Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat - interview

Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat - interview

Moffat and Middleton are set to team up again to celebrate Nice'n'Sleazy's 20th birthday

Former Arab Strap vocalist, now solo star, Aidan Moffat, has had a long and fruitful relationship with The List. And, to our knowledge, he’s the only musician ever to name a song after a List feature. He reminisces with Jonny Ensall

The mid-90s Arab Strap song ‘I Saw You’ was inspired by The List’s lonely-hearts feature of the same name. Do you remember using I Saw You at that time?
That I Saw You feature had just started, and it was quite exciting and cool. I did attempt to use it to get in touch with a girl I really fancied but unfortunately it had absolutely no effect whatsoever, and I failed miserably. It turned out I met the girl again a few years later, and it still didn’t work – she wasn’t remotely interested in me and nor will she ever be. So thanks for bringing up my romantic failures in the first question … cheers.

Our writer Brian Donaldson claims he bagged the first ever Arab Strap interview in 1996. Is that true?
That is absolutely true, yeah. I remember that it happened, but I don’t remember what happened at all. It was a very long time ago, I suspect it was in a pub – possibly Behind The Wall in Falkirk, or it could have been Firkin’s. I do remember he took a rather hideous picture of us. Nothing to do with his photographic skills of course, but it was just that he only had two goes on the Polaroid, and both of them were absolutely horrific.

Was it an enjoyable experience otherwise?
We grew up to be suspicious of the press, so I imagine we were quite difficult for poor Brian. I’ve never really been that keen on the idea of self-promotion, and when you’re in a young band you don’t really want to do those sorts of things. I think he was probably met with suspicion and fear, rather than excitement and enthusiasm.

When did you start reading The List?
It must have been ’89 when I started reading The List, because as a wee boy in Falkirk (I say I was a wee boy – I was a 16-year-old man), I used to come through to Glasgow all the time. The List back then was pretty indispensable with regards to knowing what was going on.

The List has claim to one other Aidan Moffat first, we printed your first short story in July of this year – a tale of an old woman winding up a boy racer.
I’m very happy that you printed it, and I hope that plenty of people from West Kilbride got to read it. I lived in West Kilbride for a wee while, and I made all the names up and things like that, but it’s based on real-life people – the narrator of the story [the old woman] was based on a very real person. I hope that no one wants to fucking batter me now – that’d be quite disastrous.

Favourite gig of the last 25 years?
When I was a young kid I went to see PJ Harvey at King Tut’s. Her first gig in Glasgow. I was right up the front. That was outrageously good.

Arab Strap re-unite to play Nice'n'Sleazy's 20th Birthday celebrations on Thu 17 Nov. To grab some tickets, email

arab strap i saw you

FOUND and Aidan Moffat: #UNRAVEL

An installation by Aidan Moffat and FOUND, in which the audience attempts to unravel the story of the narrator's life by playing records from his collection.

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