Interview with Kevin Murphy – Slow Moving Clouds – Part 3
by Killian Laher
No More Workhorse caught up with Kevin Murphy just before the world changed to discuss Slow Moving Clouds, Blind Stitch and a few other anecdotes.
What do you think about music these days?
In Ireland or everywhere? The record industry seems to have contracted but there seems to be more output if anything. I mean it’s a really hot time in Ireland. We had an album out and I was wondering if it would get a Choice Award nomination and it didn’t, and I was looking at the list going well you know fair enough, there are some great bands there. I’m a massive Girl Band fan, they’re probably my favourite band, there’s loads of good stuff in the trad world as well. That Lankum album is brilliant, I really like it. I really like Lisa O’Neill and there’s a lot of good stuff happening in the folky world, beyond that I don’t know, I’m kind of half detached. I should follow blogs more. I came across a band the other day, Timber Timbre, and they’re amazing, an awesome band, their album Hot Dreams from 2014 is definitely worth a listen. It’s described as kind of a David Lynch-y kind of thing and really that’s exactly what it sounds like. Fucking great.
Depends which movie though…
Well yeah, what’s that black and white one, it’s really strange, I’ve actually never seen the whole lot… Eraserhead. I’ve never watched it, but I’ve watched bits of it and it’s mind-blowing alright. It’s absolutely fucked in the head, very strange. It’s not the easiest fucking watch now I have to say but that’s him alright, I suppose.
So yeah, in general, we’re told, record companies are finished. They’re clearly not, they’re all turning up on Monday morning and they’re all making money. I suppose streaming, what it means for us, to me it’s all good. I always assumed that by the age of 35, there’d be no… that music is for under 35s, I don’t know. Is it part of the new reality that THAT’s not true any more? You just find your fucking audience and off you go. So that’s brilliant, to me that’s great.
Whatever about people buying music – and it does gall me people don’t buy music much anymore – they’re still going to gigs.
Yeah, they’re still going to gigs. It’s hard to know will that one ever flick around unless there’s some technological advancement that stops file sharing, I don’t know. Obviously, it’s shit for me but I’m just wondering for a punter maybe it’s not. I mean obviously, there are benefits in it but it seems as if music isn’t as special I suppose. It definitely was really special.
But no, it’s not as much part of their identity. It definitely used to be, big time. So I mean that’s a pity. Some of the romance has been taken out of it for sure. And I don’t just think that’s getting older. I’m always conscious of the fact that I’m getting older so I look at these things that used to be great… or were they?
You don’t want to be that guy who says it was better back then because it wasn’t in lots of ways.
No, no. No fucking way man. They talk about Ireland having a golden age in the 80s. Not compared to now.
The 80s was grim.
I think so too. I have to be careful because of my age group there, I don’t want to slag off anyone, but at the same time, to me what’s going on now would wipe the floor (with back then). Internationally they’re successful, while the Irish bands in the 80s, except for U2 there was very little success outside of Ireland. Villagers or Girl Band or Fontaines DC they’re all doing it abroad. And it’s cos they’re better.
I remember Dublin being a fucking shithole.
Yeah, it was. I mean it’s completely moved from the rest of the country, that’s kind of problematic too. In many respects, Cork used to compete with Dublin. It wasn’t Dublin at all when you mentioned town. It’s not good for Dublin either. It would help the whole property thing here too if there wasn’t such an obsession with coming to Dublin.
You’re out of there a while though.
1986. Well out of there. I still have the biggest sense of attachment to the place. There’s a lot of things were amazing about it and still are to a certain extent. But I mean there’s a movement in music there that was not in Dublin at the time the punk movement there is amazing.
They were trying to push it, trying to do something.
Yeah for sure. The same with the Cork bands of the same time. In fairness, hats off to them all. Ireland in the early 80s, fucking getting away with that. I saw early footage of Virgin Prunes and I couldn’t believe it, that this actually happened in Ireland at the time. There isn’t so much footage of Five Go Down To The Sea. The guy was a very unusual character. Finbarr Donnelly, he was a sort of a refugee from Belfast, down to Cork, he lived in Knocknaheeny and all his family who are still there to this day have Belfast accents. But within 10 minutes he had the strongest Cork city accent and he stood out immediately. He was a very imposing physical kind of presence, he was a tall, lean kind of character and completely fucking mental. He was a bit of a genius.
I did a gig the other night in Cork and I was talking about a song that was based around 1986-1987 leaving Cork and I was just remembering the sense of superiority we had back then, it was just un-fucking-believable. Anything in Dublin was just way beneath us…
Cork people still have that to an extent, maybe it’s entirely misplaced but it’s a cultural thing that you kind of inherit, a mad superiority complex. Well obviously at some stage you’re going to get some kick in the balls. It can be good fuel!
But as regards music, word of mouth still works I think.
For me, word of mouth is still the most potent way. Of the bands that I’ve listened to the most over the last five years, usually, it’s Thomas (Haugh) from Seti The First says listen to this band. Do you know Haxan Cloak at all? You need to be in the mood for it. I mean first I would have listened to it and usually with the things I really like I listen to them and go “fuck…”
So, word of mouth still works, yeah. I have to say we’re all playing the media game but yeah. With Blind Stitch, it’s kind of a wait and see.
Have you an idea when you might like the album to come out?
Well, I mean, if nothing happens in the next four weeks, I guess there’s nothing stopping me putting it out pretty much straight away. Except everything’s gone weird now so it could be September then possibly, I’m not too sure. We’ll wait and see. I was very obsessed about getting it out quickly and now what’s the rush I’m thinking. I don’t know, it’s a new thing for me so I’m not really too sure what way to go about it.
I can do it on my own, I can do lots of supports. I’m happy to play everywhere and anywhere at any stage. It’s going to be a big adventure and we will get a band around it as well. I think I’ll get maybe two musicians… I’m not too sure. My brother Bernard was playing with me the other night. Bernard’s a solicitor in a multi-national company so he’s not going to be coming on tour with me or anything like that probably, well unless he wants to. So, I’ve got a few things lined up anyway, we’ll see, I’m going to try a few different angles, so I’m not too sure, I’m going to colour it in.
But about music… I listen to Heaven or Las Vegas maybe once in every two years and I just can’t move after it for about 20 minutes. Oh, Jesus Christ, they (Cocteau Twins) were so good. Although anything before it was good and everything after it was kind of good-ish but it was just… they hit it there. Some things don’t age well. That I think that Van Morrison album, his most critically acclaimed album Astral Weeks, I can’t listen to that now at all. The fucking guitar player just plays… I think I genuinely absolutely loved it at one stage but the noodling that’s going on. I know it’s supposed to be part of its charm. It was done in 48 hours and there are mistakes, here’s a mistake so that’s grand I don’t mind the mistakes, yeah, so that for me hasn’t aged well, no. I never was really into him at all. To me, it was always music for older people or something like that, comfortable music. I’m not really ready for that. When I lose control of my bowels and stuff like that I can tune in and make myself feel better. I know he’s supposed to be a god and everything but I never really go there.
What did you think of the Fontaines DC album?
Yeah, it was fairly good. I prefer Girl Band I have to say.
What about “contemporary classical”?
Well, I’ve certainly thrown myself in and I’m kind of crawling out now alright! For a little while, it seemed like that was the only thing kind of turning me on. Arvo Part, John Taverner, I mean those are the main ones. I can’t remember people’s names any more… Steve Reich, John Cage… I suppose a lot of Seti The First was influenced by that, as well as some of the cellists around. Hildur Gudnadottir, she did the music for The Joker, I remember hearing her years and years ago, Thomas put me on to her and for me, she’s definitely way above all the rest of them. Your one Colleen…….. she played in Dublin a couple of times she’s more loops and all that kind of stuff. She’s a cellist as well. The fucking cello thing seems to be taking off. Everyone is playing the cello now!
It doesn’t look like an easy instrument to play, not that anything’s easy.
Well, any non-fretted instrument is difficult because you don’t have the visual aid, you have to have muscle memory, you have to keep at it. If you don’t play it for a little while you’re going to sound like a bag of cats and you’ve got to get back into it but yeah there’s a lot more now but at the same time, there’s not many doing what I’m doing. I suppose to a certain extent Vivienne Long is doing something like that, although she plays piano a bit whereas I don’t do that. But as I say Hildur is my hero on that level and she seemed to do a lot with Johann Johannsson. And I used to like him too. I suppose to me he’s kind of a lighter version of Arvo Part who I’d still think is amazing.
What keeps you going?
I think for writing music, and it’s probably not one of the reasons I did it for a long time, just do it because you feel other people aren’t doing it in the way you’d like it to be heard. It’s always definitely a good motivation. Certainly for earlier parts of my life, definitely writing music was to be rich, famous and get laid which didn’t work. And if you just do it on the basis that, well I want to write the kinds of things I would like to hear and don’t seem to be out there, you’re more on to a winner I think.