MURPH DANIELS w/ WOOD SHAMPOO

MURPHY's lawYour new record as Wood Shampoo is a greatest hit of sorts; must be great to get 17 songs off your chest?

If feels like we just won the WBA title against Mike Tyson and we even have the bite marks to prove it.   We took some of the best songs we had written in the last couple of years that no one has ever heard and a few new cuts as well and we started up the band’s Lear and headed up to Gateway Mastering Studios in Maine to see the master himself, Bob Ludwig. After Bob performed his magic, we were all systems go.

It seems so few records these days have a sense of humor unless it’s tied in with a band’s gimmick overtly, where does Wood Shampoo fit in that spectrum?

Our motto is simple: we have nothing to lose, so let’s have so fun for crying out loud and try to put a smile on our fan’s faces. Life’s tough enough, so we want to give everyone an outlet to escape from that. Anything goes in our writing: from sexy girls, vampires, aliens, the crazy world of the stock market, dead rock stars, crack, cover girls, gambling – you name it, we probably have a song about it and if we don’t, then we will for the next album.

Do you think being from New York gives you some sense of entitlement when it comes to rocking (hard)?

That’s an interesting question. Would you be able to make that a multiple choice question and give me a wink when I am near the right answer (that used to work for me in my high school French class)? I think there is so much top-shelf quality homegrown music here thrown in with the greatest bands in the world always stopping by to make NYC an extremely competitive market. You just cannot survive in front of the NYC fans unless you are at your best because they will not settle for anything less. They’ll take you out in stretchers if you’re off your game – they’re that sledgehammer tough. Even my own family throws rotten tomatoes at me in those cases, so use your imagination.

WOOD_SHAMPOO_coverWhat are your favorite cuts on the disc and which is your least?

Every track on the disc was picked by a panel of experts in the field using our proprietary analysis of qualitative and quantitative data. In other words, we like all the cuts. That being said, some of the ones that stand out for us are Wanna Be A Dead Rock Star, Top of the World, She’s So Fine, Cover Girl, Where’s the Party Earthling?, You Suck (Mr. Vampire), Ticker Tape, One More Chance, and of course our title track Crack, Crack Heart Attack. They just have a certain je ne sais quoi.  They are packed full of radio friendly hooks on every level and that’s how we like them. You’re lucky enough to get one or two on an album and here you are getting a lifetime supply. Go to our website, WOODSHAMPOO.net and hear them for yourselves and you be the judge and leave us a comment while you’re at it. We like to read them at breakfast.

I would say the cut that’s our least favorite is Three Cheers because it doesn’t fit into the format as well for this album, but we put it on there due to popular demand. It’s like early Bruce Springsteen meets Lou Reed and they decide to take a walk on the wild side. There’s great sax on that one from Frankie Tee.

What’s the story behind Crack, Crack Heart Attack the tune? I understand the CIA was involved?

What I’m about to tell you is the absolute truth (writer’s note: be aware Murph Daniels is currently wired up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and has been connected to a Delco car battery by a couple of independent contractors who work for a nameless agency. They are also wearing cheap suits.). We were in the studio and one of my producers, who also happens to be a guitarist on the record, Eddie Martinez, asked me to play him the day’s songs I had written for the session. Turns out nothing caught his ear that day and we just don’t waste our time with a song that doesn’t make that first cut, so he suggested a song I had done on a Murph Daniels’ solo record that he really loved, but thought we could do it much better now. That song was Crack, Crack Heart Attack and everyone at the session knocked in out of the ballpark that day. On a crazy side note, when I get a bad headache, I have found if I play this song really loud in the car, it will cure me after a play or two. Try it for yourself, I’m not kidding. JJ Cale had been an inspiration for me with the writing of this song because I thought if he could have a hit with the song Cocaine then why couldn’t someone have a hit song with the drug crack. He just passed away and will be missed.

WoodShampooThere are some monster players on the album: how does one assemble such a line-up without a major label budget?

Well, without getting into the budget, because the accountants are watching me 24/7, it’s really quite simple. You don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on studio costs, so why not get the greatest musicians alive to come down and do it right in one or two takes. Co-producers and guitarists Tommy Byrnes and Eddie Martinez are masters at their craft. They also put a crack (excuse the pun) team together. We not only captured Wood Shampoo at its prime, but had fun doing it. I called up Gateway Mastering and sent them the tracks and Bob Ludwig and team thought it was something they could definitely work with. They brought out sounds from the mix I had never even heard before. Bob is a genius and just an all around great guy. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I learned from working with him. And let’s not forget our fifth Beatle, Rich Gibbons. He was our engineer and mixer on most of the tracks and always had Wood Shampoo’s back. Rich fits in so great and I think part of the reason is that he is a Senior Producer at The Howard Stern Show and with that job comes a great sense of humor.

How does the writing process work for you and how do you know or feel a song is complete and ready for recording?

I usually hear or read something that catches my attention and knocks me off my feet. I then use that phrase as a building block for the rest of the song. Other times I come up with a catchy riff first and the lyrics follow somehow as I play the riff over and over again on guitar. I take the songs to my producers, which usually is Tommy, and they continue the process. Inspirations for some of my songs have been from hearing someone saying “you suck” to their parent and wanting to find a funny way to use it in a song which turned out to be You Suck (Mr. Vampire), to having my best friend ask me for years if he could have my guitars when I die and that one later turned into My Best Friend Died (and Left Me His Guitar).

What’s the first album you ever bought and the first you ever tossed out in a disappointment (if any?)?

I think the first album I ever bought was Elton John’s “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.” I was truly amazed by the musicianship. I think I probably traded the albums I didn’t like for the ones I wanted at a local store so I never actually would throw one out.

Gun, or billy club, to your head: what are your favorite three albums of all time?

I’m a huge music fan and I really love a mix of everything from Talking Heads, The Clash, Guns N’ Roses, Elvis Costello, Nirvana, Otis Redding, James Brown, Johnny Hallyday, The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, The Jam, Al Green, Joe Williams, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Roy Orbison, Hoodoo Gurus, Moby Grape, Toots Thielemans, and Johnny Hallyday. Stop me when I pass three okay?

If you had put out a Wood Shampoo double-live opus in the 70’s, what would it have been called and how were sales?

I think we would have called it “Wood Shampoo: One Lump or Two?” and it would have been a limited sold-out run of one million copies in blood red vinyl. 

TIM FERGUSON w/ RED PLASTIC BUDDHA

Is the new one All Out Revolution next of kin to your debut, Sunflower Sessions, or are they birds of a different feather? All Out Revolution is certainly descended from Sunflower Sessions. Look at the nose. We’ve become better in the studio though, and I think we’ve all grown as individuals and musicians, so we’re bound to sound a bit different. It feels like evolution to me.

Which tracks from All Out Revolution are folks gravitating towards? One never knows about these things. Live, people have always responded well to Running on Empty and Star-Shaped Holes, probably because of all the vocal harmonies. Psych crowds seem to like King of the Underground and Waves. We’ve posted some things to various websites and Daisy Love is popular in India, of all places. It’s been fun for me because we’ve received great feedback on all the songs.

The Red Plastic Buddha has gone through a number of changes since forming in ’06, do you have it ‘together’ now? does that matter? Yeah, lots of changes. It’s weird, because we’re not a band that is at each other’s throat or anything like that. It’s just that life forces things. Careers, kids, stuff like that. Buddhism places a lot of emphasis on the idea of impermanence, and I think that it’s a good idea to just get comfortable with the concept of change. I’ve seen lots of bands break up since we originally formed, but we just keep going. We’re together, but together isn’t a static thing. It’s a process. BTW, our long time drummer Dav Kling will be getting a broken wrist operated on soon. Friends are already on board to fill the void, as always happens. We’re just people pulling together in every sense of the word and that seems to be our path. Dav will be back, but then something else will happen. The only thing certain in this life is change.

What is your favorite thing about RPB today? The people I play with. Despite all the personnel changes we’ve had, there’s been a consistency in the character of band members. Every person who has been part of this group has been intelligent, funny, committed and interesting. A lot of graduate levels, several black belts, business owners, writers, even a doctor. Not what you’d expect from a psychedelic rock band, are we? Everyone has given their all to the project and although the faces have changed, the people who make up this band keep it fun and fresh.

In terms of subject matter, do you see your stuff as light-hearted or serious? or both? Depends on the song, I guess. I try to be more open on the love songs and just write from a purely emotional/ impressionistic place. They don’t really make a lot of sense because I’m trying to write while riding a tilt-a-whirl. For me, those feel the most psychedelic of our songs, probably because I’m completely letting go. Mostly though, I’m pretty serious when it comes to writing lyrics. I can put myself through hell trying to get things right. I love language and try to insert multiple meanings into verses. Hopefully, that makes things interesting for the listener.

Bass parts were once so buoyant and such an integral element of the rock music of late 60’s and bluesy early 70’s, what happened? I still see lots of that style out there. I just don’t do much of it in this band. In the Chicago psych scene alone, bands like Great Society Mind Destroyers, Dark Fog, Rabble Rabble, Secret Colours, Plastic Crimewave Sound … the list goes on and on. All of these bands have excellent bass players that really hold down the bottom end and groove. But because my priority onstage is singing, I have to simplify things. But that leaves lots of room for the other Buddhas to play, so I guess that’s okay too.

We’ve got your feet to the fire, what is your personal, all-time favorite bass-line? Argh! Just one?!?! Boys and Girls by Blur, Damaged Goods by Gang of Four, Monday by The Jam. That’s probably not Bruce Foxton’s best, but he’s my bass hero and it’s really

What music were you listening to in high school, anything that surprises you as you look back?liked psych even then, but I was a big prog rocker too. I remember trying desperately to turn people on to bands like Van Der Graaf Generator and Eloy. I also had a fascination for what was called ‘space’ music, which later morphed into New Age (ahem). Then punk came along and it was good music for an angry young man. I think all those influences are still there, bubbling away below the surface.

What’s more fun for RPB, crafting tunes, recording, or playing live? They can all be wonderful, they can all be torture. Just depends. Some songs write themselves, some sit on your chest and punch you in the face. We had a BLAST recording All Out Revolution. Working with Brian Leach at Joyride was so much fun (such a kindred spirit). I’m not surprised he won a Grammy recently. Playing live can be a gas if you’re sharing a bill with people you dig and you’re in front of a cool crowd. This is the only job where people scream and shout for you when you have a good day.

You guys ever tempted to, ya know…..tune-in, tune-up, drop acid, play and press record? There’s this romanticized view of drugs in the world of music, but the idea that drugs make you more creative or open your mind to some inner truth is nonsense. If creativity or truth came in pill form, everyone would do it. There’s no easy path. If you’re creating as part of a group, you really need to communicate effectively, on many levels. Adding drugs to the mix only debilitates communication. You spend months or years developing a spiritual chemistry with other musicians, and it’s frightening just how quickly the other chemistry can destroy that.