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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Destroyers lose their front man

I was very sad to hear, on Genevieve Tudor's Sunday night BBC radio show, that The Destroyers have parted company with their charismatic front man, Paul Murphy. Here he is, interviewed at last year's Cambridge folk festival (while the Olympics opening ceremony was going on on TV - and presumably somewhere else in reality - in the background).

Although the band had previously existed as an instrumental group without him, The Destroyers and Paul Murphy were together six years and the combination was mesmerically entertaining, for anyone who missed it. There was something about a bloke with a microphone who sounds like a pirate, wearing a fez - among other extraordinary headgear - and telling stories with his whole body through the medium of song. That Paul was at least a generation older than most of the band gave a sense of breadth and liberation rarely encountered. He made them unique.


Here is what Paul said on his website. "I want to let you know, if you haven’t received our recent statement to The Destroyers’ mailing list, that I have parted company with the band. This has not been an easy decision, then separation seldom is.  Needless to say its been  a wonderful journey over the past six years and a privilege that we received  such great energy, appreciation and support.

"I’d like to say a personal thank you to audience members everywhere who helped fund our work, by coming to gigs, buying merch, Tshirts and badges, spreading the word and pledging towards our Hole in The Universe album; to the promoters who hosted us, to the reviewers, the radio and TV presenters, and especially for me,  those who sang along with such passion. As songwriter that was a wonderful accolade.

"I wish my talented partners well and [would be] happy to see them keep the name alive."

The Destroyers issued a similar statement on March 1 on their Facebook page, which I missed because Facebook seems to be becoming increasingly idiosyncratic.

Since neither side of the split gave a hint about what went wrong, a source close to the band said by way of further explanation: "Basically I think the working relationship between Paul and the others was pretty strained for a while and ended up breaking down bit by bit over a long period and they've reached the point where they don't want to continue like that.

"It's a massive shame of course, as they produced some brilliant work together, but as with all bands the amount of hours put in never add up to the financial return and if it gets to the point where it becomes hard work between personalities then something has to change if anything is going to continue. It's the end of an era for that collaboration but personally I hope that after a period of working separately all the problems will heal themselves and we might see a return to it... but I wouldn't expect anything in the near future."

Like my source there, I hope they work out their differences because Louis Robinson, The Destroyers' tall fiddle player, said that the band isn't looking for another front man - they'll be spreading out Paul's previous duties between existing band members - and they were a winning combo, a rare and exhilarating beauty.

The fact that all concerned are behaving with such consideration towards each other gives me hope that they'll sort it out.

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