'PEOPLE are more likely to shut up and listen at a seated venue,'' states Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat, ahead of his band's biggest Glasgow show to date at the Mitchell Theatre next week. ''Because we are pretty quiet on stage, it can be really difficult competing with people standing at the bar talking.''

This is one of a few observations and revelations in the course of an interview that suggests changes are afoot in the Arab Strap camp to coincide with the release of their third album, Elephant Shoe, their first album of new material for the Go! Beat label.

Apart from buying a house in Glasgow (''it's not good timing doing this while I'm on tour, but I hope my girlfriend will have it painted by the time I'm back), Moffat is also keen to dispel the image of his band as alcoholic Scots mumbling over low-key musical backdrops.

''It's been strange,'' he says of the reaction to the album. ''there are definitely some people who think we have wimped out because we are signed to a bigger label and stuff, which I don't think is the case if you listen to the record. People have even been pointing out things like the fact that there is less swearing on it, and it makes you wonder if they just had this image of us as drunken Scotsmen who swear a lot over some fairly pretty wee tunes.''

It is an image that was perhaps cultivated by the ability of the music press to caricature Moffat and his songwriting partner, Malcolm Middleton - their ability to give good copy in both their interviews and lyrics often overshadowing the music, which has been largely consistent since the release of their first single, The First Big Weekend on Chemikal Underground back in 1996.

''What people don't seem to get,'' he adds, ''is that Elephant Shoe is exactly the same album we would have made for Chemikal Underground had we still been signed to them: what label you are on shouldn't make any difference at all to the music.''

Any difference on their third album proper (Mad for Sadness was a supposedly limited live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall album, which actually includes some of the best versions of their earlier songs), is minimal, and in many respects Elephant Shoe is a less accessible album than it's immediate predecessor, Philophobia.

Conventional hook lines are at a premium, the tempo is perhaps even slower, and the words seem initially like more of the same, though, tellingly, the number of relationships described in the present tense is now singular rather than plural. And while promiscuity seems off the agenda, do not expect sickly love songs in its place: the single, Cherubs, is about as close as it gets (''only when you're wrecked do you agree with all my plans for you and me'') but then again, you would never previously have heard the kind of commitment and stability alluded to in Autumnal (''it's painting a kitchen that's keeping me going'').

''A lot of people tell me that this album is harder work, but I just don't see it,'' says Moffat. ''I think it's a cheery wee number, though there is a certain tempo of song that clicks with my voice and I guess we have tended to stick with that through the albums. If anything,

I would say that this album is slightly faster. It is certainly more relaxed, and that is down to a whole host of reasons.

''The main thing is that there is a lot less fighting goes on, and we get on a lot better. The last tour we did was an absolute nightmare, though this one so far has been great.''

HE ADDS: ''It may sound bad, but I think having a bit more money to play with has definitely helped. The last time round we were staying in holes and having to lug our own gear around everywhere. It may sound pathetic, and make people think that musicians are stupid and lazy, but it gets really uncomfortable and claustrophobic. That's why people fall out.''

On a more global level, it has always been surprising that a band that seems peculiarly Scottish has been able to connect with an international audience. They

have already toured in America, where Philophobia made inroads on the college charts, and are about to embark on a European tour with Tindersticks.

''I'm really looking forward to that,'' he adds of the latter, ''though I'm not looking forward to the three weeks sleeping on a bus. Tindersticks are huge in Europe, and we are playing lots of 2000-sized

theatres. I think the place they are most successful is Greece, though we are doing some gigs on our own there for some reason. Apparently, we are quite big in Greece, though I have never seen any money to prove it.

''America is much more weird. We've only done a few shows there so far, and they were mainly in the north-east, though again it was quite surprising. Some of the places, like Detroit, looked really unpromising. You arrived in the town or at the venue and wanted to leave immediately, but the shows turned out to be great. One of the strangest things in my life was meeting some Asian Welsh fans who lived in Canada and came to see us in Detroit.''

Moffat admits that there is much work to be done around Elephant Shoe to increase the band's profile, and to that end there has been no new recording since the completion of the album, though there are plans to do a reworking of Hello Daylight from the album for the next single release, early next year.

It would be patronising to say that Arab Strap are maturing, but there are certainly signs that they are becoming more subtle in their approach, and the music is the main beneficiary.

n Elephant Shoe is available now on Go! Beat. Arab Strap play the Mitchell Theatre, next Wednesday, September 29.