When Pete Murray’s album Feeler dropped in 2003, it seemed destined to become an Australian classic. Scoring immediate heavy rotation on the radio, Pete Murray was one of the few artists who managed to transcend the ties of having a commercial or an alternative following. There was no question; Australia as a whole fell in love with the 11 songs of acoustic grooves and blissful songs.
But there was one Australian who didn’t understand the albums hype, and believe it or not, that person was Pete Murray himself.
“When Feeler came out, I’d never listen to it from start to finish. I’d get a few songs in and I couldn’t bare to listen to it,” he laughs.
“Eight years later I get this random text from Darren Middleton from Powderfinger saying, ‘Hey mate, just listened to Feeler, what a great album!’ and I thought, ‘what is the big deal about this album? Maybe I just need to listen to it start to finish without turning it off.’ So I did, and when I got to the end I realised that it is a really good album and that I should be proud about it.
“It was at that moment that I realised I had to stop trying to beat it with my other albums and to just embrace it for what it is; a classic Aussie album,” Murray continues. “People talk about it and they still love it. Even when I go around the world people still love it, so, it is what it is. There are a lot of songs that I still play live off that album and I absolutely still love to play them.”
Looking back to these very critical eight years, Murray now finds his attitude of the time slightly amusing.
“It’s funny; I had to apologise to Paul McKercher. He produced that album for me and he did an absolutely amazing job, but at the time I just think I was experiencing something completely different to what he was experiencing,” he reveals. “If it weren’t for him, that album would not have been as popular or as successful as it should have been. He kept a lid on my sound as well. At that point I wanted to be a lot rockier, but Paul knew exactly how that album should sound and if it weren’t for him it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful as what it was.”
Looking back in retrospect Murray concludes, “I just caught the post album blues and at the time that was a new thing for me. I felt pretty disappointed with it as an album and when it got successful I just couldn’t understand why anyone would like it. After a while I just relaxed on that thought and stopped criticising and decided to listen to it as an actual album and not as my own work. That is probably the best thing I ever did.”
Now with a new attitude, Murray returned to his acoustic roots after stripping things back for his 2017 release Camacho, and is now working on new material again.
“[The new songs are] a little bit more acoustic, but I think I have also written one of my first ever songs in an ‘open G’ that I play with a slide too so I’ve been really happy with the groove there,” he smiles. “I want to keep it a bit more acoustic because I have really been straying away from the acoustic guitar for the last two albums, trying to get away from ‘Feeler’ again, but I am happy to go back there now and it’s feeling nice.”
Dabbling into the realm of electronic music as well, Murray’s single ‘Heartbeats’ recently scored itself a remix from Peter Mayes of the revered dance act Pnau.
“I wrote the song when I had a dance beat that I thought would work as the backing track, but as I did the album it just didn’t pan out that way. So for that song to be remixed by Peter Mayes from Pnau, a guy who actually makes dance music was a great option. I think it turned out really great; it was nice to hear it.
“Since I did the last album, Camacho, I started listening to a lot more electronic music to gauge a vibe of what is happening in that area,” Murray continues. “I wanted to get away from what I’m well known for and Camacho has got the best reviews since Feeler, which has been a really great compliment. Some fans have even been saying they prefer it to ‘Feeler’, which is a huge benchmark to beat.
“I am starting to get into electronic music more and even with the next album, I have been using a lot more beats and loops to make my backing tracks.”
Finding his new sound, Murray also commented on the stripped back stage set-up he will be taking on his regional tour.
“On this tour especially, we are touring as a three piece, so two guitars and a bass, and then we have a stomp box, loops and beats off ableton, and then some loops on the guitar. Touring with a three-part army will be nice; it’s a much cruisier vibe.”
When & Where: Gateway Hotel, Geelong – July 26.
Written by Alex Callan
Photo by Cristina Jorgensen