Exclusive Interview: Peter Murphy
Unwittingly “The Godfather of Goth,” Peter Murphy has enjoyed a massive cult following for more than 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 on August 16 as part of SSMF.
You’ve been on quite an extensive world tour 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 ’80s 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…
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 Nine Inch Nails tour, and inviting me personally to create backstage impromptu radio sessions, and appear as myself in the Nine Inch Nails show proper. Would love to work with Trent again, yes. He has it in spades too.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now, 20 years from now? Still making music?
Yes, please! Also a successful actor…showing my art work, as well. Writing a novel or two…
See Peter Murphy perform with Ours on Thursday, August 16 at The Roxy as part of SSMF. Individual tickets available through TicketWeb, or purchase a Three-Day VIP Pass for SSMF and receive access to this show, plus performances by RZA, X with special guest Ray Manzarek, Hank III, Robby Krieger & Rich Robinson and the August 18 SSMF street festival.
–Brent X Mendoza