Wintersleep is a Canadian alternative-indie band, whose most recent album, Hello Hum, was released in late 2012 to much acclaim. Wintersleep's single "Weighty Ghost" charted big, and the band won a Juno Award. I'm talking today to the lead singer of Wintersleep, Paul Murphy.
*Note, this is our second attempt at arranging an interview. The first time I accidentally gave the wrong phone number to call, so we had to reschedule. Paul Murphy, being a real Canadian, apologized for something that was clearly not his fault. Enjoy!*
(Evan Almeida): Starting off can you list the names of everyone in Wintersleep and their respective instruments?
(Paul Murphy): Oh sure: Paul Murphy, that’s me, sings and plays guitar, Loel Campbell plays drums, Tim D’eon plays guitars and keyboards, and Michael Bigelow plays the bass.
(EA): How was the band formed, when did you all realize that you should be making music together?
(PM): I guess it was formed, pretty early on, in 2002; that’s kind of when we met each other. We played in other bands at the time, in rural Nova Scotia, and ended up playing a lot with each other, and then we decided to work together as a group.
(EA): What is your musical background like?
(PM): I started playing guitar when I was twelve years old, and I listened to whatever I could. I guess everyone in the band has a similar story, we were all from rural Nova Scotia, so we would just get our hands on whatever we could, which wasn’t much. Most of us started playing in bands when we were fourteen or fifteen years of age, and I guess that’s kind of our background.
(EA): Paul, I understand that you were briefly involved in a group called, Postdata, has that band been put on hiatus indefinitely, in favor of Wintersleep, or are you planning on resuscitating it someday?
(PM): It’s definitely on hiatus at this point. It was just sort of a one-off thing that my brother and I decided to record, over a Christmas break that turned out kind of good. It wasn’t something that was all that planned, but who knows what could happen. It’s kind of nice to work on things outside of Wintersleep, a little bit, but I don’t know if I’m going to pursue that too much further. But hey, who knows?
(EA): Who were some of your inspirations, musically? Every album that Wintersleep has made has a different mood, or theme, that seems to accompany it. Is there a reason for that?
(PM): Yeah! I think it’s probably that we just listened to a lot of music and we sort of have A.D.D a little bit when it comes to new material. We like trying to delve in to newer grooves and make different songs for every record, and try different tunings and that sort of thing; we try to switch it up and make sure that it sounds “fresh” and it doesn’t sound like we are always stuck in one mindset. We try to do the little things that make a listener think outside of what they might be used to.
(EA): Welcome to the Night Sky is Wintersleep’s best critically received album, winning a Juno Award for Best New Group of the Year. Is your most recent album, Hello Hum, as good as, or better then, Welcome to the Night Sky?
(PM): Well hopefully it would be “better than” because it’s different. I really like the production of Hello Hum a lot, and I don’t know if it’s actually better than it (Welcome to the Night Sky) but I’d like to think that each new album is an improvement. The main difference is production, we had a lot of time to work with Greg Calbi and Tony Doogan (of Tarbox Road Studios) to really flesh out the sound and get our head’s in the recording game. Whereas Welcome to the Night Sky was fun, but it was also just two straight weeks of recording with no downtime, so we sort of just banged out everything … but there is something good to that as well. Personally I like Hello Hum, just in production terms, other than that they’re both pretty great.
(EA): Wintersleep’s star is in the ascendant, evidenced by your (previously mentioned) Juno Award, your appearance on the The Late Show with David Letterman, and the immense popularity of the single “Weighty Ghost” which was featured on multiple commercials and television shows (such as Being Human). What is Wintersleep’s plan to break out and become a big name act?
(PM): Oh wow! Well, I don’t know, I guess our plan has always been to tour as much as possible. That song (“Weighty Ghost”) is pretty popular, but in general we just try to write really strong albums and bring a really great “live” experience. We don’t really fixate on the fame part, our plan has always been to tour and make albums that we really love.
(EA): Were you surprised by any of the success that you had? Are you starting to fel the effects of your success back home in Halifax?
(PM): Of course, any success that goes beyond the initial show is really something. It was never our intention to go out and get on the radio, it just sort of happened on its own; which was really, really cool.
Nova Scotia is kind of small, and you don’t have to be that big to amount to something there, it’s just a really supportive city and they are really into indie music. So if you are doing something like that, and you are in Nova Scotia, people will know about you.
(EA): Wintersleep has been touring in Europe for quite some time, how was that compared to Canada, and when do you plan on coming Stateside again? What plans do you have for the future.
(PM): Europe and Canada have different crowds. In Canada, no matter where we were playing, it always sort of felt like our hometown, we would always get a great audience response. Europe is great too, because they give a very warm reception, since we’ve been going really hard in Europe. It’s a different sort of audience over there; they are a little bit more reserved at our shows, for the most part. Our last few shows in Germany did get pretty crazy, so hopefully that’s the way it’s going to be over there. As far as the US, I’m pretty sure we won’t be back in the US until we make a new record, which might be a year or two. But who knows, we could luck out and get a great tour that would bring us Stateside. We just finished a good tour with Frightened Rabbit in May, so who knows.
We are all very excited to get working on a new album again! We are just going to keep on writing new music, and finding new ways to keep things exciting.
(EA): What was more exciting for you: touring in Europe, or playing The Late Show with David Letterman?
(PM): I think, probably the first time we actually got into a plane to go somewhere because people wanted to hear our music. That was pretty exciting, and going to Europe for the first time, being there and being able to build an audience was awesome. The Letterman thing still feels really surreal; it’s hard to feel as though it’s as real of a thing… in some weird way. The Letterman appearance was amazing, but I guess that they’re just very different things. In terms of really weird dreams coming true, I guess that Letterman is weirder, so it’s cooler in that sense. The European stuff is also just awesome in its own way, just to be able to go over there and tour, it’s great.
(EA): Thanks for talking to me, I’m a big fan.
(PM): Awesome! Thanks a lot for doing this.