Monday, December 5, 2011

Bonus Peter Murphy Q&A

Here are more excerpts from my interview with Murphy...

Q: Since this article will preview your Solana Beach show, can you recall any memorable or unusual gigs in the San Diego area over the years?
Back in ’88, I played some theater there. I remember we were doing “Socrates the Python,” which is a mesmeric, charm-like song; very slow-paced. I bent down, very engrossed in the vocal, with one overhead spotlight over me. All else was blacked out. As I looked up, I saw this apparition just walk at me. I literally jumped out of my skin, about one yard backward. It happened to be one of the [Murphy is unintellible: either fans or crew] coming onstage walking towards me very calmly. It was kind of like comedy because the song has this intensity and sacred feel to it. I was forced to break out of focus.

Q: You've played quite a bit in Southern California lately. Any particular reason?
I just want to play a lot and get known to be out there. This album is obviously very good and the audiences have already gotten to know it, worldwide, which is great to see. I always feel there’s very little out there that has a quality of an actual live show. Mine presents a sort of authenticity to it.

Q: The gigs have been smaller than usual. What has it been like getting so up close and personal with fans?
Actually during the spring, we played a full-on tour. Then I did a few shows that were underplays in very unlikely places. People could come up really close and be very intimate. I could be very hands on with the audience.

Q: When I caught you at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa last June, you playfully taunted the crowd.
I said, ‘How much was your ticket?’ Then somebody shouted. We were about four songs in and I said, ‘You got more than your money’s worth. We’re going now.’ It was me being satirical.

Q: For much of your career, you shied away from doing Bauhaus material live…
I didn’t actually shy away from it. I decide categorically not to play it, just to keep the integrity of the then future intent that I had – the belief that we still had a lot to give. I wanted to keep it exclusive to the band.

As you know, on two occasions, I managed to persuade the others to reform, even at the expense of my own solo career. As it turns out, you can offer heaven three times, but after that, they have to pay. You offer it for free. If they don’t want to do it, you just have to walk away. The next time, they’re going to have to pay for it.

Now that that band proved not to have any sort of healthy relationship during the final [time] together, I decided to wipe my feet of that - of the other three members, really. You can carry certain people for a certain amount of time, but if there’s abuse, lack of gratitude and appreciation, you just have to walk away.

Q: Tell me about the new addition to the live band.
He’s a bass player and electric violinist from the New York area. He replaced [Jeff Schartoff], who was in the lineup 7 years and had to leave unexpectedly. So we were left with three shows without a bass player. It was fine and great actually to break it up like that. So he had to learn some 40 songs in three days, come in cold and he did it really well. I was planning on bringing in someone for the past three or four months [anyway] and integrate him as the second guitarist.

Q: Would you ever consider doing a show where you performed an entire album like many artists have done in recent years?
If I get to a point where I’ve got a strong enough, consistent audience. Maybe at the level of theaters - which is not far off - I might just do a major city tour, whereby I do a one week residency in one place. That’s really about whether you can draw the audience for the project. I think there are places like London and New York, hotspots really, the major markets where I could really pull that off. If it was successful, then you could open it up to other places.

Q: The latest album ‘Ninth’ has a real rocking vibe to the material. Was that a conscious decision on your part?
David Baron and I had been writing up in Woodstock the previous year in bits. We were both cautiously trying to figure out – once I got the funding to make the album – which way it should go. I definitely wanted to work the album in a way that was classic.

Q: And it was recorded quickly.
In a week. Afterwards, David and I would add and edit elements, refine it and layer it with electronica, which was already pre-arranged.

Q: Did the last Bauhaus album influence the guitar-driven sound of this album?
The process, yes. When I got [Bauhaus back] together, we basically wrote, mixed and recorded the last album on the spot. We’d create two new songs a day on average and mix them to the point where they were ‘desk mixes.’ Then we’d continue and it was very prolific. And a very real way to make music.

Q: A fan of yours funded the initial recording of ‘Ninth,’ How’d that come about?
Dr. Frederick Bury is from Lichtenstein. He’s a well-respected heart specialist. He introduced himself and offered funding for the Bauhaus album early on, which we refused. In general, the rest of the band didn’t want to take advantage of that. So we politely refused. He had a very altruistic nature and it was very nice of him to offer.

Once it came to doing ‘Ninth,’ [I was having management problems]. They weren’t really organized or finding any interest from labels. So I was at a point where I called Dr. Frederick and he was very happy to fund the album.

[After the album was recorded, still nothing was happening from management]. I was like, ‘what’s going on? This album is worth gold.’ Within a month of being with my new management, there was a deal. In these days where labels really have to rethink their roles, we work well together and the exposure I’ve gotten can’t be argued with.

Q: What is the background for “I Spit Roses.” I know it references Bauhaus. The music video is also very unique.
The seed of the song [asks] how can you mutiny against that which is keeping you afloat? If you do so and sink the ship, you’re only drowning yourself…it’s the essence of why I think any band splits up: how many times can you kill the goose that laid the golden egg? They tried, but cut their own webbed feet off. I was always going to be here, you know?

Q: Any update on a release of the Dali’s Car EP?
I think there’s a holdup with the artwork. It’s all in the hands of Mick’s estate. I just wanted to hand it all over to them as a gesture and give them the prerogative. I’m pretty sure it’ll come out in the next couple months.

Q: Is it true that you solicited Axl Rose for a potential collaboration?
I’d go out on tour with him. I think he’s a great singer and performer. I happened to catch a very early Guns ‘N Roses video on YouTube where he was wearing a Bauhaus t-shirt with my face on it and I thought, ‘that’s cool.’ I think it could be an unlikely, great match. I don’t really know what Guns ‘N Roses sounds like now, but he’s got some great musicians around him. It could be really something. Who knows? I haven’t heard from their camp. I doubt it’s gonna happen, but it’s one of my ideas.

Q: You had done some recordings with Trent Reznor. Did those ever come out?
Those have seen the light of day. They were backstage performances done over the period of the tour [Bauhaus did with NIN] and found their way out onto the internet, virally. About 16 songs in total. They’re now free for anyone to find and take.

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