FATHER MURPHY - Come Closer and Witness the Ritual
Father Murphy ranked among the more unique and adventurous bands of our time. Now their journey came to an end. On the occassion of their farewell show in Prague, we talked about the reasons behind their voluntary retirement, looked back at their rich career and delved into the secrets of their ritualistic music.
What kind of farewell/funeral song would you prefer for yourselves? Considering that your last album is funeral song for Father Murphy as a band and fictional person...
That's a good question to start with... since we won't have any chance to enjoy the composition, we would consider it as a gift for the people that will celebrate our departure. A dreamy situation would be to ask Ezra Buchla to collaborate with Greek duo MMMD - Mohammad on writing a requiem for the celebration of our Lives.
Is this really your absolutely very definitely totally surely last tour?
Indeed. We have shows scheduled till December, then we'll finally call it a day.
Chiara and I just recently identified where we want to gather as Father Murphy for the last time, the place where we want Father Murphy spirit to rest. It's a magic place in Torino, next to the river and the woods. The whole place was conceived following The Egyptian Book of the Dead. It relates to Burroughs' Western Lands, and somehow it makes the whole parable/journey come to a full circle. We will be celebrating a private funeral wake there, with no audience.
How did you come up with the name and the whole fiction around Father Murphy?
The name comes from the main character of Burroughs short novel “The Priest they called him”, a character that Burroughs also performed as an actor in Gus Van Sant’s “Drugstore Cowboy”.
As for the “whole fiction” around it, after finding writing and performing music so cathartic in order to express and somehow digest the Catholic Sense of Guilt left by the Christian heritage, we decided to embark on a journey in the attempt to tell a story. We didn't want to be the main characters, we needed our personal saint, hero, martyr to commemorate. As Burroughs wrote his own legend in all his works, we decided we wanted to be Father Murphy's hagiographers.
What's the main reason to finish off this project? Do you already have any plans or at least ideas and visions for anything new you would be involved in?
The main reason to finish the whole project is that we reached the end of the words. Each new step into the journey was somehow revealed to us while still working on the previous one. And so it happened with Rising; when promoting Croce and the Trilogy of the Cross, both Chiara and I understood that times were near to approach the requiem format. And we already knew that the most powerful and personal way to write a requiem was for us to commemorate with it our dear Father Murphy himself. It came natural that with Father Murphy having to face his own end, the band would have shared the same fate.
As for future projects, we are working on “The Cadence”, Luca Dipierro's first feature film. We started working on it as Father Murphy, but the more we're getting deep into it, collaborating in every little detail with Luca, the more we see it as a completely new project, where there's no separation between movie and soundtrack: it's a whole new thing. So I believe it'll be something like “a movie by Luca Dipierro, Chiara Lee and Freddie Murphy”.
The collaboration with Luca in general is also very important as it's showing how Chiara and I want to keep working together. But, rather than starting from scratch with a new concept, we would love working on someone else imagery. Soundtracks for either motion pictures, theatre or installations sound definitely as a world we'd like at least to explore.
For instance, we already started recording sounds for the next movie by Italian director Davide Maldi. Can't say much more about it, but we're pretty excited about it.
And we really look forward to receive more offers like these.
Looking back at your own back catalogue, live shows and the whole experience you have had because of this band, is there anything you deem particularly special somehow?
After all this years, I really consider the fact we had the chance to work on Father Murphy both as trio and as duo a gift.
With Vittorio we managed to slowly and relentlessly carve a sound of our own, but then as duo we managed to reach and express something even more personal and unique.
Have you met somebody because of the band you probably wouldn't otherwise? I believe Jarboe is very close to your hearts... but you also do a lot of booking yourselves, so that might be behind these encounters more. Is it actually easy to combine these two things (band - touring/recording/promotion - and booking other bands)?
The list of beautiful and lovely human beings we met thanks to the music is definitely long, and in such Dark times we are living in, this is of course a grasp of air; thanks to Father Murphy we learned of diverting the attention from us to the music, to the journey itself. We got to dissolve our egos into music. Meeting other people to share a similar attitude toward life, community and music itself helped us in learning how to respect and listen to others. As well as to demand to be respected and listened to. And we got rid of any possible trace of nationalism, if we ever had any.
So, as for your question, I feel it is actually easy to combine the two things, as the attitude and the community I work with is quite the same.
The biggest fuckup you had with the band?
Every little fuckup brought so much sense of Guilt that it fueled our sonic research, so we can only be thankful and grateful for all of them.
What are you most proud of?
I would say the acceptance of the end of Father Murphy when we did foresee it. Signs were clear, but we could still have pretended we didn't recognize them.
I have seen you live first just before "Anyway, Your Children Will Deny It" was released (and actually that was my very first contact with your music) which is kinda late, but I have incredibly strong memories of those performances which were force of nature for me. As the years passed, you have seemed to get quieter and more minimal, moving the focus from expressive sound to rather heavy emotional litanies/rituals. Was it related to departure of Vittorio, conscious decision or just natural flow of creative process?
I would say a natural flow of creative process. Even if Vittorio was still in the band, “Pain is on our side now” has almost no drums. At one point it got clear to us that we wanted our sound to implode rather than explode. We needed to go deeper, exploring our most inner selves. We took a much personal and intimate path. Even so, the atmosphere is not repellent, the audience/listener is rather asked to come closer, to witness the ritual, to feel it. We open up to our own melancholy and sadness, they tune in, and we allow ourselves to fully feel sensations and feelings that alone we wouldn't be able to. A friend called it once the best couple therapy he has ever witnessed.
What is your recipe to survive on the road for most part of the whole year?
In the evenings our main concern is performing, so we try to go to sleep not too late. In that way we can try to wake up early in the morning and enjoy ourselves during the day, I have to say that the first days of a tour are always hard, but once in the routine, we could go on forever.
In general we consume high doses of water, ginger, coffee, liquorice and nuts, not in this particular order.
Do you feel any time you need a total rest from anything music-related?
More than from music we feel the need to rest from a constant interaction with other people, all the small talks, and of course when you're on the road it's quite impossible not to. It's hard to find silence around you, so you find it in your head. So when we get back home, for sometimes we kind of lock ourselves in and try to slowly adjust to the external word.
Originally published in Fullmoonzine in Czech.