Interview - June 18th 2011 Blues à Jarnioux
Today we are pleased to welcome Elliott Murphy at Jarnioux Festival near Lyon,
France...Nice to meet you Elliott.
Nice to be here.
AM : you are a man of many talents.
AM : You are a rock'n'roll troubadour, a musician, singer and songwriter. Do you remember when you first see and touch a guitar ?
Oh yes, I think I started to get interested in guitars when I was about
10 years old. A friend of mine, his mother played guitar, but it was very
precious and she kept it under the bed and every once in a while
I would take it out and look at it, it just fascinated me and then
I started to take lessons, just a year later with my mother,
I rented my first guitar.
AM : Why did you choose the guitar instead of another instrument ?
Actually it wasn't my first choice. I think I wanted to play drums,
first, but maybe my parents thought that it would make too much noise
in the house ! Then I liked the trumpet, I was a big fan of Louis Armstrong
when I was very young and my mother too, the trumpet I started to play it,
but I couldn't really get it and you can't really sing when you're playing
the trumpet so much, you know the guitar has this image just like cowboys
play a guitar, I've always liked cowboys and I loved Elvis Presley and
Elvis Presley was really the one who established the image of
the guitar as a cultural symbol.
Your first album "Aquashow" was released in 1973 on Polydor records.
Do you remember how fast your heart was beating when you first saw
and touched this album for the first time ?
Well I do remember the excitement of that album. Of course it was
a very long process, from the recording and then making the photographs
for the cover and looking at the design, so I knew what the cover would
look like and everything and what the album would sound like long before
I had one, but when I finally had it and when they finally gave me a
box of 25 records or whatever, I could gave one to my mother, that was
very exciting but I think actually the most exciting moment for me
from that album was when I first heard it on the radio. Last of the
Rock Stars was of course the first, the opening cut, that was played
quite a lot on the radio in New York and when I first heard that,
that's when I really knew, ah,this is real !
Your latest album, is it the 31st one ?
Yes. It is difficult to count, because there's been some bootlegs and some live,
but I think in the general official released album it's about 31.
AM : It is produced by your son Gaspard Murphy who is 20 years old.
AM : So he is from a different generation and has I guess a different
culture reference ? What does Gaspard bring you ?
He is from a different generation but not totally different cultural reference,
because you know he knows who
and all the groups
I grew up with, rock'n'roll, the music that had all the hits,
it already started in 1956 so I'm of the first generation that,
we have rock'n'roll all through our lives. So culturally we are not
so different, he might know a lot more about the music of the 90's
than I do. He introduced me to bands like Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix
who is a French American band, but I think what he brought, that was
most important was, he had a long history of Elliott Murphy's music,
he's been hearing it since he is born, so I guess in his mind he knew
what he thought it should sound like and he heard it through 20 year
old ears, so I hope and I believe he brought a different way of
listening to music to that album. This album I heard through a 20 year old.
Where was this album recorded ?
All over the place. We started in Le Havre, where my band lives up in Normandy,
they are called the Normandy all Stars with Olivier Durand, who has been playing
with me for 15 years, Alan Fatras, Laurent Pardo, they are all from that region.
So we started recording there, at the same studio I've been using for about 5 albums,
and then Florent Barbier moved, it was his name, who is the ex-drummer of the
well-known French band, he moved to Brooklyn, so the next time we went
to New York we found a studio, we started to record there with them and that's
really when Gaspard got involved because he was in school in New York studying
music production, so we recorded there, then we came back to Paris,
recording more in Paris and back to New York, we kept going, crossing the Ocean.
Who are the guests on this CD ?
We have some wonderful guests. Two of the best singers in France I
think who are
who was in Pow Wow,
who was in Native, two great singers.
he is a guest but he has been playing with me for many years, Kenny is a legendary
New York keyboards player, he has played with
his band Cracker and also on many of my albums. I don't know who
else there was, those were the three main ones.
AM : Lisa Lowell.
Oh Lisa, of course. Lisa was singing with Bruce Springsteen during his
Seeger Sessions Tour. I met Lisa at a party at Bruce's house some years ago,
just a great optimistic, very buoyant person, she said, for next
time in New York, if I want her to sing, you know she'll come down and she will do it.
There are 11 tracks on this album, are they all connected to one another in some way ? I mean 11 tracks to form a story or 11 tracks for 11 small stories ?
I wouldn't say, you know, I'm also a writer and I've written some novels.
An album is different than a novel, each song is not like a chapter,
telling the same story, they are much more personal so, they really,
those songs are each a different aspect of the way Elliott Murphy is
looking at his life and the world in general, so in that way they are
part of the same story, it's my story but there is not really a
conclusive beginning and end...
What are the themes developed on this album ?
I think before you talked about my first album Aquashow, our first album and
those early songs, are songs of hope, excitement, just becoming a man almost
entering this rock'n'roll world and everything. Now at this point,
there are more songs of experience I would say and you look at life
in a different way, a different reality.
AM : Do you remember what is your favourite song ?
From the new album ?
AM : Yeah.
Well, I wrote about 5 of these songs in just two or three days when I was
in New York, like I said we're going to record and I didn't really have a
lot of songs with me, so staying at my mother's apartment in Manhattan,
I went to her room and I've just started writing songs for a few days.
The ones that I wrote there were Poise'n Grace, which is the opening track,
and then there is the last track, Train Kept a Rolling, it was a very kind
of automatic writing and subconscious, I like those kind of songs.
Your fans can watch Counterclockwise a new video clip directed by Ronan
who is also a photographer (
www.ronanphotographe.com), how did you meet this photographer ?
Ronan is another one of these incredibly talented people from Le Havre.
He lives in Le Havre and he was friends with Alan Fatras, my drummer,
he is a photographer mainly, he wanted to start working in video and he
asked Alan if I would be interested and I met with him and he had very
interesting ideas about the concept of the video and we went up there,
he had it all shot out, thought of, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do,
we did it in one day and I'm very happy with the results,
I think it's the best video I've done yet.
You tour with The Normandy All Stars, could you please introduce
the musicians who are working with you tonight ?
Yes. There is
playing Bass, Laurent I knew many years ago when he
used to play with
who was a famous legendary French rocker and really
one of the best great songwriter.
Alan Fatras, playing drums, Alan was in
he also played with
Olivier Durand, playing incredible lead guitar,
he's really just a virtuoso, he plays things on the acoustic guitar like - I call him
on the acoustic guitar, so that's really the band... The four of us..
You are also an actor.
Oh a little bit.
AM : You were in
's movie called Roma in 1972 and recently you
played in a film called "La Ligne Blanche" directed by Olivier Torres and produced
by 4A4 Productions. What is it about ?
The new film ?
AM : Yes.
It's a very interesting story of an actor, a theatre actor, although he is very
successful in his career as an actor, his personal life is a total disaster,
catastrophic and his father dies and he has a teenage son who has been living
with the father, so they reconnect, then it's kind of a road movie, them trying
to reconnect and I play the part of his best friend, whose name is Bob and I'm
an American chanteur-compositeur and musician pretty much like I am, who has
really left the world of show business and has kind of retreated to a horse
farm in Provence, living a life of a cow-boy on the Riviera.
AM : In this film you perform an acoustic version of "Gone, Gone, Gone".
I do yes.
AM : One of the songs which are on your new album.
You are also a poet, a novelist. You wrote Cold & Electric in 1989,
Cafe Notes in 2002 and Poetic Justice in 2005. I also heard about your novel Tramps,
but is it released yet ?
Tramps is not released yet. I started the project with my brother Matthew Murphy,
who played bass on my first album and since become a very successful tour manager,
he works with everyone, the
We started to write a novel together, we've just finished it so that's why I
put down Tramps for a couple of years but I'm going to get back to it now.
When are you going to write a book of you Elliott Murphy being a
witness of the history of rock'n'roll ?
My autobiography ? Yes, people always ask me about this. I think soon,
I'm kind of ready to write part one. It may be the hardest book to write because
you really have to look at yourself and your life and remember everything and
try to make sense of it all...It's kind of like going through a psychoanalysis maybe.
Who are your best friends musicians ?
Musicians ? Well the funny thing is, the musicians you play with such as Olivier,
and I eat more dinners with Olivier than with my wife, but we tend not to see each
other too much when we're not working because we see each other so much. Ernie Brooks,
who was my last bass player, we were good friends. I suppose
is a good friend and he is a musician, I mean, everywhere I go I know some musicians,
I've just played a concert with
last week in Paris, he is a friend, he lives in New York now.
What are your wishes for the future ? Do you want to collaborate for instance
with more other musicians, or do other things ?
You know, I've had a very long career so far, 35 years and I believe there
are two reasons for that, one is that my career kind of moved to Europe and
I enjoy Europe, and I enjoy touring here, it's so interesting for me to play
in Spain, in Italy and France of course, but if I were still in America,
I don't know if it would be so interesting going back to the same cities that
I know so well, but the second thing is that I have a good public but I'm always
trying to make it bigger, I'm still hungry ! So you know I think my wish for my
career is always the same thing, keep the passion for the music, keep writing
songs, you know what happens is that I pick up the guitar, then I want to write
a song, and then I want to record the song, and then I want to play it live,
it's kind of a cycle, and I always try to increase my public.
You were born in the USA in New York City and you have been living in Paris since 1989.
AM : Do you speak French fluently ?
Oui, je parle Français ! Mais tout le monde parle Anglais avec moi, je ne sais pas
pourquoi mais c'est toujours comme ça !
AM : Do you want to say something to your French fans ?
Oui, mes amis français et les fans français, j'ai une dette énorme avec mes fans
français parce que le premier concert que j'ai fait en dehors des Etats-Unis c'était
à Paris en 1979 au Palace et vraiment ce soir-là a changé ma vie ! J'ai commencé une
deuxième vie en Europe et en France, je remercie beaucoup les fans français pour leur
fidélité pour ma carrière, mes chansons et j'espère que je mériterais toujours ça !
AM : Thank you very much Elliott for your time with us and we wish you a great gig
tonight in Jarnioux Festival.