In a conversation last year with The Wombats’s front man Matthew Murphy, he eluded to a solo project that he had been working on. It’s time to meet Love Fame Tragedy, the accumulation of many ideas from Murphy. The EP, titled I Don’t Want To Play The Victim, But I’m Really Good At It will be released on September 13th, but we have an introduction with the first single, “My Cheating Heart.” The song itself combines a catchy chorus with a collision of acoustic and electric guitars with synths and programmed drums. We caught up with Matthew to speak about his new project and the inner workings of Love Fame Tragedy.
We spoke about it briefly, but at the tail end of our interview in June of 2018, you said that you had some songs that were 50-60% done. Love Fame Tragedy is here. Can you give us a little introduction on how this project came about?
It was basically… I mean, if you’re in a band, you’re going to want to try to do something by yourself. Whether it be for your ego or a sake of change. There were some songs left over from Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life that didn’t make it on the album. Not that they weren’t strong enough. I have no idea. Just politics kind of pushed them aside. I was like “these should see the light of day.”
The plan was to slap them online and do a little EP. Then it kind of spiraled into something much bigger. Songs kept coming out until we reached about 30-40 songs. I’ve really excited that it came out much bigger than I thought it was going to be.
You worked with a who’s who of collaborators on the EP. From Pixies‘s Joey Santiago to Alt-J’s Gus Unger-Hamilton. How was working in this setting on your own project different from the band setting of The Wombats?
It was really easy. I’m lucky enough to have a good relationship with them. It was like “hey, do you want to come around the studio and make a song and have a drink?” basically. It wasn’t a very serious setting. They just came over and did their thing. Myself and the producer (Mark Crew) took the bits that we liked the best and used them.
“My Cheating Heart” is the first single from the EP. I’m always interested to hear musicians when they go into their own projects and the anticipation of putting out their first song from a project. What made you chose “My Cheating Heart” as the introduction to Love Fame Tragedy?
To be honest, I didn’t really choose it. I don’t feel that choosing what single and when it comes out is part of my job description [laughs]. I just kinda like write the songs, perform them, and do some things behind the scenes. I think that was just the record label and people thinking the song was a strong leg to stand on. In a way, it was the song that got me most excited about this project. It came a year and a half ago in Stockholm. It started the buzz for me and the other people involved.
Listening to the EP, it’s definitely arranged differently than a Wombats album and more unique to yourself. There are a lot of guitar parts intermixed with synths. You utilize a lot of dual vocals with a female voice interjected in. How was the development of the EP different for you from a musical standpoint?
All the demos were done out here in LA. Myself and Mark Crew, who produced all this stuff, just talked over what the strengths and weaknesses were and tried to make the songs as strong as possible. I just love the juxtaposition of having female voices. For some reason, it excites the song for me. I don’t know why. We took it all to London and mulled the songs over until they were all filled out. Sounding good, feeling good, and even experimented a bit. Not too much that we went down any rabbit holes.
One of the biggest things for me about this project was not to waste weeks or months deliberating over little parts. You know, mix #54 or what master it is. Once the song is done, let’s make it sound a little better, put it out, and then start another. Repeat. Trying not to be so anal about it. Thinking about, I probably wasted a lot of songwriting time doing that with The Wombats. One of the main reasons for this was to stop all that stuff.
When we talked last time, I had touched on your cleverness with lyricism. The title of your EP is no different. I Don’t Want To Play The Victim, But I’m Really Good At It. How did the whole tongue in cheek aspect of the title come about?
It was a conversation I had with my wife and we discussing how almost every song, rock or indie based, someone is playing the victim in it. She always jokes about my job and how ridiculous it is. That I basically just drive around LA feeling sorry for myself. It just felt interesting, cool and pretty spot on for me.
You mentioned that you have recorded a lot of songs. Are there any future plans for more EPs or an album after this one?
Yea, we’re releasing a song every month until it forms an album. Each song is going to have a video attached to it.
That’s pretty interesting releasing a song every month. Is it because you wanted to get out of the conventional album cycle?
The plan was to release EP 1 and then EP 2. From there, form an album and maybe add four more song. When the first EP was recorded, the label and management heard it. Then wanted each song to have their moment to shine because they thought they were all pretty good. I didn’t want to lump it all in one EP and let one song have the spotlight and the other three not. The plan is one song a month. We’ll see how that goes. If there’s no reaction on things slowing down, maybe we’ll speed it up.