INTERVIEW: Pete Murray
Pete Murray’s breakthrough record “Feeler” came out 15 years ago and even over time the album still manages to connect with listeners through its use of emotional lyrics and big radio friendly hooks. “So Beautiful” is one of those songs you will never forget and it still gets played on radio regularly. Pretty impressive. The Australian singer-songwriter released his sixth studio album “Camacho” last year and has received raving reviews that rate it up there with “Feeler” and “See The Sun”. He has just released his new single “Heartbeats” which has been remixed by Peter Mayes from PNAU to give you the perfect summer soaked vibes. To celebrate the release of the single he will be hitting the road throughout June – August for a national run of acoustic shows. I recently chatted to Pete about how the remix for “Heartbeats” came about, what the biggest challenge for his upcoming tour is and reflected on the strongest and weakest thing about his record “Feeler”. Check it out;
TB: You recently released a remix of “Heartbeats” from Peter Mayes as your new single and it’s quite different from the original. So how did this collaboration come along?
PM: When I wrote and started demoing this track it actually had a bit more of a dance flavour to it, kinda like Coldplay. When we ended up finishing the album version of the song it seemed to take so long as we were waiting on different producers, artists and mixers that when we got the song back I kinda forgot about the original idea I had. I really wanted to hear a dance version of this song and I am a big fan of PNAU and Peter Mayes who does all the production and mixing for PNAU and Empire Of The Sun. So we decided to try make it happen. My tour manager is PNAU’s tour manager so I spoke to him and asked if he could set it up and he ended up sending the song to Peter and he really dug it. I sat down with him and explained to him my ideas because I didn’t want it to end up sounding like a PNAU song and lose the original essence. So that’s how it all came about.
TB: When you heard the remix for the first time what striked you the most about it and how Peter transformed it sonically?
PM: He brightened it right up and gave it a different dynamic compared to the earthiness that the original had. He polished it and made it very pop which I hadn’t heard with my music before and it was very different. You can still tell it’s me which is great but he just gives you a child out dance vibe.
TB: Peter Mayes is from the electronic trio PNAU. So if you could do the reverse and give a Pete Murray styled remix to any PNAU song what one would it be? (How would you do it?)
PM: That’s a tough one! I would have to go with a earthy, rootsy flavour and do the opposite to what he does and make it feel more organic. I reckon I would give a crack at “Chameleon” because at first I wasn’t sure about it and over time I fell in love with the track and think it’s so cool.
TB: You should switch it up on your upcoming tour and spice up your live version of “Heartbeats” with a mash up of a PNAU cover
PM: You know what, I never thought of that but that could work so well. For this upcoming tour we have a three piece with a bass, electric guitar and I’m playing acoustic. We’re also using some abbelton beats and doing some natural loops on the guitar. So we could probably pull something like that off, I’m actually going to give that a crack *laughs*. I’m going to steal your idea and pretend it’s my own *laughs*.
TB: Your latest record “Camacho” came out in the middle of last year and delivered a collection of quite vulnerable songs. So what would you said is the albums most vulnerable moment?
PM: “Heartbeats” is pretty cool because it’s a song about missed opportunity and love loss so that’s something people can relate to when you have that regret in your life. “Home” is also an interesting song because it was written about being away from someone and missing them but thinking of the times you are together and how special it is. And we got halfway through the tour and one of my friends who worked on my independent album “The Game” and engineered the “Summer At Eureka” record sadly took his own life. So every time I have performed that song since I started to think of the lyrics differently and began to dedicate that song to him. Because that song was just so appropriate for what had just happened and I’ve know him since 2001 so that really knocked me around. But yeah, for me that is probably the most vulnerable song on the record now.
TB: Your record “Feeler” came out 15 years ago. So reflecting on the record now, what would you say is the strongest and weakest thing about it?
PM: It’s funny because for 8 years when that album came out I had actually never listened to it from start to finish because I didn’t like it. So if you had asked me this question back then I would’ve said there’s not much good about it. I really struggled with it. I went through a post album blues and I thought my career was over before it even began but then all of a sudden the album just exploded and I had even more of a issue with it because here I am thinking it’s not good enough and for some reason people are loving it. I didn’t understand it, it was a really weird feeling. 8 years later I got a text from Darren Middleton from Powderfinger saying “I just listened to Feeler, what a album”. And I thought okay, I’ve never listened to it from start to finish so I did just that and the strength of this album is the album itself. The way it starts to the way it finishes because it takes you on a journey. There are some really big and dark songs on that album like “So Beautiful” that have a lot of meaning to me lyrically. But if I was to pick a weak moment on the record I would say the song “No More” which is about domestic violence. I think its a super powerful song but I think it’s too heavy and dark for that record. If I could take it off the album I would but then people would tell me that for them its the strongest part of the album.
TB: The fact that “Feeler” came out 15 years ago and people are still relating to it, coming to shows and requesting songs from it is very cool.
PM: It’s been difficult because every album I released could never compare to “Feeler” with critics and the fans. So with “Camacho” I gave up trying to out do it and the strangest thing happened because I ended up receiving the best reviews since “Feeler”. And fans have been coming up to me at shows saying that it is their favourite record I’ve ever done which means a lot to me because I never thought that would happen again.
TB: In June you are kicking off a massive national tour. Previously you’ve done it all so what do you love in particular about an acoustic show?
PM: I love that we are playing to smaller crowds on this tour because when you have intimate shows you can hear the comments people are making and interact with them better. The three-part harmonies also sound so much better and stronger because when you’re playing in a big venue it’s not quite the same. I think the fans also just love me with an acoustic guitar so they are always popular and we’ve already sold out some of the shows which is cool.
TB: What songs are you most excited to given an acoustic re-working? What song are you thinking will be the biggest challenge for you from the new album?
PM: That was my concern with this new album because it is a lot more upbeat. But we’re doing natural loops on the guitar with some stomp and it’s actually really cool with the acoustic vibe. I played it to my wife the other night and she was really impressed. It’s definitely very different but I think it’s working well. There is a song called “Connected” which we are doing quite a different version of it on just an acoustic guitar so it’s been fun to play around with it.
TB: As mentioned before you’ve extensively toured the country multiple times so what has been you strangest or funniest touring experience yet?
PM: We flew to Amsterdam for some shows and we had to drive to a place called Eindhoven and we had to play a show the night we arrived so there was no time to muck around. We flew to London then to Amsterdam and then had to drive so it was a little ridiculous as we were so jetlagged. So we got the venue to soundcheck and then we went out the back and had a little sleep and all passed out. Luckily I somehow woke up and I remember being so dazed wondering what the time was and freaking out because we were meant to be on the stage in 5 minutes. So I’m trying to wake the band up and all the guys are going “piss off” and they couldn’t wake up. So I had to basically go, “I’m going to go on and start the show acoustically with three songs and then you’re going to come on so you need to wake yourselves up”. I’m out there playing and freaking out wondering if they will make it on stage but they did thank god. It was just that brief moment where I was like “shit, I don’t now if this gig is going to happen”.
Russia was also an interesting experience because we got assigned this security guard who didn’t speak any English so we ended up calling him Igor because he was massive *laughs*. Anyway he has a pistol and I couldn’t believe that he had a gun! So we started stressing about how crazy this show was going to be if we had a security guard assigned to just me who had a gun on him. After the show there were these fans coming up to me trying to talk to me and he’s just pushing them all out of the way and I’m like “hey hey, its okay!”. And then he went to reach for his gun and I had to yell “mate, its okay” because it freaked me out too.
TB: The Australian music scene is currently buzzing with so many incredible new acts. So what new artist are you loving at the moment that you think we should keep an eye on?
PM: I’m from Byron Bay so what I’m getting a kick out of at the moment is all the young local artists who busk on the streets and are slowly starting to get a following on social media. But Kyle Lionhart and Garret Kato are two artists who are doing some great things and I think they are both just super talented.
TB: Lets play a little game when you answer these questions with the first thing that comes to mind.
TB: If I could have any superpower it would be…
PM: To fly
TB: The emoji that best describes me is…
PM: The chilled out smiley face
TB: The most unexpected thing on my rider is…
PM: We’ve cut it down so it’s glutten free/dairy free now
TB: Most people think I….
PM: Smoke joints all day because I’m so chilled out
TB: If I could form a supergroup with any other band or artist it would be…
PM: I would bring Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix back and I’d have John Bonham on drums and then Ray Manzarek to play bass and keys.
HEARTBEATS ACOUSTIC TOUR DATES;
Friday 29 June – Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Saturday 30 June – Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Sunday 1 July – Roebuck Hotel, Broome
Thursday 5 July – Villa Noosa, Noosa
Friday 6 July – Twin Towns, Tweed Heads
Saturday 7 July – Redland Bay, Redland Bay
Thursday 12 July – Highfields, Toowoomba
Friday 13 July – The Triffid, Brisbane
Saturday 14 July – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Sunday 15 July – Grand Hotel, Mornington
Thursday 19 July – Shoal Bay Country Club, Shoal Bay
Friday 20 July – The Entrance Leagues Club, Bataeu Bay
Saturday 21 July – Narrabeen RSL, Narrabeen
Sunday 22 July – Marlin Hotel, Ulladulla
Thursday 26 July – Gateway Hotel, Geelong
Friday 27 July – York On Lilydale, Mt Evelyn
Saturday 28 July – The Commercial, South Morang
Friday 10 August – Norwood, Norwood
Saturday 11 August – Norwood, Norwood
Thursday 23 August – Macquarie Inn, Dubbo
Friday 24 August – The Cube – Campbelltown
Saturday 25 August – Station Resort, Jindabyne
Sunday 26 August – The Basement, Belconnen