Chris Murphy The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Published Oct 01, 2001Halifax (now Toronto) quartet Sloan have built their rep on the distinct sound of four different songwriters. Now releasing their sixth full-length, Pretty Together, the fab foursome check in.
Current fixations: Pony da Look, Kinks Lola vs Powerman, Village Green Preservation Society, Elvis NBC TV Special CD, playing hockey again after 20 years for the Hockey Lads, the idea of buying waterfront property in rural Nova Scotia.
Mind-altering work of art: Mr. Show, Daft Punk video for "Around The World."
Most memorable or inspirational gig and why? Stereolab at the Knitting Factory, NYC 1992. I had been given Switched On by a friend so I knew a lot of the songs. They were so loud and Laetitia was so sexy I was freaking out. I followed her and Tim around the city the next day.
What has been your career high and low?Opening for Matthew Good; playing on Conan O'Brien. (Guess which is which.)
What should everyone shut up about? The Strokes.
I would drop everything to play a benefit for: Labatt's.
What trait do you like and dislike most about yourself?
Like: Relative pitch. I maintain I can start songs in their proper key without accompaniment.
Dislike: The wish to make everyone love me.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you? No one has been kicked out of the band despite the fact that there have been thousands of reasons to do so. It would throw off the whole "making history" thing.
When I think of Canada I think: four percent of the world's record buyers.
What is your vital daily ritual? My daily ritual is supposed to involve exercise but it usually involves ordering food off a menu.
How do you spoil yourself? I buy myself graphic design annuals from the 60s and 70s.
What was your most memorable day job? I briefly had a job as a bus boy in Halifax where I had to push around a little cart with which to make Caesar salads for people. I was fired in two weeks for being too slow. I was a messenger porter at a hospital in Halifax where I had to bring blood to the lab, bring new patients to their rooms, bring people to X-ray and bring bodies to the morgue. It was there, in the summer after grade 12, that I met Matt Murphy (Flashing Lights). We loved it when there was a fire alarm pulled, we had to put on red arm bands and catch the elevators and bring them to ground level. It felt like an important mission. Jennifer Pierce (Jale, the Vees) worked there too. We had a lot of laughs.
If I wasn't playing music I would be: When I'm not playing music, I'm promoting it, which is the other 90 percent of the time. If I wasn't playing anymore I would hopefully be on the coast of Nova Scotia in a four-bedroom house on the water. If I had never gotten into music I would be the cool substitute teacher.
What is your greatest fear? Going back to work for someone else/ Fake orgasms.
If you had a superpower, what would it be? Autonomy.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on? Leslie Feist (her music and otherwise).
Music and sex: Is there a difference? Why? There better be a difference between sex and my music, as it couldn't really be described as sexy. Oddly enough, it wasn't until I heard My Bloody Valentine's Loveless that I clued into the idea of music being sexy. Before that I had understood aggression and melody but growing up, I never was into soul music or sexy music. Loveless is hardly soul but the new idea of music being sexy opened my eyes to music other than the Beatles and American hardcore.
Strangest brush with celebrity: We toured with Redd Kross in 1997 and they brought this precocious 17-year-old kid along who was in a band that were signed to Geffen and he was such a little brat but I loved him. A few years later I went to see a movie called Rushmore while I was on tour in DC and the lead was this kid Jason Schwartzman. I didn't even put it together until later that he had been that bratty kid. I adored Rushmore and I've become friends with Jason.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them? Malcolm Mooney. Popcorn after dinner.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead? I'm living her dream, so she is my biggest supporter.
Illustration by Elaine Hsu