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Peter Murphy (Bauhaus) - exclusive interview!
Written by K. Μπρέλλας-Β. Γιαννακόπουλos   
Monday, 25 February 2008
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Peter Murphy (Bauhaus) - exclusive interview!
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An exclusive interview with 
Peter Murphy 


  • It sounds really weird for me, but in 2008 I talk with Peter Murphy and the first question is going to be about a new Bauhaus album! So, there’s “Go Away White” about to be released, how did the four of you decided to enter the studio and record new songs?

    Peter Murphy: Well I think if you cast your mind back, we got together for the Coachella Festival and that was fine, so that was offered to us from the promoter that really want us to play and I’d always felt that it was an attractive idea to see if we could get together and make new music. I think once we started to rehearse it was such a good feeling that we all wanted to give it a shot and then we decided to do it. Well, I suppose it was spontaneous in one sense but I think we all felt that we wanted to see how we were connected during that time and during rehearsals we made the decision to do so. So I went off and toured the world with my own solo album that summer, then we reconvened during the winter and continued on and we made the decision that we would like to make an album to see how that went…


  • murphy3magBut is this way of recording and being spontaneous and maybe not having something very particular in mind concerning the final musical result similar to your old way of making a record?

    Peter Murphy: It is. I think that was one of the ways we used to work best in the past. Not over talking the idea and being very intuitive about it and instinctive. So you’re quite right, we decided to meet and book ourselves to a space for 2 to 4 weeks to interact as a band and see what happened. It turned out to be very happy positive time and very strong actually…


  • It seems that you did enjoy it. Are you saying that you are satisfied with the final musical result and with how the album sounds?

    Peter Murphy: I think I was most satisfied with the bonding on an emotional level. It was good to be working together and to put the past behind us and it was very positive. The result was coming out really fast, so it was exciting and it was very enjoyable.

  • goawaywhite1‘Go Away White’ is now ready and about to be released, but what kind of reactions do you expect from an older fan of Bauhaus and from someone who, let’s say, has never heard your music?

    Peter Murphy: I think that’s a very difficult question to answer because you can never second guess somebody, an audience or someone who hears it.  I think it stands up in a way that it has a very raw quality about it.  I don’t think it really sounds or relates to what we did in the past at all, so I think they’ll be as with any band that had an audience in the past, they may have expectations and may not like it in terms of what they like now – I don’t know about that really. “Go Away White” stands as a good capturing of the energy we have as a band, there are a lot of positives to be honest and a lot of playfulness…


  • As far as I know there won’t be any concerts following the new release, why is that?

    Peter Murphy: I think we’ve toured a lot with the old material for a long time and we reached a point where the stresses of that really tired us. We were going over the old sets over and over again for a year or so, we needed to move on. I think there were minor differences to us as a band and also we’ve all had our own solo careers. That rocky character worked and I think it was a bit right to finish it, really.

  • How did you feel like performing your older songs like ‘Bella Lugosi’s Dead’ or ‘Silent Hedges’ with your old band mates after all those years? It must have been a tremendous experience for you and for the fans I think…

    Peter Murphy: Yes I think all of us had contributed with an element and it was very nice to be able to see underneath it and looking back in the past you know there were times when we though we really take it on the moment of the performance and make it an event, so the songs have been like a vehicle, creating a very memorable experience in the concert. Sometimes it feels like trending old ground that maybe we should leave behind. But once you’ve stopped, you’ve been forced to even stop thinking about the past and look forward. So there’s only having to concentrate on now and you obviously need to meet with that, you know the show…

  • murphyathensmagHere in Athens, we have seen you performing twice. Once in 1983 with Bauhaus in a basketball arena and in 2005 during your Unshattered tour. Do you remember anything from these concerts?

    Peter Murphy: I do remember! I remember both of the shows. I remember most recently my own one, that we were initially to play at a festival and we arrived in Athens and then the promoters said “we had a bit of a problem” and then we ended up playing at a very small place but it was a wonderful gig and I enjoyed that very much, although it was really hot… And yes I remember the one with Bauhaus, that was hot and crowded too.

  • So in these two concerts one could say that Peter Murphy was a very different performer. With Bauhaus you were very energetic, more theatrical but during the…

    Peter Murphy:  I was younger too…


  • murphy80mag…eh hehe…I see…during the second show you thrilled the audience too, but in a more sophisticated way. So, who’s the real Peter Murphy on stage after all?

    Peter Murphy: One who mainly is very warm and giving and very positive with the audience…I think some of those old singers from the past, in the early 80’s what we did was a reflection of our youth as much as anything else and a quite sort of a  culturally thing… Britain in the early 80’s was a very intense and quite a depressing country too. I think that spoke a lot from the energy in the early times, but the real Peter Murphy is someone who loves to raise an audience’s spirit and leave them with something that’s shared… with the performance really.

  • Concerning your solo career, your last 2 albums ‘Dust’ and ‘Unshattered’ are very different. ‘Dust’ is more mysterious and culturally flavoured, while ‘Unshattered’ resonates with the older stuff. What should we expect from your next release? 

    Peter Murphy: Well, I’ve written the songs and I’m preparing to go and record them.  I’m working with a wonderful producer, David Baron, who has his recording facility in New York State, Woodstock. We’re designing and writing for a band, so there’s a lot of melodic quality to it. The aim is to capture the feeling of a band and to introduce some analogue electronic elements to the music. So far it’s shaping up well, so I hope to have the album ready in a couple of months and hopefully tour.

  • dustDo you have a personal favourite album from your career?

    Peter Murphy: I do think that “Dust” stands out in a way that’s very unique and was meant to be that way in a sense. I wanted to work with Mercan Dede and to bring in some of the flavours that I was hearing here in Turkey and I think that really worked well and there were some beautiful songs in it. I’m very proud of the song ‘Your Face’ which was very beautiful and emotional…

  • murphy11magYes, that was really beautiful… Concerning covers, covering songs seems to be one of your most remarkable talents. ‘Ziqqy Stardust’, ‘Telegram Sam’ with Bauhaus they were great moments in your discography… how difficult is it for you to get into the sentimental core of a song and develop your own affair with it? Ιs it a matter of talent or just a matter of making the right choice? Τhe right song that fits to you.

    Peter Murphy: I think with the Bauhaus songs it was all about us being fans of those songs and introducing our own sound. It was almost very immediate and the way we would interpret them was very natural and wasn’t thought out too much.  And at that time in the early 80s those songs were references to artists that had inspired us and somehow had a relevance to some of the theatricalities we were using then. Nowadays it’s different… If I do a cover song now it will always be chosen to have some sort of relationship with the songs that I’m singing live, so I choose songs that really give me a vehicle to enjoy singing. 

  • murphy2magDo you have anything particular in mind, any other artists song that you would like to sing or do a cover? 

    Peter Murphy: Not right now, I don’t plan to do a cover right now, but there’s always songs that pop up in my mind and then a couple of days later I’ll drop the idea.

  • My eternal dream is to hear you sing “Wild Is The Wind” with Lisa Gerrard…

    Peter Murphy: Well, that would be really wonderful!

  • Definitely! So, David, Kevin and Daniel went there own ways. Which record or which bands or project of them do you like most?

    Peter Murphy: I think one of the Love and Rockets albums was very enjoyable, “Earth, Sun, Moon”. I did enjoy that.

  • What about all those new bands these days try to sound like Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Cure and other post-punk groups? Does this popularity of the classic bands surprise you?

    murphy6magPeter Murphy: No, I watch it and I see it as very natural progression and it’s a good thing it happens in the music world, the popular music world. It also feeds of itself. I don’t really know who you’re talking about, I know there’s this band, the Editors, which is one of my favourites and they assume that they’re inspired by the early 80s Joy Division type. I don’t know what they think about it themselves, but what I hear of them is an original set of songs and you should take them for what they are.

    One of my favourite bands is Sigur Ros and the way that they work is very personal and very intimate. They don’t somehow integrate with the interface and the world of the music people, but they work in a very classical way, a very human way that I love very much.

  • Recently you collaborated with Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails…

    Peter Murphy: Yes, that was during the tour with Bauhaus. Trent invited me to come and do things on the road whilst we were touring. We would do these live radio performances backstage at the show.


  • What kind of person is he? He has a strange image…

    trentpeterPeter Murphy: Trent is very intelligent, self contained and a very good musician. He’s totally focussed on his project and he’s a very friendly man… Prolific too.

  • That sounds peculiar compared to the image and the temper that people think he has…

    Peter Murphy: Trent is a very people’s person, not at all aggressive. I think with NIN he shows a very theatrical image but him as a person it’s quite different. Maybe there’s a contrast…


  • He’s very influenced by you when you were with Bauhaus…

    Peter Murphy: Maybe in the early days, but I don’t know…Of course many years have gone under the bridge now, so I think he’s developed his own work in an obviously unique way.


  • Besides music, I know that you’re also interested in painting, taking photographs and art in general.  Are there any plans to use any of your own work for an album cover or putting on an exhibition?

    Peter Murphy: I don’t have many paintings that I would want to exhibit, it’s very kind of you to say… Well, the truth is I don’t really paint much but I am able to and I’m interested in it …maybe one day.

  • murphy4magOne last question, about the new album from Bauhaus. What would you answer to someone who would accuse you of recording this album just for money?

    Peter Murphy: Well obviously there’s a mixture of art and commerce and the dichotomy between art and commerce…There was an element of that of course but I think we were aware of it. There’s always a commercial consideration or otherwise it seems pointless really if you have to make a living.  I think half of it, when we started working is really about meeting and trying to redeem that very friendship that we had but of course when you’re touring, and you’re older now, there is a much more business element to it.

    It’s too idealistic to say art for art’s sake, I think it’s where there’s an opportunity to earn a rightful income from what you do, that’s something you shouldn’t feel guilty about. It’s a real part of what you do

  • Thank you very much, I hope you will come to Athens someday and play live – in the near future…

    Peter Murphy: Well, I’d love to! Nice talking to you & have a lovely day.

Interview : V. Giannakopoulos
Editing/Text: K. Brellas 
thanks to: E.Sotiropoulou, de:tech, N.Drivas, L.Oikonomou 
  PETER MURPHY - cuts you up video



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