Ben Murray has been from death metal to punk rock, and almost everywhere in between. As one of the founding members of Heartsounds he has made quite a name for himself all over the world. After the band’s performance at the OC Observatory with Strung Out, Death By Stereo, and Implants By the Barricade found out a little more about Murray’s Interests, tour adventures, and plans with Creator-Destructor Records. The full interview transcripts are available below.
Ben Murray: Fast, melodic punk rock. Satan.
By the Barricade: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on stage?
Ben Murray: One of the funniest things that’s happened was on the last date of the Hits n Pits tour in Australia, when Death By Stereo decided to take Trey’s drums away from him on stage, one by one, during our last song. He was left up there with a snare, kick, and hi-hat, and they slowly put them back by the end of the song. Good times! I didn’t know what was going on until I looked back and saw Trey losin’ it. We paid them back by bringing them shots of rum about twice per song during their set, so they were shit-tanked by their 3rd song!
By the Barricade: In an interview with Dying Scene you mentioned your most recent album Internal Eyes was about overcoming self-abuse. Do you have any themes in mind for Heartsounds’ next release?
Ben Murray: It really depends on what continues to happen to Laura and I in the time that we spend writing our next release. I personally think that I’ll be writing a lot about love (which usually only Laura does), and the pains that it causes me, as well as the overwhelming joy. It’s an uncomfortable experience. I’ll probably write about the work I’ve been doing on myself to not be an emotional-trainwreck most of the time, haha! I could write a book on that it seems. We’ll see though, maybe I’ll just write about weed instead.
By the Barricade: Also in that interview you mention that you listen to a lot of Indie rock. Now that “Indie” has taken over almost every radio station in the country who is your favorite modern sensation and why?
Ben Murray: That’s a tough question. I think I was just mentioning that we all listen to a lot of softer and heavier music, not just fast punk rock. Laura and I are both obsessed with Fiona Apple, she’s a genius. Laura loves Neko Case and a lot of female singer/songwriters like that. I love bands like The National, Bon Iver, etc. I don’t care how Coachella/Urban Outfitters that is, some of those bands are great. Sure, their fans can be the biggest assholes in the entire world, but that’s true of any genre really. Those are probably two examples of popular ‘indie’ (and I’m aware of that oxymoron) bands that I like a lot. With music, I kinda run all over the board, I’ll listen to that shit and then put on Decapitated or Ulcerate or something. I suppose that’s a reflection of my highs and lows in life emotionally, it’s all about my mood.
By the Barricade: In an article from Punks in Vegas you mention Strung Out’s Twisted by Design had a major influence on you. What’s it like to play shows all over the world with your idols?
Ben Murray: It’s absolutely unreal, and nothing I’d ever take for granted. I watch them every time we play with them, with my jaw on the floor. Being able to become friends with those guys and have conversations with them is something I never thought would happen. They are such nice people, and they only get better and better on-stage. Every time we play with them I sing along to every word of their set, and I have a blast! I only hope we can play more shows together in the future!
By the Barricade: Internal Eyes was produced on Creator-Destructor Records. How does that compare to your previous time with Epitaph?
Ben Murray: Well, Creator-Destructor is my label so some aspects are easier and some harder. Epitaph was great and treated us really well, as a band and as people. We just didn’t sell enough records for them, plain and simple. We originally released ‘Until We Surrender’, our first album, on Creator-Destructor, before Epitaph re-released it. So it felt natural to just put out our new record on our own label when they passed on it. We’re a band who likes using our own resources to do shit, including controlling our recording schedule, artwork, etc. Not that Epitaph ever had any say over those things, but it’s just nice to physically put out your own record, and control every step of it aesthetically from day 1 until it is released. We love doing that work, it’s a labor of love!
Ben Murray: When Brett told us they wouldn’t release our next record, we just decided right then to not pursue any other label and just do all the shit ourselves. It’s not like any label putting out a Heartsounds record would cause it to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Why not just do it all yourselves, control it all, make all the money, and know that you have something to call your own, 100%?
By the Barricade: Any updates on from the label or specific future plans?
Ben Murray: Well since we control all of it, we’re pretty much in charge of our schedule. We are in the process of booking a lot more West Coast stuff, and hopefully some Eastern Canada, European, and Japanese dates in the next 9 months or so.
By the Barricade: How does life on tour with Heartsounds differ from your previous work in death metal band Light This City?
Ben Murray: It differs a ton! Touring with metal bands is a different vibe from punk bands, and the shows themselves feel a lot different. Punk shows are a bit more enjoyable in my opinion. The fans are mostly seeking out a catharsis that is more emotional than violent and intense. They want to sing along and not beat the shit out of someone. Also, I’d always rather see a bad punk band than a bad metal band. You know the ones I’m talking about… synchronized moves and dumb haircuts and even more ridiculous in-between song banter and neon merchandise. Although, I shouldn’t even call those bands metal, because they aren’t. So to answer your question, the punk world has always been more in line with Laura and my aesthetics since we were teenagers, as we grew up on Fat/Epitaph bands, not metal bands. I still love metal all the same though, and continue to support that scene and engage with it. I’d just rather not do metal tours anymore.
By the Barricade: What did you carry over musically from Light This City to Heartsounds?
Ben Murray: Some of the speed, melody in the guitar, and slight technicality has carried over. Everything else is pretty different I’d say.
By the Barricade: Anything else you want to say to the readers of By the Barricade?
Ben Murray: Check out our new record, Internal Eyes, which is out on our own label, Creator-Destructor Records.
All photos contributed by Jen Reightley.