EMURG’s Interview with Pete Murray of White Noise Owl
In another EMURG exclusive, we had the distinct honor to speak with lead vocalist, Pete Murray, who has fronted such bands of Ultraspank and Lo-Pro, but recently the singer has dived head first into a new project entitled, White Noise Owl. In this interview, EMURG catches up with Pete about the new band and his experiences as a prominent vocalist in the ever-growing music industry.
EMURG: Who is White Noise Owl? How did this band come to be?
Pete: WNO is Pete Murray on vocals, Chris Shy on Guitars, John Fahnestock on bass and Will Hunt on drums. Chris Shy really started the engine on this project. He and I talked about writing some music together and we fell into a pretty painless and exciting creative groove rather quickly. The stars magically aligned and we somehow found ourselves in the studio with Will, John and Ben Grosse.
EMURG: How does this band differ from your previous bands such as Lo-Pro or Ultraspank?
Pete: Musically it’s very different which is what drew me right in. I am not me at my best when I feel like the energizer bunny stuck in a corner banging my head into a wall over and over. I learned a lot in Lo-Pro and Ultraspank and I’m very proud of those bands but it’s important for me to continue to grow and evolve as an artist. This project is still heavy but in a new way for me.
EMURG: What made you decide to form this band with Chris Shy?
Pete: Bottom line for me is that I love to make music. I’ve had some tough luck in the music business over the years but at the end of the day I love to sing and write and I’ve never stopped. I love the creative process. The studio was always my favorite part. Chris and I talked on the phone and worked together writing the songs but didn’t meet in person until the night before we started recording. Luckily he was just as cool in person.
EMURG: What was it like working with renowned producer and mixer Ben Grosse? How did he contribute to White Noise Owl’s sound during the production of, “Until We Meet Again”?
Pete: Ben was my first choice to produce Lo-Pro’s debut album but the universe had other plans. I honestly had let go of ever getting back into a big studio with a big producer like Ben. He’s a magician. I love everything that he’s done. Sonically he’s a beast. The most important things for me going in to this were to have fun and to learn. This EP far exceeded my expectations. I fully respect and trust Ben so I was willing to take on anything he threw at me. He had great ideas and working with him was an amazing experience. Bottom line is that making this EP was blast. To me that is infectious and you can hear it in the end product.
EMURG: Why did you title this EP, “Until We Meet Again”? Can you give us some insight on the title?
Pete:“Until We Meet Again” acts in the same way that “Sincerely” is the closing of a personal piece of correspondence. It was our way of authoring our name to the songs as a whole and the experience in general.
EMURG: What was it like recording at EastWest Studios where Tool once recorded?
Pete: Magical. I was floored the minute I walked in. I was a kid in a candy store. Like I said before, I love being in a studio and East West is elysium. That day was all about Will so I was really able to sit back and take it all in. I totally get off on the history. I remember all the hair on my arms standing straight up the first time I visited Sun Studios in Memphis. This was the same thing.
EMURG: What was the inspiration behind some of the songs off Until We Meet Again? Where do you get your lyrical inspiration when your write?
Pete: I used to be a much more reactive person. I’m really mellowing out in my older age and at the end of the day I’m truly grateful for what I have in life. I may not have achieved the level of rock stardom that some of my counterparts in the business have but I’m making more music than ever before and having 10 times as much fun doing it. I owe a lot of that to a devoted Ashtanga Yoga practice. Most of these songs are about the power of a quiet mind.
EMURG: The songs Feed, Are You Breathing, and End Over End showcase the band’s high energy and drive with crafting well written songs. What kind of impression do you think these EP will have on audiences?
Pete: I really don’t know how these will be received but I can tell you that these songs came straight from the heart and they were a blast to make. We wrote these songs simply because we wanted to, not because we had to. We’re all one viral YouTube video away from being irrelevant anyway right? Someone will catch their Cockatiel singing in the shower and we’re all out of work.
EMURG: What is your favorite song off the EP and why?
Pete: It’s hard to say. The opening riff of Feed is what drew me in to the project and it’s the first song we wrote so it has a special place in my heart but probably Are you Breathing? We threw the most at that song and I think it came out insane.
EMURG: What do you consider are the advantages and disadvantages of being a musician in an industry that produces bands that are “here today and gone tomorrow”. What has set you apart from the ever growing revolving door of musicians?
Pete: I can honestly say that I worked on these songs with no attachment to the outcome beyond the music itself. I really try not to focus on the business anymore because it changes every 5 second. I’ve been through a lot over the years and it’s always come back to the music. I remember being devastated when Ultraspank lost it’s deal but Neil Godfrey showed up at my door maybe a week later with some riffs and the journey picked right back up. I’ve continued to write and experiment with music because it’s what I love to do. Some people like to play golf, some people like to snowboard, some people like to sit in a tree and kill animals. I love writing music. It’s that simple.