Interview with a vampire

Dubbed the ‘Godfather of Goth,’ former Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy returns to Israel to bare his fangs.

Peter Murphy 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Peter Murphy 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The bats haven’t quite left the bell tower for Peter Murphy, to borrow a phrase from “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” the definitive song by his old new wave gothic rock pioneering band, Bauhaus.
With a brief but ghoulish cameo as “The Cold One” in the summer’s celluloid phenomenon The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the “Godfather of Goth” has regained some of the darkened spotlight that decades of pop culture vampire wannabes have chipped away at. But unlike many of his 1980s musical brethren, Murphy has never really faded away, launching a cultishly productive solo career following Bauhaus’s implosion in 1983 after four genre-defining albums.
And nowhere has his cult burned brighter than in Israel, where the original “undead” with the high cheekbones was treated as a ghoulish hero when he performed in Tel Aviv last year. It’s a mutual admiration society for Murphy and Israel, despite the fact that the Catholic-raised Brit adopted Islam more than two decades ago and lives a Sufi life in Istanbul with his choreographer wife, Beyhan.
“I like to go on at the beginning of my all my shows and say, “Shalom, peace, salaam,” in the order of the appearance of the prophets,” Murphy said in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.
And that’s what he’ll do when he returns this week for two concerts – on July 26 at the Mann Auditorium and the following evening at The House in Haifa. But on this day, Murphy was in a studio in Oxford, England, writing a batch of songs for a future album, even though his ninth solo album – called Ninth – has only recently been released.
“I have a lot of ideas and want to put them down. Over the years, I’ve always had to find those pockets of time to be able to write. My wife is a very successful choreographer with the National Contemporary Dance Company in Turkey, and we’ve always balanced each other in terms of raising our two children.
If one was busy, the other was home,” said Murphy.
“I don’t have a studio at home, and I found it hard to work with my kids around, so when we moved to Turkey I had to look for my pockets of time to write. Now that they’re both in university, there’s much more free time, but I still like to block off time for writing away from home.”
While Murphy has no problems criticizing Israel for what he perceives as heavy-handed military tactics, personified most recently by the Gaza flotilla incident which further strained Israel’s ties with Turkey, he just as quickly acknowledges that there’s a broader picture. “Look, Israel is surrounded by loads of people who want it to disappear,” he said.
Having visited the country many times with his wife, on joint dance projects with the Suzanne Dellal Center, Murphy said that he appreciates the vitality and openness of the country. And he’s not surprised that his show here last year was so enthusiastically received that less than a year later, he’s back for two more.
“I forge a bond with all my audiences. If they come, I’m going to be there. I’m not a political chap.”
No, Peter Murphy’s just your every-day friendly vampire.