Interview: Peter Murphy
Wed, 03 Apr 2013 08:32:35
"Something's opened up here, and I'm very psyched for it," smiles Peter Murphy.
It's true the flood gates have opened, and the legendary singer has entered something of a creative renaissance. He's got a new solo record looming on the horizon, but he's also embarking on The Mr. Moonlight Tour Celebrating 35 Years Of Bauhaus. The jaunt will see him delve into the Bauhaus catalog and bring it to life on stage. However, as much as he's reflecting on the past, he's moving at full steam towards an even brighter future.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Peter Murphy talks The Mr. Moonlight Tour Celebrating 35 Years Of Bauhaus, his next album, and so much more.
What was the catalyst for you to begin playing Bauhaus music live again?
I had alwas wanted to keep it in its own treasure chest until such a time when we were to get together again. We got together twice. After that point, there was nobody left to play this work, but there's an audience there who love it. I listened to the work, and Ninth was really inspired by the energy that was almost manifest during the writing of Go Away White, the last Bauhaus album. On Ninth, it was like, "This is how it should've been done". For me, it seemed energetically right to begin playing Bauhaus live. I started to introduce a couple of songs into my set. Once I started to play them, it felt like I'd reclaimed them from that association. They felt brilliant. I started to do some of Daniel Ash's parts on guitar. Mark Gemini Thwaite has always been able to nail Daniel's work—which is not easy to do. It's quite impressionistic and brilliant work, but it's not "rock guitarist" work. I was careful that it shouldn't sound in any way retrospective or imitative in any way even though it was me. I became sure about that during my Ninth tours. This winter I wanted to try two special shows. One was the end of my appearances in intimate venues, which was at the Observatory in Orange County. I put on two shows. One night was me playing Deep. The next night, to everybody's surprise, I played Bauhaus only. I saw that there is a great love of that work. There's no distinction in my head anyway. There's an audience who really value what we've done. It seemed like it was totally okay to play it. I decided to do a world tour on it whilst I make my next album.
So, that really inspired the creative process behind your new record?
As it turns out, I've made it. In a week, I went to work with Youth [producer, Killing Joke]. I went to London, and we did the album together in four-and-a-half days. It's done, and it's brilliant. Now, I'm doing this tour, which is fantastic. I wanted to visit those people who are my audience as well as anybody else's and give them work. It'll be wonderful. I thought I would make the new music in incremental bits coinciding with the tour, but it's complete minus a few small things.
Are you tapping into the same energy that was present on Ninth or are you veering off into new territory?
When I started working with Youth, he was thinking of me, and I had lots of ideas to record. Rather than talking about, he played me music. I loved ten of his ideas. I just dove in, and he wouldn't let me review or edit myself. I was writing on the spot. I've got a collection and an archive of a line here and prose there. I'd pull them out. It's how I write anyway. Youth said, "This is you really coming out. It's what Bauhaus should've done. It's what you always were and are". It doesn't discount what I've done, but it's very interesting. It wasn't necessarily cathartic, but it was brilliant. To your point, there's a school Youth and I both come from. Killing Joke and Bauhaus did a double headline tour way back in the day. We're post-punks. I'm not London. He's more London. He hung out with the Siouxsie and the Banshees. We were why The Batcave came from, but we distanced ourselves from it choosing to live in The Midlands—where we came from. It felt like I came home to that sensibility. It's actually where I started. It was a torrent of immediacy, and the new album's just like that. There's no lack of talent and ideas. We didn't have to raise ideas.
You tap into the same energy and spark that characterized the early Bauhaus material.
That's a great compliment thank you! A work is a work. Music is alive. When I play any of my music, we don't mess around. We're post-punks. We understate. We use a very basic language when we talk about it. If it's got it, it's got it, and it's done. Capturing that as a recording is valid in and of itself. The recording is an imprint of a genesis, but playing it live is new every night. It has to be. If you do a karaoke night, you're dead in the water as an artist. That was always the ethic during my performances. It has been all the way through. An album is one photo of a song. When you play a song live, it's up and out again. I'm giving Bauhaus its due—and the audience. It is related to me because they're my words and they do echo to a certain point in the past. My personal feeling on Bauhaus is it was nothing like Joy Division or anything else around. It was its own thing. We weren't limited by post-projections. I know how to direct that music. It's naked and spiky. It's got no frills, but it's almost orchestral.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of In the Flat Field?
I always relate it to when Daniel and I found each other. Once he and I went into an old mobile studio and classroom to rehearse with one amp, one guitar, and one vocal with a reverb on it, we wrote half of In the Flat Field in two days. I'd never written a song. Once the other two guys came in, we were all very submissive to what was going on. There was no pecking order. I established the idea that everybody has a core split, even if I sing one note or Kevin [Haskins] hits one cymbal. It was fast, furious, and quite thrilling to be kicking against what was this mundane working class flat field of no opportunity and no hope. This was post-punk. I was not a punk. I appreciated it, but this was a bit more esoteric, a bit more artful, and a bit more completely pretentious, marvelous, and beautiful. It reminds me of that. It also reminds me of how, once again, it was not overly considered. We'd write live. We'd hone it as we went. Then, we'd go record it. Even if the recording sounded like an ant scratching on a tin roof with really bad hi-fi, it didn't matter. That's a great thing to hold on to. That's what gives me a great appreciation of what I still do. I love doing it.
Peter Murphy Celebrates 35 Years of Bauhaus – Tour Dates:
Mon, Apr 22 Austin, TX @ The Belmont
Tues, Apr 23 San Antonio @ The Korova
Wed, Apr 24 Dallas, TX @ Granada Theatre
Fri, Apr 26 Houston, TX @ Numbers Night Club
Sat, Apr 27 Baton Rouge, LA @ The Spanish Moon
Sun, Apr 28 Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
Tue, Apr 30 Miami, FL @ Grand Central
Wed, May 1 Tampa, FL @ Orpheum Theater
Thur, May 2 Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
Fri, May 3 Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
Sat, May 4 Washington, DC @ U-Music Hall
Sun, May 5 Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
Tue, May 7 New York, NY @ Webster Hall
Thur, May 9 Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero
Fri, May 10 Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
Sat, May 11 Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
Sun, May 12 Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls
Mon, May 13 Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
Wed, May 15 Indianapolis, N @ Deluxe at Old National Centre
Thur, May 16 Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
Wed, May 22 Bochum, DE @ Christuskirche
Thur, May 23 Karlsruhe, DE @ Substage
Fri, May 24 Zurich, CH @ Komplex Klub
Sun, May 26 Rome, IT @ Orion
Mon, May 27 Milan, IT @ Magazzini Generali
Wed, May 29 Madrid, ES @ Sala Arena
Thur, May 30 Lisbon, PT @ Coliseum
Sat, June 1 Barcelona, ES @ Bikini Barcelona
Mon, June 3 Brussels, BE @ AB
Wed, June 5 Paris, FR @ Trabendo
Thur, June 6 Eindhoven, NL @Effenaar
Fri, June 7 Hamburg, DE @ Knust
Sat, June 8 Copenhagen, DK @ Loppen
Mon, June 10 Stockholm, SE @ Debaser Medis
Wed, June 12 Helsinki, FI @ Tayastia
Fri, June 14 Nottingham, UK @ Rescue Rooms
Sat, June 15 Glasgow, UK @ Oran Mor
Mon, June 17 Birmingham, UK @ Academy 2
Tue, June 18 Bristol, UK @ Academy
Wed, June 19 London, UK @ Islington Academy
Sat, July 13 Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
Tue, July 16 Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
Wed, July 17 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
Thur, July 18 Boise, ID @ Visual Arts Collective
Fri, July 19 Seattle, WA @ Showbox Theatre
Tue, July 23 San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore Theatre
Wed, July 24 Las Vegas, NV @ LVCS
Sat, July 27 Los Angeles, CA @ Hendry Fonda Theatre
Sun, July 28 San Diego, CA @ Belly Up Tavern
What's your favorite Peter Murphy tune?