Interview: Fraser Murderburger

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Small Talk

The Murderburgers are one of the best current pop-punk bands going. This is undeniable. I have obsessed over their last couple of records during the last six months or so. I go back and forth on which one is better, but it doesn’t really matter: they’re both brilliant in their own ways. It will be pretty exciting to hear what comes next from The Murderburgers. So, I caught up with Fraser Murderburger to hear about that, as well as well as embarrassing first albums and near-death tour experiences. It’s burger time!

Hello Fraser! Can you introduce The Murderburgers for us?

Hey, Dave! Sure. We are a three piece pop punk band from Scotland. I sing and play guitar, Steve plays bass and does backing vocals, and our drummer Stuart just left so we currently have people standing in for us until we find a permanent replacement.

The Murderburgers formed in 2007. How did you guys meet/form as a band? Where are you from in Scotland?

When the band started I lived in a small town on the west coast of Scotland called Alexandria, which is right next to Renton, the place where I grew up. I started the band right before finishing up at college when I was 20. The original line-up is pretty different than it is today. I was singing and playing guitar, my brother was on 2nd guitar, my friend Brian was on bass and my friend Sean was on drums. Obviously me and my brother had been introduced a long ago, and I grew up with Brian and Sean so we all know each other really well already. Since then the line-up has changed about 15 times or something ridiculous like that. Before Steve joined the band I knew him already through our old bands crossing paths over the years and from hanging out at shows, so before he joined we had already been friends for 6 or 7 years. That seems to be what’s happening nowadays, or at least it seems to be happening in the Scottish punk scene. The people that are still working away at playing in bands all end up in bands with each other.

Your first release was “Bitches, Blunts and Pop Punk”, back in early 2008. How do you feel about that album looking back on it now?

Personally, I think it sucks. Like, really sucks. But hey, most bands start out shitty. It’s cool having a history to look back on and see how much the band has progressed over the years though. I never thought back then that this much would have changed. At the end of the day, back then it was just 3 drunk morons trying to be offensive and play as fast as possible, so I guess we got the job done.

Bitches, Blunts And Pop-Punk cover art

There is a gulf of difference musically and lyrically between your first two releases and last year’s “These are only problems”. How do you think you have changed as a band since the early years?

We’ve changed a lot since back then. I kind of view “How to Ruin Your Life” as our first proper album, really. That’s when we finally had a solid line-up, got our shit together, recorded properly and actually spent time and money on it. All of the stuff we recorded before that album is all pretty much demo quality and not as much time was spent on the song writing process as there has been in recent years. In the early years we had more of a mix of stupid songs about nothing and serious songs about anxiety and depression, but we don’t really do the stupid shit anymore, simply because we weren’t that good at it. Lyrically our last couple of albums have been mainly about life, death, depression, mental illness, poverty, all that sort of shit. I feel way better getting it out of my system and getting it off my chest, even if it does make people think that I’m a psychopath.

After having three albums on Monster Zero, you released “These are only problems” with Asian Man records in the US. That’s pretty cool. How did it come about?

We played with Joyce Manor at King Tut’s in Glasgow in September 2013. It was a great show and we got on well with the guys, so we kept in touch. I mentioned to Barry that we were recording a new album, and he offered to talk to Mike at Asian Man about it. Mike was into the record and wanted to put it out, and the rest is history. We grew up listening to Asian Man bands, so being one now is pretty insane.

These Are Only Problems cover art

Are you pleased with how the new album turned out?

Yeah, really pleased with it. That’s the longest we’ve ever spent working on an album, so we are glad that it was worth it. People seem to be into it as well. Steve designed the album art and took all the photos that ended up on there. I was keen on the album art relating to the song content and Steve did a great job. Jamie Ward, Matt Allison and Collin Jordan all did a great job with making it sound awesome well.

So, you have just been on tour supporting Alkaline Trio in the UK, how the hell was that? And how did it come about in the first place?

I emailed Mike Park towards the end of 2013 saying it was probably a longshot but wondering if he knew if Alkaline Trio would need another support band on their UK tour dates in April this year as we were touring around then as well, so Mike said he would ask them for us. Not thinking it would happen, I went ahead and booked some dates in Germany and Austria around then as part of our 2 month Euro tour. Then when we were in France in March I got an email from Mike saying Alkaline Trio would have us along on the UK dates, so we rescheduled most of our German shows for September. Luckily everyone was really nice about it and understood how big a deal if was for us. The tour was amazing. Bit of a change of pace going from playing to like 30 or 40 people a night to playing to sold out crowds of a couple thousand for a couple of weeks. We weren’t too sure how well we would go down in front of an Alkaline Trio crowd but every night was great. The guys in Alkaline Trio and Bayside as well as their crew looked after us and made sure we had everything we needed. Hopefully we’ll get to tour together again at some point.

And before that, you did a huge Euro tour. What was your favourite stop on the tour?

We played a lot of places in France and Italy that we had never been to before, so we’ve discovered a bunch of new favourite stops really. We did 3 shows with our good friends I Was A Teenage Alien from Toulouse when we were in France, so that was awesome. We had a great time hanging out and drinking whiskey at Will from Lunch/Panda Records’ place in Aix-en-Provence. He’s one of our new favourite people now. The whole Italian run was great this time. Played some familiar places again like Milan and Genova, as well as a bunch of new places. We did a few shows with Dan Vapid & The Cheats while we were there, which was amazing. We are massive fans of all of Dan’s previous bands and love the Dan Vapid & The Cheats records, so we were really happy we got to spend a few days hanging out and getting drunk with them. We’ve been talking about doing some more shows together in the future, which is something we really hope comes together.

Outside of that tour, what’s your favourite ever gig you have done?

We’ve done a lot of great gigs that I could talk about to no end, but there’s one that will always sticks out in my mind. I had a really shitty time towards the end of 2011 with depression, anxiety, all that head frying shit. I’m doing pretty good now, but back then I was having a really rough time of it. Around summer 2011 was when it started kicking in real bad, right before 3 months of touring. Having dealt with anxiety and depression since I was 17, I figured I would just continue to deal with it on my own again. Huge mistake. To cut a lot story short, it all blew up in my face and everything turned to shit. I ended up getting so bad that my girlfriend at the time couldn’t deal with it and kicked me out, so I end up without a place to stay and no job, and I was pretty much losing my mind. We had to cancel our upcoming shows until I got my shit together. After finding a place to stay in Edinburgh and after a few weeks of therapy I started feeling way better, so when we were asked to open for our good friends The Queers in March 2012 as warm up show before hitting Europe with The Copyrights a month later, we figured it would be a great way to start things up again. It still sticks out as one of the best nights of my life. Playing live again and seeing so many friends in the same room was exactly what I needed, and then seeing The Queers play was the perfect way to top things off. That night really did restore my faith in pretty much everything.

It’s written on your website about a “near-death experience” when touring in 2012. What’s the story behind this?

We actually had two that year. When we were on tour in Europe with The Copyrights in April 2012 our old drummer Stuart wasn’t feeling so good the morning after a show in Germany. We just assumed that he was hungover, but after a while it was clear that he was genuinely ill. We took him to a hospital and it turned out his appendix was about to blow up, so he got it removed there and then. He had to fly home afterwards so Luke from The Copyrights ended up drumming for us for the rest of the tour. Stuart had already been to a doctor in the UK about his appendix but they told him he didn’t need to have it removed even though he was in pain. We pretty much got to the hospital just in time. The other near-death experience happened when we were on tour in the US with Dear Landlord a couple of months after that. After a really shitty sleep I wanted something to keep me awake during the drive from Denver to Salt Lake City since it’s meant to be a really nice drive, so I picked up some stuff at a gas station which I assumed would be like caffeine pills or something. To cut a really long and horrible story short, they were more like capsules of speed for truckers and taking all four of them at the one time was a really bad idea. I spent the next ten and a half hours sweating, puking, coughing up blood, having nosebleeds, my veins were popping out and hands were cramping up, I couldn’t breathe properly and I spent the whole time trying not to pass out. The general consensus was that I was going to die. Luckily that didn’t happen, but it was definitely the worst ten and a half hours of my life. Never again.

You appear to tour an awful lot. What do you like to do when not touring?

When I’m at home I spend a lot of the time dealing with the band as well, booking and writing mainly. I thought for a while there that doing absolutely nothing between tours was the best thing ever, but after a while I started thinking I could be making better use of my time when I’m at home, so I started a record label called Round Dog Records in May this year. I’ve always loved the idea of putting out records for other bands and running a distro, and now seems to be a good time to do it. I put out The Walking Targets’ debut album in June, I’ve got Roboter’s debut E.P coming out in late August, then The Lemonaids’ new album in mid-September, then Black Volvo’s debut album in late October. I’ve got 4 more releases coming out this year that I can’t really talk too much about yet since I’m still working out the details with the bands but it’s looking like it’ll be a pretty productive first year for Round Dog. I see a lot of good bands when I’m on tour, so it’s pretty cool now to be able to work with them as well as be friends with them. It’s a lot of fun. Apart from that I put on the odd show here and there and work whatever job I can get so that I can still afford to be a moron in a punk band.

Moving back to home, how would you describe the Scottish punk scene these days? The Kimberly Steaks are another awesome band from around your way.

The Scottish punk scene is amazing right now. So many great bands and people involved and everyone is pushing in the same direction. We’ve got great bands and solo artists like The Kimberly Steaks, Walking Targets, UNIFORMS, Black Cop, Clocked Out, Lachance, Billy Liar, The Lemonaids and Mark McCabe to name a few. We have great promoters and collectives like Punk/Rock Rammy, Struggletown, Make That A Take, House Of Crust, Walk The Plank and Anti-Manifesto that put out records and put on shows. We get a lot more touring bands actually wanting to come to Scotland now. It really is exciting times and things keep getting better and better. We’ve all got a really good thing going here and I’m proud to be part of it.

I remember when we started out how different it was. Trying to book Scottish shows was a nightmare, and so was getting anyone to come along to them. A lot of touring bands missed out Scotland because it didn’t seem worth the drive, and back then no one could blame them. There was a lot more of this pay-to-play bullshit as well, so you were getting ripped off by promoters all the time and every other band that played those things saw everyone else as competition, so it was difficult to make friends with other bands. Thankfully things have changed drastically since then. I actually met The Kimberly Steaks at a pay-to-play gig about 10 years ago. They did a cover of “Ashtray” by Screeching Weasel and I thought “Shit! Someone else in Glasgow likes Screeching Weasel! We should probably be friends!”. That’s probably the only good thing that’s ever happened by doing a pay-to-play gig.

Finally, what plans do The Murderburgers have for the rest of 2014? Is there a new album in the works?

We’re opening the main stage at Hevy Fest in Port Lympne this coming Saturday (16th Aug) which should be awesome. Then we’re touring Europe from Aug 25th to Sept 16th. The first week of that tour is with our lovely criminal friends Masked Intruder, then we have a few days on our own, then a week or so in Germany/Czech Rep with States and Empires. We are playing Fest in Gainesville again at the end of October, so we are currently booking October/November US dates around that. Then we are finishing off the year with Book Yer Ane Fest in Dundee in late November and probably an Edinburgh show in December as well. Our split with Billy Liar should be out before the end of the year, just need to put the finishing touches to the songs. We started working on a new E.P for Bloated Kat Records earlier this year, but due to the fact we haven’t had time to finish the vocals I’m guessing it won’t come out until next year now.

We haven’t started properly working on a new album yet but we’ve been talking about doing one at the start of next year. We’re most likely going to take a break from touring from the start of next year until March/April to get it done, unless we get offered a ridiculously good tour that we’d be stupid to turn down, then we’ll probably just have to stress out and do them both. But yeah, we’re going to record a new album at the start of next year.

Cheers, Fraser! Any final words?

Thanks for your time, and sorry for taking so long to get my answers to you!

Listen here: http://themurderburgers.bandcamp.com/

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