Aagoo Recording Artist Father Murphy Interview 9/8/14
1. For those of us new to the project how did Father Murphy come to be?
A decade or more ago I was living in Brooklyn. Chiara Lee, who at that time was living in Shanghai, came to visit me and I asked her if she was up to record vocals on some tracks I was working on. I already liked the idea of Father Murphy as a name for a project because I really enjoyed W.S. Burroughs short story (you can hear him reading it while Kurt Cobain plays guitar in the back on “The priest they called Him”), but during a break from those recordings I read of a priest with the same name, Father Murphy, a interesting character who, at the end of the 19th century, was fighting in NY for Irish workers rights. He had one son and a daughter. The son followed his path and stayed in Brooklyn, the daughter moved to Shanghai. I think coincidences do not exist, they are signs you can recognize and follow if you feel like. It’s up to you. We decided to go for it.
2.You sound comes from many genres. I would say I here elements of bands like When and Bogus Blimp from Jester records as well as bands like Manes and Some Cold Meat bands like Sanctum and MZ412 mixed with 90's indie rock. What would say to someone that asked what Father Murphy sounds like?
Wow, I don’t know any of the bands you mentioned… we discovered so many great bands reading names journalists/bloggers/friends linked us to!
As for your question, I really believe Father Murphy to be our attempt to express Catholic Sense of Guilt in sound. The Sense of guilt ticks on your ears since you were born, and that ticking has a sound, that grows, evolves, changes with you. We are becoming that sound.
3. Aagoo is not a label I’ve heard of before how did you come to work with them and how is the partnership continuing?
We got to know of Aagoo some years ago through our Italian booking agent when he started working with AU, a Portland OR based band that was released by that label. He suggested to get in touch with Alec Dartley, the boss, and thanks also to the fact we were already planning a second (completely diy) US tour, he said to be interested in releasing our “…and He told us to turn to the Sun”. That was 2008/2009.
Thanks to Aagoo (that then started to collaborate very often with our Italian label, Boring Machines) we managed to have our first real distribution and some press. I consider now Alec to be part of our Family (you know, being Italians, we feel a lot the idea of family), we share the same attitude toward things. You need dedication and people you can trust to work with. In these years both us and Aagoo grew up a lot, as people and as professionals.
4. Is there a theme or story behind " Pain is on our side now" Album?
“Pain is on our side now” is a concept release about Failure. Each FM release represents a different step into a so called Father Murphy’s downward spiral. Failure came in as a revelation. Is Failure a negative thing? What if, after all these years I can only see my path as a Failure? We got to that point right before recording the EP.
“Pain is on our side now” came as an Ode to Failure, where failing is a positive thing, it is necessary, you fail, you have the chance to start over. Can you then succeed? I don’t know. What I know for sure is that we’re given the chance of trying. Again and again.
5. I see you did a bunch of touring what is live show like for the band?
In the last 4 years we did more than 400 shows. Live shows are what we do best. Playing live is kind of cathartic for both C. Lee and I, and I feel like after each of our show we feel better, better people. We throw up lot of black tar, for then feeling better. The audience is fundamental, because we need them to take part of a ritual where we do not give chance to people to trip, we demand to focus only on what we are expressing. Once we are done, each one can take home what he wants from what he experienced.
6. Whats your thoughts on the experimental music scene in 2014 is it thriving again or have it gone very underground once more?
The bands I love the most have gone very underground once more. Unfortunally maybe, because they work hard out there in order to make a living out of it, and sometimes Life wins over your need and urgency to
But there are so many great albums and tunes that came out in these last years that I feel like what I love the most is that peculiar sound of the urgency each one expresses in different ways trying to deal with his own life.
There is so much going on underground, and by underground I really think of the people who dig and dig, you can see the dirt under their nails.
7. Where do you see the future sounds of Father Murphy Heading ? More experimental or Heavier and more extreme?
We just recorded a new album. We recorded it in New Mexico with John Dieterich from Deerhoof, and both, John and the city influenced us a lot. Albuquerque is a magic place, the light there is really something. John has a feverish brain and deals with different sounds at once for each track with several mics. It is a very peculiar way of working. The new album will be called Croce, that in Italian means Cross. The A side deals with the idea of Sacrifice/Crucifixion, while the B side with the Beatitude coming from the Crucifixion itself. Crucifixion seen as one of the more well known examples of extreme sacrifice.
More than before I feel like our tunes “find” a narration that happens beneath. The writing is somehow clearer and refers to vocals and percussive sounds as an attempt of an orchestration.
Greg Saunier (another Deerhoof member, we love that band!) is mixing it right now. We look forward to hear what the result will be.
8. Whats the bands thoughts on Social Media in 2014 is it really helping or hurting bands now?
Social media hurt the bands when bands think of social media instead of making music, play live shows and such. They can help, when used as media to better promote a record, a live event…so to reach people you would hardly get to without. The whole idea of democratization behind, that I think it’s pretty worn out as a concept, or at least I don’t believe in it.
9. The mix of Male and female vocals do make it more interesting to say the least. What do you how the listeners get out of Father Murphy?
The male and female vocals represent a dialogue, a relationship that deals directly with our way of expressing ourselves, with words, gestures, sounds, music. It becomes so personal and sincere that somehow reflects also how we perceive the reality and its sounds around us. I feel like the listeners in this way get a sample out of us, and a lens to watch things from a closer point of view.
10. What are the members of Father Murphy currently reading and listening too?
Music: all very recent and great discoveries: Arvo Part, Gordon Ashworth and Gabriel Saloman.
Books: The Dwarf by Par Lagerkvist, The Listeners by Leni Zumas
11. Does Politics and Religion play as large as a role in your music as it seems?
Religion does as something we had to deal with while growing. We tried to get rid of it, but it didn’t work.
As for Politics, the situation around us affects us and our way of living, so I can’t see it not influencing also our music.
12. I know you play in other projects can you talk a bit about them and how would fans of Father Murphy react to them?
We don’t have other projects at the moment, we are really focus in Father Murphy’s path. Sometimes we work with our names in projects that also involve people related to Father Murphy though.
Recently we released an ideal soundtrack to a mystic book called “Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz Anno 1459”, where each one of us conceived and recorded his own part for then literally putting them one next to each other, with only the recording of a person walking being the glue to fix them together. Or we worked with thousands cut-ups from old recordings single tracks in order to compose ex novo soundtracks for some animated movies by Portland OR based artist Luca Dipierro.
We actually just recently premiered in a theater in Portland “Paper Circus”, a show with Luca himself playing trumpet and drums with us, where we played live the soundtrack for a selection of his animations. In September we’ll be doing a short “Paper Circus” tour in the West Coast (Seattle, Grand Illusion Cinema on September 11th, San Francisco, ATA’s on September 14th, Los Angeles, Cinefamily on September 16th)..
13. Is Digital Media going to be the new golden age for artists in the yrs to come or will music be free and the shows and merch be the bands livelyhood?
Shows and merch are the bands livelihood for what we know. Then Digital Media can give a little booster here and there. But our reality is (thank God) that people are more than ever relying to physical objects.
14. How does Father Murphy go about recording an album and it seems like a complex process?
The recording process may differ but, at least for the last 4 releases, there are some steps that we always follow.
We usually start working on the tracks of a new album thinking about them as different atmospheres composing the album, rather than separate songs; music and notes come at last, when all the lyrics and the structure of the movements are done. After recording we usually work on a premix stage which for us is also a writing stage, using a mix of a home made sort of cut-up technique and some dada, for then sending all the tracks to Greg Saunier to finalize the whole process. We send a letter along with the tracks explaining to Greg what is the concept behind the release, and how the different atmospheres dealt together prior the result he can listen to from the tracks. Then we wait for the final result. If 5 years ago you had told me that we wouldn’t be part of the final mixing, I would have called you crazy, but what can I say? We grew older, we learned how to delegate and to trust. It’s a family, it works better like this.
15. Thank you for the time any closing thoughts here
We’ll be doing some more touring in the States in September and October, until early November.
We invite you all to come and take part of our rituals. The more, the better. We won’t redeem you from your sins, but we’ll teach you how to fail with a smile in your face.