Scottish Musician

Malcolm Bruce Middleton is a Scottish musician who was born in 1973. Throughout the years, he has been in several bands, but he has also had a solo career. He plays vocals, the guitar, the saxophone, the bass guitar, as well as the piano. He is well-known for being a member of the indie band Arab Strap and for starting to perform solo — both as a writer and as a producer.

Over the years, Middleton has released as many as six solo studio albums. He has performed under a pseudonym (Human Don’t Be Angry) and he has used the same name to release a self-titled album in 2012.

Arab Strap

Malcolm Middleton was part of a band called Arab Strap, which he created alongside Aidan Moffat. The two bonded over their love for artists such as Will Oldham and Smog. From 1995 when Arab Strap was made, the two released as many as six albums. Unfortunately, they decided to part ways in 2006. However, they did reunite for a show in Glasgow in 2011. According to Middleton at that time, he was open to a new collaboration with Moffat and even activating under the same band name as before. He did not think that they would get to release another album together, though. In 2016, in honor of their 20th anniversary, they reunited for a string of dates.

Middleton’s solo career

Malcolm Middleton released his first solo album in 2002 (5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine) and his second was released in 2005 (Into the Woods). Some of his other studio albums are A Brighter Beat (2007), Sleight of Heart (2008), Waxing Gibbous (2009), Human Don’t Be Angry (2012), Music and Words (2014), Summer of ’13 (2016) and Bananas (2018).

 

 

Other interesting facts

According to the Red Dog Music blog, one of the worst performing experiences that Malcolm Middleton has ever had was when he was part of the band Arab Strap and he was at a Portuguese Festival in 1999. Someone ‘bigger’ had cancelled so Arab Strap was added to the list at the last minuted. It was a large festival that happened outdoor in the middle of summer, and the two members of the band apparently were so hammered that they didn’t even notice that their guitars had been detuned. They kept playing nonetheless until the point that the crowd started booing them loudly. Ironically, Arab Strap were never invited back to Portugal afterwards.

The best gig that Middleton played was, according to the musician, the Classic Grand in Glasgow back in 2007. The atmosphere of the concert was so positive that he reports having felt almost like Rod Stewart.

When it comes to instruments, Middleton has varied a lot between using blues guitars and travel guitars along with several accessories such as volume pedals, reverb pedals, looper pedals, or guitar tuners. Naturally, since he doesn’t play the piano, he’s probably never used a piano bench. However, he must have used recording equipment before, such as studio monitors, condenser mics, or studio headphones.

Middleton’s favorite music albums

Nicola Meighan from The Quietus talked with Middleton in the summer of 2016 and some of the albums that he says have had a significant influence on him range from Like a Virgin by Madonna to Pat Benatar’s Seven The Hard Way. The musician says that some of the albums that influenced him the most weren’t necessarily the best that were ever written, but in the end, it all depends on the listener’s experiences and the way the message is passed through in accordance with their current state.

He also reports having loved Live After Death by Iron Maiden, Mentally Murdered by Napalm Death, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by Black Sabbath, as well as Faith No More‘s We Care A Lot.

 

Malcolm Middleton is reported to be working on another album along Aidan Moffat for Arab Strap.

Praise for Human Don’t Be Angry

“One of Britain’s most underrated and vital songwriters”– Q

Returning after a two year self-imposed “Song Strike”, Malcolm Middleton is once again taking to the stage in an effort to comfort and cajole like-minded souls across the land. After five critically acclaimed solo albums – not to mention the six prior to that with Scottish indie-rock legends Arab Strap – Malcolm decided it was time to stop writing “shit songs” and get the gardening done.

“His “usual shite” is a great deal better than much of the so-called best work produced by others in his profession” – Music Week

With the gardening leave completed and all that fresh air savoured, Malcolm has now picked up his guitar with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and vitality: ready, once again, to let the…um, devil (and the angel) ride out. Covering material from his past and future, the main bulk of the performance will comprise of intimate acoustic songs delivered in his usual idiosyncratic style: some known, some dangerously new and unheard…

“I think it’s a good time to revisit some of the “highlights” from my 10 year song-writing career, whilst also getting the chance to work out some new material for my next solo album in a live environment” – MM

In addition to the older material he will also be performing under his new guise ‘Human Don’t Be Angry‘, previewing music from the forthcoming Chemikal Underground album, “Midnight Noodles”:

“Compelling, semi-instrumental psalms”, “ace and heady” – The List

“Not unlike a one-man Mogwai but gentler, warm and perfectly experienced from a rickety theatre seat with a big bottle of nice beer to hand” – Sounds XP


Not content to simply trawl his past while inventing his future, Malcolm delves even further back in time to offer a new album of rare & unreleased songs.  “A Quarter Past Shite” brings together a collection of songs written between 1994 and 2001 that were deemed too “negative and depressing” to appear on his debut album “5:14 fluoxytine seagull alcohol john nicotine”.

 

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