Yes, I know. Paul Langlois is the headliner of this show, and he gets top billing. We even gave away some tickets to the gig (you’re welcome!). But today, we get to tell you about Pete Murray, one of the openers on this Canadian tour that is arriving at Zaphod’s on November 21.
Pete is a huge success in his native Australia, where his albums are consistent chart-topping big sellers. In Canada, well ya, we haven’t quite heard of him yet. His music resides somewhere between country and folk. Lyrically speaking, he’s in a league of his own as he writes deeply personal material. His most recent album is considered a “break up record” of sorts (it was inspired by the end of his marriage), but he strives to remain positive in his message. It’s a tough balance, but he manages the delicate subject matter with aplomb.
Ladies and gents, here’s my interview with Pete Murray:
You found success in Australia fairly early in your career with (debut album) Feeler. I can only guess that you were shocked…how did you manage to cope with the success?
As a young boy I was very successful in sports and my parents taught me very early on not to brag about my achievements. Being brought up in a small country town also helped, as no one ever thought they were better then anyone else. When music success came, I guess my feet were firmly placed on the ground and I was able to deal with the success that came my way. This of course was on a completely different level of success, but still that country upbringing helped me out with it.
You were a rugby player in your earlier years, and turned to music after an injury? How did you pick music as your main outlet? Or were there other ventures you were looking into?
I was studying natural medicine before I got injured. A friend of mine who I was studying with, said to me one time that he was going to learn how to play the guitar. He had always wanted to learn and now he was going to do it. I thought that sounded pretty cool so I ended up getting a couple of lessons, he never did.
Around the same time, I was playing Rugby. When I injured my knee I took time off from studying and went overseas (Canada and Europe). It was there that I started songwriting. When I came home, I was totally into music. There was a time just before my music success came, that I almost gave up as I didn’t think it was going to work. I actually enrolled back into College to finish my natural medicine degree, and that’s when my music career took off. It’s funny how things work.
What kind of music were you into growing up? Was there a lot of music floating around your home?
I was actually more into sports than music. There was music around, but it was more of my Mum and Dad’s collection. My Dad was a country music fan. He loved guys like Charley Pride and Freddy Fender. I got right into Neil Young and Bob Dylan when I was about 19.
Your most recent record (Blue Sky Blue) was inspired by the end of your marriage, which must have been very tough on you. How do you feel about mining your personal experiences like that and turning it into songs?
I write about life experiences, so I guess the breakup definitely inspired that album. I just wanted to make sure that the album wasn’t negative. A lot of people totally understood that album and connected to it. I think my fans like that my songs are honest.
As an artist, do you feel it’s important to share your own experiences? Do you hide anything from the songs you write? Any topics you won’t delve into?
I try to write a song that makes me feel something. If I can word it in a way that makes other people connect to it and makes it feel special to them, then I have achieved what I wanted to do.
You’re on tour with Paul Langlois and Greg Ball, how did the three of you come together? What are you looking forward to with the gigs?
I met some Canadians who came out to Australia a few years ago and on their return to Canada they played some of my music to their friend Paul Langlois. Paul really liked the songs and asked me to come over on his tour. This came at a great time for me, as for the last 10 years I have been trying to get over to North America to play, but due to contractual politics my music has never been allowed to be released over here. This has been very frustrating as my music has been very successful in Australia and I have always felt that it was suitable for North America. My label situation has finally changed, and now my music can be released over here and Paul’s tour is a great start for me to play in this country. I met Greg on the tour and I have become a fan of his music. He is also one of the funniest guys I have ever met.
You just released a 10th anniversary edition of your breakthrough record, Feeler. What work went into the reissue? How do you view the album with some hindsight?
It’s funny with this album. It was so huge in Australia and I never liked it. I think I went into this post album blues and I never saw anything good in it. I had never listened to the album from start to finish until about 2 years ago when one of the guys from Powderfinger (huge Aussie band) texted me saying, “just listened to Feeler, what a great album”. I was like, what the f*#k is so good about this album. I thought that it was about time that I listened to it from start to finish, as I had never listened past track Three. I finally got to the end of the album and for the first time I could see the beauty in it and why it connected with so many people. It was a relief to be proud of it after so many years of not liking it.
Pete’s site: http://www.petemurray.com/
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