An interview with Neil Murray of Snakecharmer - Interviewer: Mark dean
SCR:Soundclashrocks - NM - Neil Murray
SCR: The debut album has been out for quite some time, while I appreciate that the individual members have other musical projects has there been any opportunity to record some new songs as Snakecharmer?
NM: The music probably won't come out till, say January or February really. We would have liked to get it out before the November tour but realistically, it's not very likely.
SCR: Are the songs Written and recorded?
NM: Demoed, written, yeah. Maybe not all of them but we've got a lot to choose from so we've got to get together... I mean, some of the guys are really busy with other things. Harry's been doing things with Thunder lately so it's always a bit of a juggling act, trying to get us all together in one room.
SCR: Sure. As a long standing Whitesnake fan, seeing you back in 84 and those days, do you feel that any of those earlier songs ever get old? Do they become an obligation to fans or are they ones you still really love and enjoy doing?
NM: Well, you know, they're great songs and you try not to play them exactly note for note every time. If they were the kind of thing that had to be absolutely exactly like the record every time I would get bored, but no, I can change things and the guys can change bits and pieces.
SCR: Do you ever see a day where those songs in the set will be replaced by a full set of Snakecharmer songs?
NM: Yeah, I would think so, but we're not quite there yet. We obviously need the second album to have really strong material, which it will have.
SCR: Okay, so you've played with many musical legends over the years, including the likes of John Lord, Cozy Powell, but who would you say is the most gifted musician you've worked with?
NM: Mickey Moody over there *laughs*. Um, thats very difficult to answer because somebody can be very gifted by being able to play many many different kinds of music or read music perfectly, but sometimes the guys who have their own specific personality, like Cozy I guess, with the gift of being yourself and bringing that personality out in his playing. I've been so lucky. Brian May is amazing, Steve Vai is amazing, Jeff Beck is amazing and all these people that you probably don’t necessarily think of, but in their own way Bernie and Micky are just as great... John Sykes, you know, the list goes on.
SCR: Are there any guys out there that you'd like to work with that you still haven't?
NM: Well, yes, but I don’t think about that very much because it’s not very realistic and I'm kind of in my box as far as people know me for, so I hardly ever think of waiting by the phone for a call about XYZ but yes, there are tons of people that I’d like to play with. They don’t have to be famous, they just have to be good or enjoyable and can work in lots of different styles of music, as well. Some of the people I'd like to play with, I'm afraid, are no longer with us.
SCR: What was the most enjoyable period for you as a musician? Is it in the now or maybe going back to the classic Whitesnake days?
NM: To be honest, the early Whitesnake days are some of the best that any of us had, just because it was a very relaxed, fun environment and we just got on really well and it was a good laugh. It was musically great as well as socially, you kind of don't realise until you move on to do other things that not all bands are quite like that. Whitesnake, itself, changed and became something different...
SCR: How do you feel with being associated with so many iconic songs, and does that bring any added pressure with each new release?
NM: *laughs* I don't feel pressure at all. Just... Yes. You want to produce stuff that stands up to the same level, but the times are different; you can't come out with something that’s just as good as what came out in 1980, this is now 2015, so the whole environment has changed, we're much older and people who might buy the record are different or they're probably really ancient too! *laughs*
SCR: My next Question was actually "how would you describe Mickey", but Mickey is actually here so maybe I'll ask you both how you view each other because your musical legacy goes back sometime...
NM: Well, Both me and Mickey, and Bernie and Mr Coverdale, as well, kind of, our period of the most influence was the blues era during the mid to late 60s when all the bands came after that; Hendrix and Cream and whatever. We're all very much on the same wavelength as far as stuff that we really like deep down and then we expand on that into different areas and the thing about this is that Mickey is so versatile. He's not just a blues rock guitarist, he's a country guitarist, a folk guitarist, jazz... everything. It's really hard to get all that in one package. I mean, people just don’t get to see that enough perhaps
SCR: Looking back at your musical legacy, how do you perceive it? Do you concentrate on the present rather than looking back?
NM: I mean, it's great to have a legacy of any kind. There's stuff I think is really good and there’s stuff I never listen to...
SCR: Favourite releases?
NM: I'm never really satisfied but Ready And Willin' and Come And Get It are really high points in that kind of thing. Even 1987 in a different way, to be involved in something that was so incredibly successful... There’s less of me on there, it's very much John Sykes and David Coverdale's album really, but it's still amazing to be part of something of that scale.
SCR: Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of music that might surprise fans?
NM: I used to be really into movies, though I don't seem to watch them quite as much now. I read quite a lot and always seem to be on the computer doing something, whether it's design or accounts, you name it.
SCR: Do you feel that the use of the internet has actually helped bands or hindered bands?
NM: Both really. People spend so much time looking at a screen now and in our day, you used to have to go out and socialise with other people and you know, have an actual live experience most of the time but now it's all very second hand. I don't get this thing of holding up your iPad or iPhone.
SCR: Sure, you might as well be watching it on TV back at home.
NM: It won't be anywhere near good quality and even before that came along I used to go on holiday and take loads of pictures and sometimes I'd think, hang on, just look at it and maybe it'll stay in your mind if it’s really something to experience. You think, ”Oh, I'll take a picture here,” but when you look at the picture it's not the same. Your eyes are better than the camera!
SCR: Sure you've done many things over the years but if you had to pick just one person that you could interview, who would it be? It doesn't have to be a musician, maybe someone that's inspired you personally
NM: Oh, dear! you think of the cliche things but you also don't want to give some stupid answer and then later think "Why did I say that??" Oh... *laughs* Maybe somebody from history. I'm going to say George Orwell because I've read nearly all his books and he's just a very, very clever, brilliant writer. I wouldn't necessarily agree with everything he says, but you know.
SCR: Okay, so what’s the future plans for Neil Murray and Snakecharmer?
NM: We have this November tour with Snakecharmer here in Germany, as I say we probably would have completed the album reasonably well before that. A lot of touring next year, I should hope, in order to promote it. I do other things that come along from time to time that aren't necessarily long standing, they might be just one off things but at the moment this is my main project.
SCR: Do you still have hopes, dreams and ambitions?
NM: Yeah, you're always looking forward to the next thing really. There's so much I haven't done or things that people take for granted... normal life where I've been too concentrated on my career, let’s say. I still hope to play with inspiring musicians and contribute something more. There’s nothing like it really, if you're actually playing something that is as good as you can do and the combined thing that you’re doing together is really up there in terms of quality or fun and whatever it takes.
SCR: That’s great, thank you very much.
NM: That’s okay!