Q&A: Peter Murphy
Unbeknownst to him, goth icon Peter Murphy, is garnering stellar reviews for his tour previewing tracks from his forthcoming ninth album, appropriately dubbed "Ninth." He's been unplugged from the Internet on this tour, but is pleased to hear fans are liking his shows.
"This isn't the obvious, dynamic, full-force order of songs," Murphy told SoundSpike. "It actually does include a couple of very early, obscure Bauhaus songs. It's an interesting, unusual, esoteric set in one part of it. It opens very strong and then I take it really down and leftfield.... Then at the end, I add another two new songs. So it's interesting."
When performers or groups play new songs, he said, the "rule" is the "audience gets lost." But that hasn't been the case with Murphy, the former lead singer of Bauhaus.
"It's been very strong," he said. "I think that has to do with the fact that I'm very interested in the performance element, as much as just playing music. There is a performer there. The audiences seem to love it."
Living between Istanbul, Turkey, and New York City, Murphy ignited a new generation of fans in 2009 while appearing with Trent Reznor at New York's Terminal 5 during the final Nine Inch Nails tour. Critics applauded Murphy and Reznor's renditions of the NIN favorite "Reptile," as well as Murphy's "Strange Kind of Love" and Bauhaus' "Kick in the Eye."
Always one to capture the moment, Murphy appeared last year as "The Cold One" in "Eclipse," the most recent installation of the "Twilight" series of films. It was a nod to his appearance in the David Bowie vampire flick "The Hunger" and his legendary turn as Bauhaus' lead singer.
"Ninth" marks Murphy's first solo album since the Bauhaus reunion tour in 2005, which included an appearance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, during which he descended to the stage upside down on a chain from the rafters. On Tuesday (2/22), he released two songs from "Ninth," "I Spit Roses" and the b-side "The Prince and the Old Lady Shade." Both songs can be streamed below.
Murphy spoke to SoundSpike about the tour, appearing in "Eclipse" and whether or not there's another Bauhaus reunion in the offing.
SoundSpike: How's the tour going so far?
Peter Murphy: It's going very well. We're in the first 10 days. We started in Seattle. There's a lot of long mileage and the shows are being very well received. There's always the chance of an audience being just ageist, just coming to see you out of a sense of the past, but actually it's very vital.
It's gotten great reviews.
I'm unplugged from online this past month. That's good to hear. This tour is a pre-album sort of tour. I'm going to come back with the whole tour.
You must be looking forward to the album release on June 7.
I'm relieved actually. I've stuck by my guns. I've been quite obstinate in not just going with any label that came along. It's been a year at least since I've been wanting to release it. I didn't want it handled badly. I didn't have the resources to do it totally independent, so it was important that I found a good label to work with. I'm pleased that there's the [label] added to the model now. It feels like I'm just beginning the relationship with Nettwerk. Already there's more press, someone I can relate to with press, video, radio. It's good.
What can we expect from the album?
The album was made to be very direct. I wanted it to sound like people playing in a room together. This was really not going back to my roots, but this is how I work best and how all my best work has been made. We basically played it together. Then it was pre-written with David Baron and I. We brought the band in and we recorded it all. There's a lot of swagger in the songs and, in America, you would call it rock. There's a very rockish element to it, which I really like. It was a reflex continuation of the Bauhaus album that was very much pointing in that direction and that ended. That was aborted prematurely. I had this wish to continue writing as I was. It was the first time I really brought my band -- they've been with me for five years -- in the studio element. We spent a week laying down the tracks and David Baron and I would go away and edit.
Tell me about the songwriting process for "Ninth."
It was very quick -- very, very, very quick. I write alone but I also like to bounce off another. David Baron and I would snatch three or four hours here or there in Woodstock. I base myself up in Woodstock, up in the Catskills, which is where David lives. I would [meet him] and we would write. He's extremely quick and I'm extremely quick. We would have lots of dinners and conversations about what it is I was going for, without overly preconceptualizing. We focused ourselves. David would give me ideas and I would choose ones that he ready to put in the trash can. It was good. I can write at any time at any point. But that's not the point. There has to be some reason to it, some endpoint to it. David and I definitely focused on an album.
Which song are you most proud of?
I'm not sure yet. I'm still listening to it as my new work. I'm still very critical on a very analytical level. I'm thinking about in terms of radio, this mix, this mastering, this order, is this order working. I think this album isn't so immediate. The one song I love to come back to is "The Prince and Old Lady Shade."
How much new material are you doing live?
I'm not overdoing it yet. I'm not giving it all away. I am playing five or six songs. It adds up to about a third of the set.
Tell me about your appearance in "Eclipse." How did that come to pass?
It was very short. I was very pleased. David Slade, the director, was brought in to give it some kind of edge. I wasn't too worried either way [if I appeared in the movie]. I did want to appear in it. He said he would like me to play a short cameo role, which to him was like a secret wink to those who know who I am and what I've done, and a bookend to "The Hunger," if you like. I loved it. I thought it was a very nice idea. I was thrilled to go on to the set in the mountains in Vancouver. It was amazing to be an actor for three days. I did hair, and a wig, and make up, and stunt training. The day of the shoot, I was with the young kids who are the stars of "Twilight.'' It was like, "Wow. Look at this." They had to hide me because it's such a humungous enterprise. It was a joy to be on the set. It really enforced the fact that I do have an urge to act. Up until now I felt that was a little pretentious of me, but I do feel that I can act. Talking to David and other people on the set, they encouraged me. I'm going to hopefully look in to other opportunities to act proper. The "Twilight" thing was very short, brief moment. I enjoyed the whole process.
I have to admit, I love those movies. I think they're very clever.
I do too. I think that young actress [Kristen Stewart] is very good. She's lovely, too.
Have you completely written off a Bauhaus reunion?
Oh yes. It's not like I wrote it off. It wrote itself off. It implodes every time we get together.
24 - Jacksonville, FL - Freebird Live
25 - St. Petersburg, FL - State Theatre
26 - Orlando, FL - Firestone
27 - Fort Lauderdale, FL - Culture Room
29 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
30 - Norfolk, VA - NorVa
31 - Richmond, VA - National
1 - Falls Church, VA - State Theater
2 - New York City, NY - Highline Ballroom
3 - Baltimore, MD - Bourbon Street
5 - Buffalo, NY - Town Ballroom
6 - Pittsburgh, PA - Diesel
7 - Albany, NY - Northern Lights
8 - Akron, OH - Musica
9 - Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre
10 - Chicago, IL - Reggie's