Chris Loomis

INTERVIEW: Andrew Murphy of Islander

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Islander_2014_EricRichter_01SoCalMusicToday.com recently caught up with Andrew Murphy of the band Islander who will be heading out this summer on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Islander will be playing mid-afternoon on the Victory Records side stage along with fellow label-mates Erimha, Wretched, Ill Nino and Emmure. Murphy discussed being part of the Mayhem Festival this year, Islander’s new album Violence & Destruction which hits stores on July 8 and preparing for a summer tour. Be sure to check your local venue set times and catch Islander destroy the stage.

Congratulations on being included on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2014. How does it feel to be part of the biggest traveling extreme music festival?

It’s a crazy feeling. It hasn’t even set in yet and it’s less than two weeks away. I think it’ll feel real once I finally get there and see the stage being built. Then I’ll probably have a small panic attack. Nerves aside, I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait to meet the other bands and make some new friends and fans. We’re so used to playing small clubs that this is going to be a nice change of pace.

How do you prepare for going out on a five week summer tour? Things like living in a van/bus together, keeping your focus on the music and just not getting totally distracted by your surroundings?

Five weeks is a long time to be in a small van, but I think we do pretty well with it. Everyone kind of zones out and goes into their own little world when we have long drives. I think we all like traveling, though. I particularly enjoy seeing the country, so I try not to sleep the entire drive. I read a lot. We listen to music and goof around a lot. We also have a little TV in the van, so we can play video games or watch movies. If I’m up late navigating with our tour manager, Chris, we listen to Coast to Coast and talk about crazy stuff.

It’s easy to get distracted during smaller tours. You might have a 5 hour drive one day, and instead of knocking out at least half of it, you just plan on doing it the next day, and hang out after the show. Mayhem is different because it’s such a tight schedule; we have no choice but to focus on being on time and performing at our peak. Although, there will be some fun after-parties…

Does playing early in the day pose any challenges vs playing in the evening or at night? It’s probably going to be pretty dam hot at the time when you take the stage.

I plan on being too hot this entire tour. We played one random date on Mayhem last year in Virginia, and it was crazy hot all day long. You just have to drink a ton of water and wear sunscreen.

Islander has a new album Violence & Destruction that drops July 8 on Victory Records. What can we expect from that album and how does it compare to previous Islander recordings?

This is the first record that we’ve been able to sit and jam out songs in a studio setting. There are so many little things that add so much character to a song when you let it evolve. Little spontaneous things or mistakes that sounded cool that you end up keeping. We made a conscious effort to not do the same thing throughout the entire record. The bridge of “Counteract” is a prime example. It breaks down to a drum and bass groove, and I added some heavily effected guitar noises over top. The verses of “Coconut Dracula” are another good example. They have kind of a Police-vibe to them. The record is a big step forward for us as songwriters, and for me as a guitar player.

You have previously worked with H.R. of Bad Brains and Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. – both have provided guest vocals on Islander songs. How did those connections come about?

Our singer, Mikey Carvajal, has been friends with P.O.D. for a while now. He’s been a fan for years, worked on their street team, etc, and one day just asked him to do guest vocals. H.R. was pretty much the same. We just asked him, and he said yes. He was a little trickier than Sonny, though. We had a recording date set up, and he missed his flight. Then we set up another date, and he missed that as well. We ended up recording his part over the phone and editing it ourselves. It all turned out great though. H.R. Told us “the kids are really going to have a blast with this one,” so as long as he approves, we’re happy. Even if it hadn’t worked out, it would have still been an honor for him to consider doing the track. He’s a legend.

The second stage bands usually get shorter set times (usually about 25 minutes). What can fans expect from Islander during your set? How many songs from the new album will you be playing?

We’re playing 5 or 6 songs. It’ll probably be one old song, but we might throw a second one in there. We’re having a blast playing the new songs live. Being such a short set, expect a lot of energy packed into twenty minutes. There’s no need for a breather with such a small amount of time.

Will Islander be doing any meet n greets with the fans during the tour?

I think we’re doing something like 14 signings at the Revolver tent during the tour. We’re also doing a weekly tour diary for Revolver. Other than that we’ll be at our merch tent or wandering around listening to the other bands. Come find us and say hi!

What do you pack when going out on a summer tour? Any “special” items you bring that you can’t live without such as a special teddy bear or a special pillow? Any photos of family or pets?

I don’t have a special pillow or anything, but I’ve got to have headphones. I have to have some kind of noise when I’m sleeping. Baby wipes are a must. Showers can be rare on most tours, although I think Mayhem has them. Coffee is another must. Oh, and we absolutely have to have our power inverter for the van so we can charge phones and everything.

The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival makes a stop in 26 cities this year across the USA. What is the city or venue you are most looking forward to playing and why?
Canada is the first stop that comes to mind because I’ve never been there, but I’m really excited for New York, as well. My dad lives up there, so it’ll be great to see him. Colorado is going to be cool. Going to the AP Music Awards is going to be pretty crazy, too.

What bands are you big fans of that are also on the tour and what band are you most interested in watching play live this summer?

I’m really excited to see Body Count! Their new album is killer. Upon a Burning Body is fun live and so is Emmure. I can’t wait to watch the guitar player from Veil of Maya. He’s got such a unique style. Korn is going to be awesome. I was a big fan back in high school. I’ve always wanted to see Suicide Silence live. What I’ve heard from their new album with Eddie sounds like it’s going to be amazing.

What is next for Islander after Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival ends in August?

We’ve got a few other tours in the works, but nothing is confirmed yet, so I can’t really say. We’re going to be everywhere, though. We just released the music video for the single “Coconut Dracula” and will be releasing another video later this summer. We’re really proud of them – check em out!

 

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