Analogue Music | POSTDATA


By Matt Conner

The next time you hear from Wintersleep, they should be a band refreshed.

Not only is the Canadian rock band taking a bit longer than normal to focus on their next album, which is already in the works, but front man Paul Murphy has been quite busy with another solo release as POSTDATA—eight years after the 2010 debut.

These new POSTDATA songs were an exciting creative exercise for Murphy, isolated experiments fleshed out with intriguing collaborations. Friends from Frightened Rabbit, Blonde Redhead and even Wintersleep joined in to help record the final takes along with producer/friend Tony Doogan (Belle & Sebastian).

With a new solo release out now, a new band release on the way and the unfortunate recent passing of his friend Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit, we had a lot to discuss with Murphy. Fortunately he was gracious enough to carve out time for it all.

Analogue: Several years have passed since your last solo or Postdata release. How do you know when it's time again? Do you wait for the songs to be there or do you decide it's time and then write toward that outlet?

Paul Murphy: I write tons and tons of songs, so there's always going to be songs you don't end up working on when we're doing Wintersleep stuff. So I was chipping away at them for fun, just to give them a different vibe. I'd bring them into my computer and work on them by myself. I got pretty far that way and then it took on a life of its own. It felt like a neat little project that didn't even sound like a band, and I wasn't sure I wanted them to be band songs. With fake drum beats, a lot of synthesizer stuff, and less overall, I grew attached to them in that form.

It came to a point when there were 14 or 15 songs, and I realized it'd be cool to keep it like that and build a record around that kind of production. In the back of my mind, I thought there was something really liberating in it. There's no pressure with my solo stuff. You record and release it. This felt similar in that way. I wanted to keep it raw and in the spirit of what I was doing myself on the computer.

Then that became an excuse to phone up friends and collaborate on them as well. I mean, it's depressing if you're just working on something by yourself. I find collaboration really brings out cool things in a song, and I wanted to work with someone I'd never really worked with before. Or if it was someone I'd worked with, I wanted to change it up. So we did some stuff with Tony [Doogan] and Andy [Monahan] and Grant [Hutchison] on the first few songs. Then we were on tour with Blonde Redhead, so I asked Simone [Pace] if he wanted to play on the latter part of the record.

Then I got Loel [Campbell] and Tim [D'Eon] from Wintersleep to play on it as well. Loel is the drummer of Wintersleep, but he's also an awesome bass player, so I thought it'd be cool if Simone could play drums and Lo'el could play bass. So we even changed up the instruments to see what would happen.

Analogue: How much of what you pictured turned out to be what you ended up with?

Paul: With all of the people playing live, it brought this added dimension and fleshed it out more than I originally thought it would. But it was good for the songs, since it all changed for the better. We were playing off of pre-recorded ambient sounds and beats I'd made, but it turned into something that could be played live. Not so much the first half of the album, but the second half feels like a live band.

Analogue: How does taking time away for Postdata inform things with Wintersleep? Is there a different version of you able to be present with the band?

Paul: Yeah, I think so. That process of collaborating as well as having to do something on your own, you just get into different ways of working and writing and recording. I think different experiences in the studio are good because you can come in fresh for the next Wintersleep record. Plus it's nice to take a bit of a break from touring. We've had the same set list for a long time, but this was really fucking awesome to have 14 new songs I've never played before in a set. [Laughs] It really makes you feel alive. It's neat not having something you have to fall back on. It's a completely fresh thing that you're trying to do.

Let's Be Wilderness
Let's Be Wilderness

We've done a few Wintersleep shows since the Postdata tour and the Wintersleep songs feel really fresh. It's a different vibe with our live performance, so it's really cool in that sense for me.

Analogue: How much attention does this get when you have other things going on?

Paul: I definitely want to tour it as much as I can, but it's also hard because Wintersleep has another new record coming out. So I don't want that to be pushed back. We've made some room for Postdata in the fall to do more stuff and that allows Wintersleep to take a bit longer to work on the new album. It's nice to have more time to set up the record a little bit better than normal.

Analogue: Your mention of the Wintersleep songs make me wonder about your relationship with the older material. Is there a song that you have a different feel or take on now after so many years?

Paul: I really like performing new stuff the most, like I said, just because that's a nice energy to have. I think our records morph into something else over time. [Laughs] That's a hard one to answer. All the records still feel good live. Welcome to the Night Sky songs are ones we play a lot still. For me personally there are some songs that we use that are older that we place in certain spots because it feels like a good nostalgic moment.

Analogue: How is the new material sounding?

Paul: It's weird because it almost feels like two records. The styles are so different. There are a few almost proggy or epic jams on it and then there are short, snappy songs as well. It's hard to compare it to other stuff. I don't know. There's definitely a warm vibe to it. It's a good progression from The Great Detachment but maybe there's a shout out to Hello Hum a bit, some of the weirder, darker stuff we've done in the past.

Analogue: I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up the tragic passing of Scott Hutchison. I'm a big Frightened Rabbit fan and I know Wintersleep just toured with them this year and you were also friends.

Paul: It's been tough. For me, he's always been this person who was a positive force, the guy who held everyone else up emotionally. You couldn't be in a bad mood around him, so for me it was just a really big shock. It's hard to process and I haven't turned the corner with that. I haven't been writing, really, or anything since it happened to process it. It's just a big blow and definitely affected a lot of people. We just did a tour with Postdata and a lot of people were talking about it. It's hard.

Analogue: That happened right around the Postdata release, right?

Paul: Yeah it was a week before. I was like, 'Oh, god, I don't even want to put it out. It's just so depressing.' It was tough. But then it felt like it was a good thing to keep moving. I know he definitely found a lot of solace in other people's music. So yeah, it's still tough and I think we're still processing it now.

Grant and Andy [from Frightened Rabbit] also played on the album as well so that was definitely in my thoughts the whole time. It's their record as well. I tried to offer up the shows to Scott and honor the songs in a way, to speak of everything good that he brought. That's the only way I could make sense of it is that I got to spend four years getting to know him and that's an amazing gift. That's the only way to think about it. It's tough and still really tough.