A brief chat with Peter Murphy

Peter Murphy may have first come to our attention as the frontman with Gothic heroes Bauhaus, but he’s been a legitimate solo artist for many years now, putting out one great album after another. His most recent effort is Lion, a dark and introspective piece of work. He’s also playing the Magic Stick on Tuesday, so we grabbed him to ask him what’s up

Metro Times: Lion is a great new album. How do you think you’ve grown musically since Ninth?
Peter Murphy: At this stage it isn’t about growth, it’s a continuum. This particular album is very instinctive and was done very quickly. There wasn’t a lot of pre-consideration. As it turned out it came out very improvisationally and everything worked so we had an album, as it were. It’s all about afterthought, and I don’t think there’s a lot of talk going into it in terms of how it relates to what’s gone before. It isn’t in that context that it’s worked.

MT: Trends come and go, and you get hailed as a Gothic icon and then an industrial icon, etc. – do you pay mind to what’s going on in contemporary music?
Murphy: I’m very unaware of it really because I do live in Turkey. I can’t really keep up with it, to be honest. I don’t have my ear to the ground. In a way, that’s an advantage to my approach and what I do.

MT: Are you well known in Turkey?
Murphy: I’m not recognized at all on the street, thank God. It’s a sanctuary for me. It’s a great place to take my children. My wife is an artist and she works in contemporary dance. She’s the director of a contemporary dance company.

MT: Do you go to the soccer games? Aren’t they crazy for it out there?
Murphy: No way. That’s kind of like war. We live a couple of miles away from the Besiktas stadium and I just hunker down. I wouldn’t go to one in a million years.

MT: What are your memories of playing Detroit?
Murphy: When you first come to the States, you’re in wonder and it’s a culture shock. In the 1980s it was very gnarly and it was an impoverished place. The audiences are always very strong. On tour, you are quite insulated, of course. It’s difficult to really get a feel for the place. I’ve got a friend who works there who I met in Britain, and she works in the area. She’s an African American, and she works very hard for the impoverished, poverty-stricken population of the African Americans there. It feels like it’s been through a lot of problems.

MT: What are your plans for this set?
Murphy: I’ve been working the Lion stuff, and I find that some of the tracks really work great as album pieces but live, there’s a lot of long songs that really don’t lend themselves to a live dynamic. I’ve got six of them worked out. They work. I’ll obviously mix it with my solo work. We played the first full set yesterday. Some of the songs from the past like “Deep Ocean” and that kind of edgy song really does work with the Lion songs that I’m playing. “Lion” itself works. I’m still developing it, and finding it not to easy to present live as a whole. There’s a lot of orchestration. A third of the songs are very contemplative and might be a little bit mundane live. I’ll develop it and add one or two Bauhaus songs. By the time we get to Detroit, it’ll be cool.

MT: What’s next, after this tour?
Murphy: We’re doing North America, and then we go to South America. The worst thing about that is the press are the most exhausting. There’s always massive press conferences. There’s a strange projection based on me, as this sort of Gothic icon which is irrelevant now for me. Then back to the States, and back to Europe in November. This will be quite a long tour

Peter Murphy plays with Ringo Deathstarr at 8 p.m. on Tuesday June 17 at the Magic Stick; 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit, 313-833-9700; $23-$25.

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