Neil Murray

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Neil Murray

There’s few musicians who share a love for Australia as much as Neil Murray does, and over the past 30 years in the industry he’s proved it – and then some. Also hailed as the “thinking woman’s crumpet” we had a chat to Neil about his new release and what inspired the album.
Hi Neil, thanks so much for taking the time to chat to Forte, how have you been and what are you up to at the minute?
I’m sifting through the constant, accumulating detritus that arrives daily onto my computer. Other than that I’m well, I guess.
Earlier this year you released your new album, Bring Thunder and Rain how has touring this one been going so far?
It’s always a thrill to perform new material. One feels a renewed vitality. Hopefully the audience makes a similar discovery. The songs are going over well. We all know CD sales are declining, just about finished according to some pundits- yet my crowd still buys them- at least the sales at gigs seem to prove that.
You have long been a singer/songwriter and storyteller of Australian classics both as a member of the Warumpi Band and in your solo career, what would you say was the main inspiration on this new album?
Black Cockatoos ( Wiran – the yellow tailed variety), other than that you have to consider individual songs. I demoed over 20 and they were culled to 11 that make the final cut. Some songs were written as far back as 2004, others more recently. Themes of identity, belonging, mortality, love and country occur in all my work. What’s different on this record is that I’ve got an historical narrative song, a parable drawn from totemic landscape, a gospel song and a song in a language that is no longer spoken. What is familiar is that I also have the travelling song, the rousing rocker and the introspective ballad. Combined, it all makes – I hope – a meaningful encounter for the listener.
With around 30 years in the industry you have played a whole heap of shows and festivals, what has been your favourite show to date and where do you enjoy performing most?
I’m not one for favourites about anything. But here’s a few that come to mind;
The Warumpi Band: The Roxy, Brisbane, 1987 – supporting Midnight Oil – we survived an extremely dangerous, overcrowded, condensation: dripping cauldron of rabid, sweating Oils fans. I think they liked us. And Broome Stomping Ground,1992 – we were incendiary ourselves that night.
Solo: “One of those tunes” duo show with Jim Moginie at Yours and Owls Club, Wollongong 2011 – our first show and there were less than a dozen witnesses, but we made fine art together. The Railway Club, Darwin and the Totem Theatre, Alice Springs, 2014 – solid, heartland audiences that restored me.
The reality is, I’m grateful to perform wherever an audience is – be it the Opera house or someone’s back yard – (I’ll qualify the latter with the proviso that they’ve paid to get in!)
What does 2015 hold for you, have you got many touring plans and what is your goal for the year?
I’d like to have a touring plan, but it’s a matter of what gigs come in that determines where I go. It’s a bit haphazard these days, though I usually look to do a run into northern Australia during the winter. I’d also like to get to Canada. There’s plenty of time, I’ll be riding this album – not to mention the back catalogue – for a while yet. The goal remains the same – to keep going.
Thanks again for chatting with us, is there anything else fans should know about Neil Murray?
Sarah Carroll (The Junes, Pirates of Beer and the Cartridge family) one of the loveliest ladies in the biz (you know her house is a shrine to Elvis!) says I’m “the thinking woman’s crumpet”. How’s that for a byline? Now if I can just get the suit to fit!
Release: Bring Thunder and Rain out now at all good retailers.