Analogue Music | POSTDATA


By Matt Conner

Paul Murphy could have went light or dark.

As he went into the recording sessions for yet another solo album, Murphy found a serendipitous time frame to be able to work with acclaimed producer Joe Chiccarelli (The Strokes, Alanis Morrissetthsftes( for the first time after a few years of talking about a collaboration. According to Murphy there was a lot of music on the table, exciting new demos numbering in the several dozen that could have turned the project one way or another.

Together with Chiccarelli, Murphy, who also fronts the Canadian rock band Wintersleep, decided upon a more buoyant approach to the songs that comprise Run Wild. A proper follow-up to his last solo record, Twin Flames, this fall's offering features songs that are more playful and provocative. Longtime fans will love the slfii

Analogue: Even from the beginning, I was hit with this lightness or effervescence on these songs which I found quite striking since I’ve been a longtime Wintersleep fan. Was that pretty purposeful? Or does that even sound accurate to you?

Paul: I don’t know. I went with the best songs that I had and there was definitely a lightness to the kinds of songs I was making around this time. You always go into a record trying to differentiate it from the last, and the first song I wrote for this record was at the end of the Twin Flames sessions. I think it felt like I had a bunch of songs that did feel like they had that kind of energy.

It wasn’t something I set out to do, I suppose. It was more listening to the batch of demos I had with Joe [Chiccarelli] and deliberately differentiating them at that stage. It’s neat to hear a thread with these kinds of songs because I normally don’t write major chord-sounding things. I’ve always dabbled with it but this is the first record where I went with it more and made it the feeling of the record.

Analogue: Do these feel like lighter days for you, personally?

Paul: That’s a hard thing to know for sure. [Laughs] I don’t think I’m ever super-down or something like that. Maybe after COVID, it is lighter to get out of that and to start to work toward making live music again. It’s been a while. Even with the last record, Twin Flames, I really didn’t get to perform that live. It’s getting out of the storm of that, I suppose.

Analogue: The other feeling I get with the album is a sense of freedom or permission.

Paul: Absolutely. That comes as a result of just being a little bit more comfortable in the recording phase. With Twin Flames, I recorded that remotely at home with Allie and got a lot more confident within that kind of setting, where I’d just start to build up a song here on the computer. Normally within the band setting, that takes longer to get to that phase.

So I think I felt more comfortable in my home studio going different places for fun, just to see where things would lead. A lot of those out-there ideas came to the forefront and felt like ideas I was most excited about because they were a little bit different and more free.

It’s fun to give yourself that permission. You can think, ‘This song is a little weird, but I want to work on this.’ A lot of times, you’ll have a demo and then you’ll go to work on it and other people will change it a lot before you can get into a recording setting. This was cool to work on things so much at my own time and speed. This is maybe the first time where it felt like there was a lot of material already close to being completed, but it was definitely a freeing thing to work on this material.

Analogue: Do you have a favorite example?

Paul: For example, a song like “Moons” is structurally not a normal structure for a song. If I revisited this in a band context or tried to play it live, I’d naturally want to make it more linear. But for that song, the day I wrote the idea for the song, I started building ideas around it and that I would probably edit it later. Then when it came time to record it, there was something cool about how non-linear that song is and it felt like it shouldn’t change that much. Joe agreed and told me to retain what I had in the demo as much as we could. There are a few songs like like where you keep what you had from the day you wrote the song. There’s something free-spirited about working like that.

Run Wild cover art
Run Wild cover art

Analogue: Have you wanted to chase these things in the past and felt like you couldn’t?

Paul: Well, I think there are always moments like that, when a song has a feeling to it and you work on it and it becomes something else. That can be cool, and I don’t want to diss any songs of Wintersleep [Laughs], but we’re running through the demos we’ve had from some of the Wintersleep records and there were some neat versions of songs that we didn’t take seriously. It’s not like in those moments you’re like, ‘Oh, I had this thing!’ But maybe you don’t take that initial experience of demoing a song or putting it together as seriously as you sometimes should, I guess.

That’s a feeling I got from going over songs from previous records, when you notice the original energy is different than the one on the record. But I don’t think there are too many moments in the past where I was like, ‘Oh, I wish we did it that way.’

Analogue: So are those moments the ones you’re the most proud of here?

Paul: Those are the ones that I’m the most excited about on this record. It’s being able to achieve a certain energy because you approached production in a certain way. It’s nice to have retained that feeling, especially across an entire record.

Analogue: You’ve mentioned working with Joe and I wanted to ask how that went. Have you worked with him before?

Paul: No, not at all. He’d reached out back in 2018 or so and said, ‘Hey, I’m a really big fan of the songs with Wintersleep and I’d love to work with you at some point in time.’ Obviously he’s an amazing producer. I think he does that with a few bands, because I’ve heard that from other bands where he’ll reach out and say, ‘Hey if you ever want to work together, that’d be awesome.’ So it was the time and place to do it and it was perfect timing.

When I went to work with him, I probably had between 40 or 50 songs. I felt there was enough for probably two records out of it. I sent him the whole batch of songs and he was really instrumental in picking certain songs—he picked 15 or 16 of those and then ended up with 10. So he was really instrumental in shaping the types of songs. I could have easily went with a really dark record, too. [Laughs]