Pete Murray @ The Tivoli Theatre in Brisbane, QLD
Interview & Photographs by: Dana Hope
Welcome Back, Pete Murray
Pete Murray, the father of acoustic, easy listening music in Australia is back after a 5-year hiatus with his 6th studio album Camacho (available now). This much anticipated release has had fans eager to get their hands on the new album after the release of Take Me Down earlier this year. Camacho is a diverse, uplifting, emotive and powerful record from a seasoned songwriter who is unafraid to challenge himself with new and exciting sounds. Murray set out on a 33 date tour from, starting on July 13th across all areas of Australia. Mixing the sounds of classic Pete Murray that we all know and love as well as adapting to the changing times of music since his last release, makes his new album one not to be missed. I had the pleasure of speaking to Pete over the phone to have a bit of a chat about his brand new album Camacho, and the tour following it. During my interview with Pete, he kept saying “groove”, it made me think that as he is in his 40s, his “groove’ is like us millennials saying a song is a ‘bop’ or a ‘banger’, so keep that in mind while reading this interview.
Camacho was released on June 2nd, across all media platforms, and has been successful from the moment it dropped. “Both media outlets and fans alike have been loving it from start to finish which was my goal and why it took so long.” Pete says, “It’s some of the best reactions I’ve had to an album, probably since Feeler”. The large time gap between Camacho and Blue Sky Blue, which was released in 2011, was mainly due to Murray wanting to produce an album that he was completely happy with and wasn’t rushed. Usually when putting an album together, the artist goes into a studio for 4-6 weeks and records, producers edit it and it’s done. To keep your music flowing and continuing to release songs is great, but as Pete states, and I’m sure many agree with “you’re never quite happy with everything, but I didn’t want that to happen with this album. It was going to be finished when it was finished, and I wanted to make sure I was 100% happy with every song from start to finish”.
A time gap this significant in the music industry is a lot, after Pete admitted he had spent the entirety of that time working on this album he was a little bit anxious about the release as he’d spent the last 6 years of his life on this one album, what if people don’t like it? “You get this confidence, that you like it yourself, so regardless of what everyone else thinks, I was happy with it. I haven’t been happy with an album from start to finish before, and prior to the release I thought ‘well if no one else likes it, at least one person does; me.” This self-confidence is extremely important for artists to have. There is no point releasing music or art or books or anything, if you’re not happy with the final result. Be proud of what you create and worst case scenario, if you’re the only one that likes it, in the end, that’s all that matters.
Murray recorded a lot of the album in his home studio, so he was able to record demos, get the songs down, have a break, listen back to them then jump back in the studio and have another go at them, until he was completely happy. Murray states “I recorded over the whole 5-6 year period. Some of the songs were recorded over 5 and a half years ago, stayed the same and didn’t change”.
As a fan of Pete’s songs from when I was younger, I gave the album a solid two or three listens with headphones on and doing nothing else, solely focusing on the music and the lyrics. The track listing of Camacho is flawless and flows extremely well between every song on the album. The songs are similar, but not in a boring way, they flow well but sound different and the compilation of the album is a major part in how the record is received. As an avid music listener, I know how misplaced track listing, or a complied order with a “whatever” attitude, can ruin the entire vibe of an album. From listening to Camacho, you can tell a lot of thought went into the track listing to make sure there was a good flow throughout the whole record. “I would have changed the order over about 6 months,”, Pete says, “I’d get an order down and think ‘that’s pretty good’ then think ‘that’s not working’ and change it again.”
“It’s very important to get the flow,” Pete goes into detail about how he went about deciding on the track listing and how much thought actually went into it. “the songs that I love are Long Ride and Camacho, but I thought they would be better towards the end of the album. When you listen to it, it starts to build up a bit of a punch, like Heartbeats, it has a bit of an intensity to it. Then you’ve got Give Me Your Love and Take Me Down, those are the emotional and groove songs that slow it down, before you get to the second half of the album where Camacho through to Thought I Was, it’s all grooves in that section. At the end you’ve got Home, which just brings it all back together.”
Throughout the album, as I listened to it, you’re constantly waiting for that song that just lets it down, every album has it, those one or two songs that if they weren’t there the album would be non-stop bangers. Camacho is different, this may sound stupid but I spent a large portion of time going through each song trying to find something wrong with the album, and I couldn’t. “It’s a strong mesh of songs, with no weak moments” Pete agrees, “unless you’re not a fan of my music, then there would be a lot of weak moments,” he joked. Murray told me that even “some media have said that they’ll try and look or something wrong and they can’t, which means I’ve done my job right.”. And I agree with whatever media said that, because as a critic that’s what you do, when asked to review an album or give opinions, you give the good yes, but you always have to give the bad too if it’s there. But for Camacho and for Pete Murray, those negative aspects weren’t there, which I’m sure is the most amazing news that you can hear as an artist.
If you’re still reading this interview/review good job, but how have you been pronouncing the album title? I for one, will admit to spending a solid 5 minutes before my interview with Pete trying to work out if I was pronouncing it right, even had to go to google translate (which didn’t help me) to try and find the correct pronunciation and meaning for this word. Luckily, Pete helped me out when I shamelessly asked the question.
“You’re pronouncing it right (Cam-ar-cho).” He laughed, “I had a restaurant/bar and was looking for a name, searching for inspiration in old Spanish magazines from the 70s. In it, I saw ‘Café Camacho’. Asked my mates if they liked it for the restaurant and they said no. I was totally fine with this though as I had just written a song and thought it would suit well. It’s got a couple of different meaning; it’s the slang word for the ‘act of cool’ in Spanish.” Pete continued, “Every time I went in to the studio that was the vibe it had to be. Every song, it had to be cool, it couldn’t be trying to hard or trying to be to radio friendly, it had to work for whatever was right for the album, it had to be Camacho.
Whoever was working with me in the studio, I would ask ‘is that Camacho? Does that sound Camacho enough? It’s just such a cool name and that’s the whole vibe for the album, its Camacho.”.
Following the release of Camacho, Murray sets out on a 33 date tour across every inch and corner of Australia. Majority of the acts that I know, or have seen or photographed, do 5-6 main city shows, and that if they even go to Adelaide or Perth. But for Pete, it’ something he’s always done. “The regional areas are as much of Australia as any of the capital cities. The regional folk really appreciate that you come out there, and they’re really fun shows too. Regional shows are just like one big party because everyone knows everyone an even if they’re not a fan, they’ll come out, have a beer and a good time anyway.”
Alongside Pete Murray on this massive 33 date tour is indie-folk-acoustic act Ben Wright Smith. I personally had never heard of him before and was curious as to where Pete found him but also how do you decide just one act to bring along with you for 3 months. In the past, local Byron Bay musicians have joined Pete on his tours, and for ages he was set on that idea, that was before his management showed him Ben Wright Smith. “I found Ben. I heard his music; he’s got a great voice, a nice acoustic style, and I knew the fans would like him. It’s important to get someone that my fans like because I know if they like them, they will support them immensely.”
Now I couldn’t do an interview without asking where gets the rowdiest, because let’s be honest, the best part of tour is comparing each city to the next to see who can party better. Upon asking Murray this question; he didn’t even hesitate. “Fremantle.” (WHAT? REALLY?) “And Perth, they love it. They’re outdoor people and the crowd is such fun all the time, it’s really hard to pick a city but if I had to pick one it would be there, I’m so excited to go back because this time around it’s an outdoor show again, so it will be great. Oh and Darwin, Darwin has the Ski Club, it’s right on the beach and everyone in Darwin loves a beer so it’s great fun.”
I personally think those places would party so hard and have so much fun because they truly appreciate when bands and artists tour the entire country and make an effort to get to those harder to access areas instead of just touring the east coast like majority of artists do. So props to WA and Darwin, you guys are Pete’s faves and know how to party, you may catch me in your area soon, the Brisbane party scene needs to lift its game.
After being a performer for almost my entire life span you’d think Pete Murray would have some weird or interesting pre-show rituals. Nope. He doesn’t. The question I thought would have the most interesting response had the most normal and sensible from all the questions I’d asked and all the mini conversations we’d had and all the different backstories of so many other elements of Pete’s career. “I just need about 20 minutes to myself, with my acoustic to concentrate, go over lyrics, chords that kind of thing. There’s been times I’ve been mucking around backstage, next minute I’m on and I’ve gotten on stage and forgotten the lyrics. So it’s important to focus and concentrate so I don’t get up there and forget the lyrics”.
Honestly I thought forgetting the lyrics to your own songs was impossible? As a musician you’d have gone over those songs and played them so many times I thought they would be drilled into your memory, but I guess not. Good to know that musicians, even those who have spent half their life in the industry, still have to concentrate and make a conscious effort to be prepared for the stage.
Before I let Pete leave, I had to ask one fun question and I was surprised by the answer.
Me – What is your favourite song that gets you pumped up for a show?
Pete – Everlong by the Foo Fighters
This response genuinely made me smile. Everlong is one of those songs that quite literally disintegrates the barriers of age between people and blends the enjoyment of music, which has no age restrictions. Chatting with Pete made me realise that if you enjoy what you do with your life, you will forever be happy and not really have a care about what everyone else thinks. Murray displays this influential mentality through his release of Camacho, and all of us can take this look on life and use it in conjunction with any aspect of our lives. Whether it’s a creative field, school, college, or life; if you go about things with the mentality of ‘well if no one else likes it, I do and that’s all that matters’, I’m sure you will succeed greatly.
Everyone in Aus, go catch Pete on his massive tour over the next few months and grab Camacho which is AVAILABLE NOW!
PETE MURRAY NATIONAL CAMACHO TOUR
Presented by TEG LIVE
Supported by Ben Wright Smith
WED 26 JUL | CEX COFFS HARBOUR, NSW | 18+
THU 27 JUL | THE CAMBRIDGE HOTEL, NEWCASTLE, NSW | 18+
FRI 28 JUL | THE ENTRANCE LEAGUES CLUB, BATEAU BAY | 18+
SAT 29 JUL | ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY NSW | LIC AA
THU 3 AUG | NAUTILUS THEATRE, PORT LINCOLN, SA | LIC AA
FRI 4 AUG | HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE, ADELAIDE, SA | LIC AA
SAT 5 AUG | LIGHTHOUSE THEATRE, WARRANMBOOL, VIC | LIC AA
WED 9 AUG | EASTBANK THEATRE, SHEPPARTON, VIC | LIC AA
THU 10 AUG | CHELSEA HEIGHTS HOTEL, CHELSEA HEIGHTS, VIC | 18+
FRI 11 AUG | WREST POINT SHOWROOM, HOBART, TAS | 18+
SAT 12 AUG | LAUNCESTON COUNTRY CLUB, LAUNCESTON, TAS | LIC AA
THU 17 AUG | BATEMANS BAY SOLDIERS CLUB, BATEMANS BAY, NSW | 18+
FRI 18 AUG | WAVES, WOLLONGONG, NSW | 18+
SAT 19 AUG | CANBERRA THEATRE, CANBERRA, ACT | LIC AA
SUN 20 AUG | BEER DELUXE, ALBURY, NSW | 18+
WED 23 AUG | ULUMBARRA THEATRE, BENDIGO, VIC | LIC AA
THU 24 AUG | REGENT MULTIPLEX THEATRE, BALLARAT, VIC | LIC AA
FRI 25 AUG | FORUM THEATRE, MELBOURNE, VIC | 18+
SAT 26 AUG | THE WOOL EXCHANGE, GEELONG, VIC | 18+
FRI 1 SEP | WINTERSUN HOTEL, GERALDTON, WA | 18+
SAT 2 SEP | FREMANTLE ARTS CENTRE, FREMANTLE, WA | 18+
SUN 3 SEP | DUNSBOROUGH TAVERN, DUNSBOROUGH, WA | 18+
WED 6 SEP | EMPIRE THEATRE, TOOWOOMBA, QLD | LIC AA
THU 7 SEP | THE VILLE, TOWNSVILLE, QLD | LIC AA
FRI 8 SEP | TANKS ARTS CENTRE, CAIRNS, QLD | 18+ **SOLD OUT**
SAT 9 SEP | DARWIN SKI CLUB, DARWIN, NT | LIC/AA
For further information, head to www.petemurray.com