INTERVIEW: Thee Deadtime Philharmonic

Ahead of the release of their highly anticipated debut Estate Of The Heart, we caught up with Thee Deadtime Philharmonic’s Wayne Murdoch…

Hi! Though I don’t think you need much introduction, give us three words to describe Thee Deadtime Philharmonic to someone that’s never heard of you?

Realism. Passion. Truth.

Your extremely long-awaited debut, Estate Of The Heart is out on 14.02.18. Does the Valentine’s Day release have any significance or was it just convenient?

Murdoch: Yeah, it’s the St Valentine’s Day sonic massacre! We have come to destroy all the fake manufactured rubbish that we hear through the mainstream every day, and I don’t just mean The X Factor and The Voice. We are also here to show all these daddy’s cash guitar bands what real heart and soul is. Also, the fact that Valentine’s Day is just another capitalist excuse to drain money and put pressure on people to spend on things they don’t really need, so we thought we’d hijack it. When the roses and cards have been chucked in the bin our album will last in people’s hearts.

It’s obviously something that you’ve spent a long time working to perfect. How long have you been sitting on it?

Some of these songs are a few years old, but I asked on our social media pages what the people wanted to hear on the album. So they really decided what was on it. We had a lot of stopping and starting on the album with line-up changes and funding issues. We just didn’t want to put something out for the sake of it with no thought put into it, like so much of the claptrap that’s out there. It has probably been a couple of years in the making, but actually recording time was a couple of weeks.

And when did you know it was done?

When I received the final masters, and listened back to it. I’ve got about another 30 songs written some of them brand new, some of them about ten years old that I would still like to put on a record.

You span all genres, covering ska, punk, rock, electronica, soul and jazz, which sort of sits with a lot of your messages about class, underrepresentation etc. because it’s so diverse. Was this something that was done intentionally or is it just sort of a result of varying influences?

No, it’s not at all intentional. I just love a lot of different types of music. I think there’s something of value in every genre, it’s just when it hits the mainstream the original sound gets watered down for the mass market. It’s been to our detriment business wise as they want to put you in a little box and market you a certain way. I had a meeting with a major label where the head of A & R said give me ten songs like ‘Protected’ and I said “Don’t work like that mate, we’re not Status Quo” which didn’t go down well. I think what ties my songs together is the subject matter, my upbringing and surroundings. I’m from an ex mining community and all my family worked at the pit, even my Mam- not down the pit though in the canteen! I was always going to have a militant working class stance.

Despite all these influences/genres it’s still an incredibly cohesive sound, which is quite a mean feat. How do you make sure it doesn’t sound messy?

To me it’s all about creating a vibe. Whether it’s with acoustic instruments, electronic instruments, a beat or an electric razor. As long as it strikes an emotion.

Obviously something that is incredibly important is the messages behind the music, and Estate Of The Heart covers everything – domestic violence, poverty, drug abuse, police brutality and class structure. What do you have to say to people who think politics and music shouldn’t mix?

I’ve never sat down and thought right I’m going to write a political song. I’m just writing about my life and the world around me. Believe it or not I didn’t even consider it political till I was on tour with a certain punk legend who I won’t name drop said I love the political aspect. I don’t want people to think I’m preaching in anyway, or its some kind of propaganda to make people think in a certain way. It’s real life.

Why do you think people are so against politics and music mixing?

I think those type of people associate music with having a good time and dancing to the latest chart hits. You can still dance like a maniac to something that provokes thought, and in my experience with much more conviction.

And a lot of the issues raised are prevalent in Swadlincote, where you’re based. Do you think it’s important for you to keep that influence or would you ever stray elsewhere?

I’ve lived all over and people pretty much have the same issues anywhere. The songs represent a marginalised, unheard voice of the once proud working-class ex industrial towns. It’s these places where the sense of community and togetherness has been decimated by an ‘I’m alright jack’ attitude. I will always be a swaddie though, it’s in my blood.

You’ve had a lot of praise from some pretty impressive names (Mick Jones, Jarvis Cocker to name a few). What’s the best bit of praise you’ve received?

As much as the kind words said to me by people I respect and have bought records of means a lot the best thing ever said to me was by a kid of about 16 who came up to me after a gig and said ‘I didn’t realise people like us could do stuff like this’ and he said he was going to buy a guitar and start a band. To inspire young lower working-class people is all the praise I could want. I think a lot of bands get up onstage and think they are something above people. then walk round after the gig chewing gum with sunglasses on thinking they are something special. That’s the thing about Deadtime, there is no us and them. They are us, we are them.

You’ve got the album release this month, and then a few tour dates – what’s next for Thee Deadtime Philharmonic?

We will be back on the telly on ‘Going Underground’ a programme on Russia Today for a performance and interview, so we are just sorting that at the moment. Then we’ve got a few festival dates and some possible European shows. We are also planning to release an E.P. of brand new tunes later this year, and make a start on recording the follow up album.

Estate Of The Heart is out on 14 February

Melissa Svensen

Melissa Svensen

Melissa, 21. Editor. Student, music journalist, probably talking about Blur or Bowie