The interview with James MURPHY



METAL SIDE: James, everyone knows your projects from the 90's but before you joined Obituary and Death you hadn't been the musician from nowhere. Tell us something please about your earlier activities.


JAMES MURPHY: Not that much to tell, but i did play on a tour in 1987 with the band Agent Steel. I wasn't a fan of this band but they came to Florida and when i met them they offered to take me on tour to europe to play guitar with them and it seemed like a good way to get some experiance.


METAL SIDE: Obituary and Death were the legends those times. Was the work with these bands something special for you, an important element of your musical development? Which of these acts played the music closer to your own vision how death metal should sound?


JAMES MURPHY: Yes, of course, especially looking back now... at the time it was just something fun i was doing, you know? Death was really much more close to what i wanted to be doing... i even wrote a good deal of music on Spiritual Healing.


METAL SIDE: Your adventure with Obituary and Death was relatively short. Why didn’t you play with them longer?


JAMES MURPHY: Honestly i left Death because i couldn't stand the way i was being treated... very badly! I left on bad terms with Chuck but in 1999 we made friends again. As for Obituary, we just weren't meant to be.. Alan was their guitarist, and in their minds i was always just a temporary replacement.


METAL SIDE: Your appearance on the 2nd album of Cancer was a surprise for many people. Why did you decide to cooperate with this English band?


JAMES MURPHY: Well, they were recording the album at Morrisound and my apartment was only 10 minutes away. Scott Burns called me to ask if i could loan these guys some guitar amps and speaker cabinets for their recording since they had come from England and couldn't bring any with them. i had already met them before when they came over for a vacation (holiday) so they also wanted me to come down and hang out with them for a bit. While i was there they asked me if i wanted to play a couple solos on the CD so i did them that night. The next day they had Scott call me to say that they liked my solos better than the others on the CD and wanted me to do all of the solos as a special guest since they had the intention to find a permanent 2nd guitarist after the album anyway. I agreed and so i recorded all of the solos. After the album was done they went home to England but they soon called me and asked me to tour with them since they had no luck to find a new guitarist. i put my still forming Disincarnate project on hold to do 2 tours of Europe and the U.K. with them but after the second tour i got to serious work on Disincarnate and was no longer available to help them.


METAL SIDE: After playing with other musicians in their projects, you decided to form own band, Disincarnate. Were you tired of playing the

music written by other musicians or did you decide that it was the highest time to express the own ideas and the own visions?


JAMES MURPHY: Yes, a bit of both really. I had tons of ideas and a strong desire to get them out. i know that my new material did not fit with the Obituary style so it was the natural choice to do my own thing.


METAL SIDE: You had very talented line up, but you cooperated with the musicians which weren’t very well known earlier. Did you want to promote in such way the new talents?


JAMES MURPHY: Yes, that's true. Many musicians, including many experianced guys who had played on albums previoulsy, tried out for Disincarnate, but i dedided on the younger, less experianced guys because i thought their ideas were more fresh and they had less ego.


METAL SIDE: I was very disappointed that Disincarnate released only one album. Why did the band split up so quickly? In 1993 began the crisis of the popularity of death metal. The labels didn’t support the bands as they should, looking for the new trends (like black and doom metal). Was this situation one of the reasons why you didn’t  continue the work with Disincarnate?


JAMES MURPHY: Of course we were feeling the crunch and it really effected the younger guys a lot. Jason and Bryan became worried and decided to enroll in college (university) studies because we weren't getting any tour offers at all and RoadRunner was pressuring me to change the vocal style for a second release. So, we were in limbo and then i got the call from Testament to audition for them. I auditioned and got the Testament job so that was the "last nail in the coffin" so to speak.


METAL SIDE: You released two albums as simply James Murphy. This time you didn't play death metal. Does it mean that James Murphy's favorite kind of music isn't death metal although for many people you are one of the legends of this kind of metal music?


JAMES MURPHY: No, i doesn't mean any such thing... i like a lot of different music and those albums were my outlet for that side of my tastes. It would have been pointless to play deth metal on those CD's since i had already planned to make another Disincarnate CD in the future. I still love and always will love death metal!


METAL SIDE: What is your opinion about death metal scene from the beginning of the 90thies, especially compering it with the current one?


JAMES MURPHY: I don't really know the answer to that... i only know which bands and albums i like, without regard to the "era of death metal" that they are from.


METAL SIDE: You played with Konkhra and Testament too. What do you think now about the time spent with these bands?


JAMES MURPHY: Testament was a major part of my life, musically and privately, of which i have many fond memories and i played some of my very best guitar with them. Konkhra was another guest position which i did for friendship, and i think for sure that the 2nd album i did with them, "Come Down Cold" has some of my best solos ever.


METAL SIDE: Some time ago you announced that Disincarnate is back in action. The material wasn't recorded because of your illness. What kind of music would we get if you could record this album when you planned it? The same style as on „Dreams...” or something new?


JAMES MURPHY: A mixture because it is still me and i am even using some old material from '93 that never was used... and of course, much time has passed so there will be new elements as well.


METAL SIDE: The 2nd Disincarnate’s album was to be recorded by quite different line up, this time with very well known musicians. Don’t you

think that such line up would be useful only for one recording session but the band if it is to exist longer, needs the musicians who could devote more time to work for it?


JAMES MURPHY: I am still torn with this question, and i have still not come to a definitive answer... right now the slate is clean and we will have to see what happens as far as the line-up goes.


METAL SIDE: Didn't you think to work once again with Viator, Carman and Cegon? Do you know if they still play the music?


JAMES MURPHY: I don't know what ever happened to Viator.. the last i heard he was injured and could not play drums anymore because of it, and i also heard he was touring and playing keyboards with Acid Bath. Jason Carman had some health problems too, with his heart, and he is not really active musically anymore. Bryan and i are still in touch, he is playing with his band in Tampa, but it is like rapcore or something. His new band is where his heart is at now. but we did discuss the possibilty of his doing some background vocals.


METAL SIDE: Are there any chances that we will hear new Disincarnate CD soon? Have you already written the new tracks? If you have, tell us please what we can expect this time?


JAMES MURPHY: i belive that a new CD can't happen until the 2nd quarter of next year, but i am working, slowly but surely, on the new material. I have a couple songs close to finished musically, but no lyrics yet. You can certainly expect it to be heavy and intricate with tons of eerie melodies and harmonies.


METAL SIDE: You cooperate now with Jason from Capharnaum. Are you going to work with him not only in your recording studio but in some musical project as well? It could be a very interesting combination of two talented musicians.


JAMES MURPHY: Well, i do not have a recording studio anymore... it was all stolen when i was very sick, prior to my surgery. As for Jason, we will most likely not be doing much work together in the future. He is very talented though.


METAL SIDE: Tell us what are your other musical projects? We hope to hear you playing again that's why this question is really important for



JAMES MURPHY: I just produced the new Summon CD, "...and the Blood Runs Black", for Moribund Records and i played a couple guest solos on the CD as well.... on one of the regular album tracks, "Necromantic Lust", as well as on a bonus/b-side track, a cover of Death's "Left To Die" (which i also played rhythm guitar on). I also just finished recording 2 solos on the new Malevolent Creation CD, "The Will To Kill", which will be out later this year on Nuclear Blast. Both solos were in one song which is titled "Assassin Squad". After recording my tracks i stuck around to help out with effects during the mixing session. The album was mixed by Jean-Francois Dagenais of Kataklysm and he is a really great guy, i had a lot of fun.


METAL SIDE: You are not only the composer, the guitar player, but the producer too. Tell us which abums have you already produced, just some examples, and what albums you are going to record in the coming months.


JAMES MURPHY: I have produced and/or mixed, and/or mastered many CD's... for example i produced Konkhra "Weed out the Week", my own solo CD's, and the new Summon. I did some jobs where i had to try and "save" some extremely poor recordings that were recorded by someone else, by mixing them... for example, Exhumed "Gore Metal".  I have worked as an engineer on many, many albums by such diverse artsts as Artension, Dali's Delimma, Rick Derrenger, Vinnie Moore, Mogg/Way, Aggressor, Testament, Impaled, Dekapitator, and so on...  i have too many mastering credits to count, some of the artsts i have mastered CD's from are War, ...and Oceans, Vondur, Geasa, Deathwitch, In Aeturnm, Cranium, Abaddon Incarnate, and on and on... coming up i am scheduled to work as producer/engineer with Transmetal (mexico), Blood Ritual (washington) and  HavocHate (new york)


METAL SIDE: Guys from Abcess were talking some time ago quite ugly things about you, that you stole their material. Could you comment their words?


JAMES MURPHY: I don't really remember what happened... i was very sick with the tumor at the time but i did not know what it was that was making me sick. i was trying to keep busy in my studio but my mind was going away.. i could not remember anything for any time at all, and i was unable to stay awake for very long. i guess they brought some tapes over to my studio right at the end before i became so sick that i could not function properly. i only know that all the contents of my studio are gone and i am trying to find as much of it as i can from the people that took it all. If and when those tapes surface i will return them to Listenable Records. That is all that i can do, so they will just have to accept my apologies and move forward, as i have done... i lost much more than they did, and i nearly lost my life as well.  I did not ask to get a tumor, but i still feel bad about losing their tapes.... I hope they understand.


METAL SIDE: You worked with such producers like Scott Burns and Colin Richardson. What do you think about their style, their sound? Perhaps you were so annoyed hearing their works that you decided to become the producer to avoid the problems that your music sounds not like you want it to sound?


JAMES MURPHY: From the very first moment that i entered a recording studio (it was with Scott Burns in 1989, Spiritual Healing session) i was fascinated with the recording process... i learned new things with each recording and Scott and Colin were both great mentors. Both men have also done works which i love very much, and others which are not so great... but the same is true of me and most every other producer.


METAL SIDE: Each producer has the own style. Sometimes when he becomes popular, like Burns twelve years ago, too many bands want to work with him and then many bands have almost the same sound. What is your approach to this problem? What is the priority for you, your own vision how the album should sound or the vision of the band? In other words, do you want to create own, Murphy’s style or rather you want to help the bands to create their own style of the sound and in such situation each album produced by you can sound quite differently?


JAMES MURPHY: I prefer to work with the band to get their own sound... one problem with some producers is that they use the same guitar and bass rigs and/or kick drum sounds for every album they work on.. i try to avoid that, but sometimes, as is true with many small lable CDs, time is a major factor and you have to work very quickly. In these situations it is necessary to rely on methods, sounds, techniques, etc., which you know will sound good... in these cases there is simply no time to experiment. If this happens too much, as is too often the case with low budget death metal albums, then you will have the problem of many albums sounding very similar.


METAL SIDE: What albums impressed you lately? I wonder what kind of music you listen to right now.


JAMES MURPHY: Oh... way too many to list all, but here are a few:  Carnal Forge-"Please.... Die", Dew Scented-"Inwards", The Forsaken-"Arts of Desolation", Soilwork-"Natural Born Chaos", Martyr-"Warp Zone", Children of Bodom-"Follow the Reaper", Arch Enemy-"Wages of Sin", The Haunted-"Made Me Do It", Dark Tranquility-"Damage Done", Lacuna Coil-"Unleased Memories", Meshugga-"Nothing", Immortal-"Sons of Northern Darkness", Summoning-"Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame", and on and on...


METAL SIDE: Could you recommend us some new talented bands you heard lately? I think that your warm words about them, so the words of the very matured musician, could really help them because the listeners need such advice, especially when they read the words of someone who really knows everything about different aspects of the music.


JAMES MURPHY: For death metal i can strongly recommend Demise from Poland... very cool and distinct sounding. Check them out at . For power metal i can recommend HavocHate from New York, who have recently completed a US tour with Manowar. Check them out at . For killer guitar check out Mattias Eklundh at .


METAL SIDE: Thank you so much for this interview. We hope to hear your new releases soon. Be sure that Metal Side will be supporting your



JAMES MURPHY: Thanks very much!! I truly appreciate it!. Your readers can contact me at [email protected] and my website is check it out for updates on my activities and health... thanks again!




September 2002

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