SSMF Interview: Peter Murphy

By: @brentXmendoza

Unwittingly “The Godfather of Goth,” Peter Murphy has enjoyed a massive cult following for over 30 years. Never failing to reinvent himself and stay relevant, the ghostly baritone voice behind hit songs like “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and “Cuts You Deep,” is currently touring the world on his aptly titled Ninth post Bauhaus record, with a stop scheduled at The Roxy Theatre for night one of SSMF 2012.

You’ve been on quite an extensive world tour over the past couple years. How do you handle life on the road, and being away from your family? Are there any creature comforts you miss, that you can’t get?

Playing live is a privilege. I also feel a responsibility to give audiences that rare event, the real thing as it were. Work is good for the whole being, and creature comforts—I am very lucky to have an assistant for top food stuff. But one does miss a certain physicality, if you get my drift—when one is not a monk, so to speak.

All my satisfaction and art is expressed in that two hours on stage; and I am often astonished at how wonderful it is myself. Writing songs is another privilege… I’m not one to sit at home and be an indie musician, with a bedroom Pro Tools, and put records out online, and pretend to be successful. Musicians must get out there, or they are half baked. I’m one of a kind!

What’s your favorite city to visit? Is there a place you consider your second home?

I lose a little sense of my roots working so long this past year and a half. Each place is defined by the audience that night. I love the audiences more than the buildings. Portland I remember was somehow a very attractive audience. Santiago, Chile—mass audience attendance (smoky air though)… So many people in so many places, all unified by the shards of light that is the Murphy concert experience—not to forget my band .

Seems like over the past few years, there’s been a musical trend towards an 80’s throwback sound, and “darkwave” influences, very much reminiscent of your early work with Bauhaus. Have you noticed this..? Have any of these newer bands caught your ear?

The only ones I can remember thinking that about were bands such as Radiohead, The Virgin Prunes, and Nine Inch Nails. Bauhaus were never involved in any goth “scene.” Our fans and other bands created it. We were post punk, yet totally unclassifiable.

Reminiscing a little bit… one of the quintessential cult, goth films for any music/cinema lover is The Hunger, in which Bauhaus had a notable cameo. Can you share with us the story of how the band became a part of that project?

I worked with Ridley Scott’s associate director Howard Marks on the award-winning Maxell tape TV ad in 1982. Howard became a great admirer, and once seeing my live performance of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” Howard drew Tony Scott’s attention to myself and the song. Shame about only seeing Dan’s (guitarist Daniel Ash) elbow in the scene though. Such a good looking boy then…

“I Spit Roses,” the first single off of your current record Ninth—from what I understand is about your last falling out with your former bandmates in Bauhaus. Has there been any sort of backlash or responses as to your perspective on things? Is everyone on relatively good terms despite the disbandment?

Oh that is a kind rendition of the event… taken into what is a non-related shanty tale ultimately. We were never on good terms in reality, only tense and wary of a member or two—the snake in the grass. We have a saying in England, “too many poles stuck up member’s arses for too long.” Although, we are still polite to one another… I’m trying to de-brainwash Daniel from his Bauhaus/Love and Rockets traumas to take up his well earned right, and be the guitarist that he is—an iconic one at that!

Perhaps the most well known collaboration you’ve been involved with was your work with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. Can you talk a little bit about how that relationship first begin? Any future plans to work together again?

Trent listened to my music way back, and loved it and paid it forward by generously inviting the band on his NIN tour, and inviting me personally to create backstage impromptu radio sessions, and appear as myself in the NIN show proper. Would love to work with Trent again, yes. He has it in spades too.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now, twenty years from now? Still making music?

Yes please! Also a successful actor… showing my art work, as well. Writing a novel or two…

Peter Murphy kicks off SSMF at The Roxy on August 16. Get your tickets now!