If like me, you've often thought, 'gee, that Pete Murray seems like a great guy' from listening to his albums over the years since 'Feeler' burst onto the scene in 2003, you'll be glad to know I can confirm he is. I can do so with some authority as I was lucky enough to chat with Pete 10 days into his current 24 date Australian Heartbeats Acoustic stripped back tour to find out how it was all going.
For a guy whose flight had been delayed out of Melbourne and was looking down the barrel of a two-hour dive home to rest for a few days before performing at the sold out Shoal Bay leg of the tour on July 19, Pete was obliging and very generous with his time. From all his commentary during the interview, it sounded like the three piece Heartbeats Acoustic Stripped Back tour is "the most fun and best feedback" Pete’s had for a tour. He explained there is lot of audience participation with a real singalong ambience and a diverse crowd ranging from the 18 year olds right up to fans in their 60s. He went on to say that 'it really works' and the three piece 'creates space for all three parts to come through, especially the vocals'.
The three piece is Pete on acoustic, a bass player and another guitarist swapping between electric and acoustic dependent on the song being played. To compensate for not having a drummer, Pete has set up beats via a loop. In response to my sceptical tone, he said "I wasn’t sure how it would go, but it's working much better than I ever thought it would, I'm keen for this vibe". My questions about tour song selection were met with Pete cheerfully advising that all his songs work pretty well in an acoustic mode. He went onto say that audiences can expect a good mix from all his albums, including his 2017 release Camacho. As an almost caveat, Pete added that things can change quickly on stage. He expanded by saying that even though he has a rough song list, the reality is that ‘things are simpler’ when only working with two other musicians and the ability "to chop and change and work on the fly" can occur more readily. However, when pressed, Pete rated his top three songs in acoustic stripped back mode with beats as Silver Cloud off Summer at Eureka, Blue Sky Blue from that album and Fall Your Way off Feeler.
I'm especially keen to hear Fall Your Way as Pete described to me how he is using the super musicality abilities of his fellow musicians to create a special sound. His bass guitarist, Simon, also plays flute and so audiences will be able to hear for the first time live Fall Your Way the way it is supposed to be played. In addition, fans can will see and hear the results of a right handed guitarist turning a left handed bass upside down for this song. To me, it sounded like a wonderful fun jam session that will be a treat to witness live in this extra special arrangement.
The Heartbeats Acoustic stripped back tour comes hot on the heels of the exhaustive 33 date tour Pete completed around Australia in 2017 to showcase his sixth studio album, Camacho. If you’ve had the chance to listen to the tracks, you will be struck by the edgy and sexy feel that Pete has deliberately wanted to achieve across the album. I really felt songs like Sold, Only One, Long Ride and Thought I Was definitely came across as less sunny and more complex than some of the songs recorded early on in his career. Not surprisingly, the album was nominated for the ARIA Music Award for Best Adult Contemporary Album but was pipped at the post by another long-term favourite Australian singer/songwriter, Paul Kelly.
As you can imagine then, Camacho has garnered a lot of industry critical acclaim. Some have said it is as good as, if not better than Feeler. As well as bringing an edgy maturity, Camacho continues to deliver damn good harmonies and melodies that fans know and love Pete for, with the added bonus of having a freer, simpler construction and some groovy beats.
After listening to Pete talk about a desire to be freer in his music writing, moving away from having a full band and being more contemporary by embracing different styles, it’s not hard to understand why he recently released a dance remix of‘Heartbeats, the third track off Camcho. Of course, Pete didn’t just ask anyone to sink percussion in behind his vocals. He worked with the best in that style, Peter Mayes of Pnau fame. Pete went on to explain that he had wanted to go down a similar path with the whole Camacho album, but that he lost direction as the recording/mixing process dragged on a bit. I went on to ask Pete what he thought about the remix. It was lovely to hear there was no doubt in his voice with his reply of being totally happy with Peter’s mix - "a fantastic mix" were his exact words.
For my last question, I asked Pete what his inspiration to continue writing, recording and touring was considering he already has built a stellar career as a gifted singer/songwriter, and could quite easily rest on his laurels.
Fans will be pleased to discover that Pete Murray will be around for a while yet, as he state that his inspiration to keep on keeping on is all about the idea of not being finished yet. He still has lots to say and do, including traveling the world to bring his music to his overseas fans in the fashion that suits him. He feels a lot freer right now to follow his own path – this having a lot to do with the ending of his major music label contract. And for all those, who like me, find it easy to think that Pete’s songs are all from his own personal experience, he revealed that it is more like a 50/50 situation. Some songs are of course drawn from his own life but he also observes other people’s experiences using some poetic licence along the way as well as creating song lines from his imagination.
It was such a pleasure talking with Pete, and I am looking forward to seeing him on tour. For all the latest images and sounds from Pete’s Australian Heartbeats Acoustic stripped back tour, fans can jump on the following social media apps:
Sydney dates – Pete Murray’s Heartbeats Acoustic Tour
- Saturday, August 21 – Narrabeen RSL
Tickets available from www.oztix.com..au
- Friday, August 14 – The Cube, Campbelttown
Tickets available from www.thecube.net.au