Channelling the unique energy and cool vibe of Byron Bay, Pete Murray will stop over at Club Forster this month, as a part of his Blue Sky Blue – The Byron Sessions tour …
Good morning Pete! The tour you’re just about to kick off is Blue Sky Blue – ‘the Byron Sessions’. What inspired you to take your Blue Sky Blue album, which was originally released in 2011, and re-release it in a different format?
My management and I were having a conversation, probably about 18 months ago. We were talking about what to do next … It was suggested at that time to do a solo tour, as I’ve never done a solo tour around this country. I’ve done it overseas, and it was a great success, but I’ve never done it here.
We thought we should do a recording to go with this idea, so fans could get their hands on something fresh and new. One of the managers sent the song Blue Sky Blue off to Natalie Pa’apa’a (Blue King Brown), a Melbourne band. Natalie wrote this Rap for it, and this was really fresh and new – it was really great …
We wanted to get Natalie into the recording studio to record it, but unfortunately she was touring overseas and we just couldn’t get the timing right. We had another girl called Fantine record the work … she has such a great voice, and I think she’s becoming more known now because of this song.
After this process, we talked again and thought we should get some more artists involved. The next question was, what songs do we do? What I didn’t want to have was like a ‘greatest hits’ album – I’m really not at that stage of my career where I want to put out something with that greatest hits kind of flavour.
I actually thought it would be really cool to do an acoustic interpretation of Blue Sky Blue – it is an eclectic album – far more eclectic than anything I’d ever done before. I really wanted to do an acoustic interpretation, make it more lush, put some harmonies in there and get other artists involved … so I called up some friends to see who was free to work on it.
You mentioned a couple of collaborators’ names, but who were some of the other artists who worked on ‘the Byron Sessions’ interpretation with you?
Bernard Fanning, Darren Middleton from Powderfinger, Busby Marou, Ash Grunwald, Scott Owen (from the Living End) and Katie Noonan …
This is a solo tour you’re embarking on, but who else will be travelling on the road with you to the various gigs?
My support act is Nathan Kaye. He’s a local guy from Byron, and he plays Beatbox and Slide. We met at a gig a while ago and he said if I ever wanted some Beatbox on my song tracks, to let him know and he’d come up. I said I’d love it – and as soon as he did, he just gave it this great vibe … this guy doing Beatbox whiIe I’m playing Stomp Box, acoustic and harmonica. It was just so rootsy … I wanted him to come on tour and be my support act and play on stage with me, so I got him locked in for that.
My bass player, who’s also acting as my roadie [Dave Tweedie] will jump up on stage and play with me too.
With this show, the style is acoustic, and I want people to feel free to ask me questions, request songs − I want the crowd to really part of the show. There’s no real structure to this show – we’ll play songs, get some groove happening, and whatever happens will happen.
It sounds like a very easy, laid back, informal kind of tour – almost a reflection of how most people would perceive the Byron Bay lifestyle, I guess. What is it about living in Byron Bay that you most enjoy?
The community is amazing – everyone’s very caring about people, the environment; they’re health conscious. I love that about the place. It’s a very friendly place. The surf’s great! (Laughs.) I’ve finally found home here – I love the place.
I really couldn’t go back to the city now … I grew up in the country, but spent a lot of time in the cities getting my career up and running. It’s God’s country here – it’s really beautiful and such a nice place to live.
And you know – everyone’s saying that this new album has a laid back vibe and it’s acoustic – and it is – but it’s also got a really energy and great grooves on it too.
You’ve lived in Byron for about 8 years now. Do you feel your style of writing and playing has changed much during this time?
Considering that Feeler [first mainstream album] was quite a moody album, I think things have brightened up. I didn’t want to go back to making anything too deep or dark … See the Sun was kind of a positive change – a song like Better Days is a deep song, but it has a positive message in it. So it’s kind of being more optimistic and moving away from the more melancholy stuff … I didn’t want to do that stuff anymore, as I wasn’t in that place. It can get a bit heavy sometimes.
Writing songs is obviously a different process for everyone, but how does this work for you? Do you get the idea for lyrics first, does it start with a melody … and what instrument fires your creativity most?
For many, it’s music and melody first, and lyrics after that. That’s kind of the way I’ve always done it. There was one song I did the lyrics for first and then wrote the music for – and that really didn’t work quite as well.
It’s normally all done on acoustic guitar.
Considering this is the first time you’ve toured solo in Australia, what are your expectations of the tour?
I’m really looking forward to it – I think it will be great. It’ll be a fun tour. I’m really excited about having Nathan and Dave, my bass player, come up and play Beatbox and groove with some of the tracks … I like this idea a lot, and I don’t think it’s something people would normally get to hear …