Tell us about yourself and what you do?
My name is John Murry. I do as little as possible and make as much noise as is allowed by my family, neighbours, and law enforcement officials. Sometimes I record it and turn it into records with other people. I did a lot of those with Bob Frank and virtually everything with Tim Mooney, the most important influence on me musically and personally I’ll ever have. I learned the lessons he taught, though. Won’t forget them.
How did you get together/start out?
Tim and I began working together in 2005 or 2006 with World Without End, something Bob Frank and I came up with. I’d heard some stuff he’d done (not what you likely think – I didn’t know who Mark Eitzel was) and just called him up with the idea for World Without End. We did it and just kept on working. Bob and I co-wrote that record, wrote and recorded a single and an EP together and, later, a record called Brinkley, Ark. and Other Assorted Love Songs. That record was never really released. Tim and I began working on The Graceless Age in early 2007 and finished it all not too long ago…
What is your current release/future release?
The Graceless Age, released by one of the last bastions of real music criticism by folks who still do what they do because they truly and simply dig rock and roll: Bucketfull of Brains (on y’all’s side of the pond). Tim and I had begun a new record that Joe Goldring and I will finish at the studio we began it in (Ausgang Audio in Petaluma, CA, run by Justin Millar and Cara LP. Joe is a North Londoner… Sort of…. Played in The Toiling Midgets, with tons of great folks, and still does. He’s a brilliant guitar player, a total asshole in an oddly loveable way, and a brilliant drummer (though he thinks otherwise). He and Tim were brothers, in a quite palpable sense, and Joe gets me (and what I do), and gets it quite eerily in the way Tim always did – in a way I don’t always get myself. Like a loving but pissy big brother who doesn’t hate their annoying and much younger sibling, though Joe is a bit younger than Tim was, even. And Tim sorta saved me from myself, what with all the fucking up I did and all Of course, Bob was retired when we began working together…. Young people in the USA are generally obnoxious and can’t feel their way past their dreams of acceptance within insular and incestuous hipster “scenes”. Fuck “scenes”. I like “making a scene”… There’s an alternate version of The Graceless Age that’ll be released, an EP of covers Tim and I did, and an EP I just did in Memphis with some friends, primarily J.D. Reager, and Kyle Johnson (of Goner Records) engineering. Bob and I wanna do another record. I produced his last solo one (unreleased so far) with Tim. It’s great. There are just tons of songs, lots of material…. I’m kinda obsessive and make too much stuff. Joe and I are starting up a project, too. It’ll work. I’ve wanted to do something like this with Joe (and Kevin Thomson) for years but was always too insecure to ask. They’re kinda heroic to me. Watch them do what they do and tell me it doesn’t blow your mind, too….
What is the best part of being in a band/singer/song writer?
Not having to wear or say anything I don’t want to. Getting to say what everyone else can’t doesn’t suck, either. Making up random crap to entertain myself. Of course, we could all choose to stop the charade at any time, but who has the time to be thoughtful? Not me! Or do I? I dunno…
What is your most significant moment yet?
What are your biggest musical influences?
Those I know influence me more than those I don’t. So the ones I know (or knew) first: Tim Mooney, Chuck Prophet, Bob Frank, Joe Goldring, Kevin Thomson, Nate Cavalieri, Jeff Finlin, Andy Grooms, Jim Dickinson, Kevin Cubbins, Kenny Brown, R.L. Burnside, Robert Belfour, Greg Cartwright, Jack Yarber, Cary Hudson, Jeffrey Evans, and Junior Kimbrough.
Then there’s all the stuff I listen to too much and too often: the Dylan records others seem to not like, Mark Linkous was a fucking genius, Clapton sucks but Layla(…) is a brilliant and near-perfect album, The Afghan Whigs’ Gentlemen is a constant obsession, and early (and some later) Mogwai, Arab Strap, Neil Young (half the time), Westerberg, My Bloody Valentine, Skynyrd, Duane Allman, hell: Katy Perry and Taylor Swift (I have a 7 year old..). I don’t know. I like way too much stuff. I also hate way too much stuff. You know, like Yankees affecting Southern Accents and calling it “Americana”. Banjos everywhere! I think there’s even a dress code! Last time I checked, using fake accents was essentially the same as lying. What the fuck happened? I wish to Christ I DIDN’T have one… Birth decided that one. Indignancy does not relieve ones’ self of it. “I don’t hate it, I don’t hate it, I don’t hate it…..”. Somebody said that once.
Producers: Lanois (sometimes), Eno (sometimes), Froom and Blake, Dennis Herring, Kevin Cubbins – even if we are worlds apart in many ways, Muscle Shoals and Stax, and Tim. I pray that at some point in this world’s fucked history someone will realise what a genius he was and what a fucking man of true dignity he was. He was beyond us. And I got to be his friend. I’m grateful for that, most of all.
I read a lot of books that dead people wrote, too. But who reads anymore, ya know? Oh! And I like Terence Malick and Werner Herzog far too much. And David Milch. Milch can make the word “cocksucker” sound as musical as Mick Jagger (and without any music!).
What venue/gig do you most want to play?
Royal Albert Hall. With balloons and shit. And a small orchestra. Do a live record. With Jason Pierce. Yep. Has been since Ladies and Gentlemen…
What is your best/favourite song you have written?
I like the last ones Tim and I were working on most. That’s generally true, though. You’ve gotta turn on your own previous releases to avoid the vanity “indie rock” encourages to make anything honest today.
What’s your favourite album of this year?
I listen to very few “new” records these days. I think Spiritualized’s newest one is brilliant and under appreciated. He’s found his lyrical high again. And it’s an honest and painful one. Recently some friends have forced records on me. Unfortunately, many of them are good….
What does the next six months have in store for you?
We’ll see, yeah? A tour or two over there for certain and a few other releases. I don’t really know. It kinda depends on whether or not people dig The Graceless Age and buy it. If that doesn’t work, I’ll be driving a truck for UPS. I promised my wife…
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully NOT in Oakland…. Or The South.
What’s the best thing about Americana-UK?
Y’all get that the word “Americana” encompasses a whole hell of a lot more than just shit that sounds like old country songs. Y’all don’t discriminate at first listen and really dig music. There’s more to be said for people who work within the “industry” who actually like music than there is to be said for any other quality anyone could have. Y’all do. Even if I think y’all are wrong sometimes, at least I know why. Y’all are an honest outlet providing real criticism and that’s a rare thing to be found these days. So thanks!