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Interview with MUD BAY
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Murphy Farrell- Mud Bay, drums, percussion, song writer.
My family was always singing and dancing and messin’ about. We had a piano and guitars in the house. I started making drums out of paint cans and old rubber tires when I was a kid. We would have these big family gatherings and there was always music and singing. Dad sang barber shop with his cousins. They were awesome. I guess that’s the root of it all. Family.
I can’t say for certain what I would have done had I not entered into the musical vortex. I had other jobs along the way. Had to pay the rent so to speak. Music is not an easy road. You get beat up and spit out in this business but I kept at it. It’s the creative edge that drives me and it’s my anchor. I kind of center myself behind my drum kit and life unfolds from there.
How long has your band been around?
The core of Mud Bay has been together since 1978. Slim and I grew up breathing the same air in the Hazelmere Valley east of White Rock B.C. Some people have asked where Hazelmere is and I always say. If you don’t know then I’m not telling. It’s one of those low-fi, natural-born places on the planet that you like to keep to yourself. If you get my meaning.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
We are out of Vancouver and the regional district for the most part. I would say the musical influence came from all our wild friends and our collective need to make noise, write songs, and to generally rev up some positive force.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
There is a large bay, Boundary Bay, north of White Rock around the point from Semiahmoo Bay. Boundary Bay is part of the second-largest flyway of migratory birds in North America. Millions of birds every year pass through. A site to behold. On the east end of Boundary Bay is Mud Bay where the outflow of the Serpentine and the Nicomekl rivers converge.
The Band, Mud Bay, started out as Mud Bay Slim’s jam band, morphed into The Mud Bay Blues Band, and through our 45-year journey, we now go by what everyone called us, simply, Mud Bay. The name means a lot to us. It’s our place and if you ever get a chance to wander through the area, you’ll feel the magic. It is a powerful feeling.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Well, over the years there have been so many. The first one would have been opening for the James Cotton Big Band at the Commodore Ball Room in Vancouver in the 80’s sometime. We ended up playing with James many times. James always said we were just like playing with family. As fate would have it my cousin was married to blues star Kenny Neal and Kenny’s brother, Noel, [RIP] was Cotton’s bass man. When they came into town, we would hook up with them and play wherever with Boney Fields [TRUMPET] of the BONES PROJECT, still going strong in Europe. Killer Ray Allison on drums. The guy is a monster. The ever-present musical director of the band, Michael Coleman [RIP]. Michael would come out and play at our gigs. We hid him in a side room one time and brought him out as a big surprise and the place went nuts they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Noel would tell his band mates that his cousin was coming out and my brother Tim would show up. The band guys are going “What do you mean, cousin. This guy is white” Lots of laughs with those two. Brothers from a different mother. BIG TROUBLE when they got together.
We opened two shows for Stevie Ray Vaughan at The Commodore. Unbelievable night. It doesn’t get any better. We got along with Stevie just fine. His take on us was MUD BAY, MORE FUN.
We performed at the Burnaby Lake Music festival with James Cotton, Mac Rebennack aka Dr. John and Allen Toussaint all on the same bill. These men were perfect gentlemen it was such a thrill to visit and tell stories with them back stage. Unforgettable! Mac commented on my hat-“nice brim.” It was a nice handmade straw hat from Guatemala. “Well thank you Dr. Glad you like it.” The Dr. was wearing his fine bear tooth necklace and a very stylish chapeau himself
These moments in time that bind us together. All of these fine men have passed now but for some reason, I was there in their presence. Grateful for the time spent together. What can I say but a very big “Thank You” for leading the way.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Blue Frog Studios, The Commodore. My best old friend Kelly Breaks owns Blue Frog. This is the best facility on the west coast of Canada. It holds 100 people and has state-of-the-art recording and film. Awesome place to do live shows.
The Commodore, is one of the best live music rooms on the planet.
Mud Bay would like to play over in England and Europe. We have one of the Mud Bay brethren over there now. We’ll see what develops.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
To be honest I think we just played that show at Blue Frog this last May 2022. We had released our last album BEST LAID PLANS. Went out and played a bunch of sold-out live shows and saved the grand finale to be filmed and recorded at Blue Frog Studios. We had our full studio band from the BEST LAID PLANS album sessions. The Muds: Mud Bay Slim [Harold Arnold]- vocals and harmonica, Randall Carpenter- vocals and guitars, Mark Branscombe- vocals and guitar, Dennis Ingvaldson- bass, and yours truly, Murphy Farrell- drums and percussion.
Our musical guest were: Pete Sweetzir- keys and Hammond organ, Norm Quinn- trumpet, and Jerry Cook- saxophones. Last but certainly not least was my daughter Aidan Farrell on vocals (Bmus, MA specializing in voice and music composition). A true pleasure to have my daughter on stage with me.
This was one of the best shows Mud Bay has ever performed. All the elements were present and it was a night to remember. You can catch the full show on Blue Frog TV. There are lots of videos and audio tracks floating around as well. Check out YouTube.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Do it for the right reasons. Stay focused on your goals. Work hard, and be kind. Leave the rock star attitude at the door. Be decent and upright. Copyright your material, ALWAYS!
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Believe in yourself, be kind but don’t take no guff from anyone, don’t give up, and make sure you continue to have fun and enjoy the moment. Split seconds can change your life forever. Give back if you are able.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why? .
Hellbent [Colebrook Road] and Feel [Best Laid Plans]. Hellbent is about my father Glenn Farrell- WWII War vet. Stand up individual. The lyrics are a metaphor for myself and my two brothers lives growing up with a very unique individual. “Had some seeds, put em in the ground. Watered them good and the sun shone down. Gave them some lovin. Gave them some care. I smell the earth in the night time air.” We were the seeds.
It's a long story but suffice to say that he had our backs and our friends too. Nobody messed with the Old Man. Have a listen to the song.
Feel is about grief and loss. It’s a heavy tune. What I love about it is that I wrote it with my daughter Aidan and she performed the song live with us at Blue Frog. Full band. There is a full story about that song on Band Camp if you FEEL so inclined to read it.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I like playing my songs just because but Mud Bay has been writing and performing original works for 45 years. Our fans request their favorites so we play some of them if we have rehearsed that particular tune recently. We make song lists and work over our own tunes because, to be truthful it’s hard to remember them all. That’s another reason why we record. We’re making MUD BAY history.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I like writing songs about my life experiences. It’s kind of like musical therapy, happy, sad. The songs sometimes show up in a dream. You never know when one will drop into your lap. I like to say that it is a gift from the Gods, of which there are many. Pick one.
The creative process is interesting. I play a bit of bass guitar so I start the songs with lyrics, melody and the basic groove then I’ll sit at the piano with Aidi (my daughter) and work it out before offering it up to the band. All songs go through an arrangement process with the band. It’s like throwing a bone to a pack of dogs, everybody gets a piece of it. That’s why the tunes always come out sounding like MUD BAY.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
It depends on what’s floating around my brain. I would say that I write from an emotional context. I don’t like writing sappy songs. Maybe I’m to serious at times but you need to listen closely to get the meaning out of life and act accordingly. Remember the good and leave the bad stuff behind. Sometimes you just have to purge the darkness and move to the light. So you write about it. I like my songs to be fun and have a good groove. I’ll watch people dance when we play and when they start getting into it and singing the course then you know you’ve got a good one. Gets the heart rate up and makes you want to shake it, don’t fake it.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
MUD BAY has been doing the do for 45 years. After that amount of time, you don’t get out unscathed. We’re Mud brothers. We say our piece when the need arises. Try to keep it respectful and move on. I’ll just leave it at that.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Yes, World domination. What else, I mean really!!!
BEST LAID PLANS Is our new album and it’s a good one. We had all of the tracks recorded just as the covid plague came around. That shut everything down but we kept at it through zoom meetings and bouncing mixed tracks back and forth until we were finally able to gather back in the studio to tweak the tracks and sign off on this new body of work. It was a lot of adjustment and a bit of a pain in the butt. We just kept at it, relentless as always when it comes to the Mud Bay way. We pulled it off and are damn proud of it. Check out the album on all the regular streaming sites or just Google it, as they say.
There’s been some rumblings about heading over to England and Europe. One of the lads is over there now so we’ll see what pops up. It’s always been part of the plan. So, we’ll see.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
We have a ton of social media. That would be the best way to follow us at this juncture.
Bandcamp: Mud Bay Music
Youtube: Mud Bay Music