Pete Murray is in a good place.
Not only is the Byron Bay singer-songwriter proud of his 2017 album Camacho and the feedback it is receiving, he is embarking on a new business venture with a mate that combines his love of music and fitness and he is about to kick off a series of A Day On The Green concerts with UK hit-maker James Blunt.
Oh, and he’s heading to the Maldives in June to perform at The Perfect Wave’s Surf Music In Paradise concert.
Not much bothers Murray. He’s an easygoing bloke who says it how it is and goes with the flow. His 2003 breakthrough record Feeler featured hit single So Beautiful, which topped the Aussie charts and went on to sell more than 450,000 copies and earn him 12 ARIA Award nominations. He has more than one million album sales to his name to date. Not that you’d know it, talking to him.
“I’ve got a bit on this year which is great but I had a fair bit of time where I wasn’t doing a lot. I spent a lot of time at home, you know, living my life,” he tells Weekender.
“I also had a six-year break between albums. I guess I am getting back into that business cycle again and yeah, it’s exciting and I’m starting to get fired up about it all.”
I never thought I’d release an album that was more popular than Feeler.Pete Murray
Murray’s new venture with close mate Benny Owen is called Music & Movement Escapes. The week-long retreat at Elements of Byron Resort, which kicks off on Monday, gives fans the opportunity to take part in fitness training sessions, yoga, surfing and horse riding, and generally hang out with Murray and listen to him perform acoustically from time to time.
Murray can’t wait.
“Benny Allen is a very good friend of mine. I first met him when he was a drummer with Ash Grunwald and he weighed about 120 kilograms. He was a very big fella,” he tells Weekender.
“He got himself super fit and I didn’t even recognise him. And then he approached me about doing this. It enables us to combine our two passions – we both like music and we both like being fit – and we hope to involve other musos down the track too.”
Murray is by no means an extrovert, and can come across as reserved. I ask him how he feels about spending entire days with his fans, one on one.
”You know what? I’m totally fine with it, I mean, most of my fans are pretty normal people and respectful of me and my time. My music seems to lend itself to normal people,” he says.
“It’s the people who aren’t massive fans that can become a bit annoying.
“You’re always going to have someone who loves your music and someone who hates your music and that’s the way it goes. People are entitled to have their own opinion. I’m pretty lucky that I don’t get too many negative comments but I have had a couple over the years.
“As soon as they start swearing I ban it.
“One guy once said to me “You’re just so overrated, I’ve never understood why you’ve had so much success, your music’s bad, you’ve got a bad voice” – all these negative things and I was like don’t hold back mate, make sure you get your opinion out there.
“I wonder if it makes them feel good, being nasty. But I laugh at it. Sometimes I am tempted to write back to these guys and say a million other people disagree with you mate but that’s all right, you have your opinion.”
James Blunt is someone who knows all about online bullying. His witty comebacks, though, are the stuff of legend.
“He’s so self deprecating, isn’t he? And I don’t think he needs to be that way,” Murray says.
“I think he’s taken a lot of negativity on board and it’s affected him. That early album, the one he copped most of the flack on, it’s actually got some really good songs on it. I’m not into pop but his singer-songwriter songs are good and I have heard he is also good live, and has a great band.”
Blunt first captured the world’s attention in 2005 with his multi-platinum debut Back To Bedlam, featuring its history-making number one classic single You’re Beautiful.
He has sold more than 20 million albums and 12 million singles worldwide and been nominated for five Grammy Awards, two BRIT Awards, two Ivor Novello Awards and a host of MTV Awards. Since his first visit to Australia in 2005, Blunt has amused audiences with his humour and kept them spellbound with hits like Bartender, Goodbye My Lover, Carry You Home, No Bravery, 1973, Wisemen, Stay The Night and Bonfire Heart.
Also on the A Day On The Green line-up is Alex Lloyd, whose 1997 debut album Black The Sun is still a favourite of Murray’s.
“It’s the one Aussie album that I play pretty regularly, it’s great,” he says.
Lloyd’s 2001 album Watching Angels Mend featured the breakout hit Amazing which topped triple j’s Hottest 100 and won APRA’s Song of the Year.
The multi-ARIA-Award-winner continued his run of hits with Green, Coming Home, 1000 Miles, Everybody’s Laughing and Never Meant To Fail.
Rockhampton duo Busby Marou (Thomas Busby and Jeremy Marou) and Karise Eden, who won The Voice in 2012, complete the line-up at Bimbadgen on March 10.
“Karise has got such a good voice, she’s just got to start doing the type of songs that suit her and not try to be too ‘poppy’, Murray says.
“She should do the type of music that suits her voice because that voice of hers is truly unbelievable.”
As for his own music, Murray says Camacho has been his “best reviewed album”.
He spent six months just putting the song order of the album together so it would “flow really well”.
“Even fans are saying that it’s their favourite album of mine which is a really big thing. I never thought I’d release an album that was more popular than Feeler. A lot of people probably haven’t heard this album yet but it’s only been out for six months.
“If I can get it to reach more ears, well, that’s a good thing.”