We speak to Aussie singer-songwriter on Dubai visit and his new album
Welcome to Dubai. Is it your first time here? Yes it’s my first time. Always heard about this place but I’ve never been here. I’d never really thought about coming here but then Sony asked me to come down and release the album and be part of this festival so I guess I thought ‘yeah, okay, let’s do it’. Someone said go and do one of the desert things while I’m here ...
(Interrupting) Try dune buggying. That’s awesome. ... but I am not going to have time.
Ah, shame. Maybe next time I come back. I went to the water park and fed the stingrays, so that was pretty good.
Cool. So do you have a Dubai following? There are a few Aussies here. Yeah probably a small one. There are a few English people here and I have been in England over the years so there’s a small English following here as well.
Playing on the beach as the sun sets must suit your music. Yeah I think so. It’s the perfect time to play, when the sun is going down. Everyone has had enough drink that they are happy, rather than playing later at night when everyone is plastered. My music is definitely better at that time.
How pleased are you with the album? I really like it. It’s definitely a different energy to what I have done before, more electric and a lot more dynamic than what I’ve done before. And I think it sounds the best, a really great sounding album, so I am really happy with it.
You always take quite a long break between albums. Do you need to recharge or do you spend most of that time writing and recording? This time round I took a bit longer than usual. I just needed a break to send some time with my kids, have a bit of a life and come back with something fresh. I felt I needed that space to come back with something that was different to what I have done. That doesn’t come easy because you get used to writing a certain way. To try to change that takes a bit of time.
Is your music changing as you get older? You have gone for a more uptempo sound like Summer at Eureka, and maybe further away from the slower acoustic sound we heard more of in your first two albums. It is. A lot of stuff was moody early on. There is some moody stuff on there too but I didn’t want it to be too dark. There is some moody stuff on there too, but it’s really optimistic, really positive lyrically.
You have said it’s an album written to play live. I love playing every song off the album live. In the past there have been a few songs for whatever reason I don’t want to play. Maybe it’s too dark, or lyrically I am not there anymore. But this one feels good. I have always enjoyed the gigs, but I am definitely enjoying them a bit more now. I have been playing a five-piece for a long time now but now we are playing a four-piece, so a lot of the keyboard stuff is played on guitar, which kind of toughens the whole sound up a bit. The Dubai gig was a little bit more acoustic.
How has it gone down on tour so far? The tour in Australia has been really good, actually. It’s tough times at the moment, for everyone. Everyone has been really tight with their money, but back home it’s been a really successful tour.
What are your favourite songs from the album? There have been a few that I have liked. Led is a lot of fun to play live, it’s kind of the rockiest. It’s been getting a great reaction live. It is kind of dynamic. That or Holland.
And who is ‘Always A Winner’ about? Ah ... (thinks for a few seconds) ... no one in particular. It’s just the way the song came out.
Fair enough. Which is your favourite of your songs from your whole career? There is a song I like playing called Feeler. It’s a really great song to play live. It’s starts slow and just has a really great groove to it. As it gets bigger and bigger, I change from acoustic to electric during the song so it really takes off and really becomes a big finish to the song. That’s my favourite to play I think.
Who are your biggest musical influences? I loved all the older stuff, like Neil Young and Bob Dylan. All that music was great songwriting. Great lyrics, great melodies, powerful, has meaning for people.
You took to music professionally quite late. Is it something you had always wanted to do or did you stumble upon it? I first picked up a guitar when I was 22, so by the time I had an album I was 30. So it was a really late start. I remember doing interviews on that first album and some guy said ‘what do you think when they say if you haven’t made it in the music industry by the time you’re 24, you are never going to make it’. I said ‘that’s b******t’. I am not a pop act. A good song is a good song. There was an older artist, I am trying to think of his name, he was in his 70s when he had this hit album. He died a few years later. It took him that long to have his success and when he got it, unfortunately it only lasted a few years, but his family got to have the benefits of it, I guess.
And who are you listening to in the car at the moment? I really like Jose Gonzales. He has got some really interesting tunings on the guitar. It’s kind of nice, the way he plays it. That’s probably my favourite stuff at the moment.
Before I let you go, I just want to test your Dubai knowledge with a quick true or false. Okay ...
Tom Cruise recently abseiled down the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower. False.
It’s true. Dubai has the world’s largest dragon-shaped shopping mall. Dragon-shaped mall? I’d say ... probably true.
It is true. The Palm Jumeirah was originally built to look like a pineapple. False?
It’s false. The Atlantis Hotel was originally going to be built underwater. (Sounding bored) False.
Yep. The world’s largest doner kebab was recently constructed in Dubai. True?
It is true. It was three metres high. Wow. How wide was it? Was it as thin as a normal kebab?
No, it was 0.6m wide. And Dubai has the record for the most people opening a bottle simultaneously. That’s a tough one. I’ll say ... false.
It’s true. But you didn’t do badly. Two wrong. Not bad.
Pete Murray’s newest album, Blue Sky Blue, is in stores now.