Peter Murphy: Nardwuar vs. Peter Murphy November 20, 2000

Adapted from Nardwuar:

(Note: The video only includes a portion of the actual interview. Below is the full interview)

Who are you?

My name is Peter Murphy.

Batman!

Batman. Oh, Batman, yes. You’ve been reading the website. That’s
right. Batman in Gotham City.

And also Vampire of the Moon?

No, that’s not the name of it — I’d better scratch myself — Batman is it.

Wasn’t there a Vampire of the Moon or something like that in Mexico?

No. That that sounds like — no that was the — oh that’s right, that was the press’ configuration labelling of me, that was my title in Mexico City that very passionate Catholic sort of… entitlement that I get there…

Vampire of the Moon! So Peter you’re here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Canadian connections! You wrote some stuff in Montreal. Loreena McKennitt’s violin player is on tour with you. Canadian connections!

That’s right. That’s right. Loreena McKennitt’s violin player Hugh Marsh who is an incredible violin player. He’s worked with a lot more artists than Loreena McKennitt. Loreena McKennitt has a lot of eastern connections, sort of Middle Eastern sort of flavours in her music, and I suppose I met Hugh Marsh actually through working with Arkin Allen who lives in Montreal. He’s a DJ, an electronica artist plus he’s also Turkish, and he’s been living and working in Montreal for a number of years now, and I met him in Istanbul actually because he has another identity called Mercan Dede and releasedan album called Sleepy Dreams I picked up in Turkey and was one of the most the forward looking modern pieces of Sufi music which was mixed with a truly electronica approach, which I thought was really interesting and very fascinating and you know the first time I had heard anything of that kind. So we met up and started writing together in Montreal, and I actually played, met them all down there in Istanbul when Mercan was playing with his Mercan Dede Ensemble and Hugh was playing with him along with the Shankar, Shankar Tabla player and it was really interesting to see Hugh work in that context and that was why I asked him to come on this particular tour which is not really “unplugged.” It’s not acoustic yet it’s not a full arrangement of the songs. It’s kind of like a very sort of weird uh naked stripped of artifice sort of version of the songs. You probably heard…

New arrangement of?

Not really new arrangements, but just uh taking the arrangements away actually, and just uh playing the bare bare bones of the songs, now not all of my songs work like that because they are very much arranged in collages of layers– So Peter, just curious, when you were in Montreal, Peter, where did you hang out? Did you have a favourite place in Montreal after spending time there? I was working all the time and it was in a loft area in a…. I’m not quite sure where we were in relation to the town centre, but it was in an amazing loft area where there were lots of musicians actually hanging around. This was Arkin’s own place, and he has a studio there. We were basically writing so a couple of the songs we did there actually which are sort of like ethno-electronic, but not any of them some Turkish Middle Eastern yet completely Peter Murphy-textured ideas I’m going to be playing on the show as part of the encore. One of the songs is called “Just for Love” and that is the title track of the tour actually. And those are just to give a hint to the audience of what is coming next because this is going to be the direction that I want to take on the next album.

So, Peter, you’re in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, but as I kind of showed you earlier, what can you tell the people about this? What is this, Peter Murphy?

Well, this was the original… this was kind of–

Who is that there? Who is that!?

That is me, looking extremely model-like, and this was an ad I did for Maxell Tapes back in 1981, and it was at the height of the Bauhaus imagery thing where we were going out looking like we did and I thought this would be quite… subversive to have fans see me sort of appear in this major mainstream ad for recording.

Did you get any kind of free tapes out of the deal?

I got a lot of free tapes out the deal, actually. It was a–

So that was for UK fans. What was the difference between — what about this, Peter?

That’s the American version. That’s the Midwest American version – Because I’ve been buying that for years thinking it was Peter Murphy. That isn’t me. That is a mid- Atlantic model.

The cleaned-up version?

Yeah.

No bats at all!?

Nothing at all. No, but these are not bats. These are geese. These are wild geese. These are the classic sort of the kitsch, wild geese that are hung on many a brick wall, and they’re not bats.

Well, speaking of–

But he’s an American who actually got a lot more money than I did for doing the American ad!

Well, speaking of geese and birds, the Wild Birds Tour you were here last time, but do you remember the time before when you were in Vancouver with Bauhaus? You were playing, and there was another band playing that night.

No, there wasn’t–

The Backstreet….

Oh, in town, you mean?

Yes. The Backstreet Boys were playing in town the same night that Bauhaus were.

Not that we were aware.

And I was driving into Vancouver going to the Bauhaus gig, and I was looking at all the bus stops, there were all these people dressed in black at one bus stop, all these people dressed in white at another bus stop and I thought, kinda that’s interesting, and then I thought, Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, what is the connection there? Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block wears a Bauhuas T-shirt? in one of his videos, “The Right Stuff”?

No idea what the connection is.

And then Chicago, this is the influence you’ve had, Peter, the band Chicago, Peter Cetera, do you remember his video, “You’re the Inspiration”? He’s wearing a Bauhaus shirt as well! That’s great, isn’t it?

Well definitely what I’ve got to say about that is that Bauhaus merchandise is
thee most bootlegged merchandise you can imagine in this world and we don’t see a
dime out of it so that is a testament to the merchandiseability of Bauhaus and the bootlegging nature of….

Well, what about yourself? Like the people you inspire, Peter, because I was reading some more stuff about you, and it was saying some people had a gig of yours a little while back and some guy got a water bottle thrown at him by Peter D., your guitarist, Peter D..

Mm hm.

He threw a water bottle. And this guy in the crowd started bleeding, and instead of like you know being horrified, his girlfriend was like, “Cool, he got hit by Peter D.!” Of Peter Murphy’s band, like all this fanatical love for the band, like blood and yet it is still okay!

Uh, Peter was talking about that actually at the border crossing today and he was saying that that was a complete misunderstanding. He now hands them very gently
to the audience because he was having read that to his horror that he’d cut somebody up during the show, he was lucky, he felt lucky that he wasn’t sued for that, jokingly, but– Don’t downplay– But he–

Don’t downplay yourself a bit about there because I read another review where it said a woman ended up in the hospital because she fainted at the gig and she wanted you to come back and wanted more. Like hospitals, blood, Peter, you do inspire quite a bit!

Apparently so.

There is quite the devotion. And have you ever heard of Bow Wow Wow…

Yes.

Haus. There is a tribute band called–

Bow Wow Wow Haus, right. No, I hadn’t heard of Bow Wow Wow Haus. I had heard of Bow Wow Wow, the–

They’re called Bow Wow Wow Haus, and they do all Bow Wow Wow songs in a Bauhaus feel! Right.

What’s it like?

….exactly as you would think it would be like! Do you like it?

Um, I kind of like any music that makes me smile, so I have a soft spot for it. I’ve never heard them, you know. I can’t admit to having heard about Bow Wow Wow Haus. But we recently were asked to license “Bela Lugosi” out to a new comedy show which is based on a Japanese sort of a game show theme.

It isn’t like Never Mind the Buzzcocks or anything like that, the British show?

You’re confused. So Bauhaus is becoming a bit of a, you know, it’s also now becoming to be picked up as being — Saturday Night Live, apparently, in their gothic skit play “Bela Lugosi” as their soundtrack to the gothic jokes on there, so it is becoming a little bit, I don’t know, undervalued, I think.

Coreen, Vancouver’s #1 Peter Murphy fan!

Do you think, Peter, regarding goth, that perhaps you are one of the ones that still believes in it? Like, the Sisters of Mercy would never attend something like the Goth Convergence Festival. And actually Coreen over here, your number one fan in Vancouver, Coreen, you have a question for Peter about the Goth Convergence Festival?

Coreen: Yeah, I do. You played the Goth Music Convergence Festival last May in Seattle and they brought you out as a surprise guest on the last day. How did that all come about?

That was simply — at the time I was talking to Bootleg TV who were based in Seattle, and we were — one of the ladies there, Violet, who worked at Bootleg TV asked me to come and play at this convention, and this actually was, this was an opportunity to see if this sort of tour would work actually. This was the first occasion that I had the chance to walk out and play a very stripped-down, actually, purely acoustic set in front of an audience who would be considered hardcore fans, and it was either, it was kind of the acid test of this tour, so that is why I did that. It was kind of like a testing ground, and where better to test it than at a gothic convention?

Well, it’s great you showed up because like the Sisters of Mercy want nothing to do with goth. You kicked right in there. What do you think of goth being misunderstood, as you were mentioning Saturday Night Live, like David Bowie, he’s Year Zero for goth, isn’t he? That’s Year Zero for goth, isn’t it, Peter Murphy?

(silence)

It’s been asked a lot of times. Yeah, I can tell, you have to down that–

I have no idea about gothic music, whatever, whatsoever. I don’t know it, any gothic bands other than Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails which every person in the street knows about.

Well what about the “help sheets” they have out there? They have these “help sheets” that they have been circulating around and if you want to learn about goth, you can, Peter Murphy! And on these “help sheets” — if we could just take a look here to the side — you can actually see, sorry–

This is all sarcastic stuff, isn’t it?

No, actually, well it is slightly, but it will identify if you are interested in and finding out if your kid is a goth, or you are a goth. Yeah. If somebody wanted to find if you were a goth — oh, sorry, I just have to read off some of the things here — and it’s like for instance, if you are wearing black clothing for girls, nylons–

Fishnets. Yes.

You’re wearing…

Yes?

Silver jewelry. If you have hair dyed black. If you have black and white makeup. Or if you carry a box, especially black and white with silver hinges, you are a goth!

What are you asking me then?

No, I am saying, what do you think about these “help sheets” that have been distributed out there? Because, according to this, Peter, one of the bands listed I guess is Bauhaus!

Right. What do I have to think about that? I think absolutely nothing at all about that. (to Coreen) What do you think about it, sweetheart?

Well, I think it’s kind of scary in way in the way they identify all that stuff, if you’re carrying around with like a lunchkit.

Well that’s what happens with movements, isn’t it? And myths, invasions and bands, and rock ‘n’ roll.

And, Coreen, do you have a question too? This is Coreen, again, Vancouver’s number one Peter Murphy fan. Coreen actually worked at a hairdressers’ place once and some guy came in looking for a Peter Murphy haircut and she had a hard time finding all the stuff, didn’t you?

Coreen: Well, yeah, I did because there are so many different looks, but he ended up with just a spiky, very stylish, spiky, short–

Well now it’s easy. Just look. Cut it up. Lose a bit of hair up here. Go a bit, recede here a bit, and just cut it all of and don’t… worry about it. Just wake up and don’t even comb it. It’s simple now. Just shear it all off.

Coreen: Very low maintenance, in other words.

Cut it all off. Yeah.

But Coreen, you were wondering about Kill….

Coreen: Yes, I was down in Seattle also for the Recall album you were working KMFDM, and that album was really heavily programmed and electronic, and now, like you said before, this tour is a little more downscaled, more austere–

No, this has got nothing to do with that EP really. I mean, I wasn’t working with KMFDM. I was working with Sasha and Tim out of KMFDM who was — I pulled a group of people together including Bill Reiflin, and the four of us made that EP, so that was, yeah, a very much electronica sort of approach on those covers of those songs with a couple of new compositions that I included and one of which was an acoustic version of “Big Love over Tiny Fall” which I am doing on this tour, so that was, those were the seeds of starting to play songs in a very strippeddown acoustic sort of way. And that gave the idea to add a couple of those numbers to the last tour, the Wild Birds Tour, on to then just like a one-off little surprise appearance to test the idea out in front of an audience in a longer version of that so I played about half an hour in Seattle and then now here we are doing another one-off — it’s not really acoustic tour really. It’s just very stripped… minimalistic and very sort of bare, stripped of the artifice and the decoration of the band and imagery and the theatrics in a sense.

Soo-hoo-la-may-kum!

Pardon?

Shrew-la-la-may-kum?

No, now that, I think that’s Hebrew, isn’t it?

Oh, no, I was trying to say “Hi” in Turkish.

No, that’s not “hi.”

But you do live in Turkey though, right?

Very bad Turkish.

Oh I’m sorry I had it written out phonetically. Soo-la-may-kum?

No.

The reason I was told that is, um–

Actually the Hebrew version is more like your pronuncation, actually.

So Peter living in Turkey I guess you know Turkish quite well by doing that. Recently there was that terrible earthquake that happened there. Were you affected by that at all? Were you rattled by that at all because that was just awful?

Not personally affected although — it was about one hundred miles away and of course it was devastating and we as civilians literally tried to help out, dig people out, and also we were sending in lots of supplies, and supply truck and stuff, because the government were really caught and so it is still unresolved. There are people homeless who are still living in tents. It’s an ongoing situation, yeah. It was human tragedy.

But it’s great. Didn’t you take an active role? Didn’t you sell some stuff on the internet as well? What did you sell on the internet?

Yeah. I sold a couple of pieces of rare vinyl that I had and whatever I could pull together to get some money for that but — yeah, that was one little contribution I could make towards it in terms of moneywise, but yeah there’s a lot of civilian aid still happening in Turkey for them, and almost everybody is involved in that naturally because there literally is no government support there, or very little of it, so there are people living in awful conditions still because of that.

Well, Peter, winding up here, did you ever meet Klaus Nomi at all? You mentioned The Grid–

No, I didn’t ever.

Did you ever see him in concert?

No, I didn’t.

How about that motorbike? Did you get ahold of that motorbike?

What motorbike?

You said you wanted to get a motorbike at one time.

No, I haven’t bought that yet but that’s a BSA Tiger, no, a Triumph Tiger I want to get, which is an offroad bike which I might get this year.

And how are your pants holding up? You had some exploding pants on one of the Bauhaus tours.

Oh, I think Mojo’s got those. Tour manager has those as a memory of the tour, yeah.

Well, thanks very much for your time, Peter. Anything else you would like to add to the people out there at all?

No.

Thanks very much. Keep on rockin’ the free world, and doot doola doot doo….

What can you do with this person?

Doot doola doot doo…

Help him sometime afterwards.

Peter? Doot doola doot doo…

Keep on taking the pills.

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