Dublin troubadour The Mighty Stef (Stefan Murphy) and his merry band have relocated to Los Angeles to record their fourth studio album. Alian Johannes of Queens of The Stone Age fame is producing and it seems the pairing is working well.
After recording the LP The Mighty Stef will hit SXSW and return to Dublin for a headline show at Whelans. I caught up with Stef to talk over how the opportunity came about and the some of the shenanigans that have arisen in the City Of Angels.
Where did opportunity come to record with Alain Johannes, and in LA?
Stef: Alain Johannes has a history of working with Mark Lanegan and Queens Of The Stone age, two of my favourite contemporary US-acts we got a contact for his management through a mutual friend and sent him some demos, he loved the demos and expressed interest in doing the album.
It took us almost a year from that point to make it happen but we managed to get out here to LA to work with the man. He is a genius, pure and simple. He’s had a profound and largely un-credited influence on modern American alternative rock. Working with him has been a dream.
(Click on above link to view recording from studio)
How are the recordings going?
Stef: It’s exceeding our expectations, and our expectations were very high to begin with.
What can we expect to hear in the new record? Will the new recordings be a follow on from 2010’s TMS+Baptists?
Stef: I have wanted to make a record with a radically different sound since shortly after the release of 100 Midnights in 2009. The Baptists record was something that happened very spontaneously and almost accidentally it was collaboration with Humanzi and myself at the time.
A couple of months after the release of 100 Midnights a mate of mine Declan Gaffney who is a sound engineer and works with U2 was in NYC on a night that we were playing there. He brought his boss [Bono] to see us in The Mercury Lounge to watch our gig. After the gig I got to speak to him and he really liked the music but suggested that someday I need to step out of the comfort zone of folk infused rock n roll and make a record with ‘the ideal producer’ that sounds a bit more otherworldly.
After a few gargles we decided that producer should be Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream who Bono described as a scholar of Rock N Roll and I agreed.
Needless to say, the Bobby Gillespie thing never materialized and needless to say I never seen or heard from Bono ever again but I did take his words seriously that night and set about trying to reimagine the sound of The Mighty Stef and search for a producer that would help us make it a reality.
The next record will be anything but a follow on from the last, and hopefully in a good way.
I’ve seen you are playing shows over there how are they being received?
Stef: We have been giving it 100% as always and the crowds have liked it so yeah, the gigs have been good.
SXSW is on the cards as well, as you’ve played there before, what is your view on the whole festival? Are you looking forward to playing it again?
Stef: This will be my 6th time at SXSW Its an incredible buzz. Our drummer Brian Farrell will be there for the first time this year so I’m actually looking forward to his reaction. We maybe have more going for ourselves from an industry perspective this year so we are hoping to make it count.
Its a great festival, I’ve seen some amazing gigs at it over the years.
Back on the topic of Los Angeles how has it been being away from home for a considerable amount of time?
Stef: Difficult for us all, we are used to being away from home a lot, but touring is different than being in the one place everyday. I’m probably more homesick on this trip than any tour I’ve ever been on but its all for the glory of rock n roll and we feel very privileged to be out here so I wouldn’t complain. I miss my family, naturally enough. Gary [our bass player] just got engaged a few days before leaving Ireland.
I’ve seen you met JEDWARD have you been mingling with any bigger celebrities than them?
Stef: Unless we get to meet Larry David or visit Phil Spector in prison I don’t think meeting Jedward is gonna be topped. We simply bumped into the two lads around the corner from our studio. The Irish abroad wha!!
On the return to Dublin you’re playing a big show in Whelans are you looking forward to it?
Stef: Very much so. Hope to pack the place to the rafters and really put on the best hometown show we have ever done.
And finally how is the future looking for The Mighty Stef?
Stef: Brighter than ever it seems. Already this album has opened up a few doors for us and its not even half made so with any luck its gonna turn out half as good as it promises to and we can take on the world with it.
Check out The Mighty Stef here:
The Mighty Stef play Whelans on Friday 5th of April. Tickets available through Ticketmaster.