DALLAS MORNING NEWS
October 9, 1998
DOSSIER OF THE WEEK
FULL NAME: Darin Murphy
HOME TOWN: Houston, now based in Austin
ASSIGNMENT: to remind us that one multi-talented musician with a multi-track tape deck can make music as potent and passionate as any "real" band.
CALLING CARD: his solo debut, Solitarium, on Copper Records.
THE CD, IN 30 WORDS OR LESS: Reverent but not retro, Darin channels Beatles, Squeeze, and XTC influences into bare-boned, hard-nosed originals with more sneers than veneer.
MUSICAL MOTTO: "The hook is not part of the song. The hook is the song."
DEEP BACKGROUND: A self-professed teenage loner who learned to play drums and guitar in his bedroom, Darin named his first band, Manic Pop Thrill, after a 1986 album by Irish act That Petrol Emotion. Their sets consisted of covers and tunes heavily influenced by the Smithereens, Icicle Works and Killing Joke. "We werenít all that good," he admits. "We made a name for ourselves because we had so much fun up there." After a stint playing drums in a local R&B band, he formed Trish and Darin with his sister. Their energetic stage shows, which mixed originals with some of Darinís wicked song parodies, made them a college favorite until they disbanded in 1994.
FAVORITE EXERCISE: To prepare for playing and singing virtually every note on Solitarium, Darin made stunning, note-for-note replicas of the Beatlesí Help!, Because, and All My Loving on his home four-track recorder. "It really helped me learn how records used to be made as well as what can be accomplished when you get into a bigger studio. Thereís a certain discipline that comes from doing four-track stuff. It teaches you to conserve space, to not be over-indulgent, and when you conserve space, you conserve [studio] time."
WHY HEíS NO JELLYFISH: Although Solitarium has its chiming moments, Darin never lapses into winking homages or gooey sentimentalism. Such standout tracks as "Sheís Better Than Me," "Donít Look at Me" and "Down" are built around learning to deal with betrayal, rejection and heartache rather than merely reacting to it. "Iíve discovered a lot of things about myself since moving to Austin," he says. "The songs came out of that. They ended up sounding personal without being autobiographical, and without being overly honest. I donít find that interesting in other artists, so I try not to do that myself."
THE DISADVANTAGE OF PLAYING ALL THE INSTRUMENTS YOURSELF: "You have to do everything one part at a time, so you donít get the same immediate response that you get when you have multiple musicians in there. When you listen to playback, you have no idea what itís going to sound like."
THE ADVANTAGE: "Thereís no one to argue with."