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Q&A: British Sea Power's Scott Wilkinson

On stuffed animals, Mercury Prize and the Aran Islands

You recorded much of your new album on the Isle of Skye. Like a bit of solitude do we?

Well, that was my brother [BSP guitarist Neil Wilkinson]. He lives up there. I recorded my bits near Brighton. It's funny. Half of it was done in a remote part of Scotland, half in south England.

Your 2008 album Do You Like Rock Music? was nominated for the Mercury. We assume your career changed overnight?

People see you on the Mercury Prize and think it's a big deal. But unless you win, I don't think it affects you. It's helpful, but in the long run, though, it doesn't do anything.

Besides, it's not as if you rushed to capitalise on the exposure.

Naw... we did an instrumental movie soundtrack to a forgotten film.

Hold up a minute, Man of Aran isn't exactly 'forgotten'.

We stumbled upon it largely by accident. A friend introduced us to it. then the Edinburgh Film Festival asked us to do a live soundtrack to a movie of our choice. Man of Aran kept coming up. We ended up releasing our own version.

Ever been?

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We wanted to go and play the album. It hasn't quite worked out. Hopefully, it will still be on the cards. It's weird because I've seen it so many times in the movie. You wonder how different it really is.

So you didn't make it to the west of Ireland. But you did put on a show on the Great Wall of China.

We went over to China to do a festival. It was cancelled after we had arrived, so we went busking on the Great Wall instead. It's a bit surreal. It takes a long time to walk up the Wall. Then a water slide like a giant toboggan brings you back down.

Speaking of coming down to earth in dramatic fashion, we seem to recall your trumpet player sustaining a nasty neck injury in a stage-diving incident a few years back.

I've sort of forgotten about that. It's a long time ago -- two, three years I think. He's learned his lesson. I don't like dwelling on stuff like that.

Wild Beasts were a few years behind you at school in Kendal, in the depths of rural Cumbria. It must be encouraging to see another band from such a remote part of Britain achieving success.

They are nice lads. There always used to be bands in Kendal, but they were pub bands who really only did covers. It is good to see there is a little bit more artistic vibrancy from there.

The first occasion you played Ireland, you were done up like World War I soldiers and the stage was decorated with stuffed animals. Then you came back with Rock Music wearing white cultist robes.

Sometimes we put a lot of thought into what we do. With the stuffed animals, that became quite an elaborate set-up. There are times, however, when we just feel like being a bit daft really. That was probably what the robes were about.

British Sea Power's new album Valhalla Dancehall is released today, see review page 10. The band plays Academy, Dublin on February 17.

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