Pete Murray

The Australian songsmith is playing at Bush Hall and we have an invite to see him perform. Opportunists that we are, we offer to arrive early and chat with Murray before the show…thanks Pete for the meet and these informative responses…

Andy Gannon

JLTT: Thanks for your time. Welcome to London and Bush Hall. What do you think of this place?

PM: It is a grand little room. The third time I’ve played here I think.

JLTT: It was a Masonic hall for business guys to meet.

PM: Is that right? It has a really cool vibe.

JLTT: The sound is very good wherever you are in the room and photographers quite like it because of the chandeliers. Here is a good first question for you Pete, are you sick to death of people telling you there was a radio host here called Pete Murray?

PM: I don’t here it too much. I’m aware of him.

JLTT: He’s ninety-three now. He was one of the first vegetarians and he had a great radio show.

PM: When I first came over here a few years ago that was the first time several guys mentioned him…

JLTT: Can you roughly – no postcodes! – tell me your hometown and I’d like you to give me five words to describe it please.

PM: Byron Bay. Magical, beautiful, stunning, fun and cultural. It has this power about it that just draws people in. It has a beauty about it. It’s so welcoming and friendly.

JLTT: From the way you describe it, it has something of the vibe of Stratford Upon Avon about it which is where Shakespeare is from.

PM: Right ok. You know it was a birth area for the local Indigenous people.

JLTT: Really?

PM: That’s where they would go and give birth. So it has a welcoming vibe and surfing is amazing. It is one of those places which is becoming very popular now and a lot of Hollywood stars are moving there.

JLTT: My brother lives in New Zealand. Do you play there?

PM: I haven’t played New Zealand for a few years. I used to go there quite a bit.

JLTT: Ok. What’s your writing process for your music? Do you write on guitar or piano?

PM: Guitar. I often find myself sitting in the bathroom because it is great acoustics in there. In early days I had a tape recorder. Now I film myself on a computer so I can see what I’m ordering.

JLTT: Your music seems to have equal male and female appeal.

PM: (Ponders) Yeah. I think we have that now. In the early days it was females in the first five rows and the guys would be pushed at the back.

JLTT: At the moment you have outfits like Train and Maroon 5 who sing in that very comfortable range for a female to sing along. That’s why they are so radio-friendly. Do you get radio airplay?

PM: Yeah I do in Australia. The problem I’ve had in my career is that I’ve been signed to international company so overseas it has been difficult. I think we had the first album released over here in the UK and then nothing after that. It has been difficult and that is why I stopped touring over here and the last time I was here was five years ago. I just stopped coming because it was just pointless because I couldn’t release music over here so nobody heard anything. It got frustrating. That deal is finished now and I’m an independent artist now.

JLTT: Different songs get different reactions in parts of the world …even in different parts of a country.

PM: I know when my music was released in Australia during the ‘surf culture’ and my song got on this Surf DVD and that spread along the East Coast. It then got on radio and people started to hear it.

JLTT: What makes Pete Murray happy and what makes Pete Murray angry?

PM: Well for me on the first it is family. Family is happiness. You are just with the people you love. Work-wise when you are having success that makes you happy because there are times when it has been a real effort. What makes me unhappy – I don’t like arrogance and pretentious people. I don’t like being restricted and I’ve been musically-restricted internationally for a long time.

JLTT: That is interesting. In bands I’ve been in I won’t have a genre in the band name because I want the freedom.

PM: I’ve always done the music I’ve wanted to do so that hasn’t been a problem. It has just been getting it released outside of Australia. I’m not the only artist who has had this happened.

JLTT: People always associate you with the first thing you do.

PM: It is true. People do judge you on the first thing they hear first.

JLTT: I know what you are saying. You don’t want to be Jack Johnson two.

PM: Yeah. I’m past that now. We had that earlier in Australia when Jack’s album came out before mine and we had a similar kind of voice. I mean I’ve got my own sound.

JLTT: What is your latest album?

PM: Comacho.

JLTT: Every now and again you seem to have a tinge of Jackson Browne. I don’t know whether you like him or not?

PM: Ok. Yeah I knew the hits that he had when I was younger. That album is a slightly different direction to what I’ve done before. I normally jump into a studio with a band all around but this time it was just myself and the producer. Working with beats and loops and putting the tracks on it.

JLTT: Tell me about the song ‘Heartbeats’.

PM: It is a co-write. I’ve done very few co-writes in my time only two. That’s one of them. It was recently mixed again. We had the foot on the floor beat and we wanted a slight dance vibe to it. The song acoustically I had written and when I sat down with John Hulme we wrote the song. John added some piano and kind of changed the vibe of it. I was inspired by Van Morrison writing that song acoustically and it changed to this other song. It is funny how songs start off and how they end.

JLTT: If I’m doing a version of a song I will probably do a song originally sung by a female. There are a few Australian bands that I really look up to possibly before your time like Radio Birdman.

PM: I know Radio Birdman.

JLTT: We saw them live in London a year or so ago. They have that clear punchy two guitar sound. Another lady we really like is Mahalia Barnes.

PM: Jimmy Barnes’s daughter. Yeah I’ve met her. She’s got a great voice.

JLTT: Would you duet with her?

PM: (Smiles) Yeah I would!

JLTT: Jimmy is almost the Australian equivalent of Mitch Ryder in the States. When he stays in the bottom register it just gets you. But obviously with the adrenaline of the crowd in the room will take people to a different place. Give me some things you’ve learnt not to do onstage.

PM: That’s a tough question. I like to be prepared before I go onstage so if I’m not prepared I’m definitely gonna make mistakes.

JLTT: Do you have a setlist?

PM: I do. When I’ve got a band I have to stick to a setlist. I do have one with these guys but I can change it anytime and I like to go with the flow. You’ve got to check the vibe and sometimes you just need a mellow song and sometimes a solo song might work.

JLTT: When I do a solo show I will just change the set there and then by the sound of the room. I think in some rooms a twelve-string will sound better. Carlos Santana when he gets to a sound check, he walks around and finds the exact spot where he gets the most sustain and they put a cross on the floor so he knows he can walk into that area.

PM: Right ok…that’s a cool thing

JLTT: You’re in the kitchen at home and the radio is on. What would you turn up?

PM: Really commercial pop stuff. I love some synths. I love songs like by the likes of Wilco, Neil Young, Bob Dylan. That old stuff I just love.

JLTT: Where do you enjoy playing live best? Do you play festivals?

PM: Yeah. I get asked this question all the time. I don’t have a favourite thing because it is great playing to a big crowd and great playing to a small crowd. Sometimes I think the best thing with a small crowd is you can communicate with them a lot better. Trying to communicate with a big crowd is hard. But when the big crowds are singing along that is an amazing feeling. The best crowd is when they are sitting down and waiting to see you and they have a little bit of a circle and then they stand up at the front.

JLTT: Is your guitarist a fan of Mike Campbell from Tom Petty’s band?

PM: Loves him too. He just bought a guitar that Campbell was playing.

JLTT: If he is in your band that is a proper dynamic in my opinion. Has any of your music been used in films?

PM: TV yes. American Television shows and a bit of an Australian film.

JLTT: Do you play in Ireland?

PM: When I last played there I played Olympia. I’m gonna keep working now and build it up with the new album and try and tap back into that fanbase I had years ago.

JLTT: You were a rugby star and injury put you out of that. What are your thoughts on your rugby days now? Do you think you would’ve developed that to a high level?

PM: I think I had the ability to. There was chance as I used to do athletics 400m and 800m. With the playing Sevenths a lot of people started strong but after a few minutes they’d get tired and I would keep going. I got picked to take part in a trial but I injured myself. It is a funny because Bo Dewar was the Australian coach back then and this was in the Nineties and I was living with my sister at the time. They came to me and asked if I could play the trial. Anyway, I didn’t hear back from them so I thought “Oh well”. And I pulled out. So about two weeks later, after the trials were over my sister said “Oh by the way I forgot to tell you someone called up for you the other day.” I said “Who was it?” “Oh some guy called Bob Dewar.” That was my opportunity but I look at it as just as well music turned out.

JLTT: Thanks for your time Pete.

PM: My pleasure.

Pete Sargeant

 



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(Thanks Pete and thanks Alex F)

Feature Image Photo Credit: Andy Gannon

Additional Images Supplied By Artist

Pete Murray’s latest album ‘Comacho’ is out now.

In addition, Pete Murray has been announced as one of the artists performing at Boardmasters 2019 Festival which takes place from 7th-11th August 2019 in Cornwall, United Kingdom (Day TBC). Tickets are onsale now and available here: http://bit.ly/2Qz3o7a

For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2zDzhlp