THE WILD MURPHYS will perform a virtual St Patrick’s Day concert this week, with all the action taking place on March 17.
Lead singer Middi Murphy claims after a year in lockdown, with no live performances, they couldn’t face letting the day pass them by for a second year, and are keen to bring a dose of good Irish music to fans anywhere in the world to mark Ireland's national day.
This week he took some time out to talk to The Irish Post as the band gears up for the big gig...
What are you up to right now?
I’ve had very little to do since we came off the road in March 2020, but we’ve just wrapped filming on the St. Patricks special so that kept us busy for a week or so. Other than that, I’ve just been enjoying spending time with the family and waiting for news as to when we can return to touring with One Night In Dublin.
Who are your heroes?
I know it’s cliche, but my Dad was my hero. He was just an all-round good guy. When it comes to the entertainment world, it would have to be Ken Dodd. He was just the ultimate professional; in his peak he did eight shows a week and sold out every place he played for about 125 years. The man was just a legend and nearly every backstage in the country has a picture of him on a wall somewhere. I’ve never met anyone yet who worked with him and had a bad word to say about him.
What's been the best decade of your life so far and why?
I’m not 100 per cent sure I’ve had my best decade yet, although the 1990’s came pretty close because the music was crazy and we were jumping around in warehouses wearing white boiler suits and waving glow sticks for reasons no one can truly remember. But I’m thinking the 2030’s might be my decade, if I make it that far.
What record sends a shiver down your spine?
Sometimes it’s just a line in a song can do it. Tom Waits’ songs can often have one standout line in the lyrics that can knock you sideways. There’s a line in a Pogues song that goes ‘We watched our friends grow up together and we saw them as they fell’ - that always gets me. Absent friends by the Fureys also sends shivers down my spine.
What is your favourite place in Ireland?
The Gleneagles Hotel in Killarney, Co. Kerry. I’ve been to so many shows there, seen some of the big Irish acts and had some great nights away.
What makes you angry?
Right now, the fact you can put 300 people on an airplane, but you can’t put 40 in a pub.
What book influenced you most?
My bank book! It made me work! In truth, and again a bit off the wall, I read a lot of biographies of people who are in bands and tour the world. One that really stuck a chord with me was Roy Chubby Brown’s ‘Common as Muck!’. Obviously what he does and his style is not to everyone’s taste, but it’s a great read about how he came from an abusive life in a down and out area and worked a lot of really nasty places until getting to the big time and touring the theatres around the world, The book isn’t crude at all and I’d highly recommend it.
What was the worst moment of your life?
My dad’s passing, just before St. Patrick’s Day 2015 was the worst time of my life. I’ve never got over it, it was so sudden and left such a hole in my life.
Which local star in any field should the world outside Ireland know about?
We work with a young lady called Kimberly Heron. She originally came on tour with us in 2019 to be our merchandise seller, but she’s just starting out as a singer and she’s truly amazing. She’s like Amy Winehouse and Stevie Nicks with a dash of Ella Fitzgerald thrown in for good measure; everyone should check her out because I think in a few years she’s going to be a big star.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
A winning lottery ticket somewhere between 1990 and 2020 would have been handy! I’m actually quite content with my life and the way it’s gone and there’s nothing really I’d change except, if I was to have a do-over I’d maybe not gone as hard at the junk food! Trying to lose weight in your 40’s is a tough one for a man my size.
What is the best lesson life has taught you?
If you want, you will always want, there is nothing wrong with trying to make your life better but when you start envying someone else’s life you’ll never be happy. There is always someone worse off than you, be thankful for the life you have.
What is your favourite film and why?
Goodfellas – I love that Scorsese gangster stuff and I think Goodfellas was his best. The way the story is told and how it can keep you watching time after time is a testament to how good it is. I love movies and I can’t wait to go back to the cinemas when they reopen. The last film I saw in a cinema was the Hateful Eight.
What do you believe in?
That you should have to pass a test and get a license to go on the internet.
What trait do others criticise you for?
Not being from Ireland! I always had stick for not being Irish and fronting an Irish band - not so much over the last 10 years but in the early days it was pretty bad how much chew I got! Funnily enough I fronted a popular country and western band for five years and no one ever had a pop at me for not being from Tennessee! I think now we’re established and people know what we’re about it’s got better. We’re not up there shouting ‘where’s me potato’ or telling ‘Paddy and Mick’ jokes, we’re a solid and talented band playing Irish songs. I just happened to be the right guy to front that band, kind of like when Runrig got a Canadian to front them, there was a bit of chew in the first couple of years but after that people kind of went ‘Hey, you know what, this guy’s doing a pretty good job up there and we quite like the material they’re putting out’
Where do you live and what are the best and worst things about that place?
Darlington, In the north east of England. Best thing is it’s handy to get to anywhere, you can be in London in three hours, Glasgow in three hours, Dublin in seven hours. It’s also got the Hippodrome which is one of those world-renowned theatres like the London Palladium, the Crewe Lyceum, Blackpool Grand or the Dublin Olympia. Worst bit is it’s a dead town now, the council never helped the small businesses over the years as they were just interested in parking charges, fines and property rates so they all shut down. There’s not many shops, no nightclubs, not many bars and much of the city centre is boarded up now.
On what occasion is it OK to lie?
Whenever it will get you out of trouble and you won’t be found out! (FYI You will always be found out)
What do you consider the greatest work of art?
Dogs playing poker by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. Who doesn’t like that painting? It should be next to the Mona Lisa in The Louvre. I also love, for reasons I can’t explain, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. I have a copy on the office wall, I love it, and could look at it for hours.
What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?
Drawing rude words with my finger in the steamed-up mirrors of hotel bathrooms, I just love the idea that the next person to use the room gets out the shower and sees it… I’m such a child!
Who is/was the love of your life?
Ok, so obviously it’s my wife and my three children. To say anything else would make me an awful person. But let’s assume that that’s a given and you’d like a less obvious answer? I have an old guitar made by Aria, it’s pretty worthless in terms of money but it was my first professional guitar. I’ve had it since I was 14, it’s battered, chipped, won’t stay in tune, hence why it no longer goes on the road and it’s got a big hole in the back where I hit a burger over the head with it one night. But it’s my favourite, I play it in the house all the time and it’s been with me through every life event, all the highs, all the lows and it was with me when I had no one and when relationships weren’t working. It’s just been part of my life for so long, I think that guitar might be the love of my life, certainly the first thing I’d rescue from a burning building… after the wife and kids obviously.
The Wild Murphys on St Patrick’s Day, Tickets: £12 until Tuesday, March 16, £14 from Wednesday, March 17. Click here for full details and to purchase tickets. The show will be available to view from 08:00 (GMT) on Wednesday, March 17. Ticket holders have unlimited views of the show for 7 days after first viewing, but will need a stable WiFi connection to watch this performance.