“Year by year, release after release, Father Murphy music became the soundtrack of our lives. It was always out of a necessity that we worked on our music, as I like to say, it was like spitting out some black tar hidden inside ourselves, not really thinking about the impact on others, but surely having a great impact on ourselves,” says Freddie Murphy, one-half the aforementioned duo.
With the announcement of Rising. A Requiem for Father Murphy, comes the final release from the band known as Father Murphy. The announcement of the final album marks the end of a journey brought to life with grand sounds, rock aesthetic, and diverse instrumentation. Rising is an important moment for Father Murphy that expresses, and defines, an end.
Scene Point Blank talked to Freddie Murphy about that end.
“We always knew Father Murphy as a band was a project with a beginning and an end. We often questioned ourselves on how we could have recognized the end once it was to come, but it came quite natural,” says Murphy. “We grew up with Father Murphy, going from the turmoil of our post-adolescence years, experiencing the conscience of aging, to our becoming adults with an idea of ourselves and the world around us.”
Through numerous releases fans have experienced the duality of Father Murphy. A band whose music seeks to express a journey of personal exploration, Father Murphy’s members manifested this journey through the answer-seeking fanatic priest turned heretic.
“Sounds are a language. They become the convention we use to communicate, to express something. All our releases start from a concept, therefore we always worked on characterizing them with peculiar sounds that could express the concepts behind, trying to make them an immersive journey into a concept,” says Murphy.
Father Murphy’s story will end with Rising on April 20th, 2018. The chant-like lyrics delivered throughout the band’s albums have provided listeners images of the journey. Now, at the end, a longer, and more complex, lyrical language finishes a story of faith, salvation and failure. As Father Murphy sought more answers, so did the members of the band.
“Music reflects what we are and what we've been through. I don't know if I can define us as reflective. The truth is there's always noise in our heads, and our concept of silence is not a synonym of peace. Sure it's being heavily influenced by dystopian books like 1984 or William S. Burroughs novels, we inherited an inner and just-about-conscious element of doubt that connects us to the external word in search for answers,” says Murphy.
"The truth is there's always noise in our heads, and our concept of silence is not a synonym of peace."
“Sounds make the concept less abstract, more real, because they describe it. They describe its details with their own language. Imagine you're walking on the street by night and, suddenly, you hear a loud noise. Your senses will try to understand and describe the noise to your head in order to understand what it is. In the same way, we choose a sound over another in order to describe an atmosphere that is behind the album concept or a peculiar song of the album. Throughout the years, sometimes we created the atmosphere we were trying to describe only using acoustic sounds, other times we had to filter them and create different layers until they unleashed the reaction or the peculiar feeling we were looking for. With Rising, for example, we wanted to express grandiosity and this, in a way, narrowed our sound palette even in the choice of the original source; we went for instruments we related to the requiem more than others like organ, trombone, timpani even before filtering the sounds.”
The exploration of personal feelings in a musical context is a practice in sharing, and the members of Father Murphy shared that process through a number of albums. The character of Father Murphy is a manifestation of sharing, as well as a way to carve out answers to questions. While writing the music, the band was challenged to express concepts that were not always easily conveyed.
“We tried--in more than one release--to convey the concept of pain, but we never got to the real core we wanted to express. Maybe musically, making our sounds even more obsessive than before, but surely not as a concept. So we decided that pain was to become something like a 'shadow concept,' says Murphy, who goes on to give examples of this “shadow concept.”
“Pain Is on our Side Now focuses on the chances displayed by failure, the chance of doing something again, after failing in doing it. Pain is of course strongly related to that, not as something you have to avoid, but as something you need to find yourself confronting with. Something like ease yourself into pain in order to reach the clarity and the transcendence needed to be ready for the next step in your journey. The Pain Is on our Side Now cover is an x-ray of my broken collarbone. When my bones failed, the pain appeared so clear that it became an epiphany. Even in Croce the 'shadow concept' appears in going from Side A to B (Sacrifice to Beatitude). Sacrifice doesn't necessarily and only mean pain; still pain is a constant and a clue to the next step.”
In looking for the next step, Father Murphy’s members challenged themselves to express personal feelings: to explore, and express, their thoughts about faith, failure, and salvation. On each release, epiphanic moments in the music converged those thoughts, feelings, and the journey of Father Murphy.
For Father Murphy, the band, and the figure whose journey was chronicled on a number of releases, the end was inevitable.
“Burroughs once wrote that the old writer could no longer write as he got to the end of words. When we decided to pay a tribute to Father Murphy's death on the cross, we were sure that we reached the end of our words, of ours sounds, of what we could express, at least as a band.”
“This doesn't mean we didn't feel sad or sorry for it.”