If there’s one thing we’ve been able to depend on over the last two decades, it’s that we can always rely on Pete Murray to deliver music that will receive both critical acclaim, and invade the top end of the charts. Proving his worth with numerous #1 records, countless ARIA Award nominations, and more singles than most artists could ever dream of, it’s fair to say that the arrival of new material from Murray is something to write home about.
Almost four years on from his last studio album, Murray has now returned with The Night, an independently-released six-track EP which showcases the compositions that arose following his first song-writing trip to the US and UK.
“I have always written all my own songs but this time around I went on a writing trip to LA, Nashville and London,” Murray recalls. “I was pretty nervous, as I knew a lot of the writers that I would be working with were very experienced with co-writing. I just didn’t want to let anyone down by sitting in the room with nothing coming out! This would be embarrassing!
“Anyway, I got through it quite successfully and I was really happy with the new songs that were written overseas,” he adds. “We went back and forth with a few of the sessions from these trips, but most of the recording was done at my studio Kicks Iron Studio in Byron Bay with good friend and producer, Garrett Kato.”
The end result is a stunning piece of work which undoubtedly captures Pete Murray at his best. Equal parts introspective and mesmerising, The Night is a high point in an already-storied career, and an indicator that some of his best is yet to come. In anticipation of the EP’s release, Murray spoke to Rolling Stone for an in-depth look at each of the tracks on the new collection.
“Found My Place”
This was the first song I wrote in Nashville. I was very keen to impress the guys I was working with, as I was told that if you are good at writing songs in Nashville then writers will tell their friends and you will get more sessions. Anyway, this turned out to be a great session and this song was sounding cool, so the guys recommended me for other sessions, which was great.
It’s funny how lyrics come to you, the first line I wrote was “Life is a long winding road and there’ll be many road blocks ahead“. As soon as these lyrics popped into my head I wanted to write a song about passing on wisdom to my kids. I used my own life experience in the music business to inspire the song.
As AC/DC say, “It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll“. Life is not always easy either and this is all about following your dreams, believing in yourself and trusting your gut instinct, but at the same time being aware that life isn’t just going to hand you what you want on a silver platter.
“If We Never Dance Again”
I wrote this song in LA with a guy who is one of Sony Music Publishing’s most successful songwriters for movies and TV. I definitely felt the pressure before this session. Even my management were saying, “Don’t mess this one up”, as it was a great opportunity for me. Morgan Dorr was the other writer and he is a champion. We hit it off straight away when we met at his house/studio in LA. We had a cup of coffee and got straight into the song.
Morgan had the line, “If you never see my face again“, and first chords for that went with this lyric. Straight away I could hear that this was going be a massive chorus. We got a few more lyrics of the chorus out but then got stuck and switched to the verse. The verse was really where the song became interesting and the pre-chorus was really powerful. Morgan added some beats on the songs and it really started to take shape. By the end of the day we had finished the chorus and both verses. The song was sounding exciting but we still needed a bridge.
I was playing the song in my hotel room that night and I was really blown away by the power of the song. It had these sad moments in the song but it still felt joyous and positive. I couldn’t stop playing it. I had another session with someone else the next day but I called my management and told them to cancel this session and get me back in with Morgan to finish the song off. Luckily, I got back there the next day and the song was finished.
With the recording process, there was a bit of back and forth-ing between Morgan’s Studio in LA and my studio in Australia where I worked with producer Garrett Kato. After a couple of months, we all felt like the song was nailed. Once it was finished Morgan suggested that we call the song “If You Never See My Face Again” but I told him that might not be such a good idea as there was an Aussie band in the ’80s called The Angels that had a song called “Am I Ever Going to See Your Face Again” which the crowd at live shows would reply “no way get fucked, fuck off”. He agreed that was not a good title for this song!
“Because of You”
Another song written in LA with a Canadian guy Colin Munroe. Colin had checked out my music online so he had a good idea of my sound. When I arrived at his apartment he had some really nice chords that he was playing around with that he thought would suit my style. I loved them so we worked on these for a little while until we had the structure down. I wrote some lyrics in about 20 minutes and the song was done. The song sounded really cool and I was really digging it.
I worked on this song at my studio with Garrett. Garrett gets a beautiful rich tone on his recordings and this song was right up his alley. We got in an old legendary Byron Bay bass player to lay down some bass lines on this tune and he nailed it. It was killer from start to finish and it really worked well with the
J. J. Cale style drums that we recorded with Grant Gerathy in my studio. This tune has such a nice feel and sound about it, it’s one I’m really proud of.
“We’ll Be the Fire”
Written in the UK just outside London with Producer Edd Holloway. Edd actually did a lot of fantastic production on this track before he sent it to me and then Garrett and I worked on it. I was hearing a driving groove drum part for this song, so we had Grant Gerathy come in and as he always does, he nailed a groove that you would die for.
Brett Wood, who has played guitar for me since 2007, was sent the song in Melbourne and in a matter of hours he sent back a wall of guitar soundscapes that just worked so well for this track. This was the nail in the coffin.
The thing I’m most looking forward to with this song is being able to play it live. It is such a pleasure to sing and with the arrangement and drum groove, it is really going to be special live.
“The Fall Apart”
This track took a little time to get going. Written in Nashville with two other guys, the song started with a chord progression that I had laying around for a while. We were probably working on this for an hour or two and it was really going nowhere in a hurry.
One of the guys suggested that we give up on it and right at the moment I was starting to get a vibe on the chorus so I said just give me ten minutes with this. Seriously, in ten minutes the chorus was finished and we all started to get a vibe going. The verses then came in a hurry and the whole song was finished in about three hours and is probably my favourite song on the EP.
That night I was playing the track over a few times and it was really growing on me. I had also sent the track to my wife to listen to and she called me that night and said that she was really liking it as well. This is always a good sign. There is something about the groove, mood and the melody in this song that grows on you. The electric guitar part from Brett Wood is also pretty special.
“Waiting for This Love”
This song came to me as a vision first before I wrote any music or lyrics. The vision was of being stuck in a log cabin up in the mountains on a full moon night and going through troubled times.
This is the oldest song on the EP. I wrote it a few years ago. When recording it I was trying to record the guitar first then sing the vocal after, so it’s easier to mix. The problem was that I wasn’t getting the vibe from it doing it this way. It was way better and more heartfelt when I played guitar and sang at the same time, so that’s what I did and it worked a treat. There is quite a bit of hiss on this recording that I picked up somehow due to recording it this way, but I feel it only adds to the vibe.
The string arrangements and bass line was done by Rod Ennis from Adelaide. Rod scored the orchestral parts of the Feeler 10 year anniversary album. He is amazing at what he does and “Waiting for This Love” in particular is an incredible string arrangement. It is so moving and powerful.
The final touches were put on by Lily Richardson and Hannah Robinson on backing vocals. These girls sound so good together and they really make the song sound beautifully haunting.
Pete Murray’s The Night EP is out today.