Do you ever wish you were on the beach? But it’s the dead of winter and 10 degrees outside? A simple fix to those winter time blues is Major Murphy’s music! The sunny and beach-y trio hail from Grand Rapids, Michigan and played at Audiotree Music Festival this past weekend. They were a delight to watch and even more of a delight to chat with. WLUW sat down with Jacob, the vocalist and guitarist, from Major Murphy to hear what the groups been up to, where they’re headed, and what inspires those easy summery tunes of theirs.
Is this your first time at Audiotree? How does it feel to be performing?
Yes. I attended the first year, but this is my first time performing. It’s good, we’ve kind of like, taken the last month off, so I felt a little rusty but, and nervous just because it’s so exciting.
You’re a group hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Did you all grow up there? How did you meet?
We all met in Grand Rapids, but Bud is from California, Jackie is from the Chicago area and I grew up in Traverse City, Michigan. Grand Rapids is where we came together just kind of through playing music.
Bud and I had been playing in quite a few bands in Grand Rapids together for like a couple years and Jackie was in another band in Grand Rapids that was super great. So, it was just kind of something we wanted to do for our own benefit almost or like a type of music that we wanted to try just for like, ourselves. To try something new for the sake of like, we’ve just never done this before, let’s give it a shot.
One of my favorite songs from the album No.1 is “Who Will I Be,” can you explain the inspiration behind that? Who writes the songs?
I am the songwriter of the group. So, it’s usually just me with like an acoustic guitar or like a Casio keyboard or something just kind of like working it out. I try to keep it as simple and as bare as possible so that by the time Jackie and Bud hear it, that they like, oh I can hear my own little part, not be like, oh, it’s already all figured out.
That song, that was probably written, was definitely after Trump was elected, so that was part of it. There’s a political energy to it, in my own mind, I don’t know if that comes through the song or not.
What have you been listening to music wise lately?
I love Steely Dan, I’m embarrassed to bring that up, but it’s just true. We freaking love, freaking Ariana Grande just came out with an album that’s amazing, Sweetener.
Do things other than music help inform what you write?
I think so. It’s hard to say necessarily. Music is like a, there are moods involved, so you might get a mood from like a visual piece. The mood would lead you to think about things, like if it’s a melancholy mood, it can lead you down roads.
There are some modern 70’s rock notes in Major Murphy’s sound- do you consciously do that, add in tones of the 70’s to your music?
It’s a style thing, but like with styles, you do do it consciously and unconsciously. It’s like you’re looking up to an older sibling or something, like aw, they’ve done this thing that I want to do and this is how they did so maybe I’ll try it.
It’s conscious, but you understand that those people weren’t doing a gimmick so you hope not to just do, you try not to get stuck on just one thing.
How was Major Murphy’s summer/what have they been doing leading up to Audiotree?
We play like a whole bunch locally, throughout the summer. That was nice. We played this show at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, that was really cool. It felt like a nod like, from the people of Grand Rapids, ‘Hey we see you, you’re a band.’
Traverse City, where you grew up, is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I can only imagine that Michigan, the lake, things like that, have inspired some of your music.
I only have a suspicion, but…Bud is from Southern California. I feel like part of our connection as friends is understanding our relationship with like these huge bodies of water. You know, in the summertime, it’s like warm, it’s like Southern California. I feel like maybe because of that, we’re into surf rock because we kind of know what it’s like to surf.
Are there any future plans for Major Murphy?
We’ve got a bunch of songs, I’ve been writing a lot of music. We’ve been working on demo’s, so that’s exciting. We have an EP of demo’s, from the super early days. We started the band like three years ago so, you’ll recognize the songs but it’s like a different version, more or less. That’ll be out, probably in the spring, so I’m pretty excited about that. Kind of like a nostalgic piece, which is funny, like, can you be nostalgic after three years? It’s gonna be sick, we’re gonna do a vinyl for it and everything.
It was such a pleasure getting to talk with Jacob. Looking forward to Major Murphy’s upcoming EP!