Your new album, “Cantilever”, seems to be quite a departure from your work with The Shoes. How did you end up coming together?
JM: I had been laboring over the cover concept and it was starting to delay the production. But then John came up with the idea and dropped off a small wooden table and the “Spill and Spell” game pieces. I tossed the pieces out on the table and shot the pictures with my digital camera. Viola! I liked it because it was simple and organic, kinda like the music itself.
Why did it take this long to get a solo album out?
JM: I had originally started a few songs at our commercial studio, Short Order Recorder ( Won’t Take Yes, Never Let You Go and Bad Day) but then we ended up selling the building. So I bought a recording set up for my home and transferred the songs on to the new format to finish those and continue on with the rest. There was a short learning curve with the new gear and now I was playing all the instruments so it took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do. In the past I would only need to write 4 or 5 songs per disc so to write 11 took me a little longer, as well.
It’s obvious your muiscal heroes are Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren and Emitt Rhodes. Did anyone else influence you to pick up the guitar?
JM: In the beginning Big Star, Grin, Badfinger and the Beatles were all the foundation. But once we started, we began to influence each other. Cheap Trick was a local influence back then, too. Now bands like Fountains of Wayne, Collective Soul and Gomez are some current influences.
Are you planning on playing live shows to support the album? How often do you perform? (with or without Shoes)
JM: The jury is still out on whether or not I’ll do any live gigs. The dilema of putting together a band is a major hurdle. Despite the fact that John and Gary are very supportive on the project, I would never ask them to do any shows for a “Jeff Murphy tour” because they would be in a “supportive” role as back-up players. Shoes has always been about equality between us and it may influence people to think otherwise.
I haven’t played out in over a year, when I played a few songs at a benefit. Prior to that, John and I did a few sets of acoustic stuff with a friend of ours. We did alot of Beatle songs and some Shoes songs. It was great fun. So it may happen, again.
What was your musical environment like at the time while growing up?
JM: All Beatles, all the time. They were the cornerstone. But the rock of the sixties and early seventies was so fast-paced and vibrant that there was always something new happening to get us excited. Even bands like Paul Revere and the Raiders had some really great stuff with songs like Kicks, Him or Me (which Shoes covered live for awhile) and Hungry.
Are there plans for another album?
JM: Absolutely! The difficult thing is that this is totally a D.I.Y. project so time management is very critical. If I’m out playing a gig, the promotion stops. If I’m recording a new song, there’s no one talking to radio. It’s like a restaurant run by one person; when the valet is parking the car, there’s no chef in the kitchen. Thank God for the internet!