“We talk in black and white,
ones and zeros and satellites,
and one day we just might
replace our very souls.”
John Murry’s third album, ‘The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes’ was produced by John Parish (PJ Harvey, Eels, Aldous Harding, This Is the Kit) at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth. Now based in Ireland, Murry has released two critically acclaimed albums, his 2012 debut ‘The Graceless Age’ Age’ (“…a work of genius” ***** The Guardian) and the 2017 follow-up ‘A Short History Of Decay’ (“..delivers in gloriously dysfunctional bucketloads” **** Mojo).
The starkly beautiful ‘Ones + Zeros’ has a meditative, melancholic feel, with warm analogue crackles, subtle percussion and soothing backing vocals from acclaimed singer-songwriter Nadine Khouri. “Sometimes songs almost write themselves; Ones + Zeros being one of those that did just that, albeit in fits and false starts, and over two recording sessions,” comments Murry of the track. “It was something I wrote very quickly one afternoon many moons ago and recorded the following day as a sketch, or demo, with Tim Mooney of American Music Club. It would prove to be the last thing we recorded together. Tim passed away suddenly only a few days after, and The Graceless Age was released a couple of weeks later. I ended the sketch before we recorded it with the line, ‘I stare at the ceiling while they fall asleep, I wish I was dead, you wish it weren’t me… lying still: learn to love or don’t.’
“I didn’t know where to leave it as a song after Tim died, so I tried to shelve the thing permanently,” he continues. “One day, while filming our upcoming documentary film, director and friend Sarah Share filmed me at The Watergate Theatre in my then adopted hometown of Kilkenny, Ireland. She asked me to play a melody on the Steinway grand piano there, and for whatever reason, this song was the first thing to come to mind, and – without singing any of the lyrics – I played it while they filmed and recorded… maybe because it is simple, and intentionally so, even necessarily so. Immediately after filming it, Sarah asked me what that melody was. I told her, and she brought it up and couple more times in the following days while filming at other locations. That was the permission I needed to take it seriously, as a melodic and lyrical impulse.
“I took it to the sessions at Rockfield with John Parish as it was. We began recording it and, because I wanted to see what would happen if I chose to write in this way. Sometimes ya just get lucky, gotta trust the creating and not the thing you think you intend to create, because that’s often when magic happens. This felt like that. The song and I felt incredibly alive, meeting one another again there, seeing how things had changed over the years, and how things hadn’t; realising nothing is within our control, that we are just kinda dancing with time itself, hoping to find the same groove but different needles.”
The video for ‘Ones + Zeros’ was directed by Sarah Share, who directed the documentary ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God: The Shane MacGowan Story’ and is shooting an upcoming documentary film about Murry.
“We shot the video in a Georgian house on Henrietta Street, then in an empty club called Leggs that had been closed for a year due to COVID,” comments Share. “Henrietta Street was once the best address in Georgian Dublin and has especially grand and some unmodernised houses that are frequently used in films. Now it is mostly artists who use the grand rooms as studios and other colourful characters who are dedicated to preserving the buildings.”
Murry found a kindred musical spirit in John Parish. The need for trust when they recorded at Rockfield was total, and Murry and Parish quickly established a deep bond. “Trust matters a great deal,” Murry says. “All my mad ideas, John would facilitate those fully, and get the value of them.”
“John works instinctively and openly in the studio, and his songs are uncomfortably honest and revealing at times,” adds Parish. “I hope that I gave him the freedom to pursue outlandish ideas, and the confidence to know that someone was keeping track of them and would know how to fit the puzzle pieces together.
“John is a unique character, as you’ll know if you’ve spent five minutes with him,” continues Parish. “He is interested and distracted by everything, which makes him both a fascinating and frustrating person to work with. On many occasions the hardest part of my job was to identify the moment when all that was to be said about an idea had been said and it was now time to play the damn thing. John can keep a pretty riveting stream of consciousness going for as long as you’ve got.”
Together they brought out what was needed on ‘The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes’: the simple pleasures of playing guitar figures, of working with sympathetic people, of playing music that has the same ragged looseness of Murry’s inspirations and fellow Mississipians RL Burnside and Greg Cartwright (Reigning Sound, Oblivians). No one would mistake it for a blues or garage punk record, but there’s that same organic sense to its rumbling guitars and contained wildness, nurtured by Parish.
The next record in the pantheon on Murry’s work, ‘The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes’, promises to be a world unto itself, wrapped in the softest black velvet and studded with shining examples of the musician’s signature style.
‘The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes’
1. Oscar Wilde (Came Here To Make Fun Of You)
2. Perfume & Decay
3. The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes
4. Di Kreutser Sonata
5. I Refuse To Believe (You Could Love Me)
6. Ones + Zeros
7. Time & A Rifle
8. Ordinary World
10. Her Little Black Book
Released on Submarine Cat Records. Come and see…..
The Stars are God’s Bulletholes‘ can be found here.
Full information and links to tickets can be found here https://www.johnmurry.com