ARAB STRAP: The most successful local act of the 1990's, Arab Strap were formed in late 1995 by Aiden Moffat and Malcolm Middleton. Moffat had previously played in Someone's Daughter, The Angry Buddhists & Bay, whilst Middleton had played in a string of smalltime local acts, including The Laughing Stock and Rabid Lettuce. The two, drawn together by a shared love of Smog and The Palace Brothers, started writing and recording. Naming the band Arab Strap after a sex device, the duo sent only two demo tapes out, and were picked up by Glasgwegian independant label, Chemikal Underground. The first release was a single in September 1996 entitled "The First Big Weekend" which told of the bands antics over the weekend that saw Scotland dismissed from Euro '96. The song received much airplay in Britain and became an anthem for part-time "E" casualties. This was followed up a few weeks later by the bands debut album, "The Week Never Starts Round Here", a dark and claustrophobic affair. It offered few chinks of light, Arab Strap preferred the rancour and pain of a failed relationship, the sweat and the smell of dirty sex. They spoke about shit jobs and shit wages, set to brooding music. Some live shows were played towards the end of the year, with ex-Cyanide Dolls members David Gow (drums) and Gary Miller (bass) filling out the sound. March 1997 saw the band release their second single ("The Clearing"), helped by members of Belle & Sebastian, and tour the UK as support to Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. Two months later a tour with Mogwai coincided with their debut single being used as backing for the latest Guinness advert (albeit with someone else doing Moffat's voiceover). This connection with Mogwai led to Moffat contributing vocals to Mogwai's album ("Mogwai Young Team") later in the year.
By now the band were media darlings, and their next single "The Girls Of Summer" managed to crack the top 75. A re-mix of a David Holmes track ("Don't Die Just Yet"), featuring Moffat on vocals, reached the top forty at the end of the year. The year was rounded off with a headline UK tour in December. Spring 1998 saw the band hit the top fifty with "Here We Go/"Trippy" a double a-side, and the recruitment of co-vocalist Adele Bethel. Their second album was called "Philophobia", which translated as a "fear of love", and featured nude paintings of Moffat and his then girlfriend on the front and back covers. At this time Falkirk's Provest Fowler said of the band "These people are a disgrace to Falkirk". Result! The band embarked on another UK tour, which carried on into their first European tour. A US tour in October coincided with the Spice Girls and All Saints debating the merits of Moffat and their new single "(Afternoon) Soaps" on television, a bizarre moment in the history of the Falkirk music scene.
1999 saw the band put their toe into the commercial circus, signing to Go Beat! in the UK. The move proved to be a mistake, with the label wanting more sellable product, and the band refusing to compromise. To a certain extent the whole affair halted the growing momentum of the band, and they never got back to the stage where they might have had a hit single. The first release on Go Beat! was a stop-gap live album, "Mad For Sadness", recorded at their London Queen Elizabeth Hall gig the year before, released in May. This was followed by their third album proper, "Elephant Shoe". A headline UK tour was followed by an extensive European tour supporting The Tindersticks. They also managed to re-mix tracks for Mogwai and Dot Allison this year. 2000 was a relatively quiet year for the band, with only a Scandanavian tour in Spring and some European festival appearances during the summer to show for their efforts. However, the year did see them part from Go Beat! and take stock of their situation.
Towards the end of the year Arab Strap recorded their fourth album, "The Red Thread", which was released on their old label, Chemikal Underground, in February 2001. The band then set about touring the world, with the UK in February, Australia and Japan in March, and America in April. May saw another short UK tour followed by a more extensive European tour (supported by Bright Eyes). During this year Moffat also managed to join and appear on the debut album by Scottish supergroup The Reindeer Section. 2002 was a very quiet year for the band, with both Moffat and Middleton concentrating on solo projects, however they did manage to play some acoustic dates with the addition of Eva violinist, Jenny Reeve, and cello player Stacey Sievewright, and a short Australian tour in October. Aiden formed a mini-supergroup, The Sick Anchors, who released a single, and also contributed to the second Reindeer Section album. Meanwhile Bethel and Gow went off to form their own act, Sons & Daughters.
2003 saw a return to form for Arab Strap with the release of the"Monday At The Hug And Pint" album. This was followed by an extensive US tour supporting Bright Eyes, playing to teenagers who had heard of the main band through their promotion on "The OC". Touring this year was with their new "acoustic" line up, and later in the year they embarked on a September to November European tour, ending the year with a headline tour of North America. After a year off for solo work, during which Middleton also guested with Viva Stereo, February 2005 saw the band donate a song to a CD raising funds for the Scottish Association for Mental Health. The band also recorded an original soundtrack for the animated short film "Rogue Farm", and played an acoustic request show, the highlights of which were released as a limited edition album on their website in April. After this Middleton released his second solo album. However, the band had been busy in the studio, and released their new album, "The Last Romance" in October. This was followed by a November UK tour.
2006 proved to be a busy year, starting with the release of the single "Speed Date", accompanied by a video directed by former Skids frontman, Richard Jobson. The duo then recruited Michael (bass), Scott (drums) and Stevie (guitar/piano) and proceeded to tour Europe (February), Ireland (May), with some summer European festival dates. They rounded off their tenth year with a compilation album, "Ten Years Of Tears". This event persuaded them to call it a day, and after a European tour in October - December, Arab Strap played their final date at the ABC, Glasgow. Moffat then concentrated on his own project, L. Pierre, then formed The Best Ofs, whilst Middleton went solo. One time member Seivewright later joined The Poems, whilst Reeve helped out Middleton on his solo releases. 2008 saw a posthumous release for the band's soundtrack for the animated short film "Rogue Farm". The duo got together for a one-off live date in November 2011, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nice'n'Sleazies in Glasgow.
"The First Big Weekend" (7 inch vinyl single, Chemikal Underground, 1996)
"The Week Never Starts Round Here" (vinyl/CD album, Chemikal Underground, 1996)
"The Clearing" (12 inch vinyl/CD single, Chemikal Underground, 1997)
"The Girls Of Summer" (12 inch vinyl EP/CD EP, Chemikal Underground, 1997, UK charts #74)
"The Smell Of Outdoor Cooking" (7 inch vinyl single, 1997)
"Live: Packs Of Three" (7 inch vinyl single, 1998)
"Here We Go /Trippy" (10 inch vinyl/CD single, Chemikal Underground, 1998, UK charts #48)
"Philophobia" (CD album, Chemikal Underground, 1998, UK charts #37)
"(Afternoon) Soaps" (7 inch vinyl single, Chemikal Underground, 1998, UK charts #74)
"Singles" (Japanese only CD album, Bandai, 1999)
"Mad For Sadness" (live vinyl/CD album, Go Beat, 1999)
"Cherubs" (12 inch vinyl EP/CD EP, Go Beat, 1999)
"Elephant Shoe" (vinyl/CD album, Go Beat, 1999)
"Fukd I.D." (12 inch vinyl EP/CD EP, Chemikal Underground, 2000)
"To All A Good Night" (single, Chemikal Underground, 2000)
"Love Detective" (12 inch vinyl/CD single, Chemikal Underground, 2001, UK charts #66)
"The Red Thread" (vinyl/CD album, Chemikal Underground, 2001)
"Turbulance" (12 inch vinyl/CD single, Chemikal Underground, 2001)
"The Shy Retirer" (CD EP, Chemikal Underground, 2003)
"Monday At The Hug And Pint" (CD album, Chemikal Underground, 2003)
"The Acoustic Request Show" (CD album, 2005)
"Dream Sequence" (7 inch vinyl single, Chemikal Underground, 2005)
"The Last Romance" (CD album, Chemikal Underground, 2005)
"Speed Date" (7 inch single, Chemikal Underground, 2006)
"There Is No End" (7 inch single, Chemikal Underground, 2006)
"Ten Years Of Tears" (CD album, Chemikal Underground, 2006)
"Music From Rogue Farm" (Internet album, Chemikal Underground, 2008)