Dean Murray (from Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers
Biscuithead and The Biscuit Badgers

Nick                      I thought today, for the music for head and heart, we’d talk a little bit about song writing, your interest in music and what it is you love about it and your take on how you produce what it is that you produce.
Dean Murray:                  Great. Yeah.
Nick                        Maybe start off, simple question, when did you first get interested in writing and performing music?
Dean Murray:                  Well, I first got interested in writing music when, the first time I picked up a guitar when I was a kid, really. I mean, about 16, I think I was at the time. I started writing then. I mean, the stuff I was writing wasn’t very good, but it’s … Yeah, so right from the start. Right from picking up an instrument, writing is what I wanted to do, really. Writing into performing until later, when I was at the university, really.

Nick                       So when was the moment, when you look back and you go, you went from the, “I’m writing stuff,” to, “Actually, now I want to be presented to an audience.”
Dean Murray:                  Well, it took ages and ages for me to become any good at songwriting. I think I didn’t really write a song I liked ’til I was about 25, 26, something like that, so it was quite a long time for songwriting before the songs were any good, really. Obviously, you can think some of them are good along the way, then you kind of realise that, yeah, that’s not that good, is it really?
                                           So yeah, I was probably in my mid to late 20s, I started performing stuff, regularly. Didn’t really perform much before that. Just occasionally at the uni, but yeah, not very much, really.

Nick                   When you’re writing, we’ve discussed this outside of this interview, we’ve talked about like, the critical voice, which on the one hand is quite helpful. On the other hand can be less so.
Dean Murray:                  Yup. Well, there’s a … I was telling you about this earlier, there’s a Portuguese director I once worked with, theatre director who was a great bloke, and he talked about there’s a bird that does and the bird that watches. The bird that does is you doing your thing on stage, obviously. The bird that watches is your sort of critical voice, which you need to train as a performer.
                                           You need it to be accurate, for one thing. You also need to be not too negative, so if it’s too negative, you need to train it to be more impartial. If it’s too positive you need to do the same thing. You don’t want it just telling you that everything you do is amazing. Or if thinking it’s terrible, because that’s not helpful. You need it to be right in the middle, so it’s giving you a useful critical advice.
                                           I think that’s really great advice for anyone who performs, to be honest. I think it’s really, really, crucial to anyone who does any kind of performance, ’cause it’s, yeah, being able to look at your work from a bit of an outside point of view can really help.
Nick                      You talked about when you were playing by yourself.
Dean Murray:                  Yes.
Nick                 When did you first start playing with other musicians?
Dean Murray:                  Well I started off playing with other musicians relatively early. There was this friend of mine, they were, used to play guitar with me, when it was mostly guitarists. But yeah, I do a bit of both now. But I think the key thing about working in a band is, if you get into a band, it teaches you a huge amount of music very quickly. I think for anyone who’s starting off, it’s great to be in a band with people that are better than you are. And that’s what I’ve always done, I’ve always been in bands with people that are much better at music than I am. You learn so much from people like that.
                                           It also means that you got these ideas and they can play them. It doesn’t limit you sort of creatively either. But yeah, it’s brilliant being in a band, absolutely brilliant, but it is nice to be able to do a bit of solo stuff now and again. I know some people do mostly solo, but I really like the kind of sort of camaraderie of being in a band. I like working as a team and throwing ideas around together. I really enjoy that. I think it brings out things in my work that wouldn’t come out otherwise.
   Nick what’s the biggest plus from being with a band versus the biggest negative? And what’s the biggest plus from being solo versus biggest negative?
Dean Murray:                  Like I say, being solo you don’t get to share your ideas the same way. It’s a different creative process, which is a lot more, well I don’t know, it can feel a little bit like isolating and a bit like kind of, you’re not getting any new input, which I think is quite important for some writing. Having other people’s inputs helps to spark off more interesting ideas for you. Being in a band I suppose, most the considerations are purely practical. So like getting a room together. The fact the money doesn’t go as far. You know all that kind of stuff. Just practical things really, because I love being in a band.
                                           I do think, if I could give one piece of advice to somebody who wanted to be in a band, I’d say, “Always go for people that you really get on with.” You got to on with people. You got to have a really good relationship with them, regardless of the music. I mean obviously you want to pick people you want to play with, but at the same time, the personality of the band is so important. If they don’t, if there’s any friction or they don’t gel together, it will never be as creative experience as it could’ve been, in my view. It’s those kinds of things, because being in a band is quite intense, it can be a very tense experience. You spend a lot of time with those people. You go through a lot of tough gigs that are not very good. You have a lot of tough journeys, very tired. You need to be with people who, you’re going to be with them in that worst possible scenario and it still be nice, it’ll still be all right. So yeah, I’d say that’s really important.
Nick         So, we talked about sort of playing to different audiences. So, here’s a question, what’s the most, or an example of a most memorable situation you were playing, and what’s one which is like the strangest? Either reaction, or audience situation.
Dean Murray       Well, I think probably the most memorable, and best gig that we’ve done, is that we played, we were very lucky to play at WOMAD. And it just so happened, the place we’re playing at is like the bar for WOMAD. So, the festival all shuts quite early, because it’s just that sort of festival. But, the bar stays open. So, you’ve got this festival with thousands of people, and we were the only thing that was on, so, everybody’d come to it.
                             And it was just, I’ve never played for such a big audience, and it was just like a sea of people you couldn’t see the edge of, which is amazing. I’m told that Prince Harry was in the audience. I don’t know what he made of it, but, yeah, I think it was true, because I was told by a very, very drunk middle-aged woman at the end of the show that that happened.
                             And she said, “Yeah, I kept going up to him and saying ‘Oh, you’re Prince Harry. You’re Prince Harry. It’s great. It’s great.'” And then, eventually, some bouncers took him away. Yeah, that’s probably a true story, isn’t it? It sounds like what would happen.
                             In terms of weird things, we’ve played some pretty odd venues. We played at the Oxford Natural History Museum, which is amazing, in front of a big life-size model of a Tyrannosaurus’s head, which is quite good. Although, whoever sculpted it, hadn’t looked at it from the front. Because, if you looked at it from the front, where we were, the eyes weren’t straight. So, it was a bit off, cross eyed, which was quite funny.
                             And yeah, I quite like to do a bit of audience interaction on the stage. But, sometimes that doesn’t go very well. We played a gig at a festival called Rough Beats, and there was a woman called Tracy in the audience. And I think some substances had been involved in her day, somewhere. And she got on stage with me, and this wasn’t invited to get on stage, just got on stage with me, and started to wrestle me.
                             And I was in the middle of singing a song, so I thought, ‘Well, I’ll carry on singing the song, and see what happens.’ And she wrestled me to the ground, and basically had me pinned to the ground and was trying to kiss me. And it was just like, oh dear, why is nobody stopping this? It was funny.
                             I mean, she was all right, really, but she was very carried away. And eventually, security at the festival finally got around to doing something about it. And they just sort of said, “You’ve got to get off the stage now.” Like in the back, fortunately, she eventually did release me, which is fortunate really, yeah. So, that was pretty weird.
                             We was talking about functions weren’t we, the other day? Function gigs are very strange. I’ve never really enjoyed playing functions, and we don’t do it anymore. But, we did play a function with Biscuithead, and I think it was a wedding. Yeah, it was a wedding. And you get to the end of the wedding, and because in wedding audiences, they’re just people who are there for the wedding. They’re not there for a gig.
                             You get some quite odd things that people say at the end. So, Bob, he’s the piano player in the band. We finished the gig, it had gone really well. And this guy came up to, we didn’t know, said, “Oh, it was great. It was great. I really enjoyed that. Oh, it was really good.”
                             “Oh, okay, yeah.”
                             “Yeah, I really liked that. Really like your piano player. He’s really, really good. If there’s one thing, if one thing I felt like I had to say. I felt I really have to say this. I really don’t like your trousers.”
                             And then, Bob was quite offended by that. But, why, why, he thought that was something he needed to say, we’ll never know, because the conversation didn’t last very long. But, yeah, so, yeah, it’s the rich part of life’s rich tapestry.

Bioscuit Head and The Biscuit Badgers have a new album out that can be found here at their official site –