Published Feb 01, 2000Sometimes when we rock, the honesty's too much.
That's how Matt Murphy felt about his previous band, Halifax favourites the Superfriendz, before they splintered in 1997. Shortly after the break-up, Murphy resurfaced with the Flashing Lights (including bassist Henri Sangalang, drummer Steve Pitkin, keyboardist Gaven Dianda), whose sound he describes as a "'60s rave-up band."
Initially, the Flashing Lights were a side-project cover band, dwelling on Nuggets-era garage pop and first-wave British Invasion material. The contrast between that high-energy repertoire and the Superfriendz opened a few doors of perception for Murphy.
"[Superfriendz] songs were largely more personal, and the way we presented them was less of a show than confiding in the audience," admits Murphy, who moved to Toronto a couple of years ago. "When I started doing the '60s rave-up stuff, I realised what makes me happiest was having everyone singing along and participating, so that there's no difference between the stage and the dance floor. I was hooked on that sensation, and I wanted to intertwine that with the songs that I naturally write, which tend to confide in the listener. There's a balance of those two things on the record."
The record in question is their recently-released debut, Where The Change Is . Murphy admits that there's an irony when personal songs and an honest approach can be more alienating to an audience than a constructed rock'n'roll show. But with his own irresistible sloppy guitar-god antics and "put your hands together" stage shtick, one can't help but be drawn closer to the Flashing Lights' rock'n'roll spectacular.
"People are moved in a way where they don't even have to think about it," says Murphy. "Rock'n'roll should be all about abandon. I like the idea of people forgetting about feelings and embarrassment and simply going for it. In a perfect world, you'd only have to go so far to get people involved. But at this stage, you have to work five times as hard as the people listening to get them involved. You have to basically look like a freak and act like a twit on stage. Then people will think, 'If that guy on stage looks like an idiot on stage, maybe it's okay for me to do that too.'"