The Murlocs find harmony on their new album “Bittersweet Demons”


With their latest album “Bittersweet Demons”, the Murlocs expand their distinct sound by plunging headfirst into new depths of intimacy and expression.

While the spirit of classic rock icons like Roky Erickson and The Easybeats still vibrate strongly in their sensibilities, The Murlocs have cultivated new sonic textures, with analog synths and harmonized guitars woven into their garage-pop palates.

Frontman Ambrose Kenny-Smith explains. “I was really a fan of Plastic Ono Band and a lot of Lennon stuff. And Harry Nilsson…I really got into that ‘Pussy Cats’ album that Lennon produced with Nilsson.

“Those are the two main references to how I wanted it to sound, because that was what I listened to obsessively on a daily basis. The title track, ‘Bittersweet Demons’, is probably a good example of that.”

The influence of the Beatles, Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band shines through on several tracks in the band’s discography, but finds new prevalence on “Bittersweet Demons”.

“Yeah, Blachie (Matt Blach, drummer) was pretty heavily influenced by the Beatles,” says Ambrose. “Like he used to be in a band that had perfect three-way harmonies… They were kind of the darlings of the surf coast where we grew up.”

Where tracks like “Francesca” and “Skyrocket” carry an anthemic 1980s charge, cleverly pivoting acoustic guitar progressions lead the Dylan and McCartney-esque “Limérence.”

“Yeah, well done, I wrote that one…I had that 3/4 curse for a long time. I think it’s like, the Kenny in me – the Irish background.

“I kept finding myself waltzing all the time, and all the guys were giving me shit. There’s a lot of 3/4s on the record, so hopefully I got that out of my system I like that too, but after a while it all turns into ‘Lord of the Rings’.”

Immersing in their love of lush vocal harmonies, the Murlocs recently performed with the Folk Bitch Trio at several live and streamed shows, including one for KEXP Live at Home.

“I’m actually going to get them to stand up and do a few songs with us like we did at the Brunswick Ballroom earlier in the year at the Melbourne Forum show. Yeah, they’re awesome. They’re going to do wonderful things.”

“Bittersweet Demons” was primarily recorded on January 18 and 19, 2020, with the band making the decision to track many of the parts live and directly to tape.

“Yeah, that was to record! We set up a tape recorder, and we did two days of tracking all the beds mostly, overdubs on the second day, and on the third day I did some vocals and stuff.

“John Lee, who mixed it, really nailed the mix and the vibe we were looking for. He’s great, I’m going to work with him again.

“Since then we’ve done another heavy album that we did at home, and now we’re working on another one, and I’m going to get [John Lee] to mix it up. We sort of store them while we do nothing.

“It’s just hard to find good topics to write about that aren’t mundane and like, ‘sign of the times,’ haha.

“It’s funny. I’ll be like, whine to Stu [Mackenzie] or someone in [King] Gizzard and he’s like ‘oh, just write more sci-fi songs like me!’ And I’m like, ‘oh, that doesn’t really get me going, trying to write about robots and stuff!’ Ha ha. But it was fun nonetheless.

“We’ve done loads of things. I’m about to embark on this big world tour with King Gizzard next year [2022]and yes, I just feel like locking and loading everything.”

Alongside the mountain of projects occupying Ambrose, sister band King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard are set to release “Butterfly 3001” (January 21), a remix album of their latest electro psych-pop record featuring contributions de Genève Jacuzzi, DJ Shadow, Mild High Club, Bullant and Peaches.

“Yeah, the DJ Shadow one is like the best thing I’ve ever heard. They’re all pretty wild and out there. I’m thrilled with their diversity. It’s gonna be a funny thing – we’ve never never done that before.

“There’s never really a break in sight. I like to keep busy. I really hope we can start playing a few shows. We’ve done so many rehearsals. It’s good, the muscle memory is there.

“We had a rehearsal with Murlocs the other day and I canceled the others because it all happened so fast.”

Along with their upcoming live dates and national tour, the Murlocs are embarking on a live music project at the Melbourne International Film Festival, celebrating Australian cult classic “Two Hands” with the late Heath Ledger.

“Oh yeah, it’s gonna be awesome, by the time it rolls in [late] January. My buddy Hayden who organizes it called me around February or March 2020.

“So it’s approaching, almost two years of preparation. It’s all there. It’s based on maybe four main songs, and those four songs are between one and two minutes at the most. In a way, they replace those [soundtrack songs] like the Powderfinger songs, which is quite intimidating!

“I’m scared if we ever make it to Brisbane, if we try to replace ‘These Days’ at the end!”

As a teenager, Ambrose skated professionally, receiving sponsorships from Volcom and Foundation Skateboards. While some former skaters end up working in trades, Ambrose has become a full-time rock musician.

“I still skate a bit, but I know I can’t like, push my body off of certain heights or certain things where I might get hurt, because I just can’t risk getting hurt in any way. it would be.

“I went go-karting on the weekend for Cav’s, King Gizzard drummer, the dollars party. He wanted to go-kart, and I was like ‘oh my god, here we go’. And I just liked, came in last in every lap, got slammed, and like, bruised my rib or something.

“I was trying to sing at Murlocs practice the other night and it was so hard I had to do spoken word for the set,” he laughs.

Despite his injuries and the ever-changing list of projects and international uncertainties, Ambrose aims to get the show back on the road.

“I’m really excited to play these shows. I just hope everyone, the audience, gets excited too and isn’t scared.

“Everything is a bit out there in the abyss, the unknown, but everything will start to fall into place. Hopefully this summer it’s not too wet and cold. At least you’ll get a bit more [in Queensland] than we here at Vic.

“I can’t wait to come and play with the Murlocs on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast as I haven’t been able to in years.

“We’re still sort of keeping it, just a show in Brisbane. So I’m looking forward to being able to spend a bit more time in the state. Maybe we’ll go to the beach or something.”

‘Bittersweet Demons’ is now available.

2022 Murlocs Tour Dates

Sat 5 February – Indi Bar (Perth)* two shows at 7 p.m. & 10 p.m.
Sunday 6 February – The Gov (Adelaide)
Thu 17 Feb – Royal Theater (Castlemaine)
Fri 18 Feb – Uni Bar (Hobart)
Sat 19 Feb – Forum Melbourne
Thu 24 February – Manning Bar (Sydney)
Fri 25 February – Dicey Riley’s Hotel (Wollongong)
Saturday February 26 – Dashville Skyline (Hunter Valley)
Wed March 2 – Eleven Dive Bar (Sunshine Coast)
Thu 3 March – Princess Theater (Brisbane)
Fri March 4 – Miami Marketta (Gold Coast)


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