The My Ruin fan base has been saying for years that Mick Murphy is one of rock's best kept secrets. In fact, I think it was Guitar Player's editor that started saying that first several years ago. Now it seems that the rest of the world is waking up to that fact.
Besides snagging the lead guitarist role in Taylor Hawkins' side project, Chevy Metal. Besides taking the #3 spot on the list of OC Weekly.com's list of the Top 10 Metal guitarists. Besides six-stringing all over the place on My Ruin's new record, The Sacred Mood, which is drawing raves from critics and fans alike.
Besides all that, Mick has been asked to join the artist roster of the famed guitar company GJ2 Guitars, founded by the industry veteran Grover Jackson. Says Jackson, "There are not too many true guitar heroes around these days but Mick Murphy is one of the few. We love his work with My Ruin and Chevy Metal and we are really proud to have him playing our guitars."
Due to his hectic schedule, Mick answered some questions by email recently when I wanted to find out more about the creation of the band's excellent new record The Sacred Mood. Here's what he had to say:
antiMusic: With A Southern Revelation you had an obvious point of inspiration. Presumably you were in a less-vindictive state of mind with The Sacred Mood. What was the writing process like for this record and were you thinking of anything in particular or just letting the songs come to you?
Mick: "It all just kind of happened from the drums up this time around. I just started putting tunes together in the jam room and the album grew from there."
antiMusic: Did the songs come out in a bunch or over a prolonged period?
Mick: I spent a few months doing demo versions of all the songs that ended up on the record. Tairrie did vocal tracks on the demos this time around which was unusual for us as she usually waits until we are making the actual record to put her vocals down.
antiMusic: Did any songs change very much from your initial ideas?
Mick: Not particularly. Maybe a few small changes here and there.
antiMusic: What's your favorite riff on the record?
Mick: Probably the middle break riff in "Monolith of Wrath". I like the way that the song opens up into a full on stride at that point.
antiMusic: Over the last bunch of records I've found my favorite songs are the ones that are a bit more straight-forward like "Cold Hands, Warm Heart", "Walk of Shame" and on this one "Heretic Dreams". As a virtuoso player, do you feel it restricting to cruise within the basic (relatively-speaking) framework or rather refreshing to be able to just feel the groove?
Mick: I think a strong over-all groove is important. In my younger days, it was a challenge for me to keep things simple but as I've grown as a player and songwriter over the years, I have come to appreciate the importance of the straight ahead vibe as well. I like to try and find the balance between direct and complex that works for us.
antiMusic: Joining you for the first time in the studio was your bass player, Luciano. Did you have the bass lines already mapped out or did you allow him to find his own way on this record?
MIick: I played bass on the demo version of the record. I gave those demos to Luciano so he could learn and work out the bass lines. He did a great job on the record with no live band rehearsals prior to the recording sessions. Luciano's bass playing has a distinct swing and swagger and his tone is really mean and low so having him play on TSM definitely added something cool and special to the over all sound we achieved.
antiMusic: Did it take any pressure off you to not have to include bass work in your schedule this time out?
Mick: Absolutely. It was awesome having Luciano involved.
antiMusic: What does the title of the album The Sacred Mood represent to you musically speaking?
Mick: Introspection, focus, strength, vulnerability, cathartic release and love of music.
antiMusic: You recorded once again at Soundtrack Black with your friend Joel Stooksbury. I would assume that it takes a lot off your mind knowing that you're working with somebody you have a history with. It seems that you two would be more on the same page and you would have less to explain about what you wanted from a certain song/mood/riff. What's it like working with him?
Mick: Working with Joel is always a pleasure. It's hangin' out with an old buddy in the East Tennessee hills drinking beers and recording loud rock. He's always as passionate about and as dedicated to the project as we are and he puts a lot of time and work into making it great.
antiMusic: Being that Joel is also a drummer, would you ever consider having him play shows with My Ruin?
Mick: He did play a show with us at the Viper Room in late 2012 and he rocked it. When My Ruin hits the road again in 2014, we plan to have Joel behind the kit with us.
antiMusic: Assuming all the songs were written in LA, can you point to any local influences that possibly seeped into the recording in Knoxville?
Mick: Being in Knoxville when we made the record influenced the finished product. In our experience, it always does. You can feel the southern vibe on both the records we made at Soundtrack Black. A Southern Revelation has the cold Tennessee winter thing going on and The Sacred Mood embodies the southern summer.
antiMusic: Along with My Ruin, you've been busy of late as part of Chevy Metal. Tell us how you came to be part of this "group" and what the future holds in store for you as part of it.
Mick: Another longtime friend from Tennessee, John Lousteau, got me an audition for Chevy Metal. He engineers at Grohl's Studio 606 and he's the soundman for CM. As far as the future, I'm just riding the wave and showing up to whatever gigs pop up. It's a lot of fun playing classic Van Halen, Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath with Wiley and Taylor.
antiMusic: Your first shows with CM were in Chile for Lollapalooza where you were joined on stage by festival curator Perry Farrell for a cover of the Janes Addiction classic "Mountain Song". Was this your first time playing South America and what was this experience like for you?
Mick: It was my first time going to South America and the whole experience was surreal. The shows were fun, the food was great and for half the trip we stayed on a beautiful beach in Pichilemu and the other half we stayed in Santiago. Playing "Mountain Song" with Perry Farrell at Lollapalooza was a trip to say the least. That performance was literally planned just hours in advance so it all happened in a flash.
antiMusic: OK, I confess. I was thinking ill of you after seeing a photo posted with Paul Stanley from a recent show with Chevy Metal. Knowing you are a long time KISS fan, what was it like meeting this icon who I believe is also one of your personal heroes?
Mick: Paul's cover band played an event that Chevy Metal also played and luckily, by the end of the night, I consumed enough beer to work up the nerve to ask for a picture with him. He was very nice to both me and Tairrie and it was rad to meet the man who preached that rock'n'roll gospel in the middle of "100,000 Years" on Alive! back in '75.
antiMusic: Dave Grohl also joined you on stage at that same show and in the video footage posted for the Van Halen cover he can be heard saying you are "One of the greatest guitar players in the world". Quite an honor indeed. What is it like sharing the stage with two of the Foo Fighters and are they really as down to earth as they seem behind the scenes?
Mick: Dave and Taylor are both super talented musicians, fun dudes and genuinely nice people. Jamming with them is not only a great time but it is also an inspirational experience as a musician.
antiMusic: Speak of live videos and guest appearances, Nikki Sixx also graced the Chevy Metal stage at a recent show which was caught on video by your wife. Were you a big fan of Motley Crue growing up and how much fun was it to play a couple of those cult classics with the man himself?
Mick: I started playing guitar in the early '80s so the Too Fast For Love and Shout At The Devil records were huge to me. I learned a lot of riffs, licks and songs off those records and I still listen to that stuff today. It was crazy to get to play "Looks That Kill" and "Live Wire" with the man who wrote those classics. He was really nice as well.
antiMusic: You are heavily involved with the upcoming Reed Mullin project Teenage Time Killers which Tairrie is also featured in as a guest vocalist. How did this come to be for you both and can you share a little something about the album you are working on and who else is involved with the project?
Mick: John Lousteau worked with Reed when COC did their last full length at 606 a couple years ago. Reed had some more old school hardcore songs and a couple covers he wanted to record at 606 and he suggested that I play guitar on the project. During the session Reed asked me to write some stuff so I came up with some songs on the spot and it exploded.
The next thing you know a bunch of vocalists and some guest musicians got involved. The singers who have recorded their tracks so far (as far as I know) are Randy Blythe, Vic Bondi and Tairrie but there is a long list of people who plan to contribute vocals. The guest musicians at this point are Dave Grohl (bass), Woody Weatherman (guitar), Mike Dean (bass), Greg Anderson (guitar), London May (drums), Jim Rota (guitar), John Lousteau (drums) and Adam Bomb (bass). The whole thing has a very spontaneous and organic feel to it. It's going to be a fun listen when it's all finished. I can't wait to hear it.
antiMusic: Last year you were doing some work for Disney. Is this still ongoing and have you been doing any other session work in the studio?
Mick: I do session work whenever I can. Collaborating with composer Stephen Barton on the Motorcity series for Disney XD was really cool. I hope to do a lot more of that sort of thing in the future.
antiMusic: What does the near future hold for My Ruin?
Mick: I gave up predicting the future for My Ruin a long time ago. We just take it as it comes. At the moment we are putting the final touches on a new video for "Heretic Dreams" to follow up "Moriendo Renascor" and we're busy with press to help promote the new album.
antiMusic: Thanks for taking the time, Mick!!
Mick: Thanks for the support, Morley!
Morley and antiMusic thank Mick for doing this interview.
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