John Murphy was the first and last filmed interview that I did for Richard Lowenstein´s Rowland S.Howard documentary. At the time John was living with Chris Hughes. (Chris as usual helped doing the interview) There were a lot of jokes that John was Chrisˇpermanent flatmate. He kind of just moved in when he was exiled from the UK and never left. John has since left and went onto something much better and actually got married somewhere in Finland or the shamanic lapland regions. I have to say John is one of a kind. He is very mild mannered. He is a very private, quiet and mysterious person until you enter his world..., if he allows you to. One would not automatically think of him being in bands such as Death in June and Knifeladder with their reputations of violence and aggression . I should emphasize that reputations and myths are very similar and sometimes is not in fact a true reality, but that is what creates hype and gets attention. I can easily go off on a tangent about Death in June and the sensitivity about symbolism and imagery, but there is not enough space.
John is a drummer and is originally from Australia. Unlike a lot of people involved in the industrial music scene, John has had quite a bit of musical training in all music forms from classical, jazz, soul/funk, military/Scottish pipe band to rock 60s garage music, 70s punk to metal and Prog. He has played in numerous Australian and British post-punk, ambient and industrial music bands over the years. John first joined forces with guitarist Ollie Olsen to form the post-punk band Whirlywirld in Melbourne in the late 70s. Olsen went on to form The Young Charlatans along with Rowland S. Howard. Jonh was very much in involved in the Melbourne music scene and that is one of the many reasons why his interview for the Rowland S. Howard documentary was so important. John went onto play with so many bands after that. There are so many, but to name a few, he was involved quite a lot with SPK and The Associates and playing on sessions with Nico, The The, Gene Loves Jezebel and Shriekback. Jonh had played for quite awhile with Death In June. John enjoyed the challenge of Death In June performances. It gave him lots of musical flexibility and creativity from the use of hand percussion in the more acoustic-orientated pieces and to the more extreme martial/military rudiment type of drumming and using classical innovative percussion such as typan, tubular bells and oriental gongs. After 35 years of experience, John still has an intense interest in exploring and bettering himself musically.
He presently plays in the industrial electronic trio Knifeladder. Knifeladder is a three industrial piece act. John plays drums/percussion ,voice, found sounds, some electronics, drones and loops. ANDREW TRAIL on samplers ,electronics ,synthesizers, loops, vocals and arabic, moroccan horn, and HUNTER BARR ,on bass guitar ,treatments and loops ,engineering and production. Knifeladder has been in existence since towards the end of 1997. Their sound has been at many times over the last few years referred to as Voodoo Industrial Power Electronics. A successful Knifeladder performance is meant to be a emotionally draining and cathartic. A friend of John´s once described their sound and overall performance approach as sort of "like being confronted by the ancient Scythian hordes rampaging over the Eurasian steppes at the end of the Bronze age ..1200 BC.
John also plays in the folk-noise group Foresta Di Ferro and records solo under the name Shining Vril. When John plays in Knifeladder he often does three things at once, playing drums, contributing dronish, hypnotic-orientated vocals and various forms of electronics, samples and live looping. It is extremely difficult to do, but somehow he manages to come out alive after each performance. Shining Vril is for the most part a recording experience. There have been only a few live performances. Shining Vril gives John freedom to do whatever he feels like. There is no sound-shape to the project. How to describe it? In John´s own words, "It tends to be in-between very dark ambient, industrial, some power electronics and Ritualistic, with a little dry Anglo-colonial humor thrown in."
Jonh was refused re-entry to the UK due to visa issues and he moved to Berlin. John is now exiled in Berlin and certainly makes the most out of it. I could think of worst places being exiled. To find out more about John and the bands, click on the highlighted names and it will bring you to their sites or pages with information.